The transit points that are so much more than transit points…
We actually only visited two other places, for not enough time that either of them deserved – but they’re definitely worth a mention.
We’re not sure exactly how – because almost the entirety of Brazil is covered in beaches we’d consider miles above the rest of the world’s – but Florianopolis is widely renowned as having the country’s best beaches. Half of the city is located on the mainland, while half is on Santa Catarina island (connected to the mainland by a bridge), and it’s supposedly currently seeing a bit of a real estate boom from Brazilians looking for a slower pace of life. There’s also a grand total of 42 beaches, so enough to stay for a month and never visit the same twice.
We’d recommend staying on the island, out on the eastern beaches. They’re largely deserted, and are great sweeping swathes of golden sands.
The best thing you can do here is take off on one of the hiking trails for a day. The beaches found by walking are quite often deserted, and if you’re lucky – you might pick up a wayward canine on your way.
While initially just a transit point for us to find a bus down to Uruguay, the cobbled streets of Paraty turned out to be one of our favourite lesser-known gems. This historic seaside town is filled with colonial architecture, bougainvillea and stoney streets – which is essentially my recipe for bliss.
Interestingly enough, it was also largely just a stop-over point for travelers between Rio and Sao Paulo for a long time, and was only recently rediscovered as a tourist destination. The long forgotten nature of the town actually helped to preserve it, meaning much of the town is how it might have been many decades ago. It’s also a popular jumping off point for Ilha Grande.
The historic centre, with its old churches, cobblestoned streets and architecture is what you should be looking at first, as well as popping into the art studios and souvenir shops. A walk down by the river to take in the colourful boats and their just-as-colourful drivers, and a look at the beaches should be next on the itinerary. Then, ice-cream at one of the town’s artisanal ice-cream makers. There are touristy horse-and-cart rides etc too, but we’re not one for forced gimmicks.
It’s a necessary evil, the usually lackluster border town, but Chuy is quite cool. Known as Chui on the Brazilian side, and Chuy on the Uruguayan – this town is literally split down the middle by the Brazil/ Uruguay border. Even better, their main road is literally split down the middle by the two countries. So on one side, you’ll be munching on acai and spending your reals, and on the other, you’re seeking out good red wine and withdrawing pesos. Aside from that though, it really is quite a lacklustre town. Only stay there if you have to – and by god remember to get money from an ATM before you leave.