Rio's Centro (Downtown) is a district in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Centro has most of the city's notable churches and museums, including the Modern Art Museum, as well as many of its most famous bars.
Lapa is one of the most thrilling places to be in Rio after dark, with streets and bars full of people, all in historical buildings (most of them from the early 1800s). In Lapa you can hear typical Brazilian music such as samba, forró, and choro. It's the place to try typical Brazilian food and drinks like the world-famous caipirinha. The nearby Santa Teresa neighborhood, located on the hills to the southwest, is a beautiful historical district and home to many of the city's artists.
Line 1 of the subway provides access from both the Zona Sul and the Tijuca area of the Zona Norte. The station at Central do Brasil is the transfer point for Line 2 which services most of the Zona Norte.
You can walk to Santa Teresa from surrounding districts such as Catete, though it's a stiff uphill climb, and some of the streets aren't entirely safe.
By light rail
The VLT light rail system serves many places in the area, including Santos Dumont airport and Praca XV port.
Lineof the subway has stops in most of the important neighborhoods of the Centro:
- Cinelândia - for Praça XV, the National Library, City Hall, Municipal Theatre, Museum of Modern Art and Odeon movie theatre. To Lapa (Bohemian district).
- Carioca - for Santa Teresa tram station, downtown offices
- Uruguaiana - for a popular market
- Presidente Vargas - for downtown offices
- Central - for Central do Brasil rail station, Itamaraty Palace, and for Line
- Praça Onze - for the Sambadromo
- Estácio - used to be for subway Line 2, but it's no longer used for transfers during weekdays (it's still used at weekends), so, be sure not to come all the way to this station instead of switching trains at Central.
A number of bike rental services are available.
- 1 Banco do Brasil Cultural Centre (Centro Cultural do Banco do Brasil - CCBB), Rua 1º Março 66 - Centro, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. A cultural centre with gallery, movie theatre, video room, library and stages; usually hosts the main exhibitions in town. An interesting building completed in 1906 with old-fashioned elevators/lifts.
- 2 Casa França Brasil, Rua Visconde de Itaboraí - Centro (next to CCBB), ☏ . French cultural centre built in 1820, with gallery and video hall.
- 3 City Hall (Camara Municipal do Rio de Janeiro), Praça Floriano - Centro, ☏ . Hosts the city council.
- 4 Lapa Viaduct (Arcos da Lapa, Carioca Aqueduct), Lapa. Colonial structure built in 1750 that brought water from springs to downtown.
- 5 Municipal Theatre (Teatro Municipal), Av. Rio Branco - Centro (Metrô Cinelândia). City Theatre, inspired by the Paris Opéra House.
- 6 National Library (Biblioteca Nacional), Av Rio Branco 219 (at junction with Passeio, Metrô Cinelândia), ☏ , email@example.com. The National Library offers guided tours on weekdays, showing visitors its rare collection, various bookstacks and the catalogue system. Registration with identification is required, and tours run for about an hour. They leave at 13:00 for English tours, and 11:00, 13:00 and 15:00 for Portuguese tours. R$2 for tour.
- 7 Passeio Público, Rua Texeira de Freitas at Rua Mestre Valentim (South of Metrô Cinelândia). Commissioned in 1779, this was to become the first public park in the Americas. Check out the original Rococo-style gate and the ironwork fountains.
- 8 Petrobras Headquarters, Avenida República do Chile 1202 (across from the Metropolitan Cathedral), ☏ . The headquarters for the federal gas (petrol) company is an interesting piece of brutalist architecture which somehow resembles a Rubik's Cube with some blocks missing.
- 9 Praça da República, Av. Pres. Vargas. Large park; good for a rest. Look for monkeys and capybaras that roam about.
- 10 Sambódromo, Rua Marquês de Sapucaí - Praça Onze (Metro Praça Onze), ☏ . Site of the famous Carnaval parades, the Sambódromo is a long street flanked by grandstands and VIP boxes. From the start of the year until Carnaval week, technical rehearsals (Ensaios Técnicos) free to the public are held on Saturday and Sunday evenings, with 2-3 teams performing per session.
- 11 Selarón Steps (Escadaria Selarón), Santa Teresa (Between Rua Joaquim Silva in Lapa and Rua Pinto Martins in Santa Teresa.). A stairway covered by colorful tiles and the ever-evolving art work of Chilean artist Jorge Selarón.
- 12 Teatro João Caetano, R. Alexandre Herculano, (Praça Tiradentes) (Between M1, 2: Uruguaiana and Carioca), ☏ , , . Cashdesk 14:00-18:00.
- 13 Estátua equestre de D. Pedro I, praça Tiradentes (South of M1, 2: Uruguaiana).
- 14 Stock Exchange (Bolsa de Rio de Janeiro), Praça Quinze de Novembro, 20 (Near to Praca Port), ☏ .
- Jose Bonifacio Monument.
- 15 Floriano Peixoto Monument (Monumento a Floriano Peixoto), Cinelândia.
- Fountain of Praça Monroe (Praça Monroe), Cinelândia.
- 16 Glória Inlet (Enseada da Glória). A beautiful spot for a stroll along the bank of Guanabara Bay.
- 17 Memorial Monument of Opening Ports - Trade (Monumento Comemorativo da Abertura dos Portos), Rua do Russel/Praça Luiz de Camões, Glória (M: Glória 400 m away).
- 18 Saint Joachim Palace (Palacio São Joaqim) (R. Benjamin Constant and Rue Glória Corner. - M: Glória right there).
- 19 Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site. The place where, during the first decades of the 19th century, ships carrying a total of almost a million African slaves landed. When slave trade was banned, freed slaves lived there for some time, eventually the whole area was entirely rebuilt and its dark history was forgotten until 2011, when African amulets and other items of worship were found during construction works. Nowadays the former wharf is an archaeological site and since 2017 a world heritage site.
- 20 Campo de Santana (located in the Praça da República). It is near the site where the Brazil was declared a Republic in 1889. Site of the monument for Republican leader Benjamin Constant
- 21 Gloria Church (Igreja Nossa Senhora da Glória do Outeiro), Glória (Metrô Glória). Small but interesting church built in 1739. It is more correctly known as the Outeira da Gloria, outeira in Portuguese meaning “knoll” or small hill. The church was well sited to be seen by arriving sailors sailing into Guanabara Bay. The layout consists of two intertwined octagonal prisms. There are some interesting wooden engravings and tiles from Portugal. Best accessed by one of the world’s shortest funiculars from Rua do Russel. The ride is free. Nice views.
- 22 Benedictine Monastery of Rio de Janeiro (Mosteiro de São Bento), Rua Dom Gerardo 68 - Centro, ☏ . Colonial architecture. Founded in 1590.
- 23 Candelária Church (Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Candelária), Praça Pio X - Centro (next to CCBB), ☏ . Neoclassic cathedral.
- 24 Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian (Catedral Metropolitana São Sebastião), Av. Chile 245 - Lapa, ☏ . A rather bizarre, modern cathedral shaped like a volcano, with a very impressively vacuous interior. One of Oscar Niemeyer's most famous designs.
- 25 Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (Igreja Nossa Senhora do Carmo da Lapa do Desterro), Rua do Ouvidor (Entry from ruas do Mercado e 1º de Março).
- 26 Saint Paul Church (Igreja de São Paulo), R. Fonseca Guimarães, 8-12 - Santa Teresa.
- 27 Church of São Francisco de Paula (Igreja de São Francisco de Paula, Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro), Largo de São Francisco de Paula, 9-11, Centro (Between Metro: Carioca and Uruguaiana), ☏ .
- 28 Church of Our Lady of Lapa (Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Lapa dos Mercadores), Rua do Ouvidor, Centro (NW one block of Largo do Paço).
- 29 Church of Our Lady of Lampadosa (Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Lampadosa), Av. Passos, 2-20 - Centro.
- 30 Chapel of the Divine Child (Capela do Menino Deus), Rua Riachuelo, 75 - Centro, ☏ .
- 31 Church of St. Goncalo and St. George (São Gonçalo Garcia e São Jorge), Rua Alfandega and Praça da República corner, Centro, ☏ .
- 32 St. Francis Church (Igreja São Francisco do Prainha), Largo São Francisco da Prainha, Saúde (North 800 m of Uruguaiana).
- 33 Church of St. Francis of Penance (Convento de Santo Antônio Igreja da Venerável Ordem Terceira de São Francisco da Penitência), Largo da Carioca (M: Carioca is right there). Church of the Venerable Third Order of St. Francis of Penance is a part of the Convent of Saint Antony
- 34 Church of Saint Lucia (Igreja de Santa Lúcia), Centro, R. Santa Luzia, 490 (from M: Cinelândia 400 m east, near Av. Pres. Antônio Carlos corner), ☏ .
- 35 Churches of Convent Carmo (Convento Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo da Antiga Sé e Igreja da Ordem Terceira do Carmo), Largo do Paco (NE of M: Carioca). Centro
- 36 São Francisco da Penitência Church (Igreja de São Francisco da Penitência), Rua da Carioca, 5 - Centro (M: Carioca), ☏ . Colonial church built in 1773.
- 37 Monastery of Saint Theresa (Convento de Santa Teresa, Carmelitas), Ladeira de Santa Teresa (near Morro de Santa Teresa. SW 500 m from Cinelândia). Baroque
- 38 Church Our Lady of La Salette (Igreja Nossa Senhora da Salette), Rua do Catumbi (Tram terminal Largo de Neves 300 m east). Founded in 1914. It has neo Gothic arches. One of the most beautiful church in Rio de Janeiro.
The National Museum has burned down
The former Imperial Palace (Paço de São Cristóvão) housed the Brazilian National Museum, one of the largest of its kind in the Americas, until 2 September 2018 when it was destroyed in a fire together with many exhibits — an immense loss for the natural and cultural heritage of South America. Some artifacts were saved, but as of September 2018, it's unclear if, when and where they will be put on display again.
- 39 Museum of the Estate of Ceu (Museu da Chácara do Céu), Rua Murtinho Nobre 96 - Santa Teresa (Metrô Carioca), ☏ . Daily except Tu 12:00-17:00; closed for major holidays. An art and antique museum with a good collection of works by modern masters. During Carnaval 2006 some of its most famous works of art were stolen while a procession passed by outside.
- 40 Image and Sound Museum (Museu da Imagem e do Som), Av. Europa 158, ☏ . For researchers about the Brazilian film, radio, and broadcasting industries.
- 41 Museum of Modern Art (Museu de Arte Moderno), Avenida Infante Dom Henrique 85 - Glória, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. After MASP in São Paulo, the second most important contemporary art museum in Brazil, (downtown, next to Santos Dumont airport). Modernist architecture on the edge of the Bay.
- 42 National History Museum (Museu Histórico Nacional), Praça Marechal Âncora - Centro (Metrô Cinelândia), ☏ , email@example.com. A museum of Brazilian history stretching from colonial to imperial times; big collection of paintings, but poor in artifacts.
- 43 (Museu Naval e Oceanográfico), Rua Dom Manuel 15 - Centro (near the ferry terminal), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Installed in a building constructed in 1868, this museum preserves articles from the seafaring history of the city.
- 44 National Museum of Fine Arts (Museu Nacional de Belas Artes), Praça Floriano, Avenida Rio Branco (Metrô Cinelândia, opposite the Municipal Theatre). Tu-F 10:00-18:00, Sa Su and holidays 12:00-17:00. Another building modelled on one in Paris, this time the Louvre. Includes large paintings from Academicist and Neoclassical Brazilian artists, as well as many copies of European sculptures R$5, free on Sundays.
- 45 Rio Art Museum (Museu de Arte do Rio), Praça Mauá, 5, Centro (in the old port area), ☏ , email@example.com. 10:00-17:00. A museum opened in 2013 as part of the regeneration of the old port area. Made up of a new building with good views from the roof, next to a converted building that had been part of Rio’s former bus station. Rotating exhibitions changing annually. R$8 (free on Tuesday).
- 46 Tram Museum (Museu do Bonde), Rua Carlos Brandt 14 - Santa Teresa (close to Largo do Guimarães; take the tram from downtown and ask the driver where to get off), ☏ . Tu-Su 11:00-18:00. This small tram museum has photos of and artifacts from the glory days when trams were all over Rio, including some models of old tramcars and lots of electrical equipment.
- 47 Gustavo Capanema Palace (Palácio Gustavo Capanema), Rua da Imprensa 16. Former ministry of culture, designed by French architect Le Corbusier; though small, it is regarded as an important pioneering work in modern architecture.
- 48 Ilha Fiscal Palace, Av. Alfredo Agache - Centro (Buy tickets at the Navy Museum. You will have to take a schooner from Guanabara Bay to reach the island.), ☏ . Saturday and Sunday only, 13:00, 14:30, and 16:00. The former Customs House for Rio has some fascinating decorations and is well worth the visit.
- 49 Itamaraty Palace (Palácio do Itamaraty), Av. Marechal Floriano, 196 (M1: Presidente Vargas). Former presidential palace (1889-1893) and foreign office; now hosts a museum of South American diplomacy, a library and the UN information offices in Brazil.
- 50 Paço Imperial, Praça XV de Novembro 48 - Centro, ☏ . Old Imperial Palace built in 1743 (though impressively modest). Colonial architecture.
- 51 Tiradentes Palace (Palácio de Tiradentes), Rua Primeiro de Março (at junction with Assembléia), ☏ . M-Sa 10:00-17:00; Su 12:00-17:00. The seat of the Legislative Assembly, visitors are welcome to wander in the corridors along the perimeter of the first floor, which tell the history of the Legislative Assembly and the building (mostly in Portuguese). Access to the second floor can be arranged through a guided tour with volunteers at the reception. Free.
- 1 Artists' Open House (Arte de Portas Abertas) (West of M1:Praça Onze). Held over a few days in May and November of each year, when Santa Teresa's artists open their studios to the public. There are free shuttle buses from most parts of the city for this event.
- Mocidade Independente Samba School, Rua Júlio do Carmo, 251 - Cidade Nova, ☏ .
- 2 Samba City (Cidade do Samba), Rua Rivadávia Correia 60 - Gamboa, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10:00-17:00. This arts and entertainment complex celebrates Carnaval year-round. Thursday nights at 20:00, there is a special Carnaval samba presentation called Forces of Nature (Forças da Natureza), which includes a dinner buffet, for R$190 per person, with students and senior citizens getting half-price. R$5.
- 3 Santa Teresa Historic Tramway, Bonde de Santa Teresa. What was Brazil's only remaining metropolitan tramway, in continuous operation since 1859, ran from Largo da Carioca, across the Arcos da Lapa, and into Santa Teresa terminating at the Largo de Curvelo. The tramway was closed in 2014 after accidents, but as of October 2015 is running again. If you follow the road further up from the last stop, and take the second road to the left, after another 300 m you will reach a rest area with a nice viewpoint, from where you can see much of Rio. R$20.
- 4 UFRJ School of Music (Escola de Música da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro), Rua de Passeio 98 - Lapa, ☏ . Daily 09:00-21:00. A good place to catch free classical music concerts. Stop by during the day for a schedule or check the newspaper for events, as the surrounding neighborhood can be a bit shady at night. Free.
- 1 Saara (Feirão Do Saara), surrounding Rua Buenos Aires between Praça da República and Rua dos Andrades ~Rua da Alfândega, 187 (M1, 2: Presidente Vargas or Uruguaiana). Nothing to do with the desert, this bazaar is named after an association of small shop owners that was established there on the early 1900s, most of them from the Middle East and Jews from Eastern Europe. There are also lots of Chinese businesses. Today, it has a wide variety of shops, selling almost anything. From trousers to gum, from licorice to Carnaval costumes, you can find virtually everything on the always crowded - yet peaceful - pedestrian-only parallel streets. A very popular tour during weekdays, but be on time. After 6 o'clock the shops close and the once filled streets become empty.
- 2 Music shops, Rua Carioca. While a handcrafted guitar will easily go for thousands of reais, you may want to pick up an inexpensive cavaquinho or cuica. One block north on Rua 7 de Setembro there are some CD and record shops, though their offerings are meager.
- 1 Bistrô do Paço, Praça XV 48 - Centro (in the courtyard of the Paço Imperial), ☏ . M-F 11:30-19:30, Sa Su 12:00-19:00. Quick and quiet spot for a light lunch. R$12-18.
- Al-Kuwait, Av. Treze de Maio, 23 - Centro, ☏ . A good place to try the Brazilian take on Middle Eastern food.
- 2 Cafe Colombo (Confeitaria Colombo), Rua Gonçalves Dias 32 - Centro, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Dates back to 1894 and has a dazzling tea room and arguably the best sweets and other delicacies in town.
- Casa Cavé, Rua Uruguaiana 11 - Centro, ☏ .
- 3 [formerly dead link] Pizzaria Guanabara, 17, Avenida Mem de Sá (Wwst of Praca Passeio Publico), ☏ , email@example.com. Delivery service. - Other units: Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva, 1228 - Leblon. (+55 21 2294-0797), - Avenida Armando Lombardi, 75, Loja A - Barra da Tijuca, (+55 21 3153-4040).
- 4 Olla Gourmet, Rua Alcindo Guanabara (NW of M1, 2: Cinelândia), ☏ . Buffet and cafe of salads, different meats, and desserts.
- Restaurante Nova Capela, Av. Men de Sá, 96 - Lapa, ☏ . Try the house specialty of mutton with rice and broccoli (carneiro com arroz com brócolis).
- 5 Pilão de Pedra Restaurant (Restaurante Pilão de Pedra), Av. Mal. Floriano, 104 (north of Av. Vargas), ☏ . Another weigh & pay buffet that includes sushi.
- 6 Restaurant Sobrenatural (Restaurante Sobrenatural), 432, Rua Almirante Alexandrino, Santa Teresa (1.5 km west of M1, 2: Glória; or take tram to stop Largo des Guimares further 100-m walk), ☏ . Open Monday to Saturday and holidays. Air Conditioning.
- Ponto de Encontro Ximeninho, Praça João Pessoa, 7, ☏ . Come here for some comfort Brazilian food, little fritters and feijoada and a Brahma to wash it down.
- Aprazível, Rua Aprazível 62 - Santa Teresa, ☏ . Th-Sa 12:00-01:00, Su 13:00-18:00. This restaurante mineiro, inside an antique villa, has nice veranda and garden seating with great views of Guanabara Bay. Reservations recommended. R$35-50.
- Espirito Santa, Rua Almirante Alexandrino 264 - Santa Teresa, ☏ . M-W 11:30-18:00, Th-Sa 11:30-00:00, Su 11:30-19:00. Another fine restaurant in an old villa built in the 1930s, this eatery serves exotic dishes from the Amazon region, including fish such as piranha, and unusual fruits like cupuaçu, taperabá, and jambu. They also have a good selection of regional cachaças. R$25-35.
- 1 [formerly dead link] Armazém São Thiago (Bar do Gomez), Rua Áurea, 26 - Santa Teresa (5-min walk from Largo do Guimarães, corner or R. Áurea and R. Monte Alegre), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 12.00-01.00, Su 12.00-22.00. A beautifully restored former grocery store, with a high ceiling, nice wooden furnishings, and beer that's always ice-cold. Located a bit past where most tourists get off the tram, and frequented by an eclectic local crowd which spills out on to the sidewalk even in the afternoon.
- Bar Simplesmente, Rua Pascoal Carlos Magno, 115 - Santa Teresa (just past Largo do Guimarães), ☏ . Lively and popular with the young crowd. And not simply a bar; the food is inexpensive but good.
- Beco do Rato, Rua Joaquim Silva, 11 - Lapa. Tu Th F evenings. This is in fact not a club but a street party. This place was a quite small and hidden beer and beverage deposit store. After a change in the administration it changed into a bar, offering good quality live music, and turned into one of the nicest street parties in Rio. Laid-back atmosphere typical of Rio, samba and beer. Is surrounded by historical buildings in this old forgotten spot of Lapa. On Tuesdays they have a "roda de samba" involving samba players sitting around a big table and people around singing and dancing. Nice day to go: get there early around 21:30. On Thursdays nights, chorinho is played (old style instrumental samba). Nice to see the old school players doing their best there, a bit of Buena Vista. On Fridays is the busiest day, with samba till 03:00.
- Goya Beira, Largo das Neves 13 - Santa Teresa, ☏ . Su-Th 17:30, F Sa 17:30-02:00. Pleasant little place for a drink or two, with a view of Praça Neves with the tram line. If you get hungry, try the pizza.
- Carioca da Gema, Av. Mem de Sá 79 - Lapa, ☏ . M-Sa. Located in a nice old house from the 1900s, this place always has good samba groups playing. One of the best days is on Monday nights when on stage you can see one of the most powerful voices of samba, the singer Richah, with his group playing old Carnaval songs.
- Circo Voador, Arcos da Lapa - Lapa, ☏ . Live music venue with plenty of live Carioca music.
- Clube Dos Democraticos, Rua do Riachelo 91/93 - Lapa, ☏ . Clube dos Democráticos was founded in 1867 and is one of the first carnaval groups of Rio. Nowadays the great ballroom of the beginning of the 20th century houses one of the best places to dance Brazilian rhythms, especially samba, in Rio. Best days are Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday is the day of Forró (a Brazilian rhythm from Northeast really popular throughout the country) and on Thursday the traditional samba. Both days are awesome, if you're looking to experience a genuine Brazilian atmosphere where people dance all night long, even if you don't know any step of the ballroom samba, you'd be mostly invited to dance and taught by the locals. Inexpensive big beer bottles and caipirinhas.
- Rio Scenarium, Rua do Lavradio 20 - Lapa. Tu-Sa. One of the most beautiful and best-known samba clubs in Rio de Janeiro. Was once elected by the British newspaper The Guardian as being one of the top 10 bars in the world. Nice decor, filled with antiques, paintings, medieval armors, old bicycles, etc., in an amazing 19th-century warehouse. Three floors: on the first floor the main stage, second floor is a annex where sometimes another band plays or there is a DJ playing mostly Brazilectro (mix of electronic music with Brazilian songs). Fridays and Saturdays are the busiest nights and sometimes specially in the summer there are pretty long lines, so get there early, around 22:00, to avoid them. Bring a valid ID/passport (copy is also accepted) to get in. By the entrance you get a consumption card (don't lose it!) and you pay your consumption and entrance fees at the cashier before leaving the building. Dress up.
- Teatro Rival, Rua Álvaro Alvim 33 - Lapa (Metrô Cinelândia), ☏ .
- Sacadura 154, Rua Sacadura Cabral 154 - Saúde, ☏ . Dance club.
- 1 Hotel Aymore, Rua Carlos Sampaio, 106 (Three blocks south from Praça da República). Double/triple USD50/70.
- 2 Pousada Favelinha, Rua Almirante Alexandrino 2023 - between Laranjeiras and Santa Teresa (on the entrance road to the Vila Pereira da Silva favela), ☏ . Might be your choice if staying in a favela is your cup of tea.
- 3 Casa MangoMango, Rua Joaquim Murtinho 587, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00-21:00, check-out: 11:00. A bed & breakfast that offers nice prices for couples and groups. Great view, too!. From US$80, R$330-750 (US$130-280) per night in Carneval season.
- 4 ibis Rio de Janeiro Centro, Rua Silva Jardim 32 - Centro (at Praça Tiradentes), ☏ . Three-star hotel. Rooms: 250. Double from R$189.
- 5 Hotel Inglês, Rua Silveira Martins, 20 - Flamengo (At the end of block towards the beach from Metro Catete), ☏ . Nice location next to the park, but a bit overpriced compared to similar accommodation in the area.
- Casa Beleza, R. Laurinda Santos Lobo, 311, ☏ . Charming guest house in an exotic mansion with swimming pool and tropical gardens. The house was the former residence of the Governor of the State of Rio. Doubles from US$90, loft suite R$330, orange room R$280, blue room R$240 (2014).
- Ibis Santos Dumont, Avenida Marechal Câmara 280 - Centro, ☏ . Dbl from R$230.
Avoid entering or leaving Santa Teresa on foot after nightfall. During the day it's a nice hike up the streets, but the neighborhood is surrounded by three different favelas, and muggings after dark are not unheard of even for the locals. Take taxis and stay in groups. Avoid dark, empty places in general.