10 Best Things to Do in Paraná (Brazil)

sunset at parana

Paraná is one of the popular tourist destinations in Brazil. The state is located in the southern part of the country and boasts a rich and unique blend of cultural heritage, modern cities, and diverse natural attractions. 

From the famous Iguaçu Falls to some of the most charming colonial towns in Brazil, Paraná is a state of tremendous diversity, where visitors can create unforgettable memories. 

Paraná is a place that offers countless beautiful cities, monuments and natural wonders. However, 10 of them are considered especially popular and recommended:

1. Foz do Iguaçu

foz do iguaçu
Foz do Iguaçu by Ralf Genge/Pixabay

Home to the famous Iguaçu Falls, Foz do Iguaçu (258,248 residents in 2020) is a must-visit destination for nature lovers. The Iguaçu Falls is one of the world’s most magnificent natural wonders.

Visitors from around the world can enjoy breathtaking views both from the Brazilian and Argentinian sides of the falls. It is one of the largest waterfalls in the world. The height of the falls varies depending on the specific section.

The tallest waterfall in the system is called the Devil’s Throat (Garganta do Diabo in Portuguese or Garganta del Diablo in Spanish). It is 82 metres (269 feet) tall. 

The Devil’s Throat is located on the Argentine side of the falls and is a horseshoe-shaped cascade that is approximately 150 metres (490 feet) wide. The entire system of falls is composed of hundreds of individual waterfalls that span approximately 2.7 kilometres (1.7 miles) in length. 

2. Curitiba

Curitiba by enioprado/CC BY-SA 3.0

Curitiba, the capital of Paraná, is known for its modern architecture, cultural attractions, and vibrant nightlife. Visitors can enjoy exploring the city’s rich cultural heritage, numerous beautiful buildings, parks and gardens, art galleries, and museums.

Curitiba is known for its innovative urban planning and is often cited as a model for sustainable development. It has won numerous awards for its commitment to environmental preservation and urban design.

One of the most beautiful areas of the city is the historic district, known as Largo da Ordem. This area features colourful colonial-style buildings, cobblestone streets, and vibrant street art. 

The city’s green parks and gardens are also one of the highlights, with expansive green spaces like the gorgeous Barigui Park and Tangua Park. They offer ample opportunities for outdoor recreation and relaxation.

3. Ilha do Mel

This island is a paradise for nature lovers, with its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush vegetation. Visitors can enjoy activities like hiking, surfing, and snorkelling while exploring the island’s natural beauty.

The beaches on Ilha do Mel typically have a light-coloured soft and fine sand, creating a beautiful contrast with the clear turquoise-blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Some of the most popular beaches on Ilha do Mel include Praia do Farol, Praia Grande, and Praia de Fora, each with its own unique features and character.

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The peak beach season on Ilha do Mel typically runs from November to March, when the weather is warm and sunny, although temperatures vary from year to year. 

During this time of the year, the island’s beaches are bustling with activity, as visitors come to swim, sunbathe, and enjoy water sports like surfing and stand-up paddleboarding. The island has several beaches to choose from, each with its own unique character and charm.

4. Vila Velha State Park

vila velha state park
Vila Velha State Park by Dan Calonge/Flickr

Vila Velha State Park is a geological wonder, with stunning sandstone formations that date back millions of years. Visitors can explore the park’s three main formations, known as the Camel, the Furnas, and the Lagoon.

It was established on December 12, 1953, by the state government of Paraná, Brazil. It is one of the oldest state parks in the state and is located in the municipality of Ponta Grossa, about 90 kilometres from the state capital, Curitiba. The park covers an area of approximately 3,200 hectares.

The unique shapes of the sandstone formations were created by erosion and weathering about 359 to 299 million years ago during the Carboniferous period. 

5. Morretes

Morretes (16,446 residents in 2020) is a charming colonial town located in the Serra do Mar mountains in eastern Parana. It is known for its traditional cuisine, historic architecture, and scenic beauty. 

The historic centre of Morretes is a must-visit for anyone interested in colonial architecture. The streets are lined with colourful buildings that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. 

You will find many shops and restaurants where you can try local delicacies like the famous barreado (this is a slow-cooked beef stew made with a mixture of spices, including garlic, onion, cumin, and black pepper, as well as cassava flour and water).

One of the most recommended experiences is to enjoy a relaxing train ride through the lush forest to Morretes.  

6. Guaraqueçaba

Guaraqueçaba by Daniel Mitsuo/Flickr

Guaraqueçaba is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Paraná. It has a rich cultural heritage, with many colonial buildings and churches dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries.

In addition, it is known for its beautiful natural scenery and unique ecosystem. There are many beautiful islands and beaches to explore in the region. Some of the most popular include Superagui Island and Ilha das Peças.  

Guaraqueçaba is located in the heart of the Atlantic Rainforest, one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. The region is home to a wide range of flora and fauna, including many endangered species.

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7. Pontal do Paraná

pontal do paraná
Pontal do Paraná by Andre Wormsbecker/CC-BY-SA-4.0

Pontal do Paraná is a very quiet and secluded coastal destination and offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and birdwatching. Visitors can enjoy a day at the beach, go surfing, or explore the nearby ecological reserve.

Pontal do Paraná is known for its long stretches of pristine beaches, clear waters, and excellent surfing and windsurfing conditions. The beach season normally lasts from November to March. 

During this time, the weather is warm and sunny, and the water is typically warm enough for swimming and water sports. The town is also home to several small fishing communities that offer a glimpse into the traditional way of life on the coast.

8. Paranaguá

Paranaguá by David Kirsch/Flickr

Paranaguá is a historic port town located on the coast of Baia de Paranaguá and is known for its old colonial architecture, charming streets, and lively markets. Visitors can explore the town’s historic centre, visit the local museums, and take a boat tour to the nearby islands. 

This is one of the oldest cities in Brazil, founded in 1648. It has a rich history, and visitors can enjoy its colonial buildings and historic landmarks, such as the Nossa Senhora do Rosário e São Benedito Church and the Municipal Museum.

Paranaguá is an important port city, with a bustling harbour and a thriving economy. Visitors can learn about the city’s maritime history and see ships being loaded and unloaded at the port.

9. Castro

Castro is a small town known for its beautiful countryside, historic architecture, and traditional cuisine. Visitors can explore the town’s historic centre, go on a horseback ride through the countryside, and try local dishes like the famous tropeiro beans.

Founded in the 18th century by Portuguese settlers, the town later attracted a large number of immigrants from countries such as Italy, Germany, Poland, and Ukraine. Today, the city’s cultural and architectural heritage reflects its multicultural roots. 

Many of the buildings in Castro are designed in a European style, including the Municipal Market, which was inspired by European markets, and the Castelo do Batel, which is a castle-like mansion built by a wealthy Polish immigrant.

10. Guaratuba

praia central de guaratuba
Praia central de Guaratuba by Clécio João Tkachechen/Public Domain

Guaratuba is a very popular beach destination. It is known for its calm waters, sandy beaches, and numerous activities for people from all ages. Visitors can enjoy a day at the beach, go on a boat tour to some of the nearby islands, or explore the nearby nature reserves.

The city is surrounded by lush Atlantic forests, which offer very good opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and exploring waterfalls and natural pools. Visitors can explore the Serra do Mar State Park, which has several trails and is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna.

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When to Visit Paraná

Paraná has a subtropical climate with four distinct seasons, which seems quite familiar to people from Europe and North America and makes this part of Brazil easier to understand and explore.  

The best time to visit the state depends on your interests and what you want to experience during your trip.  

The Best Time for Sightseeing

The best time to visit Paraná for sightseeing is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. During this time, the weather is cooler and drier (this is the winter in Brazil), making it a good time for outdoor activities such as hiking, sightseeing, and exploring the region’s natural beauty. 

The temperatures in winter can range from around 15°C (59°F) to 25°C (77°F) during the day, with nighttime temperatures dropping to around 10°C (50°F) to 15°C (59°F).

In the interior cities of Paraná, such as Curitiba, the temperatures in winter are cooler, with daytime temperatures ranging from around 10°C (50°F) to 20°C (68°F) and nighttime temperatures dropping to around 5°C (41°F) to 10°C (50°F).

The Best Time for Beach and Cultural Events

If you’re interested in experiencing Paraná’s cultural festivals and events, you may want to visit the state during the summer months, from December to March. This is when many of the region’s festivals take place, including Carnaval and the Festa do Rocio.

The same applies if you are a beachgoer and want to explore the beautiful beaches of the state. Although some people describe Paraná as a year-round beach destination, for most people winters could be a bit too cold for swimming and sunbathing. 

The best time to visit Paraná for its beaches is from December to March. During this time, temperatures are warmer, ranging from around 25°C (77°F) to 30°C (86°F) during the day, making it ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and other beach activities.

For most people spring and autumn are comfortable too, although some days are cooler. If you’re looking for more pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds, the shoulder seasons of April to June and September to November can also be a very good time to visit. 

During these months, the weather is still pleasant, with temperatures ranging from around 20°C (68°F) to 25°C (77°F), and you’ll have more room to enjoy the beaches without the large crowds.