If you are planning your dream trip to Brazil and considering visiting Petropolis, then you have come to the right place! I have compiled the most comprehensive travel guide to visiting Petropolis, Brazil, including all the top things to do in this charming town nestled amongst magical mountains and forests.
Petropolis is a fascinating destination that you will absolutely adore, with its exuberant nature and various adventure options. Additionally, it makes for a great weekend trip from Rio de Janeiro. As someone who has explored this beautiful town a couple of times, I highly recommend including Petropolis in your itinerary.
Whether you’re looking to learn more about Petropolis or need help planning your trip to Brazil, this guide is your one-stop-shop. I’ve summarized everything you need to know, including the top attractions and activities to experience in Petropolis, best places to stay, how to get here and much more. So, sit back, relax, and let me be your guide to this incredible destination.
- Why Petropolis Should be Your Next Brazil Destination?
- Where is Petropolis located?
- From Rio to Petropolis: Planning Your Perfect Day Trip
- How many days do I need to visit Petropolis?
- When is the best time to visit Petropolis?
- Petropolis' Festivals: A Celebration of Brazilian Culture"
- How to get around Petropolis?
- 1. Explore the City Center of Petropolis
- 2. Explore the Cuisine of Petropolis
- 3. Visit the Imperial Museum of Brazil
- 4. Palacio Quitandinha
- 5. Embracing Nature: Exploring Petropolis' Parks and Trails
- 6. Wax Museum
- 7. Koeler Avenue to see the Palaces
- 8. Cathedral of Petropolis
- 9. Cervejaria Bohemia (Brewery Bohemia)
- 10. Visit the Vale do Amor (Garden of Love)
- 11. Go Shopping in Petropolis
- 12. Casa Santos Dumont
- 13. Casa de Chocolates Katz
- 14. Palácio de Cristal (Crystal Palace)
- 15. Stefan Zweig House
Essential Tips to Visit Petropolis, Brazil
Why Petropolis Should be Your Next Brazil Destination?
Although Petropolis has a reputation as a romantic destination, there is also a lot of adventure tourism there for those who enjoy exploring trails and waterfalls. And the rich cultural side cannot be left out, after all, the city is a landmark in the history of Brazil.
The highlights include historical architecture, fascinating museums, and the amazing long trails for incredible hiking in the forest and mountains that surround the town.
Where is Petropolis located?
If you are planning to visit the wonderful city of Rio de Janeiro, make sure to include Petropolis in your Brazil itinerary plans and you can thank me later. Petropolis is a colonial town located within the state of Rio de Janeiro, just 44 miles (70km) from the city of Rio de Janeiro, Petrópolis has attractions for all tastes.
From Rio to Petropolis: Planning Your Perfect Day Trip
This is my top pick tour from Rio de Janeiro, as you get to go on a private tour to visit the city on your own pace and get to choose your preferences, and skip what you don’t want to visit. You will be on your private vehicle and guide, on a journey of approx. 9 hours, and at it is the most budget friendly tour!
This is another great option for a private tour from Rio de Janeiro, where you will be able to dig deeper into Brazil’s history and cultural roots. Your guide will provide immersive and interactive commentary at each location for a more personalized experience, with your own private car. Total tour time around 10-hours.
With this 8-hours private tour from Rio de Janeiro, you will get to see the highlights of Petropolis, plus you will travel through the Orgãos mountains and their green, rainforest landscapes with your private guide. Lunch is included and flexibility on the itinerary, what makes this tour a great opportunity to see and experience the best of Petropolis and its surroundings.
How many days do I need to visit Petropolis?
I recommend to visit Petropolis in 2 days and 3 nights, to allow the time you need to not miss any of the main attractions in Petropolis. If you are staying outside the center of Petrópolis, add as many days as you can in your schedule (and in your pocket) to enjoy the hotel and take tours around the mountains.
When is the best time to visit Petropolis?
Petrópolis can be visited all year round, but it is very popular destination during the cold weather of June, July, and August, which are also the driest months. In winter, the minimum temperatures can reach below 10ºC and 20ºC mid-day.
The summer is usually hot (around 25ºC, with lows above 15ºC) and very rainy. If you want to travel during this period, don’t go without first checking the weather forecast and the condition of the roads.
Petropolis’ Festivals: A Celebration of Brazilian Culture”
Bauernfest, the German colonist’s festival, is the biggest event on the Petrópolis calendar. It usually takes place between the end of June and the beginning of July. With typical dances, German food, a lot of beer (and a lot of people) around the Palácio de Cristal.
I visited Petropolis in the first week of July and the city was packed for the festival, making it hard even to find a restaurant to eat or a table at the bar to get a German beer. But if you like festivals and to meet cool people, this is the best time to visit Petropolis.
How to get around Petropolis?
The best way to get around Petropolis is by car. If you are staying in the city center and your route is restricted to this location, the car is not necessary. On the other hand, if you intend to explore the city’s most hidden routes, I recommend renting a car to explore Petropolis.
Planning Your Dream Vacation: Petropolis’ Best Accommodations
TOP OVERALL: Casa Marambaia Hotel
Located in Petrópolis, Casa Marambaia Hotel offers a restaurant. Providing a fitness center, the property has an excellent location. Every room includes a balcony with a lake view.
MY TOP PICK: Hotel Solar do Império
This property is simply stunning! The gardens are beautiful and peaceful, the rooms are amazing and super comfortable. The restaurant is high-end and offers a great menu selection, and you can have meals in the garden.
Best Location: Grande Hotel Petrópolis
Set in a 1930s historical building, Grande Hotel Petrópolis is just 50 m from the Imperial Museum in Petropolis. It offers accommodation with split air conditioning, a fitness centre and free Wi-Fi.
Budget Option: Atelier Molinaro by Castelo Itaipava
Atelier Molinaro by Castelo Itaipava, offers free Wi-Fi, an outdoor pool with mineral water and a spa. A soccer and volleyball court and a games room are available.
A Guide to Petropolis’ Historical and Cultural Landmarks
1. Explore the City Center of Petropolis
Petropolis City Center is a must-visit destination. The city is renowned for its history, and the Historic Center is home to numerous monuments and museums worth exploring. Among them are the Imperial Museum, the Crystal Palace, the Casa de Santos Dumont, the Casa da Ipiranga, and the Cathedral.
In addition to these attractions, the City Center of Petropolis boasts Rua Teresa, the primary fashion hub of the city. It’s also home to some of the best breweries in the area, including Cervejaria Bohemia and Buda Beer.
If you’re planning a trip to Petropolis, I highly recommend visiting these attractions in the City Center. In the following sections, I’ll provide more details about each site and offer tips on how to visit them.
2. Explore the Cuisine of Petropolis
One of the attractions of the city is gastronomy, which has an excellent variety and quality. With German colonization, you can find great options for this cuisine, starting at Casa do Alemão (German’s House)is a mandatory stop on the way up the mountain.
Fondue, cheese, and wine are also popular in winter. Below I will provide a list of the best restaurants in Petropolis that I recommend to visit.
3. Visit the Imperial Museum of Brazil
The Imperial Museum is an imposing palace that features a neoclassical style. It is located in the Historic Center of Petrópolis, and is today one of the biggest tourist attractions in Petrópolis.
During your visit, you will have access to thousands of historical items (furniture, clothes, documents, paintings, sculptures and pictures). The exhibitions are organized in well-preserved rooms, referring to that period of the Second Reign.
You can also visit the stunning gardens and have a coffee and a Brazilian pastry at the cafe located at the gardens of the palace!
4. Palacio Quitandinha
Palácio Quitandinha is one of the most surprising constructions, and one of the main landmarks in Petropolis, which you can, and should visit.
At the beginning of its construction, which was completed in 1944, the palace was designed to be the largest casino hotel in South America, with an area of 50,000 m². Today it is known for its garden and lake, the building has six floors, 440 apartments, 13 halls, an ice skating rink, bowling alley and a theater with a capacity of 1,000 people.
5. Embracing Nature: Exploring Petropolis’ Parks and Trails
If you’re someone who loves the great outdoors and adventure, then Serra dos Orgaos is the perfect destination for you. This stunning location boasts an extensive network of hiking trails that spans 200 kilometers and features numerous waterfalls and mountain peaks to explore at your leisure.
Serra dos Orgaos is an excellent location for ecotourism, offering breathtaking landscapes and a diverse array of flora and fauna to discover.
One notable highlight of Serra dos Orgaos is the Dedo de Deus, a rock formation resembling a finger that serves as a prominent landmark in the area. Additionally, visitors can climb the Serra do Mar which towers 2,275 meters above sea level and features the awe-inspiring Pedra do Sino, or Bell Rock.
6. Wax Museum
Wax Museum has the same supplier as Madame Tussauds. The Museum uses hyper-realism in its sculptures, and it is well worth dedicating a few hours to visit.
You will find sculptures of many Brazilian personalities. The museum opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. On Saturdays from 10 am to 6 pm.
PRO-TIP: At the end of the tour you can make the sculpture of your own hand in the museum shop and keep it as a souvenir.
7. Koeler Avenue to see the Palaces
Begin your walk at the Casa da Princesa Isabel, the first house on the street, before continuing to the Sérgio Fadel Palace, currently used as the City Hall, and the stunning Solar Dom Afonso, a 19th-century neoclassical building that has been converted into a charming hotel with an exquisite garden.
As you continue along the avenue, you’ll arrive at the Rio Negro Palace, built-in 1889 by the Baron of Rio Negro, a coffee producer. Now a museum dedicated to the memory of the Republic of Brazil, it showcases photographs, objects, and records of the republican presence in the Imperial City.
HOW TO VISIT IT: Best of all, admission is free, and the museum is open to visitors from Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm.
8. Cathedral of Petropolis
Step into a slice of Europe in Brazil at the São Pedro de Alcântara Cathedral! This stunning cathedral features French neo-Gothic architecture and lavish details both inside and out that will leave you breathless. Don’t miss the impeccably preserved stained glass windows and Carlos Oswald’s masterful paintings.
Take your time exploring every nook and cranny of the Cathedral, including the altar with relics from St. Magnus, St. Aurelia, and St. Tecla brought directly from Rome. Plus, pay your respects to the imperial family as their remains are interred here, including Dom Pedro II, Dona Teresa Cristina, Princesa Isabel, and Conde D’Eu.
HOW TO VISIT IT: Admission is free, and the Cathedral is open daily from 8 am to 6 pm. Make sure to stop by at Rua São Pedro de Alcântara, 60 – Centro.
9. Cervejaria Bohemia (Brewery Bohemia)
In addition to a lot of history, Petrópolis is also known for being the city where the first brewery in Brazil is located, Cervejaria Bohemia. Founded by the German Henrique Kremer in 1853, Cervejaria Bohemia had the first Pilsen beer to be produced in Brazil. To tell this whole story, Bohemia decided to create a tour inside its factory: the Tour Cervejeiro.
The brewery also has a rooftop restaurant and a small bar with a delicious menu to accompany the various beers brewed there.
10. Visit the Vale do Amor (Garden of Love)
Escape to the Vale do Amor, an open-air sanctuary designed to unite the symbologies of different religions. Created by Sérgio Fechar, coordinator of the Universal Cosmic Fraternity, the sanctuary is a perfect spot for meditation and spiritual connection.
It doesn’t matter what you believe in, the Vale do Amor welcomes everyone who seeks a deep encounter with themselves. The Franciscan altar (also known as the Sanctuary of Francisco and Clara) and the Yin-Yang Gardens are two of the most popular attractions.
This oasis isn’t just a beautiful spot for natural visitors, it’s a place to engage in religious dialogue, spiritual medicine, and environmental awareness. So, come and create memories in this serene setting!
11. Go Shopping in Petropolis
There are three excellent fashion centers in the Petropolis, so it’s worth taking a few hours out of your day to get to know one of them and do some shopping.
Rua Teresa is in the Center and is the best known of them. Prices are very attractive, especially if you are using dollar or euro. In addition to Rua Teresa, there is also the Bingen fashion center, located very close to the bus station. The Itaipava Market is another option for shopping.
12. Casa Santos Dumont
Step into history at “A Encantada” – the last home of Santos Dumont. Despite the unsuitability of the land, Dumont designed this unique house, which now serves as a museum to celebrate his legacy. Don’t miss out on the chance to see where the father of Brazilian aviation lived and worked.
FUN FACT: Santos Dumont was a prominent inventor, aviator, and one of the pioneers of aviation in the world.
13. Casa de Chocolates Katz
The Katz House was born out of a relationship between Anne Katz and Ruth Bucki, German and Austrian, respectively. Founded in 1953, the artisan delicacies stand out, with quality raw material. To this day, it is a highlight among visitors as a good option for what to do in Petrópolis, Brazil.
14. Palácio de Cristal (Crystal Palace)
Discover the “Crystal Palace” – a stunning glass and iron structure gifted by Conde D’Eu to Princess Isabel. Originally built in 1844 to exhibit flowers and birds, the palace was inspired by similar models in Porto and London, but both were dismantled.
FUN-FACT: Today, the palace is a popular cultural venue in Petrópolis and hosts events like the traditional German festival, Bauernfest.
15. Stefan Zweig House
Stephan Zweig’s House is a unique museum that pays tribute to the life and legacy of the Austrian Jewish writer who fled Nazi Germany during World War II. Here, visitors can explore the former home of Zweig and his wife, Lotte, and learn about their literary contributions.
The house serves as an exile memorial and honors the countless other artists, scientists, and cultural producers who arrived in Brazil seeking refuge. It was also where Zweig produced some of his most influential works before tragically taking his own life in the face of a darkening Europe in 1942.
FUN-FACT: Today this place honors hundreds of other artists, scientists and cultural producers in Brazil who, like Zweig, arrived as exiles or emigrants.
Indulging in Petropolis’ Gastronomic Delights
Gastronomy is one of the strengths of Petropolis and if you want to eat well, check out this list with some of the best placed to eat Petrópolis. If you are visiting Petropolis during the weekend or during a festival time, I recommend to make reservations at any of the top places to go eat in Petropolis.
- IMPERATRIZ LEOPOLDINA: This is the best place to get breakfast in town, and is famous for its colonial cafe in a refined atmosphere. Located in the city center inside the Hotel Solar do Imperio, this place really makes you feel like in the royal time. I also recommend to have dinner here, but make sure to make reservations in advance.
- LAGO AZUL: If you like steak, this is the best option. Located in Quitandinha in the city center. Try the filet mignon with cheese, it is just fantastic!
- BORDEAUX: With an excellent location downtown, in the gardens of Casa da Ipiranga, this is a good option for your day in the Historic Center.
- CERVEJARIA BOHEMIA: This restaurant is located in downtown Petropolis, and offers delicious dishes with suggestions for pairing with the house beer, of course! I just loved the atmosphere of this place and the great service.
- HAMBURGUERIA DOM GOURMET: Located in Valparaiso, you can try one of the best hamburgers you have ever eaten. I recommend the best seller the Classic Burguer – it is just Yummy!!!
- PRINCESA ISABEL GOURMERT: Princess Isabel Gourmet also has an alpine tradition! Here you can enjoy the delicious stone fondue, a specialty of the Swiss Alps, in addition to the traditional Cheese Fondue or the delicious Chocolate Fondue. I had the best foundue e ever here.
Petropolis Brazil Travel Information
How to Get to Petropolis
Located in the Serra do Rio de Janeiro, Petrópolis is just 44 miles (70km) from the capital of Rio de Janeiro.
The closest major airport to Petropolis is Rio de Janeiro-Galeao International Airport (GIG), which is approximately 40 miles away. From there, you can take a taxi or bus to Petropolis.
You can take a bus at Terminal Novo Rio (Rio e Janeiro bus terminal) and purchase your bus ticket at the Única Fácil. The cost of the ticket is R$28.00 on average and there are several time options. The trip is not very long, it takes about 1h30.
Leaving downtown Rio, you can take either the Av. Brasil, and then the exit for BR-040 (Rodovia Washington Luíz). There is about 70km. If you are traveling from Sao Paulo, Petropolis is 450 km by car.
You can get a 15% off your rental car when you book through this site. I use and recommend RentalCar because it is the most reliable rental car source, and it allows you to compare the prices of different places.
What to pack for Petropolis?
- Day Pack: Always carry a day pack with you to carry safely your belongs
- Casual shoes: You will walk a lot so you will need comfortable shoes
- Summer time: Shorts / skirts / tank tops and T-shirts
- Summer Dress (for her): You will need some nice dresses if you are visiting the restaurants
- Casual Wear (for him)
- Sunscreen / Hat / sunglasses / sandals
- Hiking shoes: If you are planning to do the hiking in the mountains.
- Winter time: Jacket / long sleeves shirts for layers / Jeans / Leggings
- First-aid kit
Short History of Petropolis, Brazil
Anytime I visit a place, especially if it a historical area, I love learning about the history, and Petropolis is one of these places – the Cidade Imperial (Imperial City) in Brazil!
If you are planning your itinerary through the Historic Center of Petrópolis Brazil, the immersion about the city starts now, knowing a little about Brazil’s history!
Petropolis, Brazil is a historical area with a mild climate that attracted the Brazilian Emperor, D. Pedro I, to build his summer house there. His son, D. Pedro II, continued the plan and designed settler villages and other areas, making Petropolis one of the first designed cities in Brazil.
The city became a popular destination for nobles who built their own palaces, many of which are now preserved as historical heritage sites that you can visit today.
Petropolis Brazil Conclusion
As you can see, there are plenty of exciting things to do in Petropolis Brazil – from the historical areas, interesting museums, trying the amazing cuisine, to explore some breathtaking hikes in Teresopolis.
You won’t be bored here, and you will definitely find amazing things to do in Petropolis for any taste or adventure level. I recommend spending at least 3 days and 2 night in Petropolis to explore and take advantage of one of the best places in Rio de Janeiro.
Before you travel to Petropolis, Brazil – I recommend you to read the Brazil Travel Planning as here you can find all the information you need to plan and travel safely to Brazil.
If you are planning a trip to Rio de Janeiro, here are some very helpful articles for you:
- Brazil Travel Planning, all you need to plan your trip
- Angra dos Reis, Brazil: Ultimate Travel Guide
- Paraty Brazil, Ultimate Travel Guide
- 21 Amazing Facts about Rio de Janeiro
- 15 Day Trips from Sao Paulo
- Jalapao Itinerary in Brazil, a real gem for nature lovers
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