If you’re already thinking to spend some nice time in our home country, but you’re not sure where to go, let me present one of the coolest things you can do in the South of Brazil. A train ride from Curitiba to Morretes with Serra Verde Express.
This train ride, besides being super special because Brazil has almost no trains, it is the only way you can experience the Serra do Mar from this angle. It is a photographer’s paradise going from Paraná’s capital all the way to the historical city of Morretes. 70 kilometers of tunnels, stone walls, waterfalls, Atlantic ocean and the remaining of one of Brazil’s rainforests, the Mata Atlantica.
Besides all the obvious outstanding nature show you’ll be able to see and take photos, the railroad used for Serra Verde Express is one of the oldest things in Brazil that is still in use. Dated back to before 1885, this railway Paranaguá-Curitiba still preserves a lot of the original architecture. Princess Isabel inaugurated the whole thing, the same one history books point out as the responsibility for ending slavery in Brazil.
How much, where to get it, what to expect from Serra Verde Express train ride
Serra Verde Express is the company behind this historical and breathtaking train ride. There are daily trains, leaving the Curitiba station at 8:15 am, during the high season in Curitiba (December-February and July). But if you’re in the city during the low season, worry not. Serra Verde Express provides the same experience, leaving the same station also at 8:15 am but only during the weekends (Friday to Sunday). For the return train, the only thing that changes is that it will leave Morrete’s station at 3 pm.
The whole experience takes around 3:30 to 4 hours and the cheapest you can get is around R$100 Curitiba-Morretes and R$75 Morretes-Curitiba. If you want to have a guided tour, food and drinks included in your package, the price increases a little bit going to R$120 and R$100. Those prices are for the economic class, and the photos you see here are from the luxury option. Do I recommend the 1st class over the others? Yes! Especially if you’re coming from Europe or USA because the currency exchange makes the whole thing cheap.
Also, the guided version is better since you can have all the information relevant to the what you’re experiencing. It is always good to have a person telling you which side of the train you have to point your camera too to take full advantage of this train ride. Besides all this, the luxurious option will give you excellent food on board, and the experience will be inside a historical train. Ours were the one with a Rio de Janeiro theme on it.
With all the info you have now, I think you’re safe. But in case you want to get the 2nd class ticket without the guided tour, make sure you get to the Curitiba Station early enough to get a place on the left side of the train. If you’re coming from Morretes, choose the right side. There’s no way to choose your seats when you buy them online, so you have only your ability to wake up mega early on your side.
The whole ride is fantastic, and on the gallery below you’ll see why. You’ll have a 15/20 minutes stop on Santuario do Cadeado (Padlock Sanctuary), which is a highlight for all photographers reading here as well as for the history freaks. This place was the former office of the Construction Commission of the Paranaguá-Curitiba Railroad. It was built back in 1879 on a natural elevation – hint hint, great view – near the “Passage of the Padlock,” where Itupava Road cross this once famous railroad. This place gives you a privileged view of the sea and the rainforest.
In the past, you could find a monitoring point and service for the trains and was one of the best places to observe the progress on the works done on the railroad. But in 1960 the original construction was demolished and in its place was erected the present chapel in concrete and masonry, called “Santuario do Cadeado.” It was inaugurated in 5 of February of 1965 with a mass in commemoration to the 80 years of the inauguration of the railroad.
On the luxury package, you can extend your visit to the historical city of Antonina that is right by the ocean. There are many abandoned historical sites, a beautiful church and some interesting architecture to be observed. That would be your last point before getting on the bus in the luxury package. If you’re on the economy one, you’ll have to arrange everything yourself, but it will give you more time for exploring.
How you go back?
We’ve talked about everything we needed about the trains, but I know you don’t want to spend 8 hours inside a train. A solution to that is taking a bus back.
Check the website of Viação Graciosa because they offer tickets for as little as R$25 and the whole trip is around 90 minutes.
Trust me; it is the best option ever. A train ride of 4 hours if pretty and perfect for photos and all that but 8 hours would be madness.
What to do in Morretes?
Since the start for many of you would be Curitiba, and we have already posted about the city, let me focus on what to do once you reach the picturesque municipality of Morretes.
For many of you, Morretes will look utterly mesmerizing. With a combination of historical architecture that you can see in Europe contrasting with Brazilian vegetation. And on top of it all, the river that crosses the city makes everything a little bit prettier somehow.
Morretes is a tiny city with as much history as beauty. A super cute city center where you can taste local food and buy souvenirs for your grandma that is super worried that you’re traveling around Brazil alone.
The soundtrack of Morretes is birds singing, the river water flowing and the wind caressing the top of the enormous imperial palm trees you can see all over.
Most of the tourists go there just to eat something, have maybe a coffee or an ice cream and head back to Curitiba. But if you’re feeling adventurous, try to book one night over there. I know that the free time I got with my train+bus ticket wasn’t enough and the city offers loads of hidden spots for great photos and relaxing time. And if you decide to stay, make sure you have your bathing suit because then you can experience the whole thing to the fullest.
And if you think Brazil’s summer is too hot, you would not believe the temperatures this small piece of paradise can reach. The mix of the high humidity with the already great heat Brazil has over the summer months is the perfect combination for a nice swim.
Where to eat in Morretes?
The meal everybody goes crazy about in Morretes is the traditional Barreado (you say it like Ba-he-a-do or something). And it is as delicious as it is heavy. Therefore, in Morretes you’ll barely see any restaurant opening for dinner time, most of them are only for lunch. Even on weekends, all the restaurants will close around 4 pm.
Barreado is sort of a meat stew with spices, white rice, banana, and flour. You can easily find it for around R$30 per person, and I guarantee that it will make you full for the whole day. But if you’re after the best one in town, you’ll spend a little over €1 or €1,50 and go for Emporio do Largo. Besides being the best barreado, the view you have from their terrace is unbeatable.
In Morretes, it is not uncommon to flush the Barreado with the local beer or even wine. And remember that we’re talking about Brazil and one of the most common ways we have our restaurants is the eat as much as you want, or Rodizio if you wanna sound local. In Morretes, this means that besides the typical Barreado, you’ll get croquettes, french fries, salad, pasteis and much more. It is carbs and fried food festival! Heaven? I think so!
For those choosing to book a hotel there, you can use those here:
Map out your trips on Travellerspoint.
I hope you liked this off the beaten path destination in our home country. I will love to know if you want to see more Brazilian content, leave a comment here or start a conversation on our Facebook group telling us your next Brazilian destination. Maybe we can help you with tips, or perhaps you can even find a local there to show you the city!