Many of Brazil ’s railways were financed and built by European (mostly British) companies, but the Curitiba–Paranaguá railway line was a 100 percent Brazilian project. A masterful engineering feat, the route features some 67 bridges and viaducts and 13 tunnels. Tracks are sometimes perilously close to sheer cliffs, which makes for an adrenaline-charged journey.
However, it’s hard to be anxious when surrounded by so much natural beauty. As you plunge from Curitiba ’s highlands down to the blue Atlantic you’ll be treated to visions of cloud-shrouded peaks, deep canyons ribboned with waterfalls, and the vegetation’s transformation as it becomes increasingly lush and tropical.
The most breathtaking part of the voyage is the first three hours between Curitiba and the town of Morretes . Make sure when you buy your ticket that you reserve a seat on the left side (and on the right side on the return trip). The Serra Verde Express (tel. 41/3323-4077, www.serraverdeexpress.com.br ) operates two types of trains.
Passenger trains (trem convencional) depart from Curitiba’s Rodoferroviária at 8:15 a.m. every day, arriving at Morretes at 11:15 a.m. and at Paranaguá  (Sunday only) at 12:15 p.m. The return train leaves from Paranaguá (Sunday only) at 2 p.m. and Morretes at 3 p.m., and arrives back in Curitiba at 6 p.m.
More luxurious is the Litorina, a tourist train with air-conditioning, panoramic windows, bilingual guides, and snacks and drinks, which makes a scenic stop at the Santuário de Cadeado. It runs daily between Curitiba  and Morretes , departing the Rodoferroviária at 9:30 a.m. and returning from Morretes at 2:30 p.m. Ticket prices vary.
From Curitiba to Morretes, the trem convencional offers three fares: econômico (R$28), turístico (R$50) and executivo (R$78), with the return trip costing R$22, R$34, and R$47, respectively. Morretes to Paranaguá (and vice versa) costs an extra R$11. Tickets for the Litorina cost R$118 (and R$90 for the return), and it is recommended that you reserve in advance, especially on weekends, holidays, and in the summer.
BWT Operadora (tel. 41/3323-4077, www.bwtoperadora.com.br ), a tour operator that is part of the same group as Serra Verde Express (in fact they share office space in Curitiba’s Rodoferroviária), organizes day excursions to attractions in the region between Curitiba  and Paranaguá . Trips include a train ride to Morretes  along with activities such as rafting and hiking in the Parque Estadual do Marumbi  and/or historic tours of Morretes and Antonina  (punctuated by a typical lunch of barreado) with a return by van to Curitiba.
If you’re driving from Curitiba to Morretes, follow the Estrada Graciosa, a stunning 33-kilometer (21-mile) stretch of road that leads off the BR-116. Although the sinewy route will take you an hour longer than the alternative BR-277 highway, the views of the surrounding landscapes (including the peaks of Marumbi and Paraná) are well worth it. Along the way, you can purchase locally produced honey, cachaça, and balas de banana (chewy banana candies).