Daytripping to Petropolis

Updated 29/7/2011:
Here is a link to great new hostel in Petropolis that I would stay at : Samambaia Hostel 🙂

Dec 5th, 2009

Up in the mountains about an hour away from Rio is the historical town of Petropolis. This town was the summer home of the Dom Pedro II and the  Imperial family of Brazil.The climate is fresh and agreeable in the summer, although it today the weather was quite overcast and there was fog everywhere, but from the bus ride up here one gets the sense that the vistas from the mountains would have been beautiful. This town was the site of many important events in Brazilian history, such as

  • Don Pedro signed the Declaration of Independence in 1822 and many years later, in 1888 his daughter Isabella signed the “Golden Law” abolishing slavery in Brazil.

Getting from Rio de Janiero to Petropolis

Getting to Petropolis was pretty easy, but finding update directions to get there wasn’t. I grabbed a taxi from Ipanema beach and headed to the Rodovaria Rio Novo (pronounced Hodo-viara). That pronunciation completely threw me off, as I tend to use the Spanish pronunciation and everyone looked at me like I was crazy; thankfully a nice tour guide in the Yellow Palace helped me out. It cost 37 Reais to get there and we had to pass through a number of sketchy looking areas before getting there.

Once in the station, head over to the Facil counter on Platform 6. The bus company Facil operates between Rio de Janeiro and Petropolis. Their buses are new and fairly comfortable.

get your ticket for 15 Reais (each way) and then head on to the bus.

An hour later, you should be in the Rodoviaria Petropolis which is located outside the city. This is a key point, don’t leave the bus station as there is really nothing there and tourist information office in there doesn’t have any English speakers. I ended up asking for the Cathedral of São Pedro de Alcãntara, the taxi driver did the rest. (There is a local bus for 2.45R$, if you speak Portuguese and can figure out which bus goes to Districto Historica). Getting from the Rodoviaria Petropolis to the historical district takes about 20 minutes or so and costs about 20 Reais. Your total transportation cost will end up being about 135 Reais. My cost summary for the day looks something like this:

  • Taxi from Ipanema to Rodoviaria Rio Novo : 37 R$
  • Bus from Rodoviaria Rio Novo to Rodoviaria Petropolis : 14.70R$
  • Taxi from Rodoviaria Petropolis to Historical District : 20 R$
  • Taxi from Historical District to Rodoviaria Petropolis : 19 R$
  • Bus from Rodoviaria Petropolis to Rodoviaria Rio Novo  : 14.70R$
  • Taxi from Rodoviaria Rio Novo to Pao de Azucar: 22 R$
  • Taxi from Pao de Azucar to Caesar Park Ipanema : 18 R$

If you speak Portuguese and can use the local bus systems, then the trip should be considerably cheaper but slower. If you’re backpacking and have no time limit, then the bus should be used obviously, if you’re day tripping like me on a timeline, then taxis should be used. Like anything else, your mileage will vary.

Once in Petropolis

Today, this town is home to the Imperial Museum (The Royal Palace is now a museum devoted to Dom Pedro and his family and presents life as it was some one hundred and fifty years ago); however once I got there I headed straight to the Cathedral of São Pedro de Alcãntara.

The Cathedral is built in French Neogothic style. Its construction started in 1884 by the architect Francisco Caminhoa, inspired by the old Spanish Cathedrals of France. There are many great examples of French stained glass.

It is 70 meters high and 22 m in length. It houses the Imperial Chapel and the marble tombs of the royal family, and is dedicated to São Pedro de Alcãntara, “the protector of the Empire of Brazil”. Saint Peter’s day is celebrated on October 19h.

It is open everyday from 8:00 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 18:00. On Mondays only in the morning, and on Sundays from 8:00 to 13:00 and 15:00 until 18:00

From the Cathedral, I headed to the Imperial Museum. Petropolis is a small town and everything in the historical district is within walking distance, it is a lot of walking but all organized in a logical fashion.

Petropolis tourist map

On getting to the Museu Imperial, I had to leave my camera and put on these dorky slippers over my sandals. It allowed me to react the scene from “Risky Business” where Tom Cruise slides into the room…ALL THE TIME!! I understand the use of the sandals, as they want to protect the flooring, but it is still dorky.

My cameras weren’t allowed, although I did sneak in the small one in my pocket and took some shots, but in the lighting the quality was much to be desired. If you do not speak portuguese, there is an audio tour device that plays back the information about each room you visit

After the tour, it was out and about again. Personally, I’m really not interested in musuems in the best of days and I personally thought that the Imperial Museum was a bit dull, but then again that is my opinion 😀

From there, it was on to more random walking through Petropolis.

More of the man himself Dom Pedro II rocking his own “Thinker” pose

On the walk, I ended passing by the now mandatory Latin American town Obelisk.

“This monument in the shape of an obelisk stands 66.6 feet tall. On each one of its sides rectangular bronze plaques were placed, measuring 4.2 feet by 33.5¨ each. On its frontal side an inscription reads “This monument marks the celebration of the First Centennial since Petrópolis was emancipated to the status of City. It was built under the government of Mayor Flávio Castrioto de Figueiredo e Mello to perpetuate the names of those people who helped Major Koeler build our city, and also as a landmark to show our future generations the glories of our past, pointing the way to the growth and progress of our community.” This Obelisk is a tribute paid by the Petrópolis City Administration to the city founders, i.e. Emperor D. Pedro II, Counselor Paulo Barbosa da Silva, Caldas Vianna, Aureliano Coutinho, Júlio Frederico Koeler and all German settlers who arrived in Petrópolis as of June 29, 1845.” …

Then it was on to the Yellow Palace, which houses the Municipal Council of Petrópolis City. The eagle fountain built in 1899 by Heitor Levy and a garden square designed by Carlos Júlio Mayer. The funny thing about this fountain is that the creator was not Mexican, although it shows the Mexican symbol and the building wasn’t owned by a Mexican either.

One really curious thing about the hall itself and the walls, is that it appears to have Oak/wood panelling and granite columns. Well this is all an illusion and everything is painted on concrete/stone walls. There is no wood on the walls. All complete fakes 🙂

It is also a city close to many hiking trails and thus is near the mountain greenery. Several buildings show a German/Swiss influence.

After a couple hours of more walking… I ended up at the Crystal Palace. Now I don’t particularly know what I was expecting when I read the signs

But I certainly wasn’t expecting a large colonial greenhouse

After all this walking, I was hungry and bit tired… but thankfully the weather had started to clear so instead of going to the hotel… I ended up at Pao de Azucar

[smugmug url=”″ title=”Petropolis%20photolog” imagecount=”5″ start=”1″ num=”5″ thumbsize=”Th” link=”smugmug” captions=”false” sort=”false” window=”true” smugmug=”true” size=”M”]

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at

Check Also

Food, drinks and a great night in Mendoza, Argentina

On my Antarctic odyssey, we Mendoza is one of the best places to visit in …

Domaine Bousquet Winery Tour in Mendoza, Argentina

*Disclaimer … I don’t know anything about wine … I’m Trinidadian. If a Trini says …