Ilha de Paquetá, in the Baía de Guanabara, was once a popular tourist spot and remains a pleasant escape from the city’s bustle. There are no cars on the island. Transport is by foot, bicycle (there are hundreds for rent) or horse-drawn carts. There’s a certain decadent charm to the colonial buildings, unassuming beaches and businesses catering to working-class visitors. The place gets crowded on weekends.
Go to Paquetá for the boat ride through Rio's famous bay and to see cariocas at play – especially during the Festa de São Roque, which is celebrated with fireworks, a procession and music on the weekend following August 16.
Boats leave from near Praça XV (Quinze) de Novembro in Centro. The ferry takes 70 minutes and costs R$10 for a return trip. There are 12 departures daily, roughly every 90 minutes from about 7am.