By Hakan Almerfors, Contributing Reporter

Museu de Arte Contemporânea in Niterói, photo by Hakan Almerfors.
Museu de Arte Contemporânea in Niterói, photo by Hakan Almerfors.

RIO DE JANEIRO – Rio de Janeiro state is packed full of excellent destinations, most within reach of a single day trip. There are hundreds of beaches, a vast number of nature reserves and a wealth of history all of which are accessible within a few hours. In this article three of the best itineraries have been selected for your traveling pleasure.

Niterói – Across The Bridge

Rio’s little brother sits on the other side of Guanabara Bay, across a impressive fourteen kilometer bridge that connects the two cities. The most famous feature of Niterói is for sure Museu de Arte Contemporânea (MAC). It is not the exhibitions alone that attract people, but the building’s bold Modernist design – the architect responsible is world famous Oscar Niemeyer. Getting there is easy, it´s a short cab ride from the main bus station/ferry terminal.

Another place worth visiting is the fabulous beach Itacoatiara. Wedged in between dramatic cliffs, it is one of the most beautiful stretches of sand in the state. You can get there by bus from the Niterói ferry terminal.

The Fish Market Within walking distance of the ferry terminal is Mercado de Peixe São Pedro, just past the Carrefour department store. Seafood of all shapes and sizes is on display, with restaurants on the second floor that will cook fish purchased at the market for a fee. It´s open Tuesday to Saturday from 6:00AM to 6:00PM and Sunday from 6:00AM to 12:00PM.

Getting There Buses and vans go to Niterói from Zona Sul. The other alternative is to take a ferry from the port in Centro. Look for buses marked “Barcas”.

Praia Geribá in Búzios, photo by Hakan Almerfors.
Praia Geribá in Búzios, photo by Hakan Almerfors.

Búzios – Beaches & Shopping

Nicknamed the St. Tropez of Brazil, this small beach town attracts people from all over the world. The area offers over twenty beaches, great restaurants and good shopping. Within walking distance from the cobblestone street Rua das Pedras you will find the lively beach João Fernandes. The surfer beach is Geribá, and at the end of the day the young and the hip gather at its Fishbone bar. Renting a beach buggy for the day is a good idea as it gives you access to all beaches.

Getting There Since Búzios is located almost three hours by bus from Rio, it is a good idea to catch the first one, leaving at 6:30AM from Rodoviária Novo Rio. The last bus departs from Búzios at 7PM.

Petrópolis – The Royal Summer Home

The mountain town Petrópolis was once the summer residence of the Brazilian Royal family. Located over 800 meters above the sea in the national park Serra dos Órgãos, the climate is decidedly cooler than Rio. The architecture is largely inspired by the German immigrants who came here in the nineteenth century. The Imperial Museum in the former Royal Summer Palace and the former house of airplane pioneer Santos Dumont are two places worth visiting.

Museu Imperial Rua da Imperatriz 220, Centro, Tuesday – Sunday 11AM until 6PM.

Museu Casa de Santos Dumont Rua do Encanto 22, Centro, Tuesday – Sunday 9:30AM until 5PM.

Getting There Buses are frequent, departing from Rio’s main bus station (Rodoviária Novo Rio) and the trip takes about one hour.

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Hakan Almerfors is Swedish and has been living in Rio de Janeiro since 2003. He has been working with tourists ever since, and in 2007 he created the Rio travel information site Gringo-Rio.com

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