Updated November 8th, 2018.
About 6 hours from São Paulo along BR-116 is Curitiba, the capital of Paraná. Like Brazilian culture in general, music plays a strong role in Curitiba’s cultural identity, as a result, music shops glitter many of the central streets.
All types of music from all types of bars fill the night air and buskers regularly inhabit the Plaza de Armas. In addition to the buffet of music on offer, Curitiba has an array of attractions to offer including the Jardim Botânico –Curitiba’s outdoor centrepiece, the Oscar Neimeyer Museum, Sunday morning markets and a thriving bohemian night life.
Home to a very advanced and efficient public transport system there are numerous services on offer. One such service is the tourist bus which runs through Curitiba on which passengers can choose 5 stops, including the starting point to hop off and then hop back on.
The loop includes 25 attractions and covers the vast majority of the city. Most of the attractions in Curitiba are hidden by suburbia, the complete opposite to Rio where they are on constant display. Given Curitiba’s location, it’s also a great spot to stop if you’re travelling to the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls.
Further Reading: Our Essential Guide to Backpacking Brazil
Where to Stay in Curitiba
- Curitiba Backpackers Hostel – About a 10 minutes walk from the central historical district, Curitiba Backpackers Hostel is run by a very kind and helpful team of staff. It is well managed, with clean facilities, really good hot water and offers a transfer service to the bus terminal.
- Curitiba Hostel – Located in the historical central district in a renovated old house right next to the German Bar with easy access to many of Curitiba’s resources. They offer laundry service, 24-hour reception and a minibar.
- Motter Home Curitiba – This big yellow hostel is located about a 10-15 minute walk west of the historical centre. With clean facilities, good kitchen and barbeque area as well as washing facilities and bike hire.
Things to Do:
- Jardim Botânico – Opening in 1991 with water features, immaculate flower gardens and a rotating flower display, it is undoubtedly the clear arched glasshouse that is the icon of Curitiba.
There is also a demonstration space over the top of the rear lake that hosts exhibitions and performances, so that’s worth checking out.
- Oscar Neimeyer Museum – My personal favourite place in Curitiba is Museu Oscar Niemeyer. With a consistent rotation of temporary exhibitions along with various permanent ones, the centrally located museum is an ode to Oscar Niemeyer in all ways possible.
From its content, structure and layout to both it’s internal and external aesthetic, the museum is all about appreciating and acknowledging the Brazilian architect, and the interaction of design and our lives.
- Ópera De Arame – A grand wire opera house situated in the middle of an urban national park. The structure is particularly spectacular at dusk with the fairy lights lining the theatre reflected in the lake below and a view of the sky above through the clear ceiling.
- Largo da Ordem Markets – Running on Sunday morning the markets offer highly diverse stalls from organic pasta to artist pencils to cupcakes. Impressively, most of the produce and items are made in Brazil, and usually sourced locally. They’re located on the paved area of the historical area on Rua Mateus Ceme.
- Mercado Municipal – Situated in a grand hall, with anything and everything you could possibly need. Including a great café, Café do Mercado, out the front that roast and grind their own beans.
- Café Brooklyn – A laid-back little café, with friendly staff and a relaxed atmosphere. One of the best cups of coffee I had in South America and the food isn’t too shabby either.
You can drop in and say hello to the handsome baristas at Rua Trajano Reis 389.
- Hop ‘n’ Roll – Serving both Brazilian and International food, as well as their own microbrewed beet, Hop ‘n’ Roll, is an atmospheric evening destination. The pub is situated off Rua Mateus Leme they offer a wide assortment of beers and often have live music.
- Morretes – A day trip to Morretes starts early with the beautiful old winding it’s way through the rainforest and arriving at the coast.
The cheapest (economy) tickets are hard to get at R$72, but grab the cheapest available as there is very little difference between the cars.
Where to head to next?
- Paraty – Head northeast to the UNESCO heritage township of Paraty. With a charming historic district complete with cobblestone streets that fill with water from the high tide.
Paraty is also home to some amazing coastal areas fit for a boat cruise (possibly of the booze variety), natural waterfalls and many water activities.
- Florianopolis – A 4.5-hour bus trip will land you in the coastal surf city of Florianopolis, and set you back about R$50-70. Complete with white sand, waves and the good vibes to match.
- Sao Paulo – It takes about 6 hours and R$60-80 to get to the 10th most populated city in the world and the business hub of Brazil.
About the Writer: Klara Thwaite is a Business Management graduate from Sydney, who skipped graduation to go backpacking. Endowed with a massive Chris McCandless (Into the Wild) complex and limited Spanish, she zigzagged her way across the continent and developed a deep appreciation for toilet paper, plan Bs and alfajores. Check out her personal blog at drinkingink.tumblr.com