Petropolis was the mountain getaway for the imperial court, popular in summer when the coast became hot and muggy. Nestled 3,000ft (800m) high in the Serra dos Órgãos it is a few degrees cooler than at sea level.
It’s a kooky place as the rainforest is filled with European alpine architecture and the gorgeous Museu Imperial would not be out of place in Austria. Other buildings of note include the cathedral, which offers excellent views from the steps and the glasshouse (Palacio Cristal) imported from France for Princesa Isabela’s orchids.
Along Rue 16 de Marco there are lots of eateries and Rua Theresa is known for clothes shopping. If you’re after more strenuous activities you can also hike and mountain bike in the surrounding mountains.
Buses leave hourly from Rio de Janeiro and the trip takes about 1.5 hours. Once in town there are buses although it is easy to visit most of the highlights on foot in under 4 hours.