I hardly check how a place looks like on the internet before visiting; I like to be informed but I don’t like to visually know how a place looks like. I want to be surprised. Paraty was a real surprise, a gem of a beach destination on Brasil’s Costa Verde.
And rich in history. Visitors can get a real glimpse of how it must have been at the end of the 16th-century when it was founded by the Portuguese. It shortly after became a flourishing city with a harbor along the 1200-km long Caminho do Ouro, connecting the gold mines in Mina Gerais to Paraty, and then Rio de Janeiro, before hitting the road to Portugal. That’s when Paraty took off.
Are you wondering how to enjoy it? Here are my tips before you visit Paraty.
Rent a sailboat, explore the coast and the islands during the day, and sleep in at night.
We found a sailboat on Airbnb, ideal to use as accommodation at night and for excursions during the day. Our host Sergio took us around, we stopped in some little islands, we got to do some snorkeling, stop on beaches to have some food and got to inspiring sunsets. It’s an interesting alternative to group day excursions.
Stroll around the historic pedestrian city centre.
The colonial style centre has been fully preserved and is today a pedestrian area. It is composed of a network of parallel and perpendicular cobblestoned roads shaping the historical centre in blocks. The buildings are painted in white with colorful shutters and doors. The main historical buildings not to miss out are Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Remedies, the Igreja de Nossa Senhora das Dores and the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário e São Benedito.
Check the moon phase calendar and witness to the sea tide along the streets.
I must admit that I had not checked this beforehand and had to witness to the high tyde just randomly. Being right on the coast, parts of the streets in the historical centre gets temporarily flooded by the sea. I was explained that in the past – when there wasn’t any sewage system in place – it was a way to keep streets clean and sanitize them.
Indulge yourself on a gastronomic journey in possibly one of Paraty’s best restaurants.
In Banana da Terra I experienced a sensorial slow motion crash as soon as I had the 1st bite. You can feel the taste of every single ingredient composing your plate, raw ingredients are just quality ones, the service is super and I really liked the interior design of the restaurant. If you are only looking for a sweet break, you can always stop in the nearby Cafè Pingado for some coffee and a slice of chocolate and coconut cake.
Appreciate the details on the houses and colonial buildings.
I’m always after details, I just have the eye for it. The streets in Paraty offer a showcase of colors and shapes no camera could resist too. I enjoyed every single bit of it.
Hit the beach
Sleeping on a boat, we really got to enjoy the sea and the beaches directly from the boat but in Paraty, you will find hundreds of beaches and islands to discover. Our Airbnb sailboat was mored in a marina north of Paraty, near Prainha Grande; what at first sight might have been just a nuisance as we wanted to stay closer to city centre, worked out to be interesting to have a glimpse of how life is outside of the touristy city centre. We discovered a quiet beach called Prainha Beach: the weather was unfortunately not on our side, but on a sunny day it really looked like a nice spot to soak up the sun and chill out.
Enjoy the night in one of the many little bars with terrace, after a stroll
I visited Paraty in April, it was not crowded at all and I really enjoyed my time there. At night you can sit in one of the many bar terraces or just take a drink to go. This is what we did as on Praca The Matrix there was a free live band performance going on that I really enjoyed. Evenings can really be mistic in Paraty, the light is special, the shadows on the cobblestones as well. It can really be magic
General tips about Paraty before your visit
• If you are a backpacker looking for a hostel in Paraty check Breda Hostel or Canguru Hostel out or for something more “into the wild” go for Happy Hammock Eco.
• Paraty is famous for its cachaça, a liquor produced by distilling sugarcane and it should go on the list of drinks to try.
• There are 3 special events in Paraty not to miss out (even though the city could be extremely crowded): the Bourbon Festival Paraty in May, FLIP (Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty) in July and the Festival da Cachaça, Cultura e Sabores de Paraty in August. Take note of them if you are into jazz, literature, and food.
• Looking for a Paraty locally brewed beer? Check out Cervejaria Caborê.