This summer, Rio will be flooded with even more tourists than usual for the Olympics, and Carnaval is expected to be unusually busy as well. If you want to enjoy the region’s beautiful beaches but aren’t keen on crowds – what do you do?
Whether you’re in Rio for a big event, or just visiting to get a taste of the Marvelous City, there are many escapes if the crowds get to be too much. You can flee to the cooler mountainous town of Petropolis, or to colonial throwback Paraty and maybe even the island gem of Ilha Grande.
But the best weekend getaway of them all?
It’s go to be Buzios.
Long revered as an upperclass beach destination and even known as Brazil’s St. Tropez, Buzios actually has something to offer travelers of all budgets and interests. Best of all – BEACHES! Whether you arrive by bus, by private transfer, or by a rented car, the 2 to 3 hour journey is easy and pleasant from Rio de Janeiro.
You can definitely pack a trip into 2 days, or over a weekend, but you could also stretch it out longer. I’d recommend 3 or 4 days as perfect, but if your main goal is to really let loose and relax, a week could be absolutely awesome and totally rejuvenating.
What should you know before you go?
Don’t get burned.
Even for the most bronzed babe, Buzios sun is intense. Definitely do slather on the sunscreen, bring a pair of shades, and don’t be afraid to rent an umbrella and a chair from the vendors.
Brigitte Bardot was the town’s first claim to fame.
The actress hid in the tiny fishing village with her Brazilian boyfriend to escape the paparazzi press. After “discovering” its beautiful beaches, she began to publicly declare her love for the little town. And thus, a star was born and Buzios shot to the spotlight.
The boutique shopping is fabulous.
Especially along Buzios’s waterfront promenade, numerous small boutiques and local designers have set up shop. While the stores are mainly filled with pricey resort wear, excellent deals can be found on sandals and bikinis (especially if you’re into Brazilian style bottoms!). The night market on select evenings in the town square is full of steals on souvenirs as well.
A set of wheels can make or break your stay.
Whether you go with a rented car, a dune buggy or ATV, or even a bicycle, having your own wheeled transportation will make Buzios so much more enjoyable. One of the funnest parts of Buzios is simply hopping in your ride and making your way along the jagged coastline, exploring every little beach and trail you pass by. Scenic lookout points, secluded sand, or rocky tidal pools await behind almost every corner – but it’s a LONG walk from the center of town to the furthest points.
Restaurants are pricey.
And the quality isn’t always that great (the seafood is said to be fantastic, though, owing to the town’s fishermen roots). If you’re picky, or have special dietary needs (or are a vegetarian like me), you might want to consider going with Airbnb or an apartment rental with a kitchen. There are a few great little grocery stores, fully stocked with all the necessities and at reasonable prices.
Drinks tend to be reasonably priced and really well done, however!
Feel free to let loose.
The security and safety concerns of Rio de Janeiro aren’t as applicable in Buzios. It is a very safe destination for all types of travelers, including solo female backpackers. As always, practice safety and common sense, but designer handbags and fancy jewelry seem to be the norm in Buzios rather than something to be avoided for sake of not attracting burglars as in Rio.
Brush up on your Portuguese.
Or bring a dictionary or download a translator app. Most people won’t be able to speak any English. Whether you need to communicate a dietary restriction at a restaurant or are trying to figure out how long a tour will last – a bit of Portuguese will go a LONG way.
Most importantly – The beaches are AMAZING.
Buzios has some of the best beaches in all of Brazil, and are much better than those in Arraial do Cabo (in my opinion). From easy-to-reach Armacao to tiny Ferradurinha, from absolutely packed to utterly secluded, and everything in between – there’s a beach for everyone. If you’re having a hard time deciding where to start, click here for the definitive Buzios beach resource.