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Situated on the Emerald Coast of Brazil, Paraty is surrounded by lush green vegetation and a sparkling blue ocean. The town itself is a beautiful, well-preserved colonial town dating back to the 1500s when the Portuguese ruled.
The small town of Paraty is situated on Brazil’s coastline, south of Rio de Janeiro and north of Sao Paolo. To get from Rio de Janeiro to Paraty, it is a scenic four-hour drive along the Emerald Coast. The centre of the town is pedestrianised, making it a relaxing place to spend some time after visiting Rio.
History of Paraty
Paraty is a brilliant place to visit if you're interested in Brazil's colonial history. The architecture of the old town - including its car-less cobbled streets - are perfectly preserved. It dates back to the 1500s when the Portuguese used it to transport gold back to Portugal. With the increasing threat of pirates, they soon began bypassing Paraty, and the town began losing its importance, hence why the centre remains so intact today. Wandering along the small harbour it is possible to picture the bustling port whence gold was shipped off to larger Brazilian cities and Portugal. Although these days it is sleepy indeed - much better suited to a few relaxing days on the coast.
Activities in Paraty
Given Paraty’s small size, three nights is a good amount of time to explore the charming town and its surroundings. The town seems frozen in time, and it is a delightful place to unwind after spending a few days in the bustling city of Rio. Whilst there, you can explore the maze of cobblestone streets, take a schooner boat to admire the coastline and visit one of the nearby beaches or waterfalls.
Paraty is a photogenic town and a pleasant place to wander around, or spend an afternoon in a harbour-front café, soaking up the town’s laidback vibe. Quiet cobbled streets are traversed by horse-drawn carriages and lined with pretty buildings which are characterised by brightly-coloured doors and window frames. The scenic harbour area has a great ambience with schooner boats and fishing boats bobbing on the water, and small cafes lining the streets. Paraty has been officially recognised as a National Historic Site since 1966.
One of the most unique things about Paraty is that the pavements are built a foot above the streets, which are flooded during high tide due to the town’s position below sea level. Known as ‘Brazil’s Venice’, Paraty becomes a surreal scene of photogenic buildings being reflected into the water when the tide rolls in. The cobbles are inclined, creating channels to drain off water when it rains.
Paraty has a stunning setting on the Emerald Coast, offering some of south-eastern Brazil’s best coastal scenery. Beaches near Paraty can be accessed on foot, by boat or bus. There is one small beach right in the town called Praia do Pontal, where you can sit and watch local fishermen. By following the path for another kilometre, you will find the larger and more secluded Praia do Jabaquara.
There are many waterfalls to discover along the Emerald Coast. One of the most famous is Cachoeira do Toboga, a 20-minute drive from Paraty. This is for the more adventure-inclined, as people slide down the huge smooth rock which has a stream of water running down it, creating a slide. Across the road, you can learn about and taste cachaça, a spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice, popular on its own and in drinks including Brazil’s national cocktail, the caipirinha. Another popular waterfall near Paraty is the Pedra Branca.
Paraty Boat Tour
Set within seven acres of leafy grounds on the Banks of the Mutum River, Pousada Rio Mutum is arguably the best lodge in the Pantanal. There are 22 chalet-style detached buildings spread over the grounds, where wildlife including jabiru storks, night monkeys, tapirs, and birds such as chachalacas and cardinals are free to roam. The lodge’s location on the river means that it is particularly good for spotting water birds. In the lake nearby you can spot piranhas, giant river otters, capybaras and caimans. There is an attractive pool area, reading room, map room and a cosy restaurant serving typical pantaneiro cuisine.
If you would like to experience the cobbled streets and pristine beaches of Paraty, get in contact on 020 7263 3000 to speak to a Brazil expert.