This autumn I had an opportunity to visit South America for the first time. I don’t need to tell you how excited I was! My discovery of this amazing continent has started with Brazil.
After spending 5 days in Rio de Janeiro (a separate post coming soon), I headed to Paraty. Perched between the sea and the mountains, 125 miles south of Rio de Janeiro, this charming town is not to be missed. Its historic centre is quite small so you can easily explore it in a day. I wouldn’t normally stay longer than a day but since I didn’t organise this trip myself, I was offered to spend two days there and thanks to this have fallen completely in love with this place.
I was fascinated by the colonial architecture of Paraty’s historic centre but the locals were the reason this experience was so special. As the town is a popular tourist destination, everyone speaks English (that’s not the case in bigger cities) and is super friendly!
Things to do
Take the time to admire Paraty’s Portuguese colonial architecture with its 17th and 18th century buildings with colourful doors and windows dating back to the time when it was an important port during the Brazilian Gold Rush.
After the gold rush, the town became the centre of the sugarcane production and later the coffee production. Paraty is still well-known for its cachaça, a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice, most famous outside of Brazil as the main ingredient of caipirinha cocktail. Make sure to visit local distilleries to sample some locally made cachaça.
Take a boat tour to discover some of the area’s most idyllic islands and beaches. Most of the tours start at around 11am and takes about four hours. Alternatively, take the time to wander around and absorb the town’s history while the majority of its visitors are away on one of the tours.
Try locally roasted coffee at cafe Montanita and chat with their friendly baristas.
For an unforgettable local experience, learn to cook Brazilian dishes with the wonderful hosts Yara Castro Roberts, a Brazilian chef and author of the book The Brazilian Table, and her husband Richard Roberts at their Academy of Cooking & Other Pleasures. They will welcome you to their beautiful home for a magical evening of cooking, chatting and eating while learning about Brazilian culture, food and the couple’s international experience.
Where to stay
There are a few hotels, hostels as well as bed and breakfast in the historic centre. I stayed at the Porto Imperial, a charming hotel located in a former commercial warehouse, dating back to 1804, right in the historic centre, where boats used to dock to transport goods arriving or departing from Paraty.
Paraty is also home to a lovely puppet theatre - Teatro Espaco where you can enjoy an incredibly touching performance. The puppets are so real that almost look like humans!
If I ever go back to Brazil, I hope I will have an opportunity to return to Paraty but for now I’m looking through those photos that are bringing back warm memories.