After Sao Paulo I got a (surprisingly efficient and comfortable) bus to Paraty (pronounced: Paratchy). Paraty is around halfway between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. It takes around six hours on the bus.
I stayed there two days/three nights, which felt about right; it is quite touristy. My hostel was very basic, yet still cost me US$30 a night. Paraty is not a budget destination. Eating out in the old town was really expensive too.
Paraty itself is very picturesque. An old port in colonial times, it was used by the Portuguese to get the gold mined in nearby hills safely back to Lisbon.
The town went into decline after the gold was depleted and was then ‘rediscovered’ in the 1970s, preserved in a kind of time-warp, and opened for tourism. There are now hundreds of little guest houses in the area. Like I said, it is very touristy, although it has managed to retain a little of its charm.
If you are a fourteen year old girl with unrealistic romantic ideals, you are probably familiar with the Twilight series. Well Bella and Edward’s honeymoon was filmed in Paraty. You can visit the cove where filming took place (get a bus to Miram and prepare for a bit of a hike, or you can charter a boat). You can even stay at the same hotel as the actors, Pousada de Ouro; a standard double room starts at around £130 a night on booking.com.