Petropolis rarely appears in travel brochures and travel kits. And completely in vain! Here you can have a great day, atypical for a Latin American trip.
An hour’s drive from Rio de Janeiro – and here it is, a cool small town, calm and relaxed.
Petropolis will delight you with a new interpretation of European architecture and capybaras that look like huge guinea pigs.
Why you should come to Petropolis for a day
Brazil’s beauty is not only in three-month visas, which are placed without any problems immediately at the country’s entrance but also in its diversity. You can get to fiery Rio de Janeiro or modern Brasilia from business Sao Paulo in a few hours. Petropolis differs from them in cool weather (+ 18-22C), which is very important in the Brazilian summer (our winter) and by the contrast in architecture and unusual features.
The town is small, so it makes sense to come here in the morning and go further in the evening, without stopping for the night. Plus, Brazilians often choose Petropolis for weekend excursions. Therefore, there is only resort accommodation – hotels and hotels, with a small budget selection.
How to get to the city
The best way to get to Petropolis from Rio de Janeiro is by car or bus. If you don’t rent a car, you can find BlaBlaCar for $ 4-6. You will need a local SIM card or roaming enabled on your phone to call the driver and find yourself at the meeting point. The trip by car will take about an hour.
There is an Uber in Rio, but you shouldn’t take it, because a trip to another city will cost much more ($ 36).
It takes longer by bus (up to two hours, depending on the weather), but this option is safer. Buses to Petropolis run from the Novo Rio Bus Station. Ticket price – about $ 10, carrier Unica Facil. Tickets can be bought immediately at the station, without prior reservation. Please note that buses run every four hours, which means it is worth knowing in advance when the last bus returns to Rio.
Where to walk
Start your walk from Treze de Maio street. Then go to the canals, looking at everything from the sides. In the center of Petropolis, rich people live who decorate their houses beautifully. These are just residential buildings and offices that are pleasant to look at and notice interesting details.
Catedral São Pedro de Alcântara. Catholic temple in French Gothic style, typical of Europe. Free entrance, inside – stained glass, outside – palm trees. As if the temple was cut out of a European city and hastily pasted into Brazilian Petropolis.
Palace Museu Imperial. Once Petropolis was an imperial city, she ran away from the summer heat from December to March. For living and balls, the first Brazilian emperor needed a residence, and this is how this palace appeared. The exposition is similar to those in Europe, but the fact that it is still Brazil adds points to it. Entrance $ 3, payment only by cash.
Palácio de Cristal. Crystal Palace, which is not a palace, but a concert hall opens to tourists. It was built in the 19th century for Princess Isabella. She is known for signing a decree in this palace to abolish slavery in Brazil.
Observation deck. Petropolis and its surroundings are surrounded by greenery. Be sure to look at this from the observation deck on the outskirts of the city. Go through the cafe, and you will find yourself on the same observation deck. You don’t have to buy anything, and admission is free. When you return to the cafe, go down a few meters down the road, on the left side, there will be a swing with a beautiful view of the mountains.
Where to eat
The biggest food snag in Petropolis is the irrelevant Google Maps, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare. They show the wrong opening and closing times for restaurants, a poor description of the cuisine, and very few reviews. The establishments operate according to their schedule, which can be changed depending on the season, weather and holidays. Some also close for an afternoon siesta.
The safest thing would be to walk the streets, look at the menu and choose what you like. You can even get into happy hour with a special offer that has just been written in chalk on a sign at the entrance.
In restaurants, payment is often in cash; the average cost of a very large portion of food in a bar is $ 8-12. Tips are usually already included in the bill, but you don’t have to pay them if you don’t like the service. And yes, after all, there is a supermarket and two McDonald’s.
City chips worth knowing about
Chessboard. There is a marked chessboard by the water on a slope under a large tree with lianas. There is no pedestrian crossing to it, and during our time in Petropolis, we have not seen anyone there. But if suddenly you have chess pieces with you, you know where to go.
School buses. The Brazilian version of American yellow buses, which we have seen in films since childhood. The city’s central part is small, but schoolchildren often live in the outskirts, from where they are picked up by these buses.
Influence of Portugal. Brazil was a Portuguese colony, and its motives are well traced in Petropolis. Tiles on the walls, decorative elements, style in architecture.
Blooming bananas. Without leaving the main gate of the Yellow Palace, turn right. There, among other plants, you will notice an unusual flower. It’s a banana! It can bloom from three months to a year, and you are clearly lucky to see it.
Capybaras. The main highlight of the city, which will turn your view on rodents. Capybaras are larger than pugs, in appearance, they look like enlarged guinea pigs, and in their mimicry, they exceed all possible norms. They can be seen in the historic center, on the slopes of the canals. Most of them are near 473 President Kennedy Street.