Set amid jutting peninsulas and secluded beaches, with a backdrop of steep, jungled mountains plunging into an island-studded bay, Paraty is one of Brazil’s most appealing and exquisitely preserved historical gems.
Paraty’s colonial center is remarkable not only for its centuries-old architecture, but also for its lack of automobile traffic. The irregular cobblestone streets are closed to motor vehicles, making it a delightful place to stroll about. Elegant white buildings adorned with fanciful multihued borders and latticed windows blend harmoniously with the natural beauty that envelops the town.
Dozens of pristine beaches are within a couple of hours of Paraty by boat or bus, while inland, the Parque Nacional da Serra da Bocaina provides protection for a lush remnant of Mata Atlântica (Atlantic rainforest). The Brazilian government has recognized Paraty as a National Historic Site since 1966.
Paraty is crowded and lively throughout the summer holidays, brimming with Brazilian and European vacationers. The town’s cosmopolitan flavor is further enhanced by the large number of artists, writers and chefs, both Brazilian and foreign, who have settled here and opened shops, galleries and restaurants.
The historic center is small and easy to navigate, although street names and addresses can get confusing. Some streets have more than one name, and house numbers don’t always follow a predictable pattern.