Excursions from Rio de Janeiro: the best day trips around Rio de Janeiro

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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If after having visited the length and breadth of the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro you still have time, there we suggest discovering its wonderful surroundings: tropical gardens, deserted beaches, majestic architecture towns, markets and islands, all within a few hours by car from this immense metropolis.

You can decide whether to take 1 day excursions comfortably accompanied by organized tours, or feel more independent by renting a car and moving independently.
Whichever medium you choose here's what we recommend you see in one day around Rio de Janeiro!


  1. Petropolis Imperial Museum
  2. Niteroi
  3. Arraial do Cabo
  4. Ilha Grande
  5. Tijunca Forest
  6. Paraty
  7. Serra dos Orgaos National Park
  8. Armacao dos Buzios
  9. Pedra do Telegrafo
  10. Guanabara Bay by boat
  11. User questions and comments

1 - Petropolis Imperial Museum

It was once the summer residence of Emperor Dom Pedro II, today it has become a museum and is located in the town of Petropolis.
Located at 800 meters, it enjoys a cool climate for this reason it was chosen as a holiday home.
Inside of there are numerous artifacts and works of art, jewels, paintings and the famous golden pen with which, in 1888, the law that abolished slavery was signed.

In the city, the Cathedral of São Pedro de Alcântara, a marvelous Gothic building which is the mausoleum of the imperial family and the Crystal Palace, an ancient place of events for the imperial family, are worth a visit.

  • Range: 69 km
  • by rental car or with practical organized tours that depart from Rio de Janeiro directly from your hotel
  • tours start between 8:00 and 9:00 in the morning and end at 19:00; the museum opens 10: 30-18: 00, closed on Mondays
  • organized tours from € 42,00; 10 Real museum admission, € 2,20
  • Petrópolis: Imperial City Tour

2 - Niteroi

This town, not far from Rio, can be reached by ferry or crossing a long bridge of 13 km.

It houses a beautiful museum of contemporary art (MAC) designed by Oscar Niemeyer with a tapered disc shape, similar to a UFO, perched on a cliff.
Here you can admire numerous Brazilian artwork.

During your trip to this locality, also visit the fresh fish market with stalls full of ice that expose the catch of any type.

  • Range: 21 km
  • by ferry from Praca Qunze de Novembro next to Praca Arariboia; then bus 37 from Avenida Ernani do Amaral to Avenida Visconde do Rio Branco (31 minutes); or with organized tours that pick up from your Rio hotel
  • the private tour starts in the morning and lasts 5 hours; on MAC 10: 00-18: 00, closed on Mondays
  • the private tour € 70,00; the MAC 10 Real, € 2,20
  • From Rio de Janeiro: Private Day Trip to Niterói

3 - Arraial do Cabo

A beach of fine white sand, soft like talcum powder.
This place on the north coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro is a small city famous above all for its clear and turquoise sea and its long beaches.

The ideal way to enjoy a relaxing day is to do a Boat tours with stops at Praia do Farol and Gruta Azul, a paradise for jellyfish, for swimming and snorkeling.
If you feel like it, you can visit the small town and eat in one of the many restaurants on the beach.

  • Range: 164 km
  • organized tours depart from your hotel, alternatively you need to rent a car
  • private excursions depart in the morning at 7:00 and return at 21:00
  • € 63,00
  • Arraila do Cabo: Brazilian Caribbean tour from Rio

4 - Ilha Grande

About 3 hours away, west of the rio, is this one paradise island which can be reached by ferry or private boat from Angra do Reis, a town located on the Costa Verde.

The island opened to tourism only a decade ago, after the prison was permanently closed.

Here in addition to the numerous white sandy beaches and end, you will discover wonderful waterfalls it's a rain forest with dunes, mangroves, lagoons and cliffs.

Not only do we suggest you visit the ruins of the colonial past, the former penitentiary and if you are physically fit to reach the Pico do Papagaio from where you can admire a spectacular view.

  • Range: 156 km + ferry 1 hour and 30
  • with an organized tour that departs from several Rio hotels
  • tours depart early in the morning and return in the evening
  • from € 65,00
  • From Rio de Janeiro: Isola Grande cruise with lunch

5 - Tijunca Forest

Tijunca National Park it is the largest city forest in the world which is located southwest of Rio.

This place is perfect for a day trip because it can be easily reached by car or jeep.

During your tour you will see the Taunay waterfall and the Cachoeira das Almas (waterfall of souls) and walk into the forest following a simple path that allows you to admire the flora and fauna of the Park.

As you stroll, you will spot numerous trees with tropical fruits, native plants, monkeys, birds and butterflies that live in this wonderful habitat.

  • Range: 15 km
  • with an organized tour that departs from the cruise port or from your hotel; alternatively by taxi
  • tours depart in the morning and last 4/5 hours
  • from € 69,00
  • From Rio de Janeiro: Tijuca Forest Jeep Tour

6 - Paraty

This small town that seems light years away from modern and chaotic Rio de Janeiro is actually 4 hours away by car, but once here you will feel like you are in another world.

The historic center is characterized by cobbled streets overlooked by white buildings, local craft shops and restaurants.

The locality is also known for being the center of production of excellent cachaca, the national base alcohol for caipirinha.
So if you want to see how this liqueur is distilled and taste it, in this town, you can visit some beautiful distilleries.

  • Range: 248 km
  • with a rental car or private transfer departing from Galeão-GIG International Airport, Santos Dumont-SDU Airport from Rio de Janeiro South Zone hotels
  • to be agreed
  • from € 81,00
  • Rio de Janeiro: shuttle transfer to Paraty

7 - Serra dos Orgaos National Park

It is located north of Rio, near the city of Teresopolis. This vast national park is characterized by mountains, forests and waterfalls wonderful is ideal for an excursion outside the city in the middle of nature.
Here it is possible to follow various paths and take simple walks or arduous excursions that wind between Teresepolis and Petropolis.
Do not miss the spectacular panorama of the Dedo de Deus mountains (finger of God) e Agulha do Diabo (devil's needle).

  • Range: 81 km
  • with a private car following the BR-493
  • the park is open every day from 7:00 to 21:00
  • entrance to the park 37 real, € 8,00

8 - Armacao dos Buzios

If you want sea, sun and beaches this is it former fishing village which is located on the peninsula of the north coast, is for you!

Characterized by a small historic center with colorful houses and buildings, streets full of shops and restaurants, Buzios is also the starting point for a boat excursion.

On board a schooner you can explore the most beautiful beaches and islets in the area such as Ilha Feia, Joao Fernandes Beach, Praia da Tartaruga and to swim and snorkel.

  • Range: 176 km
  • with a private excursion departing from major Rio hotels
  • tours depart in the morning, last around 12 hours and return to Rio in the evening
  • € 65,00
  • From Rio: Búzios with boat ride and lunch

9 - Pedra do Telegrafo

In the western part of Rio you will find this rock from which you can admire a beautiful view of the city, with the wild beaches and the Tijuca park on one side and the large beach of Marambaia on the other.

We suggest you take a nice walk which in an hour from Guaratiba beach will take you to the top of the mountain at a height of 350 meters.

Along the way you can stop at various panoramic points, the most famous being the one located on a large pointed rock called Pedra da Bigorna.
Upon returning, you can relax on the beaches of Grumari and Prainha.

  • Range: 60 km
  • with an organized tour that starts from your hotel or with a rental car
  • organized tours start in the morning and last 6 hours
  • from € 40,00
  • From Rio de Janeiro: excursion and beaches in Pedra do Telégrafo

10 - Guanabara Bay by boat

This protected area is located northeast of Rio and in the western part is the city of Duque de Caxias, while on the eastern side there are Sao Goncalo and Niteroi.

On board a beautiful boat you can sail inside the bay to be able to admire from the sea the Sugar Loaf, the statue of Christ the Redeemer and the spectacular views of the city.

  • Range: 11 km to the boarding point
  • boat trips depart from "Iate Clube do Rio de Janeiro", Avenida Pasteur 333 which can be reached from the center of Rio by bus 107 in 35 minutes - Get directions
  • the organized boat excursion has different times that must be agreed at the time of booking
  • from € 55,00
  • Rio from the Sea: Guanabara Bay Cruise with Optional Lunch

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