Walking tour of Rio de Janeiro
Think of Rio and beaches usually spring to mind, but look beyond Copacabana and you’ll find there’s a surprisingly vibrant, eclectic historic centre within Guanabara Bay. Santa Teresa - perched above the city with narrow lanes lined with the crumbling mansions of its original wealthy inhabitants is an arty, atmospheric place, with Portuguese-style botecas (bars) and walls festooned with graffiti and street art. Here you will have panoramic view over Rio before descending alongside the famous Arcos de Lapa aqueduct which now carries the city's refurbished old wooden trams.
Stroll around the centre, viewing the 215 tiled steps of the Escadaria Selarón, constructed in the colours of the Brazilian flag using tiles from around the world and which connect Santa Teresa with Lapa's colonial-era theatres, churches and ornate, ochre-painted townhouses.
Beyond, you'll see how Rio’s downtown area is a honeycomb of evocative colonial streets, gradually being spruced up and filled with open-air literary cafes and atmospheric little bars. Cinelandia hosts the Municipal Theatre with its gilded eagle, the National Library and Fine Arts Museum as well as a host of pavement restaurants where office workers wind down after work. This is all in contrast to the busy Avenida Chile and the concrete Brutalist-style Cathedral, built in 1979 in the shape of an upturned flower-pot.
A visit away from the beaches of the modern Zona Sul hotels and beaches really helps you to gain a completely new perspective of this ever-evolving metropolis.