Surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens, the elegant neoclassical pink edifice that functioned as Dom Pedro II’s summer digs now houses the Museu Imperial (Rua da Imperatriz 220, tel. 24/2237-8000, www.museuimperial.com.br , 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Tues.–Sun., R$8). After replacing your shoes with soft-soled slippers, you can glide around the gleaming parquet floors and inspect the myriad regal trappings whose highlights include Dom Pedro I’s golden scepter and Dom Pedro II’s fairy tale–like crown encrusted with 639 diamonds and 77 pearls.
From the ceremonial throne room and the ornate dining room—where the elaborately set table makes you feel as if hungry royals could show up at any minute—to the stables and even the royal commode, the palace gives you a rare day-in-the-life glimpse of an emperor in the tropics.
At night (8 p.m. Thurs.–Sat., R$28), a sound-and-light show illuminates the palace facade. Even if you don’t understand the Portuguese narration, the music and setting create a beguiling atmosphere.