Best areas to stay in Rio de Janeiro

Go wild or chill out in these Rio de Janeiro areas

There’s a fantastic variety of neighbourhoods to choose from in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro. Prepare to share the streets with samba bands, wander past incredibly vivid street art and sip caipirinhas with the locals in Art Deco-clad areas. While there’s the iconic beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana to be enjoyed, if you’re looking to stay active then opt for Lagoa with its family-friendly range of sports and activities; or if you want to soak up the best cultural hotspots, head to Downtown. This round-up of the best areas to stay in Rio de Janeiro will leave you reaching for your passport!

  1. Ipanema
  2. Lagoa
  3. Copacabana
  4. Flamengo
  5. Santa Teresa
  6. Downtown

In collaboration with
Rough Guides

1. Ipanema

Ipanema may not be a huge neighbourhood, but what it lacks in size it certainly makes up for in vitality. There’s a thriving food scene here with loads of delicious restaurants to check out; street art bursts across the sides of buildings and the weekly Hippie Market is perfect for those looking for unique items. Posto 8 is at the heart of the LGBTQ community; just keep an eye out for those rainbow flags. If you choose this area to stay in Rio de Janeiro, then an absolute must is chilling out on Ipanema Beach.

Best for: LGBTQ travellers.

While you’re there: The coastline leads onto Leblon, a wealthy district where you might spot a celeb or two.

2. Lagoa

Looking for stunning natural scenery during your Rio de Janeiro holidays? Lagoa is one of the more scenic spots you can base yourself, thanks to its picture-perfect Lagoon. This is one of the best areas to stay in Rio de Janeiro for families, with a whole host of activities that all ages will enjoy: choose from volleyball, children’s playgrounds and tennis courts, among many more. While you can’t swim in the lagoon itself, you can take a pedalo out on it; and when you get back, reward yourself at one of the food stalls. Another family favourite activity is to hire a bike and cycle around either the Parque do Cantagalo or Parque dos Patins.

Best for: Families.

While you’re there: Bop along to the live music performances at Parque da Catacumba.

3. Copacabana

During the 1960s and 1970s, Copacabana was the ultimate glamour hotspot, but in more recent decades its glitzy wave has moved on. It’s still just as enjoyable to visit today, though, and if anything, has become more affordable than it was in its glitzy heyday! Base yourself in this legendary area and wind your way through the intriguing backstreets, numerous bars and unique shops. The highlight here has to be a walk along its black-and-white tiled promenade at night, when the beach is lit up.

Best for: Affordable stays.

While you’re there: Give volleyball, tennis or football – all beach style (this is Copacabana, after all) – a go!

4. Flamengo

Flamengo is a bit of an underrated area to stay in Rio de Janeiro. With more of a residential feel, there’s less tourists here, despite its proximity to the sea. While you’re here, there’s no missing the huge Flamengo Park which spans nearly 300 acres. There’s a couple of museums worth checking out, namely the Museum of Modern Art with its Picasso pieces and Oi Futuro Museum which focuses on telecommunications in an entertaining yet educational way – it’s more interesting than it sounds, we promise!

Best for: Getting off the beaten track.

While you’re there: Check out the Art Deco architecture.

5. Santa Teresa

The increasingly popular Santa Teresa is a haven for hippies, hipsters and art-lovers; or anyone else who simply appreciates a good view. Stay here and you’ll instantly feel chilled out with its bohemian atmosphere, although it’s a struggle not to be excited by the range of things going on here. Hope on the legendary Bonde tram, browse the local products for sale and enjoy a samba night – or just keep an eye out for the bands in the street! The bars and restaurants that swell Santa Teresa are well worth lingering the day or night away, which is made all the more appealing if you know you don’t have far to venture back to.

Best for: Creative types.

While you’re there: This hilltop position affords great views looking towards the iconic Sugar Loaf Mountain.

6. Downtown

This is the best area to stay in Rio de Janeiro for its array of cultural institutions; if you want to tick your way through the museums, galleries and historic hotspots of the city, you couldn’t stay in a more ideal place. Here you’ll find the likes of the National Museum of Fine Arts, National Library, Metropolitan Cathedral and more; taking a walking tour is one of the best ways to see the area, and you can reward yourself with a quiet night recharging your batteries at your accommodation afterwards.

Best for: Culture vultures.

While you’re there: The Baroque Sao Bento Monastery shouldn’t be missed, for both its historic and artistic beauty.

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