One of the easiest ways to get to Petropolis from Rio is by a tour bus. I booked a trip through Gray Line that included a round trip from the hotel in Rio to Petropolis with a complete guided tour. Lunch was not included. They offer the trips only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
If you comes from Rio de Janeiro it's possible to do a day-tour to Petropolis on your own and to come back to Rio the same day in the afternoon or evening. Of course you can also stay overnight there, no problem at all.
From Rio just take the "Facil" bus at Rodoviaria Novo Rio at Av. Francisco Bicalho which leaves the bus station between 7:00 in the morning and 22:00 at night every 15 minutes. The duration of the bus trip to Petropolis will be around 1 hour and 20 minutes, and the price of the bus ticket around 9 Reais /person. It's worth the trip, because one of the best parts definitely is the trip by bus. Fantastic views
as you spiral up into the mountains and look back into the distant, lush valleys.
If you are brazilian and maybe stay around the district of Madureira or Vicente de Carvalho (which is perfectly unbelievable if you are a tourist) there is another option for you to go directly (without going to the Rodoviaria Novo Rio) to Petropolis. Then you'll take the bus at 7:00, 9:00, 11:00, 13:00 , 15.00 or 17:00 o clock right in the centre of Madureira (under the Viaduto Negrao de Lima) or in front of the Carrefour in Vicente de Carvalho and pay around 8.70 Reais.
The bus company Facil operates between Rio de Janeiro and Petropolis. Their buses are new and comfortable. Their service is good. The director himself came to me and tried to help offering his card politely .
Leaving Rio, try to get a seat on the left, the good side for views. The bus takes about 1 and a half hours to reach it. The journey is wonderful all the way up. The fare is 12-14R$.
Buses leave Rodoviaria Rio Novo and arrive at the New Rodoviaria of Petropolis which is located outside the city. So you will have to take a bus or a taxi to the center. Taxi drivers are readily available as well as the urban bus (2,20R$). It takes about 20 to 45 minutes to get to the old Rodoviaria where the town center is.
Facil Transportes Turismo Ltda Rua Padre Siqueira, 409- Centro Petropolis- RJ.
Click on photo
There's a regular bus service that leaves Rio's Rodoviária Novo bus station on the Facil or Unica company buses. They leave from quite early in the morning to around 10pm at night every half-hour or so and the journey takes about 1.25-1.5 hours. I think it cost me about R$11. Sit on the left side of the bus as it offers you the best views over beautiful lush green mountain scenery on the way.
Either you choose the car or the bus, Petrópolis is just 1 hour or 1hour 30 in northern Rio de Janeiro. The ride is really enjoyable because of the good conditions of the autoroutes and the beautiful landscape.
If you opt for going by car or with a tour, you need to take the BR-040 road, which I found in great conditions. If you go by bus, you will need to take it in the rodoviarias, either in Novo Rio or Menezes Cortés. The roundtrip ticket will cost you around 5-10 reais.
Alexandre's car was sure enough no Cadillac Eldorado, but Flávia's little bitty car was so small you had to leave it to change your mind. From the first time out, I jokingly referred to it as her "Matchbox" car.
There are plenty of horse carriages in Petropolis that cater to the tourists, offering guided tours. I lost count of how many I saw, but they typically lined up by the gate of Museu Imperial. I cannot speak for the prices, length duration or sites that they pass by.
However if those carriages are too large for you or if you happen to have little kids who want their own private carriage, you should go to the center of Praca da Liberdade. In the green park area of this Plaza, there are many times small carriages pulled by goats... yes, goats.