Unica/Facil (tel. 021/2263-8792; www.unica-facil.com.br) offers daily service between Rio's bus station, the Novo Rio Rodoviaria, and the main bus station in Petrópolis. The trip takes 90 minutes. Buses traveling either direction leave daily every 90 minutes between 5:15am and midnight. Tickets cost R$15. In Petrópolis, buses arrive at the new bus station, Terminal Rodoviaria Governador Leonel Brizola, on the city outskirts, a short taxi ride from the historic center.
All the sites in the historic center are within walking distance of the bus station and each other. There is no need to drive or take a taxi.
By Rental Car -- A rental car is useful if you're thinking of checking out some of the nearby national parks. Check out Localiza, Rua Coronel Veiga 746, Centro (tel. 024/2246-0100; www.localiza.com; Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 9am-2pm).
By Taxi -- For trips outside the city center, to pousadas or restaurants, call Disk Taxi Imperial (tel. 024/2242-9188) or just hail one of the many circulating taxis.
By Horse & Buggy -- This is a great way to see the city without doing all the walking. Buggies depart only from the main entrance of the Museu Imperial. (Buggies in front of other attractions are waiting for their clients to come back from their visit.) You have two options for sightseeing: the first tour, R$60 per buggy for up to six people, stops at the Cathedral, Palácio de Crystal, Casa de Santos Dumont, Palácio Rio Negro, and Palácio Barão de Mauá, allowing you to get off and visit each site while the buggy waits. It takes about an hour and a half. On the second, cheaper option you cover the same route, but the buggy never stops so you see the sights only from the outside. Cost is R$40 for up to six people, and it takes about 30 minutes. Tours run year-round, Tuesday through Sunday. Note: The tour price does not include admission to any of the museums along the way.
The Petrópolis Foundation of Culture and Tourism maintains an English-language website (www.petropolis.rj.gov.br) and a toll-free information line Disque Turismo (tel. 0800/024-1516). There's also a number of tourist information centers around town. The main one is in the Centro Histórico, Praça Visconde de Mauá 305 (Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 9am-5pm); another is in the Governador Leonel Brizola main bus terminal, Rua Ministro Lucio Meira (daily 8am-6pm); and another is near the Rua Teresa shopping district, Rua Aureliano Coutinho s/n (Tues-Sun 9am-6pm). Ask for the English version of the excellent Petrópolis Imperial Sightseeing brochure. It comes with a map and opening hours of each of the attractions.
The Petrópolis Convention and Visitor's Bureau also has a website with information on Petrópolis attractions, accommodations, and restaurants: www.pcvb.com.br.
The Banco do Brasil branch is on the Rua do Imperador 940 (corner of Rua Alencar Lima; tel. 024/2243-6143).
To honor the German immigrants who played an important role in the early days of Petrópolis, the city holds Bauernfest, an annual festival celebrating German music, culture, and food. It is held yearly on the last weekend of June and the first week of July. Contact Petrotur for more information (tel. 0800/024-1516).
Making the most of Petrópolis's reputation as a winter destination, the Festival de Inverno (Winter Music Festival) takes place in the last 2 weeks of July at the Palácio de Crystal, Palácio Rio Negro, Centro Cultural Raul de Leoni, and Praça da Liberdade. For information contact tel. 0800/024-1516.
When Not to Go
The absolute worst day to visit Petrópolis is Monday; most attractions are closed, and shops at the Rua Teresa open only at 2pm. Some attractions are also closed on Tuesday, and many restaurants are closed Monday through Wednesday. The best days to visit are Wednesday through Friday. Weekends can be busy, so book accommodations ahead of time. Avoid holidays as museum lines and traffic can be very bad.