By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Only five kilometers away from each other, Lumiar and São Pedro da Serra are two small districts situated in Nova Friburgo, municipality in Serra do Mar’s mountain range, in the Central-North of Rio’s State.
From Lumiar’s stunning nature and adventurous sports’ lifestyle to São Pedro’s hippie artsy restaurants and nightlife, these lovely spots perfectly complement each other for a chilled weekend getaway trip.
Considered the most charming district of Nova Friburgo, Lumiar is a favorite destination for couples looking for a romantic sweet escape from Rio de Janeiro.
Because of its countless waterfalls and rivers, the 700 meter-high village attracts several tourists interested in water sports, like rafting, canoeing and cascading.
“All the Peace on Earth”, says the motto of São Pedro da Serra, Lumiar’s hippie sister. If waterfalls are Lumiar’s best natural attractions, trails are certainly the nicest São Pedro’s nature can offer, with diverse options for both beginners and experts.
What actually makes São Pedro da Serra special, however, is its impeccable homemade culinary scene, with options that vary from local breweries to healthy pizzas and contemporary gourmet cuisine. Bars and restaurants where one can listen to live music can also be found at the district.
Both São Pedro and Lumiar were founded by Swiss and German settlers, who arrived in the Nova Friburgo region in the 1820s. Due to the lack of fertile lands in the Nova Friburgo municipality, the European families started to move to the two other districts, which have been influenced by both cultures in terms of architecture, cuisine and habits.
If a more chilled activity is what you are looking for, Lumiar offers great waterfall options that are not hard to get too. The Indiana Jones is the most famous one, passing through a canyon formation and finishing in a natural water slide.
Also worth the visit is the São José cascade, a fifteen meter-high fall where one can take a very energizing shower. For calmer waters, the Poço Feio waterfall, also known as “Lumiar beach”, is a great option one can get to via car.
The ones who feel in a more adventurous mood should definitely look for the Paraíso Vertical (Vertical Paradise) fall.
As the name suggests, the 35 meter-high venue offers the tourists the opportunity to do some cascading – similar to abseiling, but done in a waterfall.
At the encounter of Macaé and Bonito rivers, adrenaline seekers can also practice rafting and canoeing.
Even though Lumiar’s nightlife is very calm, some really good dining options are available in the village. At Bar do Vovô, situated in Lumiar’s main square, one can try homemade pizzas made of cassava and listen to live music in most of the days.
Picked as the best restaurant in Rio’s mountain range by Veja Rio magazine this year, Cozinha do Parador is famous for its fresh organic ingredients, grown in the restaurant’s garden. Parador’s specialties include the homemade fruit sweets, feijoada and meat.
In São Pedro da Serra, culture, arts and nature seem to be perfectly blended. Departing from the João Heringer square and walking towards the Largo da Estrela square, one can find at least 13 handicraft shops, ateliers, an arts’ market and even a cultural center. Situated in the main street is also a cartoons’ store that is definitely worth the visit.
What’s more, one can have the most special culinary experience in São Pedro da Serra, where food festivals happen once every while. Famous for its homemade cassava pizzas, the Pizzaria Girassol is located right at Rodrigues Alves, São Pedro’s main street. Budha Garden is a great place to go for snacks, specially for its crepes.
If a more refined restaurant is what you want, the Cilantro Bistrô, also in the main street, is a must-go. There, one can have a six-course meal prepared by an international chef with local, organic products. For the desert lovers, the Choco Arte café serves amazing brownies and hot chocolate.
To get to Lumiar and São Pedro da Serra from Rio de Janeiro, one can either take the RJ 116 highway via Cachoeiras de Macacu, taking the RJ 142 after Mury, or take the BR 101 road until Casimiro de Abreu, and turn in the RJ 142 afterwards. Company 1001 operates from Rio’s bus station to Nova Friburgo, stopping by Lumiar. From Rio, the trip takes approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes.