While Rio de Janeiro’s swaths of white-sand beaches hemmed in by iconic peaks can make it hard to tear yourself away from the city, there are plenty of great day trips in the surrounding region. From beachy islands to charming small towns, these are our favorite day trips from Rio.
Petrópolis — 43 miles (69 km) away
Once the summer retreat of Brazilian royalty, today the mountain town of Petrópolis remains a popular getaway for cariocas looking for a cooling escape from Rio. Take a guided tour of the Imperial City, stopping at the Crystal Palace, the Imperial Museum, St. Peter of Alcantara Cathedral (also known as the Cathedral of Petrópolis), and the final resting place of Dom Pedro II, the second and last ruler of the Empire of Brazil.
Angra dos Reis — 98 miles (157 km) away
Hop aboard a schooner for a day exploring the turquoise waters of the Bay of Angra dos Reis, home to more than 2,000 beautiful beaches and some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in Brazil. Go for a swim at one of the pristine beaches of Ilha Grande, go snorkeling above the colorful reefs of Lagoa Azul, and snap some photos of the twin Ilhas Bonitas.
Búzios — 109 miles (176 km) away
Búzios, a former fishing village turned cosmopolitan town, sits on a picturesque peninsula lined by 17 beaches. Day trips to this charming seaside resort might include a guided walking tour of its cobblestone streets, a boat trip to find the best beaches, and free time for swimming or shopping along the upscale Rua das Pedras, home to numerous boutiques and restaurants.