Experience the diversity of Brazil's eastern coast on this 11-day trip. Start in Rio to see monuments such as Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain, and learn about Brazil's flora and fauna at the Rio Botanical Garden. Venture down the coast to explore Paraty's colonial cobblestone streets and lush Atlantic forests, then set sail to Ilha Grande for hiking, boat tours, and plenty of uninterrupted beach time.


  • Ride a cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain for the best views in Rio
  • Hop on a traditional schooner and set sail for the nearby island of Itacuruçá 
  • Discover Paraty's charming colonial streets, history, and surrounding mountains
  • Escape to the tropical island of Ilha Grande to swim, snorkel, or laze on the beach
  • Discover lush Atlantic forest as you scale the rocky peak of Pico do Papagaio 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Rio de Janeiro, Explore Rio de Janeiro
Day 2 Visit Christ the Redeemer & Sugarloaf Mountain Rio de Janeiro
Day 3 Half-Day Tour of Two Brothers Peak & Vidigal Favela Rio de Janeiro
Day 4 Sailing Day Trip to Ilha de Itacuruçá Rio de Janeiro
Day 5 Rio Botanical Garden Tour, Transfer to Paraty Paraty
Day 6 Full-Day Paraty Tour Paraty
Day 7 Nature & Culture Tour Around Paraty Paraty
Day 8 Transfer to Ilha Grande, Explore Ilha Grande
Day 9 Boat Tour of Ilha Grande Ilha Grande
Day 10 Hike to Pico do Papagaio (Parrot's Peak) Ilha Grande
Day 11 Free Morning in Ilha Grande, Transfer to Rio & Depart   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Rio de Janeiro, Explore

Arrive in Rio de Janeiro
You'll have trouble taking your eyes off Guanabara Bay

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) is a sprawling harbor city known for its beaches, festive culture, and raucous entertainment. On the drive from the airport, you'll catch views of Mount Corcovado's iconic Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf Mountain. Once you get settled in your beachfront hotel, you're free to spend the afternoon exploring the city at your own pace.

You could head to Lapa, a neighborhood that's always abuzz with activity, and grab a photo at the famous Escalaria Selarón, a stairway decorated in brightly painted ceramic tiles symbolic of the artistic heart of Rio. If fun in the sun is your objective, make for the golden sands of Copacabana or Ipanema. Join the locals in a spirited game of frescobol or lay out in the sun, caipirinha in hand, while nibbling a beach snack. This is the perfect location to enjoy the sunset. In the evening, you'll find plenty of great restaurants where you can enjoy a traditional Brazilian dinner.

Day 2: Christ the Redeemer & Sugarloaf Mountain

The view from Christ the Redeemer, in Rio de Janeiro
Enjoy spectacular views from atop Christ the Redeemer

Today's guided tour covers some of Rio's most famous 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. Commissioned in 1920, it was built to symbolize the welcoming spirit of both Rio and Brazil. Once you arrive at the summit of the 2,310-foot (704m) 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 farther north to the city of Duque de Caxias.

After descending Mount Corcovado, continue to the Urca neighborhood and the mouth of Guanabara Bay. Here you'll hop on 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. From its peak, you'll enjoy a 360-degree view of the rainforest, beaches, cityscapes, and monuments that define Brazil's most famous coastal city. Upon completion of the tour, your guide will return you to your hotel, and the rest of your evening is free.

Day 3: Half-Day Tour of Two Brothers Peak & Vidigal Favela

Two Brothers Mountain and Vidigal favela
Marvel at the fantastic views from Two Brothers Mountain and the Vidigal favela

Take a guided tour of one of Rio's favelas this morning. These neighborhoods, comprised of low-income residents living in shacks and shanties, have earned a reputation for dangerous slums. However, the less sensationalist reality is that these are primarily working-class communities, home to local families, and some favelas have even become hot tourist destinations. This is the case with Vidigal, one of Rio's most-visited favelas, and your destination today. Located on Morro Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers Mountain), the top of Vidigal reveals some of the best 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 steep hillsides and winding streets to the beginning of the Two Brothers Trail. From there, you'll hike to the 2,165-foot (660 m) peak, where you'll be rewarded with stunning city views and can take plenty of photos. Your return takes you back down the mountain along Vidigal's many staircases.

Day 4: Sailing Day Trip to Ilha de Itacuruçá 

Discover postcard-perfect beaches on today's sailing tour around Sepetiba Bay

Today's full-day adventure takes you 1.5 hours west of Rio to Sepetiba Bay, where you'll board a traditional saveiro schooner and set sail. Discover clusters of forest-laden islands, spot dolphins, turtles, and stingrays in the turquoise waters, and stop for swims along the way. You'll break for lunch on the idyllic island of Itacuruçá, located well off the tourist trail and home to quaint fishing villages and unspoiled beaches. Spend some time exploring the island, continue your cruise to secluded beaches and sheltered coves, then chart a course back to the mainland and return to Rio in time for dinner.

Plan your trip to Brazil
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Day 5: Rio Botanical Garden Tour, Transfer to Paraty

Rio Botanical Garden Tour
You can't miss the imperial palm trees as you enter the Rio Botanical Garden 

This morning starts with a guided tour through the Rio Botanical Garden. This magnificent 338-acre (137 ha) garden is over 200 years old, featuring a .5-mile (750 m) avenue of 134 impressive royal palms and more than 7,000 types of plants. You can see orchids, bromeliads, cacti, giant bamboo trees, and carnivorous plants, among many others. Don't miss the famous Victoria amazonica—a giant floating water lily capable of sustaining the weight of a five-year-old child! Monkeys are sometimes visible in the garden's treetops, and there are always plenty of birds flying overhead especially toucans.

After your visit, a driver will pick you up from your hotel for the 4.5-hour drive down the coast to Paraty, a charming seafront town that offers a refreshing change of pace from the city. Upon arrival, you'll check in to your pousada (guesthouse) and have the rest of the day free.

Day 6: Full-Day Paraty Tour

The colonial streets of Paraty
Stroll the colorful colonial streets of Paraty

The Portuguese colonial harbor town of Paraty has become a prime destination in recent decades. Besides its charming whitewashed homes lining historic streets, it's surrounded by jungle-clad mountains offering incredible nature tours, and offshore are idyllic islands that make great day trips. On today's walking tour, you'll experience the town's highlights, including Paraty's historic center, a National Historic Site. As you stroll down the cobbled streets, you'll pass colonial landmarks like the late-18th-century Matriz Church.

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.​ Next, 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 crystal-clear waters or lie out on the deck and admire the beauty of Paraty's skyline.

Day 7: Nature & Culture Tour Around Paraty

The mountains of Serra da Bocaina National Park, outside Paraty
Explore the mountains of Serra da Bocaina National Park outside Paraty

Rise early and hop in a vehicle for a ride outside town and into the Atlantic rainforests of Serra da Bocaina National Park. This nature tour will take you to some of the region's many waterfalls, which plunge over cliffs into crystalline lagoons. Stop at falls like Poço do Tarzan and Pedra Branca to swim and cool off. At Poço do Tarzan, specifically, you can speed down the falls on a natural rock waterslide. You'll also get to spot some exotic animals in this national park, such as spider monkeys and possibly even jaguars. 

Later, you'll meet local artisans as they demonstrate how they produce the famous handmade cachaça of Paraty. Cachaça is a Brazilian spirit made from fermented sugar cane juice, and it's the main ingredient in the country's national cocktail, the caipirinha. During this tasting experience, you'll sample different cachaças and learn about the spirit's origins, dating 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 freshly ground cup of coffee paired with a traditional sweet treat.

Day 8: Transfer to Ilha Grande, Explore

Welcome to Ilha Grande
Squish your toes in the sand on Ilha Grande

Travel from Paraty to the coastal town of Angra dos Reis via a private transfer. During the 1.5-hour long drive, you'll have the chance to enjoy beautiful coastal views. Once you've arrived in Angra dos Reis, take a one-hour flex boat to Vila do Abraão, the only town on the island of Ilha Grande. Your base for the next three nights, the idyllic island of Ilha Grande, was closed to the public by the Brazilian government for nearly a century, leaving its natural beauty in pristine condition today. Thanks to its biodiversity and lush Atlantic rainforest, the island is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Spend the rest of today relaxing on the island's many peaceful beaches, or if you're looking for more action and adventure, there are plenty of activities to choose from. Participate in an eco-trekking tour, explore the ocean surrounding Ilha Grande by kayak, or try your luck at surfing. 

Day 9: Boat Tour of Ilha Grande

Enjoy some fun in the sun on Paraty
Enjoy some fun in the sun on Paraty

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 on a boat to nearby Ilha Grande. Not only is this island beautiful, but its north and south shores are fringed with incredible stretches of sand to suit every kind of beach bum. The island has everything from secluded coves to tranquil lagoons to long, palm-fringed surf beaches.

You'll depart in the late morning for a five-hour boat tour that stops 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 and postcard scenery 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 in the late afternoon.

Day 10: Hike to Pico do Papagaio (Parrot's Peak)

Hike up Parrot's Peak
Lace up your hiking boots to climb up Parrot's Peak

While beaches encircle Ilha Grande, the island's interior is known for its lush Atlantic forests. In the morning, you'll embark on a 4-mile (6 km) hike up Pico do Papagaio (Parrot's Peak). At 3,221 feet (982 m), the summit of this mountain (whose unique rock formations resemble a parrot's beak) is the second-highest point on Ilha Grande. It's a moderately strenuous hike that leaves from 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 incredible views of the island's beaches and the ocean. 

Day 11: Free Morning in Ilha Grande, Transfer to Rio & Depart 

Lopes Mendes Beach
Until next time Brazil!

Savor those last few moments this morning to enjoy this island 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 because, for a long time, Ilha Grande was off-limits to the general public (in past 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, surrounded by Atlantic rainforest and facing turquoise waters, is one of the most beautiful stretches of sand in Brazil and the entire world and a prime spot for swimming and snorkeling. 

At the scheduled time, you'll head to the harbor in Ilha Grande and transfer by boat to the port of Conceição de Jacareí. From there, a car will pick you up for the two-hour drive to the airport in Rio, where you'll catch a flight to your final destination. Safe travels!

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Map of Brazil's Vibrant Coastline: Rio de Janeiro, Paraty & Ilha Grande - 11 Days
Map of Brazil's Vibrant Coastline: Rio de Janeiro, Paraty & Ilha Grande - 11 Days