Dip your toe into the diverse landscapes and cultures of Brazil on this nine-day city-to-islands adventure. Start in Rio and see the city like a real "Carioca" as you cook local dishes, explore off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods, and watch the sunset from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. It's off to Iguaçu Falls next to see this wonder of nature up close, then back to the coast to hike along the Gold Trail in colonial Paraty. Cap off your trip with two nights on the quiet island paradise of Ilha Grande.


  • Discover Rio through its neighborhoods, monuments, nature, and food
  • Fly to Foz do Iguaçu and boat to the base of the magnificent waterfalls
  • Discover the colonial village of Paraty and hike along the historic Gold Trail
  • Settle into the island lifestyle on the beaches of Ilha Grande 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro
Day 2 Corcovado & Christ the Redeemer Tour, Sunset Visit to Sugarloaf Mountain Rio de Janeiro
Day 3 Brazilian Cooking Class, Visit the Botanical Gardens & Santa Teresa Rio de Janeiro
Day 4 Free Morning in Rio, Fly to Foz do Iguaçu Foz do Iguaçu 
Day 5 Iguaçu Falls Hike (Argentine Side), Gran Aventura Boat Tour Foz do Iguaçu 
Day 6 Explore Iguaçu Falls (Brazilian Side) & Parque das Alves, Fly to Paraty Paraty
Day 7 Gold Trail & Paraty Walking Tour, Transfer to Ilha Grande Ilha Grande
Day 8 Explore Ilha Grande, Hike to Lopes Mendes Beach & Ilha Grande Boat Tour Ilha Grande
Day 9 Fly to Rio de Janeiro, Farewell Dinner & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Rio de Janeiro

Airport arrival in Rio de Janeiro
Enjoy spectacular views from every angle in Rio de Janeiro

Welcome to Rio de Janeiro! Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. Known as the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City), Rio is a sprawling harbor city known for its beaches, festive culture, and raucous entertainment. On the drive into the city, look out for sights such as Mount Corcovado's Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain. The remainder of the day is free, so take this opportunity to explore the city on your own.

Stroll along the Copacabana boardwalk until you reach the Forte de Copacabana, a historic Portuguese-colonial fort sitting on a rocky cape at the beach's southern end. Still a working naval base, you'll find amazing views, a small military museum, and good cafés. Enjoy great views at Arpoador Beach, one of the greatest places to surf in Copacabana but also the ideal spot to view the coastline. Meaning "harpoon thrower" in Portuguese, this rocky outcrop creates decent waves for surfers year-round. If you're not into surfing, come for the spectacular sunsets.

Day 2: Corcovado & Christ the Redeemer Tour, Sunset Visit to Sugarloaf Mountain

Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer)
No trip to Rio would be complete without watching the sunset from Sugarloaf Mountain

Your tour begins this morning with a transfer to Tijuca National Park, the largest urban park in the world. Once you reach the base of Corcovado, a train will take you up through the lush forest to the peak. You'll find Christ the Redeemer, the largest Art Deco statue ever built at 98 feet (30 m) high. From here, you can see all of Guanabara Bay, the south beaches, and far north, the adjacent city of Duque de Caxias. Across the bay, you'll see the eastern cities of Niterói and São Gonçalo. After the visit, you'll return to your hotel.

As evening falls, meet your driver, who'll take you to Praia Vermelha, the cable car station to Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain). From there, on foot, follow the Pista Claudio Coutinho Trail, also known as Caminho Bem Te Vi. On this 45-minute hike through the woods, enjoy its sounds, and look out for wildlife like marmosets and various birds. When you reach the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, settle in for a dramatic sunset viewing with a glass of Champagne. The descent will be made by cable car, and a driver will be waiting for you at the bottom to return to the hotel.

Day 3: Brazilian Cooking Class, Visit the Botanical Gardens & Santa Teresa

Fish Moqueca preparation
Learn to make succulent Brazilian dishes

Meet your guide this morning and head to the kitchen for a cultural and gastronomic experience, where you'll learn how to cook several Brazilian recipes. During the class, the chef will follow the recipe and explain the origin and nutritional benefits of the ingredients as you discover the different flavors. At the end of the lesson, you'll sample the finished dishes you prepared before returning to the hotel. Later, visit the Botanical Garden. Located in the city's center, it has over 40,000 species of plants. Learn what kapok is, then see the different sizes and colors of bromeliads and spot various birds.

Next, visit the neighborhoods of Lapa and Santa Teresa. Lapa is the place to go in search of cold beer, a Carioca (the name for Rio's locals) atmosphere, and lots of good music. On the other hand, Santa Teresa attracts by the charm of its cobbled streets, famous cable car, good restaurants, and an incredible view of the city. Dive into these neighborhoods by wandering their streets and visiting the Escadaria Selarón and the Ruins Park.

Day 4: Free Morning in Rio, Fly to Foz do Iguaçu

Copacabana sidewalk
Stroll Copacabana's sidewalk

This morning you're free to explore during your final hours in Rio. Soak up the city's electric atmosphere as you stroll the iconic beachside promenade. Relax on the powdery sands, jump in the ocean for a swim, and treat yourself to a refreshing coconut water at one of the main beaches, such as Copacabana, Leme, and Ipanema

This afternoon, brace yourself for a change of scenery as you're picked up at your hotel and transferred to the airport for a flight inland to Foz do Iguaçu (Iguaçu Falls), which lies at the borders of Argentina and Paraguay and is home to one of the world's largest waterfall systems. Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by a driver and taken directly to your hotel.

Day 5: Iguaçu Falls Hike (Argentine Side), Gran Aventura Boat Tour

Iguaçu Falls Hike on the Argentina Side
Take in all the incredible views at Iguaçu Falls in Argentine National Park

Start your exploration of the mighty Iguaçu Falls by hopping over the border to the Argentine side (known by the Spanish spelling of Iguazú). Here you'll get an up-close look at one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World from numerous walking paths and boardwalks. The lower circuit offers more contact with nature as it winds through lush jungle, while the upper circuit provides lookout points of all the drops and delta islands, including an impressive view of the Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat), where you can feel the sheer power of the water crashing down around you.

After a break for lunch, explore more of the jungle and falls with a safari and boat adventure. The tour begins in an off-road vehicle that takes you through dense foliage along the Yacaratiá Trail. When you reach Puerto Macuco, you'll head to the dock and board a small boat, making your way upstream toward the falls. Enjoy small rapids as you head to the base of Salto Tres Mosqueteros, then face the incomparable Salto San Martín, the largest waterfall approachable by boat. Finally, reach the dock in front of Isla San Martín and return by the walkway system until arriving at the private vehicle that will return you to your hotel.

Day 6: Explore Iguaçu Falls (Brazilian Side) & Parque das Alves, Fly to Paraty

Foz do Iguaçu Falls
Get drenched as you get up close to Brazil's Iguaçu Falls
Plan your trip to Brazil
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Rise early to explore the Brazilian side of the falls today. The Iguaçu National Park hosts the largest amount of preserved Atlantic forest in southern Brazil and offers a different vantage point of the natural wonder as you gaze across the Rio Iguaçu. Follow walkways that offer panoramic views over the rapids and an up-close look at the 275 waterfalls that make up Iguaçu. Next, you'll visit Parque das Aves (Bird Park), home to more than 1,320 exotic and tropical birds, covering 143 species. Wander the 40 acres (16.5 ha) of lush natural habitat and look out for colorful macaws, parrots, and toucans.

After the tour, you'll have the option to take a helicopter ride to appreciate the entire spectacle of waterfalls seen from above. Once finished, you'll be transferred to the airport in Foz do Iguaçu to catch a flight back to Rio. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you at the airport and transfer about four hours down the coast to the colonial town of Paraty. With an idyllic setting on the beautiful Costa Verde, this coastal haven is surrounded by forested mountains, untouched jungle, and sandy bays. Get your bearings with a stroll through its historic Old Town, passing cobblestone streets and whitewashed facades with rainbow-colored doorways and window frames.

Day 7: Gold Trail & Paraty Walking Tour, Transfer to Ilha Grande

Gold Trail & Walking Tour of Paraty
Learn the history of the Gold Trail as you hike and discover waterfalls

Discover more of Brazil's colonial history as you explore the Caminho do Ouro (the Gold Trail) between Paraty and the state of Minas Gerais. Your guide will take you on a 30-minute drive to the border that separates the states of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais until reaching the city of Penha. From there, you'll hike along a stone road built by enslaved Africans in the 18th century to move gold and precious stones from Brazil's interior to ships bound for Portugal. 

As you follow the trail through the rainforest, stop at a waterfall to cool off. Finish the tour at a cachaça distillery, where you'll learn about the traditional techniques to produce this uniquely Brazilian spirit made from fermented sugar cane (and, of course, have a tasting). After lunch, return to Paraty and take a walking tour of the historic center. Hear about Paraty's history and explore the legends of past centuries as you visit churches, museums, and historic homes.

Later in the afternoon, you'll say your goodbyes and get ready to transfer to Ilha Grande, a beautiful island with lush forests and pristine sandy beaches. A driver will be waiting to take you to the coastal town of Angra dos Reis. From there, a boat will take you to Vila de Abraao, the only town on Ilha Grande. Once checked in at your hotel, head out and get a feel for the vibe on this peaceful island.

Day 8: Explore Ilha Grande, Hike to Lopes Mendes Beach & Ilha Grande Boat Tour 

Free day in Ilha Grande
Soak up the island lifestyle on Ilha Grande

Wake up to the sounds of the tropics this morning. You have these early hours free to explore this tropical paradise: visit the beaches, swim in the ocean, discover the island by kayak, or try your luck at surfing. If you want to venture farther afield, see some of the nearby islands with a boat tour.

Later, you'll leave Vila do Abraão and head off hiking to Lopes Mendes Beach. Walking with your guide, you'll pass by Palmas Beach, Mangues Beach, Pouso Beach, and Palm Cove. Once you reach Pouso Beach, you'll follow a trail for 15-20 minutes to Lopes Mendes Beach. This peaceful spot is one of the region's gems, with its fine white sand and crystal-clear water. At the end of the 1.5-mile (2.4 km) long stretch of sand, you'll find a small chapel and a mosaic by Silvio Cavalheiro on an old ship's barrel. Once you've had a look around, return to Pouso Beach to catch a taxi boat back to Vila do Abraão.

Next, you'll take a private boat to Lagoa Azul (Blue Lagoon). Along the way, stop in the shallow transparent water to see an underwater world of coral and colorful fish, which you can feed from your hands. Head to Feiticeira Beach, where you'll have time to swim or hike to Feiticeira Waterfall. Continue through the Saco do Céu (Bag of the Sky), an ecological sanctuary whose mangrove trees are home to many species. Afterward, stop at Fora Beach, lined with rustic restaurants along the river toward Perequê Beach. When the tour is finished, return to your hotel in Ilha Grande.

Day 9: Transfer to Rio, Farewell Dinner & Depart 

Farewell dinner at Aprazível Restaurant and Transfer to the Airport
Until next time Rio!

It's time to say goodbye to island life as you catch a boat back to the mainland today, where a private driver will be waiting to take you back to Rio de Janeiro. As the sun starts to set, enjoy a farewell dinner at Aprazível, one of the best restaurants in the city, with beautiful views of Guanabara Bay. After an evening of celebration, you'll be transferred to the airport to catch your flight home. Safe travels!

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