The Curitiba-Paranaguá train ride is one of the most exciting and scenic travel routes in Brazil. It winds its way across the mountains of the Serra do Mar, Brazil's coastal range, in the southern state of Paraná. The trip covers 62 miles.
The journey between Curitiba, the state capital, and the port city of Paranaguá, owes its appeal to the engineering feats accomplished in the construction of the railway as well as to the natural beauty and cultural attractions along its path.
A Top Paraná Attraction
According to Serra Verde Express, the company that runs the railway, more than 128,000 people rode the Curitiba-Paranaguá train in 2007. More people ride it each year. The train ride is a fun way to go from the capital to the Paraná coast, particularly if you plan to visit Ilha do Mel, ("Honey Island"), best reached by boat from Paranaguá.
Currently, the train only goes as far as Paranaguá on Sundays. On the other days of the week, the last stop is Morretes, an 18th-century town. You will spend about three hours in Morretes before taking the train back to Curitiba; plenty of time to enjoy barreado, the area's typical dish, for lunch.
Passengers on the Curitiba-Paranaguá train ride go through 14 tunnels and cross 30 bridges. The ride's engineering highlight is the São João Bridge, which hugs the mountains at a towering 180 feet.
The construction of the Curitiba-Paranaguá Railway was ridden with tragedy.
Of the more than 9,000 workers hired for the job, over 50% died. Work started in 1880 and finished five years later.
The main reason for building the railway was the need to create a channel for products from southern states through the Paranaguá port. Unlike other Brazilian railways, which were abandoned as Brazil made an ever clearer option for road transportation, the Curitiba-Paranaguá railway persisted largely due to its touristic appeal.
Romantic Train Rides
A night train ride with special decorations, champagne, and live music is one of the ways you can celebrate Brazil's version of Valentine's Day (Dia dos Namorados) on June 12. Check the Serra Verde Express website for updates.
Tickets start at 95 reais (about $54) for a ride on the Litorina, a car with extra wide windows. Check the Serra Verde Express website (www.serraverdeexpress.com.br) for all the fares.
Serra Verde Express is one of the companies behind The Great Brazil Express, the first luxury train in Brazil.