Ideas / advice 3 weeks in Brazil, Sao Paulo to Rio
October 25, 2018 7:33 AM   Subscribe

We're thinking of going to Brazil for 3 weeks next February, flying into Sao Paulo, staying for a few days, then going on a road trip to 2 or 3 beaches on the way to Rio, staying for a few days there and flying out.

I'd like to know:

0) Does this make sense from a weather and crowds point of view?

1) Where should we go between Sao Paulo and Rio? We like laid back, friendly beaches, with something to do besides lie in the sun. No resorts, please.

2) Should we rent a car?

3) What are food/lodging prices like in this area?

We, me my lovely wife and 11yo son, have been previously to Brazil, the Salvador - Morro region, and are Chilean so speak Spanish and are not overly anxious about travelling in Latin America.

We enjoy mixing large cities with small beaches on vacation, hence the metropolitan start and end points.
posted by signal to Travel & Transportation around Brazil (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
0) Try to avoid the roads before and after Carnival. During Carnival (it's in early March in 2019, so likely you'll miss it) the beaches will all be super busy. You'll need reservations for accommodation in February, it's the high season, but not as crazy as Carnival. It's going to be really hot, 30-40° C (85-105). I enjoy it!
1) There are literally hundreds of beaches between Rio and SP. My favourites are Barra do Sahy (São Sebastião), Trindade (Paraty), and Ilha Grande (Angra dos Reis) -- format: Beach (Municipality). There are not many resorts in this area, well maybe in Angra, but it's hardly wild. Ilha Grande is the best option if you want less crowds -- no cars allowed, you take a ferry to the island and leave your car parked in the continent.
2) Most def, there's no other practical way to do this :)
3) Acommodation is not too expensive, probably (look for "pousadas", they are small hotels normally really cozy and super nice. I just checked in one of the big hotel booking sites, and it's around $100/night, the cheapest being $44). Food runs the gamut, from super affordable small restaurants or fast food and bakeries (padarias, you can drink alcohol and have meals in Brazilian bakeries) to high-end fancy places. Really, depends on the beach you are.

There are only 8 municipalities between Rio and SP: Santos, Bertioga, São Sebastião, Caraguatatuba, Ubatuba, Parati, and Angra dos Reis. But they are very spread out, so the beaches are more like villages, a bit isolated from each other. Ubatuba alone has more than 100 beaches! I love this area, it's one of my favourite places in the world (spent most of my childhood vacations there) but it's wildly varied and you will need a guide so to find what matches your preferences. Unfortunately the most excellent Guia de Praias Quatro Rodas is out of print (even an old used one can be useful), but I'm sure you can find something in English. And go to Paraty for sure to spend one day, it's a lovely colonial town just at the border of the two states. Also, Brazil is not easy but you already know that :)

Lots of bug spray! And have a good time!
posted by TheGoodBlood at 8:40 AM on October 25, 2018

0) Does this make sense from a weather and crowds point of view?

In Rio, Santa Teresa is a must. Go up with the tram (Bondinho). RIo could be a good base and then go for short trips.

"3 weeks next February" Not sure you want to be in Brazil during carnival (end of February). For sure you you don't want to be there after carnival! Also not sure you want to be there shortly before carnival.

1) Where should we go between Sao Paulo and Rio? We like laid back, friendly beaches, with something to do besides lie in the sun. No resorts, please.

Yes, Rio is great. There is a famous Island between Rio and SP, Ilha Grande.

3) What are food/lodging prices like in this area?

Comparatively cheap since the Real has collapsed quite a bit.

If the timing is bad for Brazil, consider Colombia.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 12:24 PM on October 25, 2018

I lived in Rio for a several years. Here's my two cents:

0) I found February in this part of Brazil unpleasantly hot at times. The beaches can also be crowded - in Rio at least, the hotter it is, the more crowded the beach. Lots of tourism all summer, but as noted, even more around Carnival.

1) I don't know of really obnoxious resort beaches between RJ and SP. Seconding previous mentions:

Paraty is a great stop for a couple days. Paraty itself is a fun town with interesting history, though the beach there is nothing special. It's easy to hire a boat at the dock to take you to one of the dozens of secluded beaches on the islands or peninsulas nearby. Great day trips, and much less crowded than any beach near the main towns will be. Snorkelling is possible but not exciting.

Ilha Grande is also a must-do. Take a ferry out, stay in Abraao. Nice little tourist town but not a "resort" for sure. Eat seafood on the beach every night, hiking in the days or take a boat taxi to the other beaches around the island.

I don't know the coast between SP and Paraty well, but I hear the area around Ubatuba is nice, which might be where I would pick a third stop if I were looking for one.

2) You could do it on buses. They are safe and reasonably regular if you're sticking to the main towns like the ones mentioned above. But I would definitely rent a car if doing this trip.

3) Food and lodging are both going to be what you make of it. In SP and Rio, if you want a nice space near touristy areas, it can get expensive. You can also easily find deals on AirBnB or similar sites. In between, again you can live in luxury right on the beach or pay a third as much for somewhere perfectly fine and a five- or ten-minute walk from the beach. Food even more so. In SP and Rio you can pay as much as you want, or you can stick with self-serve buffets and live pretty cheap. I don't think you'll find too much sticker shock coming from Chile these days.
posted by Pseudonaut at 8:41 AM on October 26, 2018

« Older winter getaway to...more winter   |   How to DIY house demolition safely? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.