Niterói (515,000 inhabitants as of 2020) is the former capital of Rio de Janeiro state, in southeastern Brazil. Nicknamed "The Smile City" (Cidade Sorriso), "NKT" and "Nikiti" (nee-KITSCH--ee), it is just a short ferry ride from downtown Rio across Guanabara Bay. In fact you may encounter plenty of reasons to smile about: many beautiful beaches (within the bay or facing the open ocean), historic forts and a world-class museum. Besides, Niterói is scheduled to become in a near future the place with the largest number of works from renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer, second only to the capital of Brazil, Brasília.
From the center of the state capital, it is possible to go to Niterói by urban bus, van and ferry lines.
The ferry between Rio and Niteroi is a pleasant and affordable trip. It takes between 10 and 20 minutes to cross the bay, depending on the fare for a slow or fast boat from adjoining terminals at Praça XV.
By car or bus
From Rio you just drive through the longest bridge in Brazil, the Ponte Rio-Niterói; just like the name says it connects both cities. It's 13 km (8 mi) long, and there is a toll of R$ 3,20 (you pay one way only, coming from Rio).
If you are coming from Búzios or Cabo Frio you take the highway called "Via-lagos".
On Saturdays and Sundays the "Linha Turismo" (Tourism Line) operates on schedule leaving the Arariboia Square (@ the Fery Station) at 10:00, 12:30 and 14:30 and making 7 different stops along Niteroi's main attractions from downtown to the Fortress (R$10 for a round-trip all day hop in and out ticket).
To get to the Oceanic Area you'd better have a car, otherwise take a municipal bus at the Bus Terminal next to the Ferry Station. Look for the specific Beach name sign on the bus(30~40~50 minutes ride from downtown to Piratininga/Camboinhas ~ Itacoatiara ~ Itaipu respectively ).
- 1 Niterói Contemporary Art Museum (Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói — MAC), Mirante da Boa Viagem (Get bus 47B from the bus terminal on your left when you exit the ferry station), ☏ +55 21 2620-2400. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00, or 19:00 during daylight savings time. Built in 1996, this intriguing contemporary art museum looks like a flying saucer jutting out over the sea and is worth the visit to Niteroi alone. R$ 4.
- 2 People's Theater (Teatro Popular Oscar Niemeyer) (beyond the Bus Terminal to your left as you exit the Ferry Station), ☏ +55 21 8449-7393. Opened in 2007 this is the new addition to the Caminho Niemyer (Niemeyer Way), a series of Architectural buildings along Niteroi's Bayside.
- 3 Parque da Cidade. An amazing view of Rio de Janeiro (city). Watching the sunset from there is a 'must do' if you are in Rio. It is on the top of a mountain in the 'Charitas' neighborhood. You can go there by car / taxi.
- Fortaleza de Santa Cruz (1555)- at the Guanabara Bay entrance, this is a big fortress with a close-up view of the Sugar Loaf Mountain from an entirely different angle.(R$4 guided tours) Th-Su 10:00-17:00. To get here on the weekdays you will need a car/taxi, but on Sat and Sun you can take a tourist open bus (called Jardineira)in downtown Niteroi at the Ferry Station. It runs all the way along the bayshore and stops at the town's main attractions and neighborhoods.
- Barão do Rio Branco (1555), Imbuí (1863/1901) and São Luís (1715/1775) Forts - enter at Rio Branco Fort in Jurujuba for a guided tours of this and the other 2 forts and ruins overlooking the bay with a splendid view of the surrounding mountains of Niterói and Rio. (R$6 each Fort) Al. Mal. Pessoa Leal, 265 - Sa Su 09:30-16:00.
Niterói has a wonderful unique view of Rio and one of the state's most beautiful beaches, Itacoatiara, which can be reached by bus number 38. It is considered a surfer's paradise (actually it takes part of a world circuit of Surfer's Competition). Expect a young and beautiful crowd, have a snack at one of the healthy cabana-bars along the shore or yet, take trails to climb the mountains and watch a uniquely crazy sport: "Rock Surfing". Not further from here you can find the "lost in time" Itaipu Beach, a fishermen's colony surrounded by sand dunes, a lagoon, a canal, a white church on a hill and some colonial era ruins. It is probably one of the best sunsets you can see over Rio's shoreline (Copacabana, Ipanema, the Cagarra islands and Barra da Tijuca on the horizon). Also worthwhile is a visit to next door Camboinhas Beach (it's easier and faster to hire a fisherman's boat to cross the canal than driving around the lagoon to get there). Other beaches include: Piratininga, Prainha (cliff diving from the Whale Rock) and Sossego, all on the Atlantic side. Boa Viagem, Ingá, Icaraí, São Francisco, Charitas, Jurujuba (fishermen village, not proper for bathing) and Adão & Eva, all along the Bay, starting at downtown and ending at the Fortress.
- Shopping - Icaraí is where the upper middle class lives. So there are plenty of nice shops for all tastes. "Moreira César" (1st street parallel to the beach) is the most popular shopping street in town. Here you will find exclusive and expensive boutiques such as Animale, Agilita, H.Stern, Salinas (beachware) all the way down to little t-shirt shops. There are plenty of exotic juice bars and little restaurantes here as well. Don't leave town without tasting açaí, a Brazilian palm fruit from the Amazonas, served very cold, and has a very earthy flavor.
Meanwhile in Downtown (Centro), the Plaza Shopping is the largest shopping mall in town, across from the ferry station (Estação das Barcas). Here you will find basically all the stores that you would find in any mall in nearby Rio de Janeiro. Niterói Shopping is also a mall in downtown (Rua da Conceição). Even though this is not at the same level of Plaza Shopping, is a landmark, very easy to find, since it is the tallest round building you can see.
- Icaraí is to Niterói what Copacabana is to Rio's residents: the most traditional neighborhood with excellent shopping opportunities and great restaurants. Great for jogging and biking with a view of Rio's main landmarks across the Guanabara Bay, the Sugar Loaf and the Corcovado. How can you ask for more?
- Nightlife - "São Francisco" the adjacent neighborhood is filled with lively bars, pubs and restaurants especially on the ocean front. There are not many discos in Niterói as people prefer to go to Rio to dance.
- Hang-glide from Parque da Cidade (see above)
- Windsurf in Charitas and São Francisco
- Cliff Diving in Prainha or Piratininga
- Guanabara Bay Tour - 2-hour bay cruise on a ferry where a camera is a must. Showcases Rio and Niterói's postcards (narration is in Portuguese only, but the view is worth a thousand words). Sundays only, departs at 09:30 from the Main Ferry Station in downtown. R$12
Souvenirs from Niterói, like T-shirts and magnets, can be bought at the Tourist Information Office. There's a cabin located right at the ferry station exit. Here you can get brochures, maps and tourist tram schedule also. If you go to São Francisco neighborhood the main office is located to your left right after the tunnel and before you reach the beach.
All restaurants are reasonably priced by American and European standards.
- A Mineira, Av. Quintino Bocaiuva, 353 (at the end of São Francisco Beach). Open flame regional cuisine of Minas State in a cozy chalet style restaurant. Large portions.
- Caneco gelado do Mário - Very rustic fish restaurant in the center of the city. Recommended by all of the travel guides as a restaurant not to be missed. Open only for lunch.
- do Museu - Museum of Contemporary Art underground restaurant. Varied Cuisine and a fantastic view.
- Família Paludo Gourmet - Not to be missed! The food is displayed in a very elegant buffet, exceptional quality and amazing variety and purchased by kilo.
- Gendai - A very popular Japanese restaurant with an nice selection of Japanese dishes. You can either order à la carte or choose to pay a fixed price and eat as much as you want including anything on the menu. If you like Japonese food, you will love this restaurant.
- Gruta de Santo Antônio - A family-owned Portuguese restaurant in downtown Niteroi. Cozy atmosphere, excellent service and delicious food. One of the best wine cellars in the city.
- Olimpo - Charita's Ferry Station @ the second floor. Just look for a modern building (blue neon lights at night) right over the beach sand adjoining the pier. Food is varied; the building is a work of art by Oscar Niemeyer and the view is dramatic and romantic.
- Mocellin Churrascaria Probably the most traditional restaurant in town. Non-stop parade of meats brought on skewers to your table. Huge salad bar with all kinds of delicacies. This is the typical Brazilian barebeque It is a meat-lovers paradise - Av. Quintino Bocaiúva, 151 @ the beginning of São Francisco Beach.
- 1 Seu Antônio, Rua Dr. Heleno de Gregório, 312 - Cafubá (from São Francisco beach, take the Charitas-Cafubá tunnel, turn first left after roundabout, turn first right at Rua Ver. Luís Botelho and turn fourth right at Rua Dr. Heleno de Gregório), ☏ +55 21 2619-2000, +55 21 2619-6584. 11:30-19:30. Traditional Portuguese after beach restaurant, focused on sea food and Brazilian/Portuguese food. Always crowded with customers, the restaurant opened a "wait restaurant" (Bar da Fila) right across the street where you can await your call to enter the main restaurant and start with appetizers and cold drinks. R$ 50-250.
- Torninha - Consider one of the best Italian gastronomies in town. Once a month offers a thematic dinner with special wine tasting.
- Torna Restaurante - One of the most traditional Italian restaurant with excellent food and a typical Italian environment.
Try the Brazilian Caipirinha made with kiwi, passion fruit, cashew or some exotic tropical fruit at Família Paludo, a restaurant painted red in São Francisco Beach. Have a coconut water at any beach-stand and enjoy a cold Brazilian beer anywhere with a view.
- Hotel Cantareira, Rua General Osório, 62 - São Domingos, ☏ +55 21 3604-1681, email@example.com. A/C, mini-fridge, microwave, kitchenette, TV, phone.
- Hotel Petit Village Icaraí, Rua Mariz e Barros, 109 - Icaraí, ☏ +55 21 2714-5242, firstname.lastname@example.org. A/C, mini-fridge, cable TV, phone. Breakfast and parking. Free wi-fi.
- Hotel Solar do Amanhecer, Av. Prefeito Silvio Picanço, 839 - Charitas, ☏ +55 21 2610-5221, fax: +55 21 2610-6545, email@example.com.
- Hotel Village Icaraí, Rua Mariz e Barros, 97 - Icaraí (near the corner with Rua Coronel Moreira Cézar), ☏ +55 21 2610-8504, firstname.lastname@example.org. A/C, fridge, phone, cable TV, balcony. Free wi-fi, breakfast, and parking.
- Tio Sam Hotel (Camboinhas beach), ☏ +55 21 3184-9100. A new structure with comfortable rooms, swimming pools, gym, tennis courts... Steps to one of the most wonderful oceanic beaches of the city.
- Tower Icaraí Hotel, Rua Ary Parreiras, 12 - Icaraí, ☏ +55 21 2612-2121, fax: +55 21 2610-4309, email@example.com.
|Routes through Niterói|
|Angra dos Reis ← Rio de Janeiro ←||S N||→ São Gonçalo → Cariacica|