The Curitiba-Paranaguá railway line (commercially known as Serra Verde Express) is one of the most important tourist attractions in the state of Parana and one of the most interesting train journeys you can embark on while in Brazil. The railway line covers the distance between Curitiba and the city of Paranagua in the state’s coast. On the way, it cuts through the middle of the Serra do Mar mountain range.
The remarkable engineering feat in itself would make the trip worth your while. Building a railway line going up the mountain range was no mean feat. In spite of the difficulties, the 110 kilometres of railway line were built in just five years at the end of the XIX century (in the same period of time but in modern XXI century the authorities of São Paulo haven’t been able to complete the 12 kilometres of the new yellow subway line). Engineers had to build 14 tunnels and 30 bridges.
The are three distinct parts to the trip. During the first third of the journey, the train leaves Curitiba and progressively the urban landscape turns into open space. Monkey-puzzle trees abound. On reaching the upper part of the mountain range, the landscape changes. Soon the train embarks upon a vertiginous but at the same time slow descent through the slopes of the Serra do Mar. Once it reaches the plain at the bottom of the valley, the train reaches speed until its arrival at Morretes railway station.
During the trip your carriage window will present you with wonderful landscapes covered by the dense subtropical rainforest (mata atlântica) of the Serra do Mar. It is the largest chunk of preserved mata atlântica in the entire Brazil.
One of the most thrilling moments of the trip is the crossing of the giant São João iron bridge (photo above and below).
Slowly the landscape opens up and you will be able to contemplate both the mountain tops and the Ocean far away.
For most of the trip, as it can be seen on the following video, the train rides very close to the dense rainforest.
- Website: la página web del Serra Verde Express, with an English version, contains all the up-to-date information regarding the trip, schedules and prices.
- Journey: from Monday to Friday the train only reaches Morretes. The duration of the trip is approximately three hours, although it can take longer depending on the traffic along the railroad. On Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays the train reaches Paranaguá too (five-hour trip).
- Schedules: the train departs from Curitiba at 8:15 am and returns in the afternoon.
- Carriages: there are four classes. From cheaper to most expensive: econômico, turístico, executivo and litorina de luxo. The company’s website contains a description of each category. Economy class tickets cannot be purchased over the internet. You need to get to Curitiba station to be able to buy them. They are sold out first so if you are planning on traveling economy you are advised to get your tickets a few days in advance.
- Unless your are heading to Ilha do Mel (in that case you’d need to take the train to Paranaguá), we recommend you to get off at Morretes, walk around the town and have lunch there (you must experience the delicious barreado meat stew, a local delicacy). Return to Curitiba in the afternoon.
- You can return to Curitiba by train, by van or by bus. If your budget is tight, get a regular bus back from Morretes to Curitiba. When you get to Curitiba integrated railway and bus station in the morning, and before you embark on the train, purchase your return tickets Morretes-Curitiba from the Viação Graciosa counter.
- Fog can ruin your trip as it makes it absolutely impossible to enjoy the landscape. But it is difficult to tell when fog is likely to form.
- Although there are views at both sides of the train, we recommend you sit on the left side of the carriage, where the best views are at some of the most spectacular passages.
Category: Destination: Paraná