A Comprehensive Travel Guide to Buzios

  • 01 of 04

    One of the Top Destinations on Brazil's Sun Coast

    ••• Halley Pacheco de Oliveira/Wikimedia Commons (commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Praia_dos_Ossos_15.jpg).

    Búzios is the best-known destination on Costa do Sol, a 190-mile stretch of beaches north of Rio de Janeiro which comprises 13 cities.  Its sunny winters make it a perfect side trip from Rio, a host city in 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.

    A five-mile peninsula with 23 scenic beaches and a pleasant town center, Búzios confirms the Sun Coast's weather attributes. The city's particular geographical conditions, such as its distance from Serra do Mar - Brazil's coastal range - and winds which blow in all seasons make it one of the sunniest beach destinations in Brazil, drier than Rio de Janeiro and the state's other beaches to the south. Búzios has plenty of winter days with clear skies and temperatures in the 70s.

    Made famous by Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s, Búzios has been in fashion since then. In recent years has gained an array of charming hotels and pousadas, fine restaurants and clubs.

    Orla Bardot, the central beachfront boulevard, and Rua das Pedras, lined with charming...MORE restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, are meeting spots for a beautiful crowd. In the summer, there is a surge in the number of parties.

    With plenty of things to do - windsurfing, kite surfing, diving, hiking - Búzios has what it takes to attract active travelers. Hotels with large rooms and recreation, paired with the village atmosphere, calm beaches, and friendly weather, also make it a great destination for families with children.

    Though tourism has become the focus of local economic activity, fishing persists as a means of subsistence. The city's full name, Armação de Búzios, tells of its fishing past with armação either as a fishing method or as in reference to whaleship building. According to historians, Búzios ("conches") refers to large molusk shells used as horns by local indigenous tribes as they warned of approaching Portuguese.

    Búzios is a port of call on international cruises such as the one aboard the Celebrity Infinity. The visit gives passengers time to tour central Búzios attractions and even take a catamaran to nearby beaches and islands.

    When to Go

    Thanks to its position on the Brazil coast, Búzios tends to be sunnier, drier and warmer than other Southeastern beaches, which makes it a great destination for winter travel in Brazil (June-August) as well as for the other seasons.

    Try to book hotels in advance if you're planning to visit in July, winter break month for Brazil students. Summer is very busy in Búzios, of course, with New Year's Day and Carnival as peaks of touristic demand.

    How to Get There

    Ask your hotel or pousada about transfers from Rio or nearby towns, such as Cabo Frio.

    The Cabo Frio Airport, about 18 miles from Búzios, receives flights from several cities in Brazil. You can then arrange a transfer to your hotel or even take a taxi.

    Búzios has an airport of its own for small planes - Umberto Modiano (55-22-2629-1225). In Rio de Janeiro, some of the companies offering flights to Búzios are:

    • Líder (55-21-2431-5545)
    • Aeróleo (55-21-2543-1260)
    • Helistar (55-21-3325-6300)
    • Team (55-21-3318-1616, www.voeteam.com.br)

    Viação 1001 has daily buses to Búzios from Rio's bus terminal (Rodoviária Novo Rio).

    Sun Coast Cities

    Rio de Janeiro State's Sun Coast is also known as the Blue Coast or as Região dos Lagos (Lake Region). Its main cities, moving north from Rio, are:

    • Saquarema
    • Araruama
    • Arraial do Cabo
    • Cabo Frio
    • São Pedro da Aldeia
    • Armação de Búzios
    • Barra de São João
    • Rio das Ostras
    • Macaé
    • Barra de Macaé
    • São João da Barra
    • Quissamã
    • Itabapoana
    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    The Top Things to Do

    ••• Sightseeing in Búzios: A pause for photos of the Three Fishermen on Armação Beach. Sergio Quissak/CcomBúzios

    Búzios beaches (see the next page) and the town center, with its beachfront boulevard - Orla Bardot - and its continuation, Rua das Pedras - condense most of the town's top attractions.

    Central Búzios has some of the most photographed bronze statues in Brazil, created by Christina Motta (christinamotta.com). Brigitte Bardot, sitting on a bench and looking at the sea on Orla Bardot, and the three fishermen at Armação Beach are the best known life-size works by the artist, who also created the statue of president Juscelino Kubitschek in front of Solar do Peixe Vivo Pousada and whimsical works - children, cats on the roof - at nearby Travessa dos Arcos.

    Travessa dos Arcos, a shopping gallery, also bears the mark of architect Hélio Pellegrino, a Minas Gerais native who loves Búzios and has designed some of the city's most attractive restaurants, stores, and beach houses.

    The Búzios central pier is always busy, as a departure point for boat tours and as a great place to hang out from...MORE the sunset on.

    A dirt path until it was paved with pé-de-moleque ("street urchin's foot"), the irregular stones which give it its name, Rua das Pedras is lined with boutiques, restaurants, and clubs where you can party late into the night. Manoel Turíbio de Farias, the parallel avenue, has several eateries serving from ice cream to international food.

    Central Búzios is also good for specialty shopping such as paper mache art by Ivone R.

    Where to Eat and Party

    • Chez Michou
      The crêperie on Rua das Pedras has been one of the Sun Coast's top hangouts for the young crowd for nearly 30 years. Opened by a Belgian-Argentine team who later launched Don Juan and Patio Havana, it has branches in Rio.
      Av. José Bento Ribeiro Dantas 90
    • Pátio Havana
      Cuba is the theme, but the shows at this beachfront club and restaurant with five areas (including a cigar bar and a wine bar) feature Chicago blues, bossa nova and rock as well as Latin rhythms - which you can also learn to dance on Thursday evenings.
    • Estância Don Juan
      A bit of Caminito in Búzios: the bustling restaurant has tango shows every Tuesday, specials with Argentine beef cuts and South American wine.
    • Zapata
      Resident DJs, guest artists playing rock and Brazilian rhythms, and beautiful people year round make this one of the best spots in town for pulling an all-nighter.
    • Bar do Zé
      The rustic-chic bar serving Mediterranean food has romantic candlelit tables on the sidewalk.
    • Privilège
      Party central with great resident and guest DJs.
    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    All of the Best Beaches

    ••• João Fernandes. Sergio Quissak/CcomBúzios

    With its compact peninsular shape and small beaches tucked into the shoreline's curlicues, Búzios is one of the top beach hopping destinations in Brazil. Choose a place to stay on the beach that best suits your style and explore other beaches by car, catamaran or on foot. Some boat tours include nearby islands.

    • Caravelas
      Coming from Rio past Cabo Frio, the peninsula's first beach can be reached by a partially unpaved road. Caravelas is small, with rough waters and white sands.
    • José Gonçalves
      Named after an illegal slave trader who used it for disembarking, the small beach is a fisherman's colony and surfing spot reached by a dirt road.
    • Tucuns
      Home to Breezes Buzios, Tucuns has hang gliding and paragliding.
    • Geribá
      Popular with all types of travelers and locals, the beach has shallow waters by the shore (but also good surfing).
    • Ferradurinha
      A tiny bay with intriguing rock formations, Ferradurinha ("small horseshoe") is a snorkeling spot. It can be reached by car or on foot from...MORE Geribá.
    • Ferradura
      The Horseshoe has lots of things to do in the high season. It is a good choice for families with children thanks to its calm waters, but also home to romantic Insólito Boutique Hotel. The left corner has bars and nightlife.
    • Ponta da Lagoinha
      A must-visit for geology professionals or aficionados, the beach has rocks that are over 520 million years old. Waves crashing on the rocks make it unsafe for swimming.
    • Foca
      Pretty, with rough waters, the tiny beach can be reached via an unmarked trail in the woods (about five minutes) from Forno.
    • Praia do Forno
      A small, quiet beach with calm waters and red sands.
    • Olho-de-Boi
      One of Brazil's nude beaches, small and clean Olho-de-Boi is protected from non-naturist eyes by cliffs. A trail (about 20 minutes) from Praia Brava leads into it.
    • Brava
      Brava means "rough". This surfing spot has good places to stay.
    • João Fernandinho
      Sharing the very tip of the peninsula with larger João Fernandes, the attractive beach is reached by nearly 100 steps in the rainforest.
    • João Fernandes
      On the eponymous tip of the peninsula, the beach is good for kids, a fave with South American travelers and packed with places to stay.
    • Azeda
      Secluded and easy to reach on foot from central Búzios beaches, the beach has an even smaller neighbor, Azedinha.
    • Central Búzios Beaches
      Ossos, with boats; Armação, with the Orla Bardot boulevard; and clean, residential Praia do Canto form the core of beach town life in Búzios.
    • Praia das Virgens
      The Virgins' Beach can only be reached by trail from Praia dos Amores, itself not easy to get to from Praia do Canto.
    • Tartaruga
      Good for kids, with calm waters, but also very popular with boat tours.
    • Manguinhos
      Great for water sports, the beach has charming places to stay and a cluster of gourmet spots.
    • Praia Rasa
      Great for couples, with calm waters and romantic places to stay.
    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
  • 04 of 04

    Where to Eat

    ••• Photo courtesy of Zuza.

    Búzios is keeping up with Brazil's overall strides in gourmet life and has become one of the top culinary travel destinations near Rio.

    In July, the town hosts a culinary festival which showcases the cuisine of the great local chefs as well as traditional local fare prepared by some of the best cooks in the fisherman's community.

    Best Restaurants in Búzios

    • Sawasdee Bistro
      One of Brazil's best Thai restaurants, Sawasdee trailblazed the local gourmet scene when chef Marcos Sodré turned the family's beach house into a restaurant in 1997. Only after 10 years of success at Orla Bardot did he open a Rio de Janeiro branch on chic Rua Dias Ferreira, Leblon. Now there's also a São Conrado branch. Chef Thiago Sodré joins his father on Thailand trips and shares the management of award-winning Sawasdee cuisine. Their street food exploits are evident on the menu, which has great satays as well as entrées such as Mussaman Curry (filet mignon or pork strips in coconut milk, red curry,...MORE pineapple, onions and potatoes, sprinkled with peanuts and cilantro).
    • Satyricon
      The branch of the Ipanema seafood restaurant with a Mediterranean accent is on the Praia da Armação waterfront. Large aquariums hold what's for dinner - freshness is a Satyricon hallmark.
    • Insólito
      The name means "unusual" and, like the hotel on Ferradura Beach to which it belongs, beachfront Insólito is masterfully placed and decorated. Great for luxury romantic dining, it specializes in Franco-Brazilian cuisine, with seafood as a highlight.
    • Zuza
      Chef Christopher Cabicieri (Zuza) and his restaurant embody the sunny soul of Búzios. A former singer and songwriter who learned his first culinary skills from an Italian uncle in his native Rio and later honed them while working solo or with masters such as chef Edinho Engel, chef Zuza presents upbeat Brazilian cuisine at his place on Manguinhos Beach. The restaurant, part of the Porto da Barra gourmet hub, features the day's catch brought from the neighboring fish market as well as country ingredients such as sun-dried meats from Brazil's arid Northeastern backlands. The stone platter with piping hot octopus, fish filet, squid and shrimp is one of the most famous dishes in town.
    • Rocka
      The seriously gorgeous location, fine food by chef Gustavo Rinkevich, and DJs make this beach lounge and restaurant a top multi-sensorial experience.
    • Quadrucci
      The Buzios branch of Quadrucci Leblon has contemporary cuisine and a beautiful beachfront location.
    • O Hedonista
      Pleasures involve wines from an in-site Fasano wine store which go well with the good selection of pasta and seafood in the romantic setting.
    • Briza
      The attractive beachfront restaurant at Villa Rasa Marina on Praia Rasa serves outstanding grilled seafood.
    • Buzin
      Located about two blocks from the beach, Buzin is a buffet restaurant serving varied food, including several kinds of pasta and sushi.