While many travelers to Brazil choose to spend a majority of their time in the large and lively metropolitan city of Rio de Janeiro, there is a culturally rich and sophisticated village about two hours away that is well worth a visit. Búzios, with its sandy beaches, opportunities for adventure, ambient restaurants, and charming shops, was once a tiny fishing town made famous by a visit from actress Brigitte Bardot in 1964. Now, the area is thought to be similar to the luxurious Saint-Tropez, and for good reason.
To get to Búzios you can fly into Búzios Airport, which receives regular flights from Guarulhos Airport in São Paulo, or from Santos Dumont in Rio de Janeiro on Fridays and Sundays. Private and non-regular aircrafts use Umberto Modiano Airport, also in Armação dos Búzios. Likewise, you can catch a Viação 1001 bus daily from Rodoviária Novo Rio in Rio de Janeiro.
Búzios is world-renowned for its breathtaking beaches. While there are many worth exploring, here are some of the best:
João Fernandinho Beach (pictured right)- This small, laid-back beach has clear, calm water as well as a unique desert-like landscape.
Brava Beach– If you’d prefer something a bit more adventurous, Brava Beach is well-known for its strong waves and excellent surfing opportunities.
Geribá Beach– For those who want to be “in the know” and surround themselves with beautiful people, Geribá Beach attracts a hip and sexy crowd.
Azeda Beach– This secluded beach is said to be one of the most beautiful in all of Brazil. It’s considered an Environmental Protection Area and can only be accessed via water-taxi or hiking a small track from Ossos Beach.
Ferradura Bay– This warm-water beach is loaded with activities including banana boating, waterskiing, bar hopping, and trying different restaurants.
Because of its excellent water and nature-rich location, Búzios is home to many outdoor and active options, some of which are:
Scuba diving– Because of the crystal-clear water in Búzios, there is great visibility for seeing marine life like giant turtles, grouper, manta rays, and bright corals. Moreover, the water is around 72 degrees, making it comfortable to stay in for long periods of time. One great place to dive is Âncora Island, which you can reach in about 30 minutes via boat. Arraial do Cabo, which is about 30 minutes by car, is another great spot and is well known throughout the entire country. If you’ve never dived before and want to learn, or if you have but would still like to go with an instructor, Casamar, Mar Azul and True Blue are all reputable companies.
Búzios Golf Course– This elite course consists of 18-holes and was designed by internationally famous architects Pete and Perry Dye. Golfers come from all over the globe to experience the unique landscape and topography of the venue, which can be seen by clicking here.
Sailing– Búzios plays host to some great sailing, and athletes come from all over the world. Even famous Brazilian sailing champion Lars Grael practices in Búzios. Furthermore, the city hosts a Brazilian Sailing Week for the country each year. If you’d like to try sailing for yourself, I would recommend going with Happy Surf located on Ferradura Beach.
Experience an eco-tour– Búzios has a diverse landscape of mountains, hills, beaches, and rich flora, making it ideal for people who enjoy hiking and exploring the outdoors. Visit Emerências Reserve, the only place in Búzios where you will find the beautiful and vibrant endangered golden lion tamarin (monkeys), or Tauá Reserve, which is home to over 300 butterfly species and sixty bird types.
Fishing– Because Búzios is surrounded by beaches on all sides, it is a prime location for fishing. Shark, sea bass, anchovas, and sea bream can all be caught and enjoyed from the beaches; however, if you’d like to experience an authentic fishing trip with an experienced local, head over to the Fishermen’s Colony to rent a boat and hire a sailor who will promise a catch of up to twenty fish each hour.
Kite surfing– Búzios, the land of water sports, is also home to excellent kite surfing opportunities. While kite surfing is fun it can also be dangerous, which is why it’s important to learn from a certified instructor. Eduardo Graf, a 6-year instructor certified by the International Kiteboarding Association, runs the Búzios Kitesurf School. Participants will be able to fly like a kite over Rasa Beach while taking in views of the beaches and the town.
The cobblestone road, which is often thought of as the place to see and be seen, extends towards the Orla Bardot and is a continuation of the road accompanied by the Armação Beach. Moreover, bars, clubs, hotels, shops, restaurants, and art galleries litter the street, making it a lively and interesting area to explore the city through.
Experience the arts
There are an array of worthwhile galleries and shops on the road to put you in a creative mood while experiencing local and international art. Galeria das Artes features numerous artists from all over the world showcasing a mix of medias like bronze sculptures and oil paintings in permanent displays. If you enjoy public art, Christina Motta has beautiful sculptures set up in the area, like the famous bronze Brigitte Bardot piece (shown above). Other must-see galleries to visit on the street include Celina Lisboa (contemporary paintings), Abigail Schlemm (illusionist paintings), Atelier Flory Menezes (paintings and sculptures on permanent display), and Vilmar Madruga (world-renowned paintings).
There are an array of diverse and delicious restaurants on Rua das Pedras, but these are some of the best:
Chez Michou– Stop here if you’re craving a casual, mostly open-air atmosphere and delicious sweet and savory crepes. Choose from unique options such as cheese and banana, chicken curry, and caramel banana while enjoying beers, cocktails, and music.
Sawadee– This upscale oriental restaurant with traditional low tables and plush cushions for kneeling brings a fusion of cultures to Brazil. The flavors are exotic and hand-carved decor, Asian-inspired art, outdoor gardens, and numerous small tea lights create an exotic ambiance.
Cigalon– This romantic restaurant has beach views, an extensive wine list, generous portions, and food that seems to be a mix of Argentine and French fare. It is one of the best places in town to get ceviche and delicious duck.
Capricciosa– This famous pizza restaurant bakes pies to perfection. Best of all, they’re made in a wood oven and guests can choose from an array of toppings like spinach, shrimp, tomatoes, olives, artichokes, and more.
Salt– If you like unique dishes and international flavor, you’ll love this place. This contemporary restaurant opened in January of 2011 and is often praised for its fresh seafood, friendly staff, beautiful dark chocolate interior, and upbeat music.
Estancia Don Juan– This funky restaurant is painted in vibrant Earth tones and serves some of the most delicious Argentine cuisine in town. Old photographs and posters adorn the walls and furnishings are carved with unique and precise detail. The wine list is extensive, and their steaks are served sizzling and juicy.
The nightclubs on Rua das Pedras are some of the best in the world. Check out:
Pacha– For those who love techno and house music, this upbeat indoor/outdoor club has amazing views of Canto Beach. Their unique design features part of the club being partially built in glass, 3 feet below sea level, and overhangs the sea for 98 feet.
Moor- Here you will find a mix of Argentinian restaurants, a bar, and a nightclub on the second floor. The venue also hosts concerts and performances on a regular basis.
Privilege– Known for its world class DJ’s and breathtaking views of Orla Bardot, this upscale two-story nightclub brings in a sexy crowd. If you like trance music and beautiful people, this is where you’ll want to go.
Patio Havana– This sophisticated venue features concerts of blues, jazz, and popular Brazilian music.