It's one of South America's most famous beach towns, the sleepy fishing village of Buzios.
Buzios is located two hours by car from Rio de Janeiro. With a population of 25,000, the town comes to life like a Brazilian Hamptons, with seaside eateries, bass-booming nightclubs and a sexy beach scene that thrives during January and February's high season.
The town gained its glittery reputation as a mainstay of the rich and famous following an influx of French travelers that followed the pilgrimage of Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s. The visit is marked with a bronze statue sitting on a seafront bench that memorializes the actress like a Buzios version of Eva Peron. Surprisingly, it's one of the only tacky things about this city, which has managed to stay free of chain hotels, American retailers and virtually any reminder of the Western world.
How to get there: Add Buzios to a Rio de Janiero trip. You'll drive along a rural two-lane highway traveled by far more pedestrians than actual cars. An odd sight to the American eye, locals use the highway shoulder and center divider as a sort of urban thoroughfare to grocery stores, bus stops and the occasional pharmacy that dot the highway. Just when you thought you couldn't pass one more gasohol-guzzling, pint-sized VW, you'll arrive in a residential neighborhood at the entrance of Buzios.Where to stay: You'll need to carefully choose a pousada, the charming tropical-style hotels that sometimes feel like a Brazilian interpretation of "Friday the 13th" movies. Luckily there's Casa Brancas, a 32-room hacienda-style pousada overlooking the tranquil waters of Buzios Bay. Guests enter a stone-floored lounge with built-in bookcases and local photography among oversized furnishings and local antiques. Underneath the lobby is a newly added spa offering massages, European facials and yoga classes.