Búzios is the Gisele Bündchen of Brazilian beach resorts: both naturally beautiful and sophisticatedly chic, it is internationally renowned and capable of commanding high prices. Before it became Brazil ’s most perennially stylish beach getaway, Armação de Búzios was a tiny fishing village perched on the tip of a peninsula, 190 kilometers (118 miles) east of Rio de Janeiro .
All of that changed when, in 1964, sultry French starlet Brigitte Bardot happened upon it with her Brazilian boyfriend of the moment. Aided by the international paparazzi, the bikinied “B. B.” singlehandedly put the place on the map. Before long, she had moved on to other boys and other beaches, but idyllic Búzios—the name by which both the village of Armação and the entire peninsula came to be known—quickly become a favorite stop on the global jet-setters’ paradise party circuit.
The other beach resort that Bardot made famous in the ’60s was St. Tropez, and it is interesting to note that both destinations have far more in common than this coincidence. Búzios’s narrow cobblestoned streets, yacht-infested waters, cafés and bistros, and softly illuminated landscapes are decidedly Mediterranean, so much so that the endless comparisons to St. Tropez that it garners are not at all far-fetched. Moreover, as the little town has grown, both the permanent population and the tourists who flock here every summer are increasingly international and monied.
In the last 20 years, designer boutiques, chic restaurants, and posh hotels have mushroomed, and it’s often hard to recognize the little fishing village that was. Although the cachet of its Bardot days is long gone, those prepared to fork out big bucks for sophisticated lodgings , food , and nightlife  will also gain a very considerable bonus: unlimited access to some of Brazil’s most enchanting beaches . And if you time your visit to avoid the hustle and bustle of the summer months, not only will you find a more pleasantly placid Búzios, but a considerably more affordable one as well.
The peninsula of Búzios has three main settlements. Closest to the mainland, on the isthmus is Manguinhos, which is the most commercial of the trio. A road paved with hotels leads the way to the charming main village of Armação. Most of the chicest boutiques, hotels, restaurants, and bars are concentrated here, clustered near and along the celebrated main drag of Rua das Pedras and its extension, the Orla Bardot. A 15-minute walk north along the coast from Armação will bring you to the peninsula’s oldest settlement, Ossos, with its pretty harbor, yacht club, and sprinkling of hotels.
Búzios is a little over two hours by bus from Rio . There are numerous daily buses operated by Viação 1001 (0300 313-1001, www.autoviacao1001.com.br ). By car, take the BR-101 from Rio to Rio Bonito , and then follow the RJ-124, RJ-106, and RJ-102 to Búzios.