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Overview

A quick hour’s drive north from Rio de Janeiro, Petrópolis was the brainchild of Brazilian Emperor Pedro II. Captivated by the combination of majestic scenery and cool temperatures of the Serra dos Órgãos mountain range, he planned a summer getaway which, in keeping with his imperial ambitions, morphed into a full-fledged royal palace (today the Imperial Museum). The town Pedro II named in his own honor grew as Rio’s aristocrats came flocking to build grand mansions, and German immigrants, attracted by alpine climes, left their mark on everything from the architecture to the many traditional eateries serving sausages and ...

A quick hour’s drive north from Rio de Janeiro, Petrópolis was the brainchild of Brazilian Emperor Pedro II. Captivated by the combination of majestic scenery and cool temperatures of the Serra dos Órgãos mountain range, he planned a summer getaway which, in keeping with his imperial ambitions, morphed into a full-fledged royal palace (today the Imperial Museum). The town Pedro II named in his own honor grew as Rio’s aristocrats came flocking to build grand mansions, and German immigrants, attracted by alpine climes, left their mark on everything from the architecture to the many traditional eateries serving sausages and sauerkraut.

These days, Petrópolis and the surrounding region lure Cariocas in search of respite from Rio’s legendarily hot summers. On weekends, in particular, they descend in droves to enjoy its historic charms, burgeoning gourmet scene, and mountains replete with hiking trails and waterfalls.

Michael Sommers
About the Expert

Michael Sommers is the author of Moon Brazil and Moon Rio, as well as the blog Thrill of Brazil. He has been living in Salvador, Brazil since 1999.

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Michael Sommers for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Nestled among the forested hills of the Serra dos Órgãos, Petropolis is about 65km south of Rio de Janeiro.
  • Language: Portuguese
  • Currency: Brazilian Real
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    May-October are the coolest months, but also have the least rainfall, making them ideal for hikes in the Serra dos Órgãos National Park. Weekends can get crowded.