Cabo Frio is a bustling coastal city in the state of Rio de Janeiro where you can treat yourself to modern resort life amid a glorious natural setting. The city's attractions centre around its beaches and water sports, making it a popular weekend getaway for locals from Rio. You can also expect a good dose of Brazilian culture, shimmering lagoons and seafood dining.
You'll never be far from the ocean in Cabo Frio hostels, which stretch along the city's beaches. Stay in a wheelchair-friendly hostel built from shipping containers, bohemian rooms decorated with colourful murals or chic accommodation with a green backyard. It is easy to find a Cabo Frio hostel with social spaces such as a shared kitchen, barbecue or bar and various room options including private, mixed dorms and female-only dorms. Make the most of the waves with extras like bodyboard rental, boat trips and diving.
Cabo Frio's oldest neighbourhood is Passagem, where you can still see colonial buildings. The city's central (and most popular) beach is Praia do Forte, where the clear sea is suitable for swimming and snorkelling. The white-sand Japanese Island is in the middle of a beachside lagoon, cut off from the ocean by a sandbar. The still water here makes it an ideal spot for paddle boarding. A short boat ride away from town, you'll find lush greenery and tropical birds at Papagaios Island.
There's plenty to keep you busy in Cabo Frio. You can see old war cannons at the 17th-century Forte de São Mateus, perched on a rocky hilltop, or learn about the city's history at the José Dome Museum. Rua dos Bikinis (Bikini Street) is famously home to more than 100 swimwear shops. A 50-minute drive along the coast is the secluded Praia das Dunas, with its shifting dunes and turquoise waters. One of Brazil's top scuba diving spots is Arraial do Cabo, an hour to the south, where there are coral reefs and diverse marine wildlife such as dolphins, whales and turtles.
Cabo Frio International Airport is 10km away from the centre (an hour by taxi). However, most visitors fly into Rio de Janeiro International Airport as it's larger and served by more airlines. You can take a taxi or private transfer from there to Cabo Frio (2 hours, depending on traffic), or catch bus number 1001 from Rio city (3 hours). It's easy to walk around the city centre; for longer distances, it's best to use a taxi or hire car.