Paraty is possibly the reflection of paradise on Earth, a small beach town with colonial old-world charm, located roughly halfway between Rio de Janerio and São Paulo overlooking Ilha Grande Bay on Brazil’s Atlantic coast.

Paraty Brazil

Paraty put a smile on my face from the first moment I set foot in town. Like stepping back in time, walking along the maze of cobblestone streets of Paraty’s old town, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a pure delight. The vibrantly colorful colonial buildings were originally built by African slaves in the 1600s, and in the gold rush era, the town became an export port for gold to Portugal via Rio de Janerio.

Paraty has a gorgeous oceanfront setting surrounded by verdant hills, river arms, and waterfalls. Despite being such a watery place, interestingly, the town is built just below sea level. During high tide, some parts of the historic center get flooded. When the water retreats back to the sea, it helps cleaning of the streets, a practical filtration system which was important back in the days before the town had a sewage system. Yet today, this makes Paraty a great place for water reflection shots. The very same street may look totally different at another time.

The streets are only flooded for a short time until the tide recedes

I simply fell in love with this place, even though it failed to serve its main purpose as a beach destination. During our visit in February 2019, it rained nearly the entire time, and the beaches in town were just mediocre. Yet still, I couldn’t get enough of strolling through its cobblestone streets and didn’t really mind the frequent warm showers. A word of warning though: those “cobblestones” are rather boulders! That’s why it’s quite hard to navigate on such uneven terrain. In my opinion, this showcases the Brazilians’ practicality. Who needs neatly arranged, manicured cobblestones?

Paraty’s historic center is closed to motorized vehicles. For your comfort, you can take a tour on a horse-drawn carriage, given that some streets get flooded anyways, it might be your best bere.

As you wander around, you’ll pass by plenty of trendy restaurants and shops in the old town. Don’t forget to try Cachaça –a locally made alcohol– although you can find it all over Brazil, drinking caipirinhas “original” at beachfront shacks is a real treat. Another highlight you should not miss out on when in Paraty is watching a puppet theatre show at Teatro Espaço (on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 9pm). Absolutely stunning and unique performance with amazing details and emotions conveyed through the puppets by talented performers hidden in black. Pure joy!

Photography is prohibited during the show. The image is from the web. Can you notice the performers in black?
How about now? You should clearly recognize their hands.

Culture, nature, and gastronomy, Paraty has it all and is a unique place to visit in Brazil that I’d like to return to. Take a tour around the town in pictures and let me know if you’ve been convinced or not.