With 8 million people occupying an area of 485 square miles, Rio is the second largest city in Brazil. The many districts
in the city are distributed in three major areas: Centre, South and North
(suburbs). The more affluent South comprises the area between the hills
and the sea, from the Centre to the western limits of the city. The North
and the suburbs spread from the Centre to the northern and eastern limits
. The great majority of tourist attractions and trendy shopping districts
are concentrated in the Centre and the South.
The city centre is the financial and business district of Rio, where most
historic buildings are located. Crowded and packed with skyscrapers, the
Centre is the home of the Municipal Theatre, the Modern Arts Museum, the
National Arts Museum and the Sambódromo, where the Carnival parades
happen every year.
Santa Teresa and Glória
A quiet district set on a hillside, Santa Teresa is the place chosen by
many artists to set up their studios, and the chosen hideaway of the
(in)famous Ronnie Biggs. It can be reached by car or tram, through the
Lapa tramway, and has a few inexpensive restaurants and attractions like
the Ruins Park, with one of the best views of the Bay, and the Chácara do
Céu Museum. The adjoining district of Glória has one of the most
charming churches in Rio, the 18th century baroque Glória do Outeiro
Flamengo and Catete
Highly populated areas, not too expensive to live in. The Republic Museum
is in Catete, and the National Monument to the Victims of the Second World
War and the Santos Dumont Airport are closer to the Centre, at the end of
the Aterro do Flamengo.
Laranjeiras and Cosme Velho
Mostly residential, with a multitude of trees and green areas. These two
districts are located between Flamengo, the Corcovado and the Rebouças
tunnel. The Guanabara Palace, seat of the state government, is in
Laranjeiras, and closer to the entrance of the tunnel, in Cosme Velho, are
the colonial-style houses of the Largo do Boticário and the railway
station for the train that goes up Corcovado.
A residential and business district at the same time, Botafogo is the
passage between the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake and the Guanabara Bay. The
main attractions are the Home of Rui Barbosa, a neo-classic museum, the
Indian Museum and the Villa Lobos Museum.
Strictly residential, quiet and secluded, Urca is one of the most pleasant
districts in Rio, set between the Sugar Loaf and the 17th century São
João Fortress. Fishermen are part of the scenery here, and the district
is also home of the Yacht Club.
Copacabana and Leme
With a large population, high rises and a world-famous beach, Copacabana
is where the turn of the year fireworks happen, and it has the most
eclectic nightlife in Rio, with strip clubs, bars, elegant restaurants and
hotels, like the Copacabana Palace Hotel. At the end of Copacabana sits
the Copacabana Fort, with a beautiful view and a nice museum.
The utmost trend-setter in Rio, with elegant shops, restaurants and bars,
and home of the famous Girl from Ipanema. The Devil and Arpoador beaches
are some of the few areas where surfing is allowed outside of Barra da
One of the most beautiful views in Rio, with good restaurants and bars,
and a few food kiosks. The lake shore is also a large public sports
complex, with a bicycle and jogging track, tennis and football courts and
a skate and roller skate bowl. The are also some private clubs and public
parks where free open air shows and concerts happen frequently.
The most sophisticated and expensive district in Rio, with large mansions,
elegant flats, and a few late night restaurants, bookshops and
Gávea and Jardim Botânico
Very sought after residential districts, with quiet streets and lots of
green. Gávea is the home of the Planetarium and the City Park with its
Historic Museum. The Botanical Garden is in its namesake Jardim Botânico.
Ensconced between the mountain and a beautiful beach, São Conrado shows a
contrast between very expensive flats and houses and Rocinha, the largest
slum in Rio. Taking off from the Pedra da Gávea mountain to land on the
beach, hang-gliders are a permanent fixture in the skies of São Conrado.
Barra and Recreio dos Bandeirantes
The Brazilian California, with large avenues, long distances and large
condos, Barra is the home of the Chico Mendes Park, a protected area for
wild animals like birds and alligators. The largest shopping centre in
Rio, Barrashopping, is in Barra, as well as the Riocentro convention
centre and the motor racing track, the Autódromo, located in the
outskirts of Barra, close to Jacarepaguá. The beaches in Barra are the
cleanest in Rio, with areas for surfing and scuba diving.
Floresta da Tijuca
A tropical forest in the middle of Rio, with winding roads that go through
the trees and overhang over a thousand feet where the most spectacular
views of the city and the sea can be seen. Besides the awesome landscape,
there are some places worth seeing, like the Emperor Table, the Chinese
View and the Açude Museum.
North and the Suburbs
A series of industrial and residential districts, much less expensive then
the South, where the Maracanã Stadium, the Zoo, the Museu da Fauna, the
International Airport and the Penha Church are located.