Rio de Janeiro is about to host one of the world's biggest sporting event, the Summer Olympics. As travelers make plans to descend upon this beautiful city, they may be wondering where to stay in Rio de Janeiro. Fortunately, Rio de Janeiro has several good neighborhoods to choose from, all with plenty to see and do and most centrally located.
Ipanema may be Rio de Janeiro's chicest neighborhood. This famous stretch of sandy beach has become famous the world over thanks to the classic Bossa Nova song "The Girl from Ipanema." The neighborhood is actually quite small, just several blocks wide and full of apartment buildings. Despite the neighborhood's small size and lack of important cultural landmarks, it offers visitors some of the city's best shopping, nightlife, and beach activities.
On Sundays, visitors can enjoy walking and people watching on Avenida Vierira Souto, when it's closed to traffic. The Feira Hippie da Ipanema (outdoor handicrafts market) in Praça General Osório is also open from morning to evening on Sundays.
One of the world's most famous beaches, the 2.5-mile stretch of bright white sand of Copacabana Beach is the place to enjoy Rio's beach scene. Between Avenida Atlantica, which runs along the beach, and Nossa Senhora de Copacabana, the area's main shopping district, are the many hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars that make this neighborhood a convenient option for tourists. Visitors should know that this is also the center of Rio's action, so if you're looking for a quiet area to stay, Copacabana may not be for you.
Visitors should also know that the main tourist office is located here, at Rua da Assembléia 10, 8th floor.
Considered by some as the best neighborhood to stay in Rio de Janeiro, Leblon is thought of as a safe and family-friendly option by many local residents. Leblon is a quieter neighborhood than its neighbor, Ipanema, but is still centrally located with excellent beach access.
Try visiting the Academia de Cachaça Bar and Restaurant. It offers approximately two thousand examples of cachaça, the oldest dating to 1875! Location: Rua Conde Bernadotte 26, Ioja G
Where to stay: Try the Marina Palace Hotel, a 4-star hotel located across from Leblon Beach. More options for where to stay in Leblon can be found here.
Santa Teresa is unique among Rio de Janeiro's nicer neighborhoods--it's a hilltop neighborhood with a slightly bohemian flavor. One sight not to miss here is the old-fashioned streetcar ("bonde") that takes people from downtown to Santa Teresa. Try Bar do Arnaudo (at Rua Almirante Alexandrino 31) for quality dishes hailing from Brazil's Northeast region.
Where to stay in Santa Teresa: The Hotel Santa Teresa is a peaceful refuge. This award-winning boutique hotel built on a historical farm now offers lush tropical gardens and elegant rooms.
Botafogo is a good neighborhood to consider for its middle-class environment (meaning lower prices on accommodations and food) and location. Shopping and the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema are a short metro or taxi ride away, and the neighborhood is conveniently located to Sugarloaf Mountain and Corcovado. In this area, attractions include the Museu do Índio, which covers the history and culture of the indigenous tribes of Brazil, and the Villa Lobos Museum, which is recommended for music lovers.
Where to stay: The modern, 4-star hotel Mercure Botafogo Mourisco offers affordable rooms.
Photo credit: marcusrg on Flickr
Lapa, near the neighborhood of Santa Teresa, is an up and coming area. Having undergone changes in recent years, it is now a hub of nightlife and Samba and offers more budget-friendly accommodation and food options. On the first Saturday of the month, take a stroll through the Feira do Rio Antigo, or the Antiquities Fair, on Rua do Lavradio. Enjoy block after block of vendors selling everything from furniture to crystal plus live music with people dancing in the streets.
Where to stay: Lapa and nearby Santa Teresa offer many accommodation choices, from 4-star hotels to hostels and guest houses. Find recommendations here.
Photo credit: Vincent Poulissen on Flickr