When you travel to the vibrant and wonderful Rio De Janeiro, be sure to explore these five hip neighborhoods.
I hope this neighborhood breakdown provides you useful background information for your trip to Rio de Janeiro. As you explore the city, be open minded and go with the flow. This is the Carioca way of life! Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are lost or looking for recommendations. Brazilians are extremely friendly, especially the laidback Cariocas.
I got to spend the best month of my life living in the stunning Copacabana neighborhood. Copacabana is most famous for its lively beach and iconic swirly cobblestone, packed with street vendors and soccer players. There is always something happening at Copacabana beach, so do not expect to take a nap or read in the sun because every time I visited Copacabana beach, I experienced fun, new memories. Alongside the beach, you can also find loads of street vendors with souvenirs as well as refreshing açaí and coconut water. Further inland, there are lanchonetes (snack bars,) cafes, bars, and restaurants, with Brazilian, Japanese, and American food, as well as brechós (thrift shops) and local boutiques.
Botafogo is the young, up-and-coming neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. Botafogo, however, is not where you would venture off to to spend a day at the beach because the bay is too filthy. Instead, explore Botafogo’s youthful nightlife and unique shops. In Botafogo, street art has a huge presence and surrounds the avant-garde clothing stores, cafes, and bars. Photographed below is one of my favorite works by street artist, Marcelo Eco, that I saw outside of the CoLab cafe. Down the street from CoLab, you should visit SRI clothing to find your dream carnival outfit.
The girl from Ipanema is lovely, as well as the neighborhood! While this is the most touristy neighborhood in Rio, there is still loads of fun at every corner. During carnival, the Ipanema area is one of the most crowded and dangerous, so be wary if you are traveling during the month of February. Beyond carnival, I adore Ipanama beach because it draws different crowds from all over the city and you can always find a tasty caiprinha wherever you end up. In this neighborhood, a must-see is the Rock of Arpoador for the best view of Rio’s sunset and/or sunrise.
Lapa is well-known for its nightlife, however, this neighborhood also carries much of Rio’s crucial history. The infamous Lapa arches used to be Rio’s major aqueduct in the 18th century. Another sight to see in Lapa is the National Cathedral which was built in 1979 and is a prime example of Brazil’s incredible modern architecture. Across from the Lapa arches, there is a regular night market where you can purchase the cheapest and best drinks in town. I would recommend buying your first drinks here then see where the night takes you. During my best night out in Lapa, I drank cheap and delicious caiprinhas, saw multiple drum circles, and danced all night to Reggaeton.
I absolutely adore Glória. This was my favorite neighborhood to wander around during carnival. The train station is walking distance to Flamengo Park which always had a lot of LGBTQ+ friendly blocos. Rio’s fabulous Museu de Arte Moderno (Modern Art Museum) is also located in Glória. Brazil has a fascinating art history and Rio’s Museum of Modern Art is a great introduction to the dynamic scene. Here, you can admire the works of famous artists, including: Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Pape, and Anna Maria Maiolino. After a relaxing afternoon at the museum, rest at a lanchonete (snack bar) outside of the Glória metro station. I always found incredible açaí and coxinhas in this area.