A Comprehensive Travel Guide to Búzios, Brazil

Joao Fernandinho beach in Buzios. Marcelo Nacinovic / Getty Images

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 nearby Rio.

The five-mile peninsula, which consists of 23 scenic and pristine beaches and a pleasant town center, attracts visitors throughout the year. Búzios has plenty of warm winter days with clear skies and temperatures in the 70s as well. 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 as well. The area is also drier than Rio de Janeiro and the state's other beaches to the south. 

01 of 04

One of the Top Destinations on Brazil's Sun Coast

Praia dos Ossos in Búzios
Halley Pacheco de Oliveira / Wikimedia Commons / (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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

Orla Bardot, the central beachfront boulevard, and Rua das Pedras, lined with charming restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, are meeting spots for those looking to get out and about. In the summer, there is a surge in the number of parties here as well.

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.

It's recommended to book hotels in advance if you're planning to visit in July, as this is the winter break month for Brazil students. Summer is also very busy in Búzios, of course, with New Year's Day and Carnival as peak times for tourists.

How to Get There

There are many ways to get to this coastal paradise. If you're staying in Rio de Janeiro, ask your hotel or pousada.

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

Búzios has an airport of its own for small planes - Umberto Modiano. In Rio de Janeiro, some of the companies offering flights to Búzios include:

  • Líder Aviação
  • Aeróleo
  • Helistar Táxi Aére
  • TEAM Linhas Aéreas

By Bus
Viação 1001 offers daily buses to Búzios fromRio de Janeiro's main 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
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02 of 04

Top Activities and Things To See

Brazil, Buzios, Armacao Beach
Alex Robinson / Getty Images

Búzios beaches and the town center, with its beachfront boulevard - Orla Bardot - and its continuation, Rua das Pedras - is where most of the town's top attractions are.

Art and Cultural Activities

Central Búzios has some of the most photographed bronze statues in Brazil, created by Christina Motta. In fact, Brigitte Bardot, sitting on a bench and looking at the sea on Orla Bardot, and the three fishermen at Armação Beach (pictured) are the best known life-size works by the artist. Motta 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 the nearby Travessa dos Arcos shopping area.

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 the sunset on.

Where to Shop, Eat and Party

Rua das Pedras, an central street in Búzios, is lined with boutiques, restaurants, and clubs where visitors can party late into the night. Additionally, Manoel Turíbio de Farias, the parallel avenue, has several eateries serving everything from ice cream to international food.

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

Some of the best restaurants and places to go drinking include:

  • 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. This eatery was opened by a Belgian-Argentine team who later launched Don Juan and Patio Havana, which also has branches in Rio.
  • Pátio Havana
    Cuba is the theme here, 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.  Dine on Argentine beef cuts while sipping on South American wine.
  • Zapata
    Resident DJs, guest artists play rock and Brazilian rhythms. This is one of the best spots in town to spend all night out and about.
  • Bar do Zé
    The rustic-chic bar serves Mediterranean food and has romantic candlelit tables on the sidewalk.
  • Privilège
    Party central with great resident and guest DJs.
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03 of 04

The Best Beaches of Búzios

Tucuns beach in Buzios
Fred Pinheir / Getty Images

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. Whichever beach you choose, you can't go wrong. Each has their particular offerings, but they are all pristine and incredibly beautiful. Choose a place to stay on the beach that best suits your style and explore other beaches by car, catamaran or on foot. 

  • 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 a 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 the fancy Breezes Buzios Resort, Tucuns offers hang gliding and paragliding with beautiful crystal clear water.
  • Geribá
    This beach is popular with all types of travelers and locals. The beach has shallow waters by the shore, but it is good for surfing.
  • Ferradurinha
    A tiny bay with intriguing rock formations, Ferradurinha ("small horseshoe") is a great snorkeling spot. It can be reached by car or on foot from 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, this beach has rocks that are over 520 million years old. Waves crashing on the rocks make it unsafe for swimming though.
  • Foca
    The pretty, but tiny beach can be reached via an unmarked trail in the woods (about five minutes) from Forno.  It is known to have rough waters.
  • 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
    This surfing spot has great 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, and it is a favorite with South American travelers. It is packed with plenty of 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
    This beach is great for kids with its calm waters. It is also very popular with boat tours.
  • Manguinhos
    Great for water sports, the beach has charming places to stay and a cluster of gourmet food spots.
  • Praia Rasa
    Great for couples, with calm waters and romantic places to stay.
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04 of 04

Best Restaurants in Búzios

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.
Looking for a place to eat? These are some of the best: 

  • 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, 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.
  • 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.