Attractions Nearby Rio de Janeiro, Day Trips and Excursions

(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Elevated picture of the Brazilian cityscape of Sao PauloThere are endless attractions close to Rio de Janeiro, being particularly concentrated to the north and west, along the Costa Verde and within the Itatiaia region. The exceptional beaches and prison ruins on the Ilha Grande make for a popular day trip destination, while regular ferries cross the bay and link the attractions of Niteroi with Rio de Janeiro in a matter of minutes, since this enticing city is a mere 16 km / 10 miles to the east.

Other attractions close to Rio de Janeiro include the coastal city of Armacao dos Buzios, the resort of Grumari, the appealing city of Petrópolis, and the mountain town of Teresopolis, amongst many other popular destinations. Although Sao Paulo is actually 441 km / 274 miles from Rio and therefore too far to even consider a day trip, it should not be overlooked.

Sao Paulo skyline image

Sao Paulo

As the largest city within Brazil, Sao Paulo is of great importance to the country and offers a thriving tourism industry, with plenty in the way of sights and attractions. The Ibirapuera Park (Parque do Ibirapuera), the Botanical Gardens (Jardim Botánico) and the Zoological Gardens (Jardim Zoológico) are all worth seeing, together with the Banespa Skyscraper (Altino Arantes), the Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral da Sé) and also the acclaimed Museum of Art de Sao Paulo (MASP).

Armacao dos Buzios photo

Armacao dos Buzios

The resort city of Armacao dos Buzios is often referred to as simply 'Buzios' and is around 169 km / 105 miles to the north-east of Rio de Janeiro, being reached in just over two hours or thereabouts. This beautiful peninsula was historically a haunt of slave trades and even pirates, although today, it is the beaches and related attractions that draw so many day trippers here, along with its association with legendary movie star, Brigitte Bardot. Joao Fernandinho Beach is one of the most scenic of the 20+ beaches within Armacao dos Buzios, with others including Azeda, Ferradura and Geriba. Surfing, windsurfing and other water sports are extremely popular in Buzios.

Grumari coastal photo

Grumari / Praia do Abricó

Grumari is a leading beach resort within the Barra da Tijuca region and lies less than 50 km / 31 miles to the south-west of Rio de Janeiro. Actually part of a large nature reserve, Grumari Beach (Praia de Grumari) enjoys a particularly tranquil and scenic setting, and is one of the best beaches suitable for naturists in this part of Brazil. Conditions here are often highly suitable for surfers, with strong breaking waves and big swells.

Ilha Grande beachfront picture

Ilha Grande

The picture-postcard island known as Ilha Grande is just a couple of hours from the city of Rio de Janeiro and is roughly 150 km / 93 miles away. Day trippers regularly make the effort to pay a visit to Ilha Grande, to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a noticeably more relaxed pace of life, since no cars or even roads are to be found on the island. Instead, all of the beaches and attractions are simply connected by a series of pathways and trails. Regular buses travel from Rio to Angra dos Reis each day, and from here you can catch a boat to Vila Abrao, the island's biggest settlement. A trip to Lopes Mendes Beach is a must, since is has recently been voted as one of the world's most beautiful, lending itself to diving, snorkelling, sailing and kayaking. Alternatively, check out the rainforest around the Papagaio Peak.

Niteroi Beach image


Niteroi is a large city with a population rapidly approaching half a million people and boasts many wonderful beaches and coastal attractions, together with a number of historical fortresses. Itacoatiara Beach makes for a deserved day trip and ranks very highly, being famed for its exceptional surfing conditions and views of Rio. Those visiting this city are also strongly advised to check out the esteemed Niteroi Museum of Contemporary Art, which features memorable modern architecture and appears rather like a hovering flying saucer. Thrill seekers regularly come to Prainha Beach to try their hand at cliff diving from the neighbouring Whale Rock.

Paraty view


Very much a historical town and known for its colonial appearance and pirate past, Paraty was founded in the middle of the 17th century by Portuguese immigrants and is to be found just over 250 km / 155 miles to the west of Rio de Janeiro. Nowadays, Paraty has become something of a tourist hotspot, with attractions ranging from old churches and buildings, to cobblestone streets, natural waterfalls (Andorinhas and Pedra Branca) and spectacular beaches around the Trindade area. Snorkelling in the bay comes highly recommended, while if you are looking for a little more in the way of seclusion, it is even possible to charter your own boat and search out a private beach on one of the 300 surrounding islands.


Paqueta is an island lying within Guanabara Bay, where it is generally considered to be a suburb of Rio and connected by ferries, with a journey time of around an hour or so. Therefore, the island of Paqueta is perfect for those looking for an easy and inexpensive day trip and is a very peaceful, traffic-free place to visit. The beaches around Guanabara Bay are always popular, as are the picnicking opportunities in the Darque de Matos Park.

Photo of the Petropolis Crystal Palace (Palacio de Cristal)


An appealing city sited some 64 km / 40 miles to the north of Rio de Janeiro, Petrópolis is a much-visited summer holiday destination and a good place to visit if you need to cool down a little. Petrópolis can only be reached by road and regular buses link the city each day, lasting little more than an hour. The tourist attractions and sights of Petrópolis are very accessible on foot and the Imperial Museum (Museu Imperial) is a particular highlight for many, as is the Cathedral of St. Peter of Alcântara (Catedral de Sao Pedro de Alcântara) and the Crystal Palace (Palácio de Cristal). Rafting, hiking and mountain bike excursions are available here and take place in the neighbouring rainforest of Mata Atlantica


Teresopolis is an inviting mountain town and is especially close to Petrópolis, being around 95 km / 59 miles to the north of Rio. The mountain scenery and Parque Nacional da Serra dos Órgaos (Serra dos Órgaos National Park) are amongst the main attractions of Teresopolis. Including ten mountain peaks towering more than 2,000 metres / 6,560 feet and covering around 110 square kilometres / 42 square miles, the Serra dos Órgaos National Park suits lovers of the great outdoors and is actually part of the Serra do Mar mountain chain.