A green paradise along the Atlantic coast
On your way from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, make sure you leave plenty of time to explore everything in between the two megacities. Just off the main road, you find a gem that definitely needs to be visited: Paraty! Its old town is reminiscent of the colonial past and a heavenly change to the busy Brazilian metropolises. In the small and remote town of Paraty the time goes by slower and yet there is quite a lot to discover. From the deserted beaches, to begin with, the tropical forest, small waterfalls up to the incredibly well-tasting and customary specialties and original Cachaça you find anything soothing your soul here.
The historical town center
The old town of Paraty is a gem! It captivates through its remarkably well-preserved colonial architecture derived from the 17th and 18th century. What you get to see is white-painted houses facilitated with windows in any colors imaginable, exotic flowers growing on the roofs and cobblestone streets that make any gym redundant – this is Paraty! The large stones were once manually laid by slaves and allowed the town's residents to walk the streets dryly even in times of floods. There's a lot to explore behind the old facades of the historical town center: restaurants, ateliers, boutiques, handicraft workshops and numerous souvenir shops are the old town's magnificent features inviting for a long stroll through the old streets of Paraty. On top, the old town is almost entirely free of traffic as it became a listed part of the town in the 1950s. Enjoy watching the fishing boats swinging along with the waves in the port. Those boats are a popular scenery for postcards and photographs. Grab yourself a tiny and colorful one and explore the islands in the open sea in front of Paraty.
In the 17th century Paraty started to flourish economic-wise as it had established itself as a hub for trading gold and gems taken from the mines of Minas Gerais. Well-preserved buildings such as the quay and the Santa Rita church were only recently redone.
Additionally, the region is known for its agricultural investments in sugarcane. As Cachaça is mainly made from sugarcane, the plant is indispensable for Paraty's economy and also for millions of Caipirinha lovers. Up to this very day Paraty has remained a synonym for the popular spirit made from sugarcane in the entire country.
The 19th century brought some silence to the town of Paraty as the important “Caminho do Ouro”, the so-called path of gold, became redundant because of the new railway.
In the 1950s the region became a touristy place welcoming up to 1 million visitors each year.
How to get there
By public transport
There are buses operating a couple of times daily between Paraty and larger cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. A single ticket costs around 70 BRL (20 €/ 22 US-$) for a ride lasting between 4 and 6 hours to the beautiful town of Paraty. Bus companies offering rides to Paraty are, for instance, Costa Verde Transportes, Paraty-Tours or Reunidas Paulistas.