Little more than two hours from Rio de Janeiro, Búzios is a string of
beautiful beaches on an 8-km-long (5-mile-long) peninsula. It was the
quintessential sleepy fishing village until the 1960s, when the French actress
Brigitte Bardot holidayed here to escape the paparazzi and the place almost
instantly transformed into a vacation sensation. Búzios has something for
everyone. Some hotels cater specifically to families and provide plenty of
activities and around-the-clock child care. Many have spa facilities, and some
specialize in weeklong retreats. For outdoor enthusiasts, Búzios offers surfing,
windsurfing, kite surfing, diving, hiking, and mountain biking, as well as
leisurely rounds of golf.
Be sure to book well in advance if you plan to visit Búzios on a weekend between Christmas and Carnival. You'll find good accommodation options in the center of town—handy for nightlife, shopping, and organized tours—but there's no real beach there. For beachfront lodgings, you'll have to head a little out of town.
This Belgian-owned crêperie is the best place for a quick, light, inexpensive bite, and with about 50 savory and sweet fillings you're sure to find one to match your precise desire. At night the streetside tables buzz with locals and visitors congregating to drink and people-watch.
The Italian fish restaurant famous in Rio has opened up shop here as well. The dishes are expensive, but always excellent. Go all out and try the grilled mixed seafood plate with cream-of-lemon risotto. On weekends, reservations are normally required for parties of four or more.
Widely considered the best restaurant in Búzios, Cigalon is an elegant establishment with a veranda overlooking the beach. Though the waiters are bow-tied and the tables covered with crisp linens and lighted by flickering candles, the place still has a casual feel. The food is French-inspired, and includes lamb steak, braised duck breast, and prawns in a lemongrass sauce with almonds.
Behind fashionable Rua das Pedras is a buffet restaurant featuring many varieties of seafood, steaks, salads, and pizzas. The reasonable prices, ample choices, and casual atmosphere make it a great post-beach stop. Try the shrimp fried in oil and garlic or the picanha beef, a very tender cut found in every churrascaria. The house opens at noon and closes when the last person leaves in the evening.
The Búzios branch of this pizzeria serves the same high-quality pies as the main location in Rio. The Margarita Gourmet is a must, with a thin crust topped with tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella.
Overlooking beautiful Praia Brava, relaxed but sophisticated Rocka is one of Búzios's gastronomic highlights. Superbly fresh seafood is combined with seasonal fruits, vegetables, and herbs to wonderful effect. Order a frozen cocktail, or splurge on a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, and soak up the ambience as you wait for your food. The lobster dishes are terrific, while the chocolate fondant with hazelnut makes for an appropriately decadent closer. If you're here for lunch (all that's served during low season), you can enjoy your meal from the comfort of a sun bed—literally, a bed, not a plastic lounger—on a grassy slope with perfect beach views.
A low-key alternative to the city's more frenetic clubs, Anexo has a veranda where you can kick back and enjoy one of the many specialty cocktails.
The Buzios branch of this Rio-based chain specializes in microbrews, with names such as loira (blonde), ruiva (redhead), and negra (black). There's a good menu of bar snacks, and the pitchers of cocktails make this a good place for groups of friends to start a night out.
With space for more than 1,000 people, Privilège is the city's top nightclub. Resident DJs play techno on Thursdays and Sundays, while top DJs from around the world fly in to spin tunes on Fridays and Saturdays. This is a late-night hangout for the rich and famous, who head to the exclusive VIP area.
If you want to sip potent cocktails with beautiful people in scanty clothing, this slick beachfront nightclub is the place to do it. The party set dances here until dawn to contemporary tunes spun by visiting DJs from Europe and the United States, as well as some of the biggest names on the Brazilian dance-music circuit. With room for 1,000 party people, the vast, colorfully lit space can feel a little empty in the low season, but it's packed to the rafters during the summer high season.
Terraço no Morro
Head here in the early evening for relaxed drinks and petiscos (light snacks) on the wooden patio and enjoy a perfect view as the pumpkin sun dips over the harbour. A place where you won't feel out of place in beachwear and Havaianas, this casual bar holds regular "Churrasquinho e Futebol" (barbecue and soccer) evenings, during which patrons dine on grilled meats—steaks, chicken, burgers, hot dogs, and kebabs—and down ice-cold beer and caipirinhas while watching the sports action on big-screen TVs.
Praia da Ferradura
On a cove that protects it from the winds that often blow elsewhere on the peninsula, Praia da Ferradura has calm waters that make it a perfect choice for families with children. The beach adjoins one of the Búzios area's most exclusive sections—some mansions back right onto it—but the kiosks and beach bars have a relaxed ambience. Chairs and umbrellas can be rented here. Arrive early on summer weekends, when the beach is very popular.
Amenities: food and drink; toilets; water sports. Best for: swimming.
Praia João Fernandes
Praia João Fernandes and the smaller adjoining beach, Praia João Fernandinho, are a short taxi-boat ride (R$10) from the center of town; both are beloved for their crystal waters and soft sands. The sounds of live samba music at nearby restaurants and bars can be heard on the beach, and you can bring cocktails out to your chosen spot on the sand if you're not ready to abandon your sun lounger. This beach can get a little busy, but the sunset here is spectacular.
Amenities: food and drink; toilets; water sports. Best for: sunset; swimming.
Praia de Geribá
This long half-moon of white sand is fashionable with a young crowd, and its breaks and swells make it popular with surfers and windsurfers. The walk from one end to the other takes 30 minutes, so there's plenty of elbow room here even in high season. The relaxed bars and beach kiosks make it easy to while away whole days here. With many good pousadas nearby, this a good base for beach lovers.
Amenities: food and drink; water sports. Best for: walking; surfing.
Two beaches, Praia Azeda and its smaller neighbor, Praia Azedinha, have clear, calm waters and are accessible via a trail from Praia dos Ossos, or by taxi boat (R$10). The view as you descend to the beach on foot is breathtaking. Vendors at kiosks on the beach sell coconut water and frozen caipirinhas, and you can rent beach chairs and umbrellas. This is one of the few beaches here where women can sunbathe topless. During summer, arrive early to secure a good spot—the beach starts to get crowded by 11 am.
Amenities: food and drink; toilets. Best for: swimming.