Zona Oeste (The West Zone) in Rio de Janeiro is the farthest zone from city center and is home to the richest and poorest neighborhoods in Rio.
Nightlife in Rio is not all about the historic downtown. On the other side of South Zone lies the West Zone. And special attention should be paid to Barra da Tijuca. Barra as it is called, and its surroundings are now the most expanding neighborhoods of Rio, and entertainment is the big deal over there. Enormous shopping centers are good for shopping (of course) and have cinemas and bowling alleys to offer. But the clubs are the pièce de résistance of the neighborhood. Filled with young good-looking boys and girls (you have to be eighteen to go in), the clubs of Barra are a 'must' among foreigners.
Buses and SuperVia suburban trains are available from other parts of Rio, but it might be more convenient to drive. By subway, you can get to Barra da Tijuca (Jardim Oceânico station).
This zone is spread out and can be less safe than other parts of the city, so a car is the best way to get around. BRT buses are also a good option if you pĺan on remaining close to Avenida das Américas, although they can get very crowded during peak hours.
- 1 Aerospace Museum (Museu Aeroespacial), Av. Marechal Fontenelle - Sulacap (some way out of town to the west of the city), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-F 09:00-15:00, Sa Su 09:30-16:00. Good collection of planes, engines, etc. and a chance to see how Air Traffic Control works.
- 2 Barra Woods (Bosque da Barra), Av. das Americas, km.6 - Barra da Tijuca. This 560,000-m² park is one of the most visited green areas in the Zona Oeste, with a lake, walking trails through the woods, large lawns, playgrounds, and sporting facilities.
- 3 Casa do Pontal Popular Art Museum (Museu Casa do Pontal), Estrada do Pontal 3295 - Recreio dos Bandeirantes (between Prainha and Vargem Grande), ☏ , email@example.com. Tu–Su 09:30–17:00. The area's most important collection of popular arts and crafts. R$12.
- 4 Chico Mendes Ecological Park (Parque Ecológico Chico Mendes), Avenida Jarbas de Carvalho 679 - Recreio dos Bandeirantes, ☏ . Tu-Su 08:00-17:00. This 43-hectare park has walking trails through a preserved section of the Mata Atlântica (Atlantic Forest). They also offer a guided tour of the habitats of several local endangered species, including the three-toed sloth, the broad-snouted caiman, and the red-footed tortoise. There is an exhibit hall with exhibits on local wildlife. Free.
- 5 Pedra Branca State Park (Parque Estadual da Pedra Branca) (several entrances, including the end of Rua Boca do Mato in Vargem Pequena, and the end of Rua Mucuíba in Vargem Grande), ☏ . The largest ecological park in the city, and the largest urban forest in the world, with 12,500 hectares. Vegetation is typical of the old Atlantic forest, and fauna includes ocelots, sloths, armadillos, and toucans. Beyond the nature, there are also ruins of several structures, such as old farmhouses.
- 6 Church of Our Lady of Loreto (Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Loreto), Ladeira da Freguesia, 375, Freguesia, Jacarepaguá (west 3 km from Parque Nacional da Tijuca). WEeest
- 7 Church of Our Lady of the Conception (Igreja Nossa Senhora da Conceição), 1125, Av. de Santa Cruz, Realengo (From Realengo station SW half km, near to Rua General Sezefredo corner), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Masses: M 19:00, Tu 19:00, W 19:00, Th 18:00, F 07:30, Sa No Mass, Su 07:30, 10:00, 19:00,. A modern church
- 8 Church of Saint Cecilia (Igreja de Santa Cecília), 185, Rua da Feira, Bangu (SOUTH 1 km from M:Bangu, at corner of Rua Francisco Franco).
- 9 Cidade das Artes (City of Arts) (next to Terminal Alvorada, the busiest bus hub in the region). Large complex with cultural events at the heart of Barra.
- 10 Sítio Roberto Burle Marx (Roberto Burle Marx Site). The garden of landscape architect and artist Roberto Burle Marx (1909-1994), with a collection of plants from all over Brazil. In 2021 it was listed as a world heritage site.
In the West Zone you can find some of the best oceanic beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Barra da Tijuca's beach is a 17-km sand line of clear waters. Surfers love it, and many people also. The sunset is beautiful, especially during the winter. The beach is relatively safe at night, although development of tourism by big hotels such as the Sheraton have brought with it the inevitable appearance of (discreet but ever present) prostitutes. As you go along you get to Recreio, which is even clearer, and much less crowded. Prainha is now very far away from the crowded Copacabana. Its perfect waves made it famous. It is also on a biological reserve, with restricted car parking spaces. Avoid the weekends and enjoy this between mountains-beauty of the nature on the week-days.
- 1 Barra da Tijuca beach (Praia da Barra da Tijuca).
- 2 Recreio dos Bandeirantes beach (Praia do Recreio dos Bandeirantes).
- 3 Macumba beach (Praia de Macumba).
- 4 Prainha beach (Praia da Prainha).
- 5 Grumari beach (Praia de Grumari).
- 6 Abricó beach (Praia de Abricó). nudist beach.
There are many surfing schools all along the Barra beach that hold one and half hour surfing classes. The classes are fairly inexpensive and are mostly populated with locals. Some of the surf instructors do speak English.
- 7 Pedra do Telégrafo (Telegraph Stone). Hike up this 354-m-high mountain and enjoy a beautiful view. Famous for the "cliffhanger images", which can be taken on top.
- 8 Rio Water Planet (Planeta Água), Estrada dos Bandeirantes, 24.000. A water park with over 40 attractions, located in Vargem Grande.
- 1 Barra Shopping, Avenida das Américas 4666 - Barra da Tijuca, ☏ . The largest mall in South America, and one of the most popular malls in the city. Leather goods are some of the best bargains here. Shoes and belts are especially inexpensive. Kopenhagen chocolate shop has some of the best chocolates. It is quite nice to stop and have a coffee at one of the several coffee shops and people watch. Many of the guards are rather attractive ladies, but are quite serious about their job. Special buses are available to take tourists here.
- 2 Downtown Barra da Tijuca. An urban development intended to match the density and mixed-use nature of a traditional downtown area. There are many shops, botiques, cafes, restaurants, offices, and a movie theater complex. A small park can be found nestled in a quiet corner of the complex. At night, the shops close and the nightlife begins. Live music can be found at any of several restaurants. When the music is particularly good, the area around Barril 8000 basically turns into a street party.
- 3 New York City Center, Avenida das Américas 5000 - Barra da Tijuca, ☏ .
- 4 Rio Design Barra, Avenida das Américas 7777 - Barra da Tijuca. M-Sa 10:00-22:00, Su 13:00-21:00. The poshest mall in the area. Top Brazilian designers have opened stores there, making it an option for the affluent population in Barra who does not want to drive to São Conrado Fashion Mall. The mall also has excellent restaurant options and two movie theaters. Much less crowded and a lot more charming than most shopping centers in Rio. Worth the visit.
- Cabana do Pepe (at the far eastern end of Barra beach). Pepe was a famous hang glider who passed away in a hang gliding accident in Japan a few years ago. He started a sandwich shop on the beach that makes a variety of healthy sandwiches. Especially good are the fruit smoothies. Not to be missed. Cabana do Pepe is run by Pepe's widow. This is the most popular area of the Barra beach, and is the best area for people watching.
- 1 Alpendre, Estrada do Sacarrão 897 - Vargem Grande. Alpendre's menu is full of typical Brazilian cuisine from around the country.
- 2 Beco do Alemão, Avenida das Americas 1600 - Barra da Tijuca, ☏ . M-Sa 11:30-23:30, Su 11:30-18:00. Although unexpected it is delightful. Germany food in Rio! Fantastic breakfast and salad bar.
- 3 Caminho do Mar, Estrada do Pontal, 3091, ☏ , email@example.com. Excellent vegan option with three-course meals in a more lush quarter of Recreio. Offers pizza delivery on Saturdays. Prices can be a bit steep for locals.
- 4 Rio/Brasa, Avenida Ayrton Senna 2541 - Barra da Tijuca, ☏ . This churrascaria has unusually excellent meat and shrimp along with a salad bar and all the other standards of the genre. There is a monitored play area for children.
- Bar do Baiano, Rua do Imperador - Realengo. Bar with a varied schedule of live music from Monday to Saturday, covering all types of music, from jazz to choro.