Região dos Lagos- Taking a Break from Rio
As much as I adore Rio, after a non-stop few weeks in this crazy city it was time for a relaxing break. So I headed off to Região dos Lagos, for the stunning beaches and pretty towns of Arraial do Cabo, Armação do Búzios, and Cabo Frio.
Arraial do Cabo
Arraial do Cabo is a small town with several beaches accessible by foot. I learned this the hard way when, arriving by bus and searching for my hostel, I misread the map and walked to the wrong beach on the other side of town. The whole misadventure, walking from one side of town to the other and back again, took under an hour.
The beaches are beautiful, with postcard yellow sand and green water. After grabbing a pizza and a beer from one of the beachside stalls, I relaxed on Praia Prainha, before walking to the hidden Praia Forno. This gorgeous beach is found near the harbour, via some steep steps and a short hike.
Some claim that, of the three seaside towns, Arraial do Cabo has the best snorkelling and scuba diving, with the chance to see marine life such as sea turtles and dolphins. I didn’t test that claim, but I can tell you that the water surrounding all three towns is freezing! Definitely not something I would attempt without a wetsuit.
Armação do Búzios (Búzios)
Armação do Búzios’ claim to fame is that it was once the favoured holiday resort of Brigitte Bardot. Since then, it has become a favourite getaway for Brazilians and visitors alike.
It’s easy to see why Búzios is many people’s favourite of the three towns. Cobbled streets, tiled roofs, and colourful flowers make for beautiful streets, and the whole town radiates a laid-back, peaceful vibe. While I preferred the beaches in Arraial do Cabo, I adored the town of Búzios.
Regular collectivos ferry visitors between the residential areas and centro, which has a variety of beachfront restaurants, boutique and craft shops, and a decent nightlife. Collectivos run 24 hours, and the town and residential areas are perfectly safe to walk around, even at night.
The best snorkelling in Búzios is allegedly on the beaches to the north, where you can swim amongst a coral reef.
My least favourite of the three, Cabo Frio has beautiful beaches, with white powder sand and turquoise sea, but the town is unpleasant and uninteresting. Walking through it, even during the day, felt unsafe, and tourists seemed to stick mainly to the beachfront area.
The beachfront is nice though, with restaurants selling various dishes (mostly fish), and a seating area that stretches along the sea. The food here is pricey though, even compared to the rest of Brazil (which is pricey by South American standards).
The three towns of Arraial do Cabo, Cabo Frio, and Búzios, are all very near to each other, and it’s easy to visit all three in a short trip. Regular buses run between Arraial do Cabo and Cabo Frio, and between Cabo Frio and Búzios. A few buses per day run dirrectly between Arraial do Cabo and Búzios.
Regular buses leave from Rio’s Novo Rio bus terminal for each of the three towns, and take around three hours. Check Buscaonibus for times and prices.