Nova Friburgo City Guide: Volunteer Edition

by Isabela Valencia, short-term volunteer

Nova Friburgo is a small city set in the Serra do Mar mountains of southeastern Brazil, located in Rio de Janeiro state. As a volunteer at Eco Caminhos, the city is easily accessible by bus. Here are some of our volunteers’ recommendations for this city.


The city is a 40-minute bus ride away. Just a 5-minute walk away from the volunteer houses is a bus stop called “Ponto Final.” You can access the timetables here (look for the Cargo D’antas route). One-way bus fare is 4.20 reais, payable by cash. 



Lunch in Brazil is the most important part of the day. As the biggest meal, the common places for lunch are per-kilo restaurants that serve a wide variety of food options. 

  • Restaurante e Pizzaria Excalibur – Offering both Brazilian and Portuguese cuisine, this buffet place can get packed during the afternoons and the weekends—and for good reason.
  • Restaurante Chantilly – A buffet restaurant offering a nice atmosphere, cordial service, and a rotating menu of tasty options.
  • Delicatessen Vinho Café e Cia – Don’t be fooled by the  gourmet selection of wines and delicacies on the first floor; the upstairs area features a lunch buffet option with a view of the street.


  • Leiteria Paissandu – A traditional-style Brazilian bakery with an extensive bread and pastel selection, along with extensive seating.
  • Padaria Suspiro – A no-frills, hole-in-the-wall bakery with a good array of fresh bread for good prices and some seating.


A girls’ trip to Grão Raro Café

  • Grão Raro Café Friburgo – A chain restaurant featuring an extensive menu of drink options, including plant-based milk. There are also savory lunch options and sweet pastries if you’re feeling peckish. Need to get work done? There’s unlimited Wi-Fi and some charging outlets.
  • Popmix Café & Boutique Indie – This café features a cool rock ‘n’ roll 60s aesthetic—with vinyl records and funky clothing for sale, at booth. They also offer Wi-Fi, vegan drink options, and some alcoholic drinks. On occasion, they host music events.

  • Mais 1 Cafe – a small but modern café offering coffee and other caffeinated beverages with outdoor seating options. They also sell pastries including pão de queijo, doughnuts, and croissants. They also write your name down on the cup with a smiley face. 🙂
  • Café d´Art Bistrô – A pretty little expresso bar tucked away into a nice shopping street, featuring a rotating selection of traditional Brazilian cakes in the display case.
  • Dona Emilia Gourmet Bakery – Open in the wee hours of the morning and on the weekends, this establishment features two locations. The main site on Monte Libano street has a terrace out back that can serve as a good place to relax, right  within the heart of the city center.
  • Superpão – A bakery, grocery store, restaurant, and café, all-in-one. They offer an extensive breakfast selection, and a good array of charging outlets. Note that they offer Wi-Fi but only up to 30 minutes per session, per device.



  • Amil Esportes – A store offering name-brand sportswear like Nike, Under Armor, and Puma, along with hiking gear.
  • Casa Libaneza  – The place to go to if you need hiking boots.

Household Supplies

  • Himalaia – Conveniently located near the city center, this store offers a decentselection of household items.
  • Loja Americana – This store offers most of what you may need, and some. They stock a decent selection of supplies, from clothing and bedding to snacks and shampoo.



  • Academia Ribas Gym – A good-value gym located only a 6-minute walk away from the bus station (Estação Livre). There’s a good selection of exercise equipment along with Brazilian jiujtsu and spin classes. It’s 25,00 reais for a day pass and 120,000 reais for a month.
  • Fight Co – A fitness center with an open-air concept, excellent facilities, and class options in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Crossfit throughout the week.

Volunteer night

One of our favorite traditions here at Eco Caminhos is Volunteer Night. Each Thursday, all the short-term and long-term volunteers prepare a dish or a drink to share with everybody in the Eco Caminhos community. 

The volunteer night is held at a variety of different places, from the Colmeia that serves as our work hub, to the volunteer houses. Wherever it’s held, volunteer night is a nice opportunity to cook for one another, try each other’s cooking, and to engage in good conversations with people outside of work. 

The spread at one of the volunteer houses.