The best area to stay in Rio de Janeiro

The best area to stay in Rio de Janeiro

Wondering where to stay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s great metropolis? Here are some of the best neighbourhoods to stay in Rio!

Second-most populous city of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro never ceases to inspire countless travellers. Are you lucky enough to visit Rio de Janeiro in a near future? With over 7 million inhabitants and nearly 12 million inhabitants in the urban area, Rio is one of the largest cities on the American continent.

World famous for its beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, its carnival, and the statue of Christ overlooking the city from the summit of the Corcovado, Rio attracts nearly 3 million visitors per year. It’s important to carefully choose the neighbourhood where you will stay in Rio: not too expensive, and more importantly, secure. Indeed, with 20% of Cariocas living in the crime-ridden favelas, some areas can become dangerous in the evening due to the risk of violence and aggression. Here is a presentation of the neighbourhoods where to stay in Rio.

Ipanema, the luxurious Rio

Ipanema, best area to stay in Rio

Photo credit: Flickr – Marcos Fernandes

Located south of the maravilhosa cidade (marvellous city), Ipanema is a well-heeled neighbourhood, prized by wealthy tourists, and known for its beach of the same name, Copacabana’s rival. This place is for you if you’re fond of luxury boutiques, fashion, and high-end shopping. Relaxation and leisure will punctuate your days, spent between shiny shop windows and soothing sunbathing sessions on the beach.

The song “The Girl From Ipanema” made Ipanema rise to worldwide fame along with the popularity of the Bossa Nova music style. In Ipanema, you will also find some very good restaurants, catering to the neighbourhood’s chic clientele. A downside, perhaps: the neighbourhood is at the end of the metro line and is therefore far from the Centro, the city centre.

Lapa, the partygoers’ haunt

Lapa, best area to stay in Rio

Photo credit: Flickr – worldsurfr

Located between the historical centre, Flamengo, and the Santa Teresa neighbourhood, Lapa is a very fashionable area, and is particularly favoured by the city’s restless partygoers. If you are looking for a nice place to stay in Rio, try Lapa. You will find many bars, restaurants, concert halls, including the famous Cecilia Meireles Hall. Lapa is home to the Arcos de Lapa, an impressive ancient aqueduct on which serves as a bridge to the Santa Teresa Tramway. What to see in this festive neighbourhood? Walk along Rua do Lavradio, famous for its array of traditional antique shops, or the famous staircase designed by Chilean artist Jorge Selarón (1947-2013). A good place to stay in Rio de Janeiro, though the lively and bustling Lapa is also be noisy.

Centro, Rio’s historic district

Centro, best area to stay in Rio

Located north of Rio, the Centro is the financial centre of Rio de Janeiro. In addition to the large buildings housing major multinationals, the area is home to most of the city’s historic monuments, museums, squares, and churches. If you’re aiming to discover the wonders of Rio’s rich cultural heritage, Centro is THE neighbourhood to stay in Rio. Visit, for example, the National History Museum, one of the city’s most beautiful museums. The “Museu de Arte Moderna” (Museum of Modern Art) houses nearly 11,000 pieces retracing the work of Bruno Giorgi and Maria Martins.

Walk in the footsteps of Brazil’s history at the “Praça XV de Novembro”, a public square immortalizing the place where emperors and governors once lived, and where the Brazilian nation was proclaimed on November 15, 1889. Centro also features spaces to relax, such as the Campo de Santana Park, a haven of green and calm in the middle of downtown Rio. If your appetite for cultural exploration is insatiable, not to worry: you’ll find a wealth of shops, music stores, libraries, theatres, and bookshops. It’s a wonderful place to stay in Rio.

Botafogo, Rio’s traditional quarter

Botafogo, best area to stay in Rio

Photo credit: Flickr – Marco Gomes

If you’re keen to go out late at night in a bar or a nightclub, and admire the famous Sugarloaf Mountain, choose Botafogo to stay in Rio de Janeiro. Located on the foothills of the Morro de Sao João and Mundo Novo hills, this district is very lively, and boasts an impressive cultural heritage. From the beach of Botafogo, visit the Sugarloaf Mountain and the Urca peninsula. Botafogo is culturally very diverse and houses a profusion of cafés, theatres, and cinemas where art films are regularly screened. If you enjoy partying, between the centre and the famous Copacabana beach, look no further when deciding where to stay in Rio.

Santa Teresa, the “little Montmartre”

Santa Teresa, best area to stay in Rio

Photo credit: Flickr – Rodrigo Soldon

Perched on the hill of the same name, the Santa Teresa neighbourhood originated around the former Santa Teresa convent, halfway between the city’s northern and southern quarters. This neighbourhood has retained its artsy atmosphere: a great place to enjoy numerous art workshops, museums, restaurants, or simply have a café on a terrace. Admire the old tramway – the “bondinho” – 145 years old, and still in service! Finally, take an urban hike up the Corcovado to the foot of the Christ the Redeemer statue, and explore the Tijuca Forest, the largest urban forest in the world.

I grant myself at least 3 to 4 trips each year to the four corners of the world, whether it is very close to my home, as in South America, Europe or Southeast Asia. A question about a destination, a visit, a deal? I answer them in the comments.

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