I have used Paraty tours quite a lot when in Paraty and i was always happy there.
They do various types of tours plus they have bike rentals and you can for that matter hire a tour guide there too.
The place is very professional run and i can only recommend them.
Their adress is:
Av. Roberto Silveira, 11
Telefone: 24 3371-2651
Favorite thing: One of my favorite things about Parati was the live music in so many of the restaurants in the evenings. Part of that may be that I'm from live music crazy Austin but I also love Brazilian music. Just listening to the gentle voice of a female singer with an acoustic guitar was the perfect way for me to end my days.
Besides the main attractions in Paraty there are many special events as well. The most interesting and well-known are:
Carnival (varying: February/March)
Paraty boasts a lively street carnival with 'blocos' (carnival groups) and masks galore. On Saturday of carnival the traditional 'bloco da lama' (block of the mud) parades with almost 2000 participants.
Pinga Festival (3rd weekend of August)
The local producders of pinga (typical Brazilian sugar cane rum), also known as cachaca, organize this event where you can taste numerous varieties of pinga. Top Brazilian musicians perform and the party goes late.
Feast of the Divine (varying: April/May)
This is a tradition brought over from the Azores and Madeira during the 18th century. It includes typical folk dances, puppets, music, processions and fireworks. The party is celebrated for ten days. It is always held 40 days after Easter - following the rituals of the Catholic Church.
International Literary Festival of Paraty - FLIP (varying: July/August)
Created in 2003, the festival has become one of the most important in the world and has brought many great names. It gathers national and international authors of every genre. There are debates and lectures about the themes. During the days of the festival, the tiny streets of Paraty breathe literature.
The first thing that comes in mind about Paraty is undoubtedly its charming architecture. It does not surprise that Paraty was declared a National Monument by the Brazilian Federal Government and the town with the most harmonious 18th century colonial architecture in Brazil by UNESCO.
Freemason influence can be noticed everywhere. It includes a number of interesting details. You will see geometric panels on facades and street corners with three pillars in stone and one in whitewash. They stand for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Exotic pineapple-shaped lamps, small balconies decorated with iron lacework guardrails and rings near the door to tie horses are also easy to find.
Many sobrados (two-storey houses) have what looks like metal horns. They actually serve to divert rainwater to the street. Some of the sobrados in Paraty have been wonderfully restored and should be included in your walking tour. Especially interesting is Sobrado dos Abacaxis (the House of Pineapples). It is the most classical example of typical Paraty architecture; it has small balconies protected by iron guardrails, pineapples on the lamps and guardrail corners and water horns. The facade is decorated with vertical bands of Freemason geometric panels.
Paraty's streets and architecture are imbued with mysticism. The Portuguese masons came to Brazil and settled in Paraty. Most of the facades and buildings have white and blue Masonic symbolism which is also present in some of the carved stone pillars you find in the town.
Since the facades of houses can not be changed, you will see many fake windows and doors. Doors that were turned into windows kept the original door frame, all the way to the floor. Owners are allowed to renovate the houses inside as they want.
My favourite pastime in Parati was photographing the many colourful doors and windows on the old colonial houses, some of them dating back to the 16th century, at least in their basic structure. The various shades of blue and gold paint used are vibrant but at the same time harmonious. By the end of our visit I’d captured quite a few of them and had a whole series of photos.
Fondest memory: None of the houses is large but together they sum up for me the real essence of Parati. Set against the dark green of the surrounding hills they are a photographer’s dream!
Parati is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with beautifully preserved colonial architecture. It was a port, a working-class kind of town, so the architecture is simple: even the churches and municipal buildings seemed to have been built more for daily use than as a statement of wealth.
Parati was founded around 1600. Its native name "Parati-i" means White Fish. The first settlement was on the other side of the river where the settlers erected a church to their patron "St. Roque". Around 1640 the Indians who used to live here were driven away and the town moved to where it stands now under another patron saint, "Our Lady of Remedies".
The town grew in importance during the 1800s when it became the main shipping port for the gold from nearby mines. The gold was transported down windy trails and cobblestone roads from Ouro Prêto to the coast, where it was loaded onto ships sailing for Portugal. During this period of wealth two story houses began to be built, and Parati became the second most important port of Brazil. Once gold became scarce, Parati switched to coffee, but with the abolishment of slavery in 1888, that too dried up and the town faded into near oblivion. The population fell from 16,000 in its glory days to 600 in the early 1900s.
In 1954 a road was opened linking the town to the inland through the Paraiba valley, but it was not until 1973-75 with the opening of a new highway that tourism came to Parati. In 1966 the historic colonial centre of Parati was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To preserve its unique character, cars were banished from the old colonial core. This pedestrianisation means that it is easy to imagine life here in colonial times, though it is very much a living and working town, not a museum.
Brazil offers a number of banks, unfortunately not all accept international cards. In a number of cases I was not able to draw money at all, even though the bank should have accepted the card or the ATM was simply broken.
If you arrive in Brazil during carnival you will find all banks closed and hardly any foreign exchanges open. What makes matters worse that some shops during this time do not accept foreign currency.
This was my experience during carnival 2007 where I could not get Brazilian currency and could at some points not pay, even in tourist shops!!
Some time ago, reading books about Rennes-le-Chateau and so on, and mainly after Dan Brown's success with Da Vinci Code, I had the idea of becoming rich by spawning the thesis that the Holy Grail is in Paraty right now. It has more to do with the irony of Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendule", that I love, than with Da Vinci Code.
Well, facts to consider: 1 - France crushed the Temple. Some of the templars ran away, and they went to UK and to Portugal, where the king created a new religious order, the Cross Chevalry. Their simble was the cross of the templars, which they put in the ships that went to America. The king himself was member of the Order. If the templars took the Grail to Portugal, what would be the best place to hide it? America, of course.
Fondest memory: 2 - Paraty was the main port from where the gold left Brasil to Europe. There was an intense presence of English masons in the city, fact that can be proved by the masonry drawings in the houses columns, even today.
3 - There's a legend (very well documented) that tells that there's a snake (a blood chain?) coming from the sea, and the head of the snake is above the althar of the Matriz Church. The symbolism of the "snake" is explained in "The Holy Grail", the book that started all this.
4 - Part of Brasil Emperial family lives in Paraty until today. Brasil Emperial family (Orleans and Bragance) is also hair of French throne, since the granddaughter of Princess Isabel (the one who freed the slaves) married the Count of Paris.
That's it. Someday I'll write the story and get a lot of money. :-)
Favorite thing: The history set amongst amazing scenary. The old town is quite small, and very easy to explore by foot. Unless you have specific places to go, I would suggest that you just walk into the old city (can't drive insdie anyhow!) and just walk and browse, shop, people watch etc.
The best time for visiting Paraty is the summer,it's cool and the city is full of happy young people.
In the winter,it rains less,and the temperature is better,not so hot as in the summer.
Paraty was declared Human Patrimony by UNESCO,because,almost 100 years of untouchable history can be found here,in its beautiful colonial houses!
Favorite thing: Parati is not the place for high heels! You need to have comfortable sneakers or a good pair of havainas (flip flops) or else your ankles will hurt the entire time you are here.