The Best Day Trips from Rio de Janeiro
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The Best Day Trips from Rio de Janeiro

9 min read

Mar 19, 2021


By Simone Costa

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Last updated on July 20th, 2023 at 05:07 am

Day trips from Rio de Janeiro are ideal for those who wish to get out of the city and experience more of what Brazil has to offer. While there’s so much to see and do in Rio, the city also acts as a gateway to incredible places that you can reach in a day’s time. The following recommendations are all places you can arrive and explore within a day of travel, or for a longer duration if your Brazil trip itinerary permits. From beautiful beaches to the lush countryside, read along for my favorite day trips from Rio de Janeiro.

1. Buzios

First on our list of Rio de Janeiro day trips is Buzios. Just 100 miles from Rio de Janeiro, this small and sophisticated paradise has more than 20 magnificent Brazil beaches such as Geribá, João Fernandes, Ferradura. This old fishing village houses trendy bars, restaurants, and designer stores in the relaxed “Rua das Pedras.” Additionally, the Orla Bardot has a boardwalk by the sea where you find the famous bronze statue of Brigitte Bardot.

Walking around Buzios is pleasant both day and night. During the day, you have the scenery of Praia da Armação and the colorful boats moored. As the night falls, the atmosphere changes with friendly locals, curious tourists, and the lights of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.

It is best to visit Buzios during April and May when you can enjoy the city with tranquility and sunny days. I also recommend visiting Buzios from September to October. During Brazil’s summer season, Carnival and long holidays make the city very busy.

How far away is Buzios from Rio

Buzios is about 100 miles from Rio (2.5 hr journey).

How to get to Buzios from Rio

The journey between Rio de Janeiro and Búzios is usually done by car or bus. The trip by car takes an average of 2h10, while by bus takes around 2h30 between Novo Rio bus station and the city of Búzios.

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steps leading down to beach in buzios brazil
cobblestone street in buzios brazil

Last updated on July 20th, 2023 at 05:07 am

2. Arraial do Cabo

Next on our list of day trips from Rio de Janeiro is Arraial do Cabo. Arraial do Cabo is known as the “Diving Captial” and is more rustic than the neighboring Buzios. This is an excellent option for those who prefer a more peaceful environment with dining and accommodation options that are less expensive and smaller than Buzios.

At Arraial, enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches of the Brazilian coast, with lagoons and crystal clear sea, white sand dunes, and sandbank vegetation. Additionally, there are cliffs providing gorgeous views of the surrounding area.

How far away is Arraial do Cabo from Rio

Arraial do Cabo is about 164 km from Rio (3 hr journey).

How to get to Arraial do Cabo from Rio

The best way to get to Arraial do Cabo from Rio is by land. Car and bus are the most common options. The nearest airport is Cabo Frio Airport (CFB), which is 10 km from Arraial do Cabo. However, this is a very small airport and there are not many flight options.

3. Ilha Grande (Big Island)

The green sea, wild beaches, and waterfalls are the main attractions of Ilha Grande. Nature was generous with the bay of Angra dos Reis, presenting it with no less than 365 islands splashed in a sea of crystalline waters.

If you are looking for excitement, settle in Vila Abraão, with inns, restaurants, bars, shops, and tourist agencies. Ilha Grande also offers a huge variety of nautical tours, such as schooners and speedboats. There are also walking and cycling tours, excellent for those looking to enjoy the exuberant nature.

How far away is Ilha Grande from Rio

The distance from Rio to Ilha Grande is a bit complicated. In fact, Google maps didn’t even have an answer! The closest pier to take a boat ride to Ilha Grande is located at Conceição de Jacarei (115 km away from Rio). However, there’s no bus access only by car. Angra dos Reis is the main city, about 160 km from Rio.

How to get to Ilha Grande from Rio

There are two ways to get to Ilha Grande – by boat, or by helicopter since there are no vehicles. The boats to Ilha Grande leave from Conceição de Jacareí (115 km from Rio) and Angra dos Reis. Therefore, the first stage of your trip will be to go by car or bus to any of these places to embark.

Conceição de Jacarei is the most practical point of departure because there are several fast boats that leave during the whole day, and the trip lasts only 20 minutes.

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boats anchored in ilha grande
boat sitting in bright blue lagoon in ilha grande

Last updated on July 20th, 2023 at 05:07 am

4. Teresópolis

Just 91 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro, the city was founded in honor of Teresa Cristina, Dom Pedro II’s wife. It was the place where the empress and the royal family used to spend their holidays. At the central point of the Várzea neighborhood is the Teresa Cristina Palace. The colonial-style building is one of the most beautiful in the region.

For soccer fans or those interested in a Brazil adventure, you must visit the famous Granja Comary. Here you’ll find the Brazilian team’s preparation stage, which houses five training fields and an artificial lake overlooking the peaks of the “Serra dos Órgãos National Park.” This is one of the best places for mountain sports, in addition to having fantastic waterfalls. There are more than 200 miles of trails at all levels of difficulty. Choose from a suspended trail (accessible to wheelchair users) to the heavy Petrópolis-Teresópolis Crossing, with 30 km of uphill and downhill high mountains.

Among the climbs, we highlight the Dedo de Deus (God’s Finger), considered the initial landmark of climbing in the country, and the Devil’s Needle, chosen one of the 15 best rock climbs in the world.

How far away is Teresópolis from Rio

Teresopóis is around 97 km from Rio de Janeiro (1.5 hr journey).

How to get to Teresópolis from Rio

Enjoy the ride from Rio to Teresópolis by car on windy roads or there are buses leaving every hour from Novo Rio bus station.

5. Petrópolis

Petropolis, also known as the “Imperial City,” is in a mountainous region about 70km from Rio de Janeiro. The mild climate, historic buildings, and abundant vegetation make Petropolis a major tourist attraction. In fact,

Here, you will find tree-lined streets, small wooden bridges, and well-kept mansions where counts and barons lived at the historic center. Each house of historical relevance has a sign with a description telling when it was built and to whom it belonged. The main attractions of Petropolis are almost all in the historic center: The Imperial Museum, the Santos Dumont House, the Cristal Palace, the Bohemia Brewery.

The palace, a summer residence of Dom Pedro II, is now the Imperial Museum. In the visitation circuit, slide-in slippers between rooms, sometimes assembled as in the empire’s times, sometimes displaying showcases with relics of the imperial family. There is the golden feather that Princess Isabel used to sign the Golden Law, the crowns and the scepters of the emperors, and the throne of Dom Pedro II.

How far away is Petropolis from Rio

Petropolis is 70 km from Rio (1.5 hour journey).

How to get to Petropolis from Rio

You can get there by car or there are buses from Novo Rio bus station every 30 minutes.

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grand building in petropolis brazil
garden and greenhouse in petropolis brazil

Last updated on July 20th, 2023 at 05:07 am

6. Paqueta Island

Paqueta Island makes for a relaxing day trip from Rio. The beautiful island is full of natural beauty with 6 kilometers of coastline and dozens of beaches. Travel is limited here as it’s an auto-free zone, making it an even better destination for relaxation. Swim, snorkel or sunbathe on this gorgeous island. For a little more activity, hike to the Mirante Boa Vista in the Parque de Darke de Mattos. Here, you can enjoy incredible views of Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer.

How far away is Paqueta Island from Rio

Paqueta Island is about 15 km from Rio de Janeiro.

How to get to Paqueta Island from Rio

Get to Paqueta Island from Rio by boat crossing through Guanabara Bay. This is a journey of approximately 70 minutes on board ferries that depart from the historic Praça XV de Novembro. The traditional motorboat slowly moves away from the turbulent city to get closer to the tranquility of Paquetá.

7. Niterói

Last on our list of the best day trips from Rio de Janeiro is Niterói. Niterói is only 21 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro. This city is runner-up to Brasília for the largest number of works designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer.

One of the must-see attractions here is the Museum of Contemporary Art, designed by Oscar Niemeyer, with hundreds of works of concrete art and temporary exhibitions. The Museum of Contemporary Art the MAC ‘is born’ from the ground on a single cylindrical base that supports the entire building, anchored in a giant shoe. Its look is completed with a water mirror that gives lightness to the construction. The large external ramp of red concrete leads the visitor through free curves to the upper floors’ entrances.

From the museum, you can see Guanabara Bay and Sugarloaf Mountain. Niterói houses by the edge of Guanabara Bay an architectural complex promoting art and culture called the “Niemeyer Path.” Along the shore, you’ll find important constructions such as The Tourist Service Center of Niterói, located in the area where the Niemeyer Path begins, the Roberto Silveira Memorial, the Museum of Science and Creativity, the Oscar Niemeyer Popular Theater, the Juscelino Kubitschek Square, and the Petrobras Movie Center.

How far away is Niterói from Rio

Niterói is about 20km from Rio de Janeiro (45 min – 1hr journey).

How to get to Niterói from Rio

To get to Niteroi, you must cross the Rio-Niterói bridge by car. You can also depart by ferry from Praça XV de Novembro in downtown Rio. The trip to Praça Arariboia, in Niterói, takes about 20 minutes. The waiting time for the next ferry can be 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the time of day.

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museum and beach in niteroi brazil
view of rio de janeiro mountains from niteroi

Last updated on July 20th, 2023 at 05:07 am

More Info on Day Trips from Rio de Janeiro

Are you interested in more day trips from Rio de Janeiro? Contact one of our expert Travel Consultants. We have on-the-ground operations and offices in Rio de Janeiro, so we keep well up to date with the best day trips from Rio. Call us today and learn how you can best plan your upcoming trip to Rio de Janeiro.

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Last updated on July 20th, 2023 at 05:07 am

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