Ilha de Paquetá: the mysterious island

Ilha de Paquetá: the mysterious island

Closed to car traffic, this is a paradise of rare flora and fauna, with colonial architecture adding to its charm.

Accessible only by boat there are ferries from the port of Rio, Praça XV de Novembro the island of Paquetá, in the centre of the Guanabara Bay, is a favourite one-night romantic getaway for couples.

It also attracts masses of Cariocas for weekend-long vacations. Formerly the territory of the indigenous Tamoio people, the island, discovered by the French in the mid-16th century, was finally taken over by the Portuguese, who divided it into two parcels. Charming for its small colonial houses and buildings, the island and its 3,000 inhabitants enjoy a car-free environment the only way to get around is on foot or by horse or bike.

When doing so, you will discover that the place is home to towering palms and twenty rare species of baobabs, found only in Brazil. The island's beautiful beaches are great places to take in a sunset, or to dine in small fresh-fish restaurants, where you can dance samba all night long.