Rio By Bike offers tours with bilingual guides that take you to the beaches of the South Zone, Aterro do Flamengo Park, Gloria Marina and the Museum of Modern Art. The weekend tours are fixed: Tour 1 (Sun 9 a.m.), Tour 2 (Sat 9 a.m.) and Tour 3 (Sat & Sun 2:30 p.m.). From Monday to Friday, the bike tours are offered on request.
Phone: (021) 491 07 18; (021) 96 07 01 17
There are two worthwhile bus tours. City Rio offers air-conditioned buses in which tourists receive information in one of four languages via headphones. Three tours stop at the largest hotels in Rio (departures every 30 minutes) and show the main sights of the city. Tickets are valid for 24 hours and can be bought on the bus or in hotels.
Tour Cultural (Tel: leaves Wed-Sun every hour from 12.30-5.30pm. There are trips in air-conditioned minibuses; passengers are given an information folder with the opening times of the cultural facilities and a list of permanent exhibitions. Attractions include the Paco Imperial , the Cultural Banco do Brasil, the Museu Historico Nacional and the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes.
Phone: (08 00) 25 80 60); (021) 533 44 07
Several companies offer guided tours of Rio’s greener areas.
With Aventuras Rio specializes in hiking through the Tijuca forest; the approximately 200 hiking trails lead past mountains, ruins and waterfalls. The costs include trips and guidance; lunch is available on request.
Trilharte Ecoturismo organizes walks and hikes through Pedra Branca State Park, Tijuca National Park and other areas that combine ecology with exploring the city’s geographic surroundings.
Phone: (021) 381 30 31; (021) 96 99 96 33; (021) 273 17 98
To the east of Rio is a beautiful seaside resort with a Mediterranean ambience, Búzios, which is also nicknamed ‘Brazil’s St. Tropez’.
Once there was a fishing village that gained popularity when it was accidentally discovered by Brigitte Bardot in 1964. The place is located on a peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean and has bars, restaurants, well-kept boutiques and luxurious villas and pousadas. During the high season (December-February), the population can increase from 16,000 to 150,000 people.
The place is a playground for the very rich and beautiful and consists of three settlements surrounded by a total of 27 white sandy beaches. Every beach has something different to offer, from normal swimming to a variety of water sports.
Búzios is easily reached by bus. Several buses depart from Rio every day, the journey takes about four hours. It only takes about half as long by car.
Telephone: (02 47) 623 20 99 (Búzios tourist information)
One of the most popular vacation spots in Brazil is the charming colonial town of Parati, which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Its architecture has been preserved in the style of the 18th century, when the city was the main hub of the Brazilian gold trade. The winding cobblestone streets are only accessible to bicycles, horses, and pedestrians, and are surrounded by an abundance of old buildings that house engaging art galleries, restaurants, and shops.
Parati is dotted with churches, reflecting the prosperity of the place during the 18th century. The three largest churches were used as racial segregation instruments. The largest, most stately church in the city is the Nossa Senhora dos Remédios. It was originally built for the city’s white elite and now houses works by local artists. According to legend, the construction was financed with pirate treasures. The smallest church, the Igreja do Rosério, served the slaves as a place of worship and contains wooden altars in honor of St. Benedict, St. John and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Igreja de Santa Rita, built in the elaborate Portuguese Baroque style, was visited by the mulattoes released from serfdom. The attached museum houses a small collection of religious art.
A 20-minute walk north from the old town is the Forte Defensor Perpétuo on the Morro de Vilha. In 1703 it was used to defend Parati against looting pirates. Today it houses the Museu de Artes e Tradicoes Populares.
There are 65 beaches and over 200 islands worth seeing in the area – and the quay at the harbor is the starting point for numerous cruises as well as tours for fishing and whale watching. Spending just a day in Parati is nowhere near enough. There are also many good places to eat and drink.
Parati is best reached from Rio by bus or car. The Rodoviária or bus station is one kilometer from the old town, and several buses depart from here every day. The journey takes about four and a half hours, but it is much faster by car.
No motor vehicles are allowed in the old town. The tourist office is located on Avenida Roberto Silveira, next to the Igreja de Santa Rita church in the former prison, the Antiga Cadeia.
Phone: (024) 371 12 66