- Visit highlights of Rio like Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain
- Travel to the top of favelas and visit samba schools to see Carnival preparations
- Take walking tours of colonial Paraty and learn how to make artisanal cachaças
- Sail around Ilha Grande and visit some of the island's best beaches
|Day 1||Arrive in Rio de Janeiro||Rio de Janeiro|
|Day 2||Christ the Redeemer & Sugar Loaf Mountain||Rio de Janeiro|
|Day 3||Tour Vidigal Favela||Rio de Janeiro|
|Day 4||Free Day in Rio de Janeiro||Rio de Janeiro|
|Day 5||Carioca Lifestyle & Carnival Culture||Rio de Janeiro|
|Day 6||Transfer From Rio de Janeiro to Paraty||Paraty|
|Day 7||Paraty Walking Tour||Paraty|
|Day 8||Nature & Culture Tour Around Paraty||Paraty|
|Day 9||Transfer From Paraty to Ilha Grande||Ilha Grande|
|Day 10||Bout Tour of Ilha Grande||Ilha Grande|
|Day 11||Hike Pico do Papagaio (Parrot's Peak)||Ilha Grande|
|Day 12||Free Day in Ilha Grande||Ilha Grande|
|Day 13||Transfer to Rio, Boteco Tour||Rio de Janeiro|
|Day 14||Depart Rio de Janeiro|
Day 1: Arrive 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. The Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City), as Rio is known, is a sprawling harbor city known for its beaches, festive culture, and raucous entertainment. On the drive into the city from the airport, you'll catch views of Mount Corcovado's iconic Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf Mountain. Here, cable cars transport visitors up its towering peak to enjoy expansive city views.
Once you get settled in your beachfront hotel, you can take a stroll along Ipanema or Copacabana Beach to enjoy the sunset. There are also plenty of great restaurant options in the city where you can enjoy a traditional Brazilian dinner.
Day 2: Christ the Redeemer & Sugar Loaf Mountain
Today's full-day tour covers some of Rio's most iconic landmarks. First, you'll head to the top of Mount Corcovado to visit Christ the Redeemer, a 98-foot (30 m) statue of Jesus Christ overlooking the city below. It was commissioned by a local Catholic group in 1920 and was built to symbolize the welcoming spirit of both Rio and Brazil. Once you arrive at the summit of the 2,310-foot (704 m) Corcovado and the base of this Art Deco statue, you'll be treated to panoramic views of Rio and beyond, from the southern beaches to Guanabara Bay and further north to the city of Duque de Caxias.
After descending Corcovado, you'll travel to the mouth of Guanabara Bay. Here you'll hop a cable car up to Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain). This nearly 1,300-foot (396 m) mountain peak unsurprisingly gets its name because it resembles a mound of sugar. You'll enjoy a 360-degree view of the rainforest, beaches, cityscape, and monuments that define Brazil's most famous coastal city from its peak. After Sugarloaf Mountain, you'll return to your hotel.
Day 3: Tour Vidigal Favela
In the morning, you'll take a guided tour of one of Rio's favelas. These neighborhoods, comprised of low-income residents living in shacks and shanties, have earned a reputation for being dangerous slums. However, today's tour reveals the less sensationalist reality that these are mostly working-class communities home to families and residents simply getting by. You'll be visiting Vidigal, which has become quite a popular tourist destination. Located on Morro Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers Mountain), a trip up to the top of Vidigal reveals amazing views of the Brazilian coast.
The tour begins with a walk along the seaside, where your guide will share the history of the favelas. Once you reach Vidigal, you'll hop in a van and ride up along steep hillsides through the neighborhood's winding streets to the beginning of the Two Brothers trail. From there, you'll hike to the 2,165-foot (660 m) peak of Morro Dois Irmãos, where you'll be rewarded with stunning views of the city. Then, you'll hike back down the mountain along Vidigal's many staircases.
Day 4: Free Day in Rio de JaneiroThe city is your playground with a free day in Rio de Janeiro. For some local color, head to the city center and Lapa, a neighborhood always abuzz with activity. Here, you can take pictures at the famous Selaron Stairs, a stairway decorated with brightly painted ceramic tiles emblematic of Rio's artistic heart. And if fun in the sun is your prime desire, then head to the golden sands of Copacabana or Ipanema. Here you can play a spirited game of frescobol, or simply lay out in the sun, caipirinha in hand while nibbling on the occasional beach snack.
Day 5: Carioca Lifestyle & Carnaval Culture
Venture out into the city today and experience real Carioca (residents of Rio) culture in the company of a local guide. It starts with a 15-minute subway ride to the historic city center. Once there, embark on a walking tour to highlights like the conical-shaped São Sebastião Cathedral and the Saara Shopping District, a lively hub for bargain hunters. End the morning with a buffet lunch and pastry desserts at Confeitaria Colombo. This Art Nouveau landmark is one of the oldest restaurants in Brazil, built in 1894 during Rio's Belle Époque era.
From the restaurant, you'll head to the port area, and Cidade do Samba (Samba City), a complex of warehouses home to samba schools where locals prepare all year for the famous Carnival celebrations. Here, you'll visit Pimpolhos, a youth samba school that promotes social interaction and education through Carnival culture. It's a great opportunity to go backstage at Brazil's biggest party and learn about the history of samba music, see dancers practicing routines, and watch how the parades are organized. You can even try on some real Carnival outfits.
At the end of the tour, you'll enjoy a delicious caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail made with cachaça (sugar cane liquor) and lime. Then return to your hotel via the subway.
Day 6: Tranfer From Rio de Janeiro to ParatyBid Rio farewell for now as a driver picks you up from your hotel for the 4.5-hour drive west to Paraty. This historic Portuguese-colonial town sits right on a charming port and is a great escape from the city. It's become a prime destination in recent decades. Besides its lovely white-washed homes lining the historic streets, the town is backed by jungle-shrouded mountains offering incredible nature tours, and just offshore, you'll find idyllic islands that make great day trips. Upon arrival, you'll check in to your pousada (guesthouse) and have the rest of the day free.
Day 7: Paraty Walking Tour
On today's walking tour, you'll visit Paraty's historic center, which is also a National Historic Site. As you stroll down the cobbled streets, pass colonial landmarks like the late-18th-century Matriz Church, and browse local artisan shops selling everything from ceramics to handmade dresses and swimwear. You'll also stop at the historical fish market in the port, which dates from the 18th century.
Then, you'll board a traditional wooden motorboat and head out on the bay for a leisurely tour. During the excursion, the boat will make three or four stops, allowing you to swim in the clear waters or simply lie out on the deck and admire the beauty of Paraty's skyline.
Day 8: Nature & Culture Tour Around Paraty
Today you'll hop in a vehicle for a ride into the Atlantic rainforests of Serra da Bocaina National Park. This nature tour will take you to some of the region's many romantic waterfalls like Poço do Tarzan and Pedra Branca. At Poço do Tarzan you can even speed down the falls on a natural rock waterslide. You might also spot the park's famous animal residents, which include spider monkeys and jaguars.
Later, you'll meet with local artisans who produce the famous handmade cachaça of Paraty. This Brazilian spirit is made from fermented sugar cane juice, and it's the main ingredient in the country's national cocktail, the caipirinha. During this delicious tasting, you'll sample different cachaças and learn about the spirit's origins, which date to the 18th century. Then, you'll visit the Ouro Branco Flour House, a historic landmark where you can see how manioc flour is manufactured. Afterward, enjoy a coffee prepared with freshly ground Brazilian beans.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 9: Transfer From Paraty to Ilha GrandeIn the morning, a driver will pick you up at your pousada in Paraty and transfer you to the port in nearby Angra dos Reis. From there, you'll board a tour boat and embark on the 30-minute ride to nearby Ilha Grande. Upon arrival at this laid-back and beautiful island, you'll check in to your guesthouse in the main town of Vila do Abraão.
Day 10: Boat Tour of Ilha Grande
People come to Paraty to experience its culture and colonial history. But when folks want to enjoy the best beaches in the area, they hop a boat to nearby Ilha Grande. This island is beautiful, and its north and south shores are fringed with incredible stretches of sand to suit every kind of beach bum. On this island, there's everything from secluded coves to tranquil lagoons to long, palm-fringed surf beaches.
You'll depart in the late morning for a half-day boat tour that will stop at some of the best of Ilha Grande's many beaches. Enjoy the panoramic views at Dois Rios, the romantic (and hidden) lagoon at Caxadaço, the wide and inviting Parnaioca Beach, and the turquoise waters at Aventureiro—and that's just the start. Several more stops are planned at the island's beautiful virgin beaches, where you can swim, lay out, and relax. After a day of beach hopping, you'll return to the harbor in Ilha Grande.
Day 11: Hike Pico do Papagaio (Parrot's Peak)Lace up your hiking boots today for a 4-mile (6 km) trek up Pico do Papagaio (Parrot's Peak). At 3,221 feet (982 m), the summit of this mountain (whose unique rock formations do indeed resemble a parrot's beak) is the second-highest point on Ilha Grande. It's a moderately strenuous hike that leaves from the town of Vila do Abraão, ascends thousands of feet, and takes about three hours to complete. The effort is well worth it because once you reach the top, you'll be treated to panoramic views. After enjoying some time at the summit, you'll descend the mountain and return to town.
Day 12: Free Day in Ilha Grande
You'll have the entire today to experience Paraty however you like. If you want to relax and recharge your batteries, there are around 100 beaches here that you can enjoy. They've all remained relatively unspoiled over the years due to the fact that for a long time, Ilha Grande was off limits to the general public (in various centuries, it served as a leper colony and maximum-security prison island).
If you can't decide which beach to visit, you can't go wrong with Lopes Mendes. This long crescent beach backed by Atlantic rainforest and fronting turquoise waters is not only one of the most beautiful stretches of sand in Brazil but in the entire world. Both Lopes Mendes and nearby Parnaioca beaches are great for swimming and snorkeling.
Day 13: Transfer to Rio, Boteco Tour
Head to the harbor in Ilha Grande and transfer by boat to the port in the town of Conceição de Jacareí. From there, a car will pick you up for the two-hour drive back to Rio de Janeiro. Upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel. Rest up, because when the sun goes down, you'll embark on a guided boteco tour. These are bars where locals come to meet after work to socialize while enjoying some bar snacks and ice-cold Skol beers.
This pub crawl begins in the raucous neighborhood of Lapa, one of the city's most popular areas for nightlife. Here, you'll learn all about cachaça, its history, and how it came to be the central liquor used in Brazil's national cocktail. From Lapa, the tour continues to three bars in the world-famous beach areas of Ipanema and Copacabana, where you can sample different local snacks and drinks. By the end of the evening, you'll feel like a real Carioca!