Rio de Janeiro State
Recognizing the importance and the synergic relationship between the capital and the dozens of cities that dot the State, I LOVE RIO provides eye-opening information about the cities, districts and communities that lie outside the famous capital of the State.
All crevices and corners of the State are explored in the pursuit of hidden cultural, gastronomic and social gems. The Website explores the historical development and beautiful landscapes of many unique regions, revealing the important role that each plays in the overall fabric of the State.
COLONIAL HISTORY AND SPECTACULAR NATURE
Because of television, movies, and travel magazines many travelers have an idea of what the world-famous city of Rio de Janeiro is about: the unmistakable statue of Christ the Redeemer has been one of the most iconic representations of Rio and Brazil for nearly a century. Rio's samba, soccer, beaches, and carnival celebrations have been in the media for decades.
Beyond what is already famous, there is much more to know and experience in the surrounding areas - a region that is still largely unknown outside Brazil. Rio, as the city is more commonly referred to, is located in the State by the same name, the State of Rio de Janeiro - home to a wealth of natural and cultural landmarks, beautiful beaches, mountains, and green natural reserves.
There are 26 federal states in Brazil, 27 in total with the federal district of the country's capital Brasilia. The State of Rio de Janeiro is bordered by the states of Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, São Paulo, and the by the atlantic ocean.
Surrounding the capital, each region of the State of Rio de Janeiro is home to a variety of places of great touristic and cultural interest. While some regions are home to undiscovered islands and secret beaches, other regions showcase century-old traditions and colonial architecture. Other parts of the State are high in the mountains or surrounded by forests, and while all different, all regions in the State offer the unmistakable Brazilian hospitality.
The State of Rio de Janeiro is divided in eight regions - Região Metropolitana, Região Serrana, Região Norte Fluminense, Região Sul Fluminense, Região Noroeste Fluminense, Região das Baixadas Litorâneas, Região Médio Paraíba, and the gorgeous Região Costa Verde.
Located in the Região Metropolitana, Niterói sits in the Guanabara Bay just across from Rio de Janeiro city, with a distance of about 10 kilometers between the two. Niterói is home to a rich variety of cultural and natural attractions, some of which are truly spectacular, easily accessible from Rio de Janeiro city and should not be missed. Founded by araribóia, a tupi-guarani chief who helped the Portuguese repel the French invaders, it is the only Brazilian city to have been established by an indigenous leader.
Further away from Rio de Janeiro city, the regions of greatest tourist interest in the State are island-rich Costa Verde (green coast), the Região das Baixadas Litorâneas, also known as Costa do Sol (coast of the sun) home to beaches and lakes, and the Região Serrana (mountainous regions) in the interior of the State, home to green hills, mountains, and forests.
Costa verde's name reflects its abundant rainforests while Costa do Sol was so named because of the many world-class beaches in the region. The green coast is home to landmark destinations such as Ilha Grande, Paraty, and Angra dos Reis, with beautiful ecological state parks such as the Parque Nacional da Serra da Bocaina. The Costa verde displays many elements of the beauty of Brazilian nature in stark contrast with each other, having on one side the ocean and directly facing it, incredibly lush forested mountains.
Angra dos Reis is famous for its beautiful beaches and numerous islands which pepper the crystal waters, ranging from deserted beach idylls to sophisticated areas of development. The most famous and celebrated of these is Ilha Grande, or 'big island', where picturesque beaches meet lush Atlantic forest and laid back bars, restaurants and Cafés. Visitors can enjoy boat and yacht trips around the region and observe diverse marine life. In Angra dos Reis itself attractions include the historical center, colonial houses, convents, churches and charming restaurants.
The quaint colonial town of Paraty is a time-travel experience: with over 400 years of history and beautiful architecture nestled in its cobbled streets, it is home to some of the most pristine and idyllic beaches in the State, including Trindade Beach and Sono Beach with crystal clear waters ideal for swimming and snorkeling. There are also delightful waterfalls a small distance from the main town.
The Costa do Sol, with its over 100 kilometers of beaches, is also known as Região dos Lagos, or region of the lakes, after the many lakes and lagoons found there. Here, the peaceful Cabo Frio, the secluded Arraial do Cabo, the ever chic Búzios, and Brazil's surfing capital of Saquarema are just some of the many great places offering phenomenal beaches, picturesque vistas, and fantastic nightspots.
Known as brazil's capital of surf, Saquarema is about 100 km from Rio de Janeiro. This region was originally inhabited by indigenous Tamoio tribes of fishermen, who specialized in mollusks, easy to find due to the geography of this coastal area. Here, there are 60km of coastline to explore, and 12 beaches for surfing enthusiasts to choose from.
Araruama is the largest town in the Região dos Lagos, home to vibrant commerce, an expanding role in the life of the State, and the famous araruama lake, a lagoon ideal for windsurfing. Also in Araruama is the beautiful and still secret praia seca, a long white-sand beach ever more popular among those who enjoy undeveloped, natural beaches and still want to stay close to Rio de Janeiro city.
Cabo Frio, located around two hours from Rio de Janeiro city, is famous for its ocean beaches, white sand dunes and the historically significant fort 'Forte de São Matheus.' It has a popular group of islands for those enticed by the curiosities and charms of small fishing villages where one can buy a vast array of delicious seafood, as well as engage in the well-loved past-time of amateur or professional fishing. Cabo Frio is also one of the most important cities for beach fashion in the country.
Rio das Ostras boasts a long stretch of clean, calm coastline, comprised of 15 enchanting beaches, ideal for surfers. Visitors enjoy the vast array of bars, restaurants and kiosks which offer delicious local cuisine as well as the lagoons, parks and reserves that are rich in fauna and flora. The city also receives a celebrated annual jazz festival.
Arraial do Cabo offers some of the best diving spots in Brazil with plenty of dive boats leaving for beaches ideal for guided underwater fishing adventures surf. The Reserva Extrativista Marinha de Arraial do Cabo (Extractive Marine Reserve of Arraial do Cabo) is a stunning ecological area in the region, populated by traditional fishing communities.
Made famous since the 70's by French actress Brigitte Bardot, a must-visit hotspot and playground for the well-heeled is the celebrated Armação dos Búzios, normally called just 'Búzios.' With beautiful beaches and great nightlife this is the fashionable beach town of the day, attracting a wide array of Cariocas and international visitors to its scenic coastline. The buzzing and elegant nightlife boasts an eclectic assortment of bars, restaurants and clubs making Búzios the ideal location for a glamorous getaway.
Macaé is one of the most prosperous districts in Rio de Janeiro, receiving a high level of business tourism as a result of its offshore oil industry. It hosts the biennial Brazil Offshore conference for oil and gas which brings together around 800 exhibitors. The city also has areas of great natural beauty, including beaches, national parks, islands, coastal lagoons, mountains, waterfalls and wildlife sanctuaries.
The região Serrana, is a mountainous area home to the historically important city of Petrópolis, at one point capital of Rio de Janeiro State, and the charming Nova Friburgo. The Região Serrana offers travelers the majesty of the Serra dos Órgãos mountains, and due to its moderate climate, this area attracts many visitors year-round.
Petrópolis, one of the most popular and stunning mountainous locations of Rio State, is endearingly referred to as the 'Imperial City' because the monarch Dom Pedro II made it his home. It is surrounded by lush Atlantic Forest and pulses with art, music, dance, culture and tradition.
Teresópolis, nestled atop a magnificent mountain range, is frequented for its fresh, cool air and beautiful natural parks, replete with diverse flora, fauna and springs. A sweet craft, clothing and gastronomy market also takes place every weekend.
Nova Friburgo, framed by the Atlantic Forest, offers a range of tours and treks to experience waterfalls, mountains, streams and environmental reserves. It is also well loved for its high quality pousadas, restaurants and gastronomy - including fondues and raclettes, goats' cheese, cookies and homemade chocolates.
Cachoeiras de Macacu is named in honor of the many beautiful waterfalls (cachoeiras) of the region, and earned the town the title of 'health-resort town.' This unique place is located in the Região Serrana, less than 90km from the capital. A town with the word 'waterfalls' in its name evokes images and sensations of peace and tranquility.
Located in the 'valley of coffee', the harmonious mountain town of Miguel Pereira sits at an altitude of 618m, and is surrounded by the lush green mountains of Brazil's interior. Miguel Pereira has a balanced and high oxygen level, giving it a wonderful climate all year round. Renowned for its luscious climate, this town was declared a climatic resort, and is now officially regarded as the 3rd best climate in the world, the 2nd best in Brazil, and the best in the State of Rio de Janeiro.
Throughout Rio de Janeiro State, the mata atlântica's tropical and sub-tropical forests are teeming with biodiversity. Its representative species of flora and fauna species make the Região Serrana one of the most diverse on the planet.
For those who come to Rio de Janeiro and want to experience an additional side of the region, there are many nearby destinations offering a range of attractions and easily reached for a one-day tour or for a week-end.
Less known locations such as Rio das Ostras and the waterfalls of Cachoeiras de Macacu are wonderful places to visit and are becoming more and more popular with both Brazilian and international visitors alike.
Rio's tourist industry is constantly evolving and is a fundamental component of the state's fruitful and sustainable development. There are a significant number of companies dedicated to travel around the State, some of which offer adventurous excursions, while others focus on nature and environmental education or high-end beach pampering. To ensure that the tourist industry functions in a co-operative and efficient way, many public institutions oversee important business infrastructure to facilitate interaction between enterprises and promote exposure.