Rio de Janeiro might not be the capital of Brazil anymore, but it is the cultural heart of the country and its most famous city. It has long been associated with a vibrant nightlife, full of street parties, while carnival parades make headlines every year. The city also has several famous beaches to offer such as Copacabana and Leblon. The sculpture of Christ the Redeemer gazes across the city from atop Corcovado Mountain. Visiting Rio de Janeiro and its UNESCO World Heritage Sites will be an incomplete experience if you do not explore the surrounding areas on day-long trips. Such trips are designed to give you a glimpse of nearby towns, beaches, and Brazil’s forests, one of which is within Rio de Janeiro. To find the best day trips from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, keep reading.
Once the home of the crowned Indians, Petrópolis is now known for its imperial connections to the erstwhile Emperors of Brazil. As a result, Petrópolis is nicknamed “The Imperial City” and is associated with Emperor Pedro II, who oversaw much of its construction. An hour’s drive gets you to the city, which is located about 68 km (43 mi) from Rio de Janeiro. Among the important locations included in the trip is Imperial Museum, which was once the summer palace created by Emperor Pedro II. Crystal Palace is included in the trip, along with a visit to Emperor Pedro II’s burial site.
Petrópolis Full-Day Guided Tour from Rio de Janeiro
Duration: 9 hours
2. Cabo Frio
Brazil is famous for its rainforests, but its coastline is equally stunning and includes the municipality of Cabo Frio. It is located about 155 km (96 mi) from Rio de Janeiro and is about 2 hours away by road. A day tour of the city gives you time to visit its beaches, where you can indulge in a variety of water sports. After diving or swimming, you can visit Japones Island where the fishes and aquatic life are the main attractions. San Matheus Fort and Museum and various churches that dot the city are good places to visit to get a glimpse of local architecture.
3. Volta Redonda
Located about 133 km (82 mi) away from Rio de Janeiro, the city of Volta Redonda is easily reached within 2 hours when driving, and derives its name from the Paraíba do Sul River. The city is located around a bend of the river and is largely devoted to industry and trade. Once you have finished touring the parks and Raulino de Oliveira Stadium, which is a major landmark in the city, you can head to Espaco das Artes Zelia Arbex to check out local art. Shopping malls and Arena Kartodromo Internacional de Volta Redonda, a popular spot for go-kart racing, are other important places to visit in the city.
The town of Buzios is situated about 176 km (109 mi) from Rio and was initially involved in the hunting of whales. Located about 2.5 hours away by road, it is now popular for its 23 neighboring beaches. The resort town shot to fame when Brigitte Bardot visited in 1964, and it now routinely plays host to international celebrities. Water sports such as surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing, and diving are popular activities during the day, and many indulge in hopping from one beach to another. At night, visitors throng the cobblestone streets as they head to bars and restaurants.
Buzios Day Trip with Lunch, City Tour and Cruise from Rio de Janeiro
Duration: 13 hours
Visiting the historic town of Paraty, which is 249 km (154 mi) away and about a 4-hour drive from Rio, will give you a glimpse at the port through which much of the region’s gold once flowed. Recently, the town has transformed into a haven for artists. The area near the town is filled with lush forests, waterfalls, and mountains, and over 80 percent of the town has been conserved and is listed as a historic landmark. The town’s center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and there are several museums and art galleries which are important landmarks and are must-visits for any tourist.
Tijuca National Park, billed as the world’s first urban forest, is located about 15.2 km (9.4 mi) away and can be reached in 26 minutes when driving. The tropical rainforest is within the city limits of Rio de Janeiro, and it sprawls over 32 sq km (12.3 sq mi) of land. The park falls within a region that is famous for its mountains, including Tijuca Massif. Other attractions in the park include Corcovado Mountain, which is the site of the massive Christ the Redeemer sculpture. Several waterfalls are also present in the park, and tours often include stops at Mayrink Chapel and Vista Chinesa, which is modeled like a Chinese gazebo.
Tijuca National Park Small-Group Hike to Pedra Bonita
Duration: 4 to 5 hour
7. Waterfall of Souls
Located within the forest of the Tijuca National Park, Waterfall of Souls is an ideal place to stop for a while, and it is usually included in several walking tours. It is located about 19 km (12 mi) away from the city and when driving can be reached within 35 minutes. The place was once a secret meeting place for slaves and therefore has historical significance. Slaves used the secluded area to practice a variety of religions that they brought from Africa. The waterfall is fed by the River of Souls and is currently a popular stopover for those who want to spend a few minutes in the crystal clear water.
8. Serra dos Órgãos National Park
Situated about an hour’s drive and 81 km (51 mi) from the city of Rio de Janeiro is Serra dos Orgãos National Park. Currently, the park is protected, as it is a source of water and is also the home of the Serra dos Órgãos mountain range. The most famous rock formation in the park is God’s Finger Peak, which is known locally as Dedo de Deus, and resembles a raised index finger that is pointed towards the sky. The park has several beautiful waterfalls, lakes fed by mineral water, and trails that are perfect for walking and provide a spectacular view of the sunrise.
Create your adventure with these day trips from Rio de Janeiro
Day trips from Rio de Janeiro allow you to leave the planning to others and focus on having a good time while creating your own adventures. Whether you want to go snorkeling in crystal clear waters, visit God’s Finger Peak, or just experience something new, booking a day trip from Rio gives you the ability to do all this and much more.
Get Trip101 in your inbox
You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101
*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.