The three main focal points for tourists are Praia do Forte, a stunning stretch of white sand and green waters named after the 17th-century fort at its eastern end, the historic Bairro da Passagem neighborhood where the Portuguese first settled, and the restaurant-fringed Canal do Itajuru, which links nearby Lagoa de Araruama to the Atlantic Ocean.

There are three sand-dune spots in and about Cabo Frio. The dunes of Praia do Peró, a super beach for surfing and surf casting, are 6km north in the direction of Búzios, near Ogivas and after Praia Brava and Praia das Conchas. The Dama Branca (White Lady) sand dunes are on the road to Arraial do Cabo. The Pontal dunes of Praia do Forte town beach stretch from the fort to Miranda hill. Robberies can pose a danger at the dunes, so get advice from locals before heading out.