These prosperous, upper-middle class neighborhoods lie around Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, between Ipanema and Leblon, and Corcovado.
They are the evening haunts of Rio’s rich and fashionable, and the proximity of the TV Globo studios ensures that the numerous clubs, bars, and restaurants that dot the streets are always busy. Nightlife is at its wildest in Gávea, where the botecos around Praça Santos Dumont are particularly lively toward the weekends. There are myriad bars and watering holes around the lake too. During the day, shady parks and tropical gardens tempt visitors away from the beach.
1 Jardim Botânico
2 Instituto Moreira Salles
3 Nightlife in Baixo Gávea
4 Parque da Catacumba
5 Largo do Boticário
6 Horto Florestal
7 Rocinha Favela
9 Parque Lage
10 Parque do Cantagalo
There are 140 hectares (348 acres) of broad, palm-tree lined avenues, shady paths, and lawns dotted with classical fountains in these beautiful botanical gardens. Many of the trees here – like the pau brasil, for which the country was named – are threatened with extinction in the wild.
Their branches and fruits and the tropical flowers that fill the garden attract a wealth of visiting bird and animal life from the nearby Floresta da Tijuca. Allow at least three hours for a visit and come at the beginning of the day or after 3pm when the temperatures are cooler.
Instituto Moreira Salles
This attractive 19th-century house is set in lush grounds in front of a long blue pool. The gardens were landscaped by Roberto Burle Marx, one of the most important landscape architects of the 20th century. The colorful murals on the patio are the work of the famous Brazilian modernist painter, Cdido Portinari. The building is now an exhibition space and has a little caf・serving excellent ground coffee and light food.
• Rua Marquês de São Vicente 476, Gávea • (021) 3284 7400 • Open 1–8pm Tue–Sun • www.ims.uol.com.br
Nightlife in Baixo Gávea
The informal bars around Pra Santos Dumont in Baixo Gea (the lower half of Gea) fill with trendy Cariocas in the evenings from Thursday to Sunday.
But since most tourists go out in Ipanema, Leblon, Copacabana, and Lapa, visitors are an anomaly here and are seldom left to sit alone. d Map K4 • Praça Santos Dumont, Gávea
Parque da Catacumba
Sculptures by Brazilian artists including Bruno Giorgi and Alfredo Ceschiatti (who made many of the monumental statues in Bras匀ia) dot this wooded park opposite the Lagoa. A path leads from near the gate to a 427-ft-(130-m-) high look-out with great views of Floresta da Tijuca and the beaches.
• Av Epitácio Pessoa • Open 8am–6pm daily
Most Cariocas live in slum cities – areas of poor-quality housing with little sanitation. Although most favelas are home to law-abiding people, many are plagued by gang violence. These communities have a rich cultural heritage – samba, Brazilian soccer, and Carnaval all began here. Only ever visit favelas on a guided tour.
Largo do Boticário
This lovely square takes its name from Joaquim Luiz da Silva Souto, who was the pharmacist (boticário) to the royal family and lived here from 1831. The enclave, which boasts colonialstyle buildings dating from the 1920s, cobbled streets, and a fountain, resembles a typical 19th-century Rio street. The square lies a little away from the Tr do Corcovado funicular station in Cosme Velho, and can be accessed through the Rebous tunnel. It is worth visiting en route to the famous statue of Cristo Redentor.
• Rua Cosme Velho 822, Cosme Velho • Open 11am–6pm Tue–Fri, 3–6pm Sat, Sun & hols
This arboretum, located next to the Jardim Botico, cultivates some 500 kinds of tropical trees, many of which are rare species from the Atlantic coastal rain forest.
Saplings are sold here in an effort to encourage reforestation.
• Rua Pacheco Leão 2040, Jardim Botânico • (021) 3875 6211
• Open 9–11am & 2–4pm Mon–Fri
The largest favela in Latin America takes its name from the little farm, or rocinha, that once stood on its now heavily urbanized hills teeming with some 150,000 people. The community here is served by its own local shops, TV and radio stations, restaurants, and bars.
Gea’s stellar attraction, this complex features a museum of the universe, ultra-modern domes that can project thousands of stars onto their walls, and a viewing area, which offers stargazing sessions three times a week through powerful telescopes.
• Rua Vice-Governador Rubens Berardo 100, Gávea • (021) 2274 0046 • Open 10am–5pm Tue–Fri (3–5pm Dec–Mar), 5–7pm Sat & Sun; telescopes 6:30–8:30pm Tue–Thu (7:30am–9:30pm Dec–Mar)
An imposing, early 20thcentury mansion, fronted by Neo-Classical fountains, dominates this park. The house and gardens were designed by Englishman John Tyndale for a wealthy Carioca industrialist. The mansion’s atrium now houses an arty caf・built around a water-lily pond. Trails lead from the park to the summit of Corcovado and require a guide.
• Rua Jardim Botânico 414, Jardim Botânico
• (021) 2538 1879 • Open 8am–5pm daily
Parque do Cantagalo
This circular park winds around Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. There is a running track situated close to the water here, as well as cafe and bars where locals come to relax in the shade.
Don’t miss the swan-shaped pedal boats and kayaks that can be hired for a leisurely trip out onto the lake itself.
• Parque do Cantagalo, Av Epitácio Pessoa s/n, Lagoa
• (021) 2227 0837