Some cities have got it all and know how to exploit it. From the beautiful but packed beaches of Ipanema to the statue of Christ, the towering luxury skyscrapers and the ultimate festival of indulgence; the Carnival. Yes, I’m of course talking about Rio, a city that will be hosting the 2014 World Cup and then the 2016 Olympic games.
For anyone who wants to know more about this beautiful city, here is a quick guide to the different areas of the city. I’ m also including information on some of the amazing things you can do while you’re visiting the city.
The name alone evokes images of beauty, sandy beaches and the crashing waves of the ocean. It is also one of the more upscale areas of Rio, with plenty of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and hotels. During the weekend the main strip of beach here gets completely packed out as the residents of the city enjoy the sand.
Ipanema has slowly become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Rio. It’s easy to see the attraction as you walk around the neighbourhood. There are the designer shops, a beautiful clean beach and the expensive housing for starters and then there’s the lake where locals enjoy doing a bit of jogging or simply having a stroll.
Right at the top is Leblon, one of the most exclusive and affluent areas of Rio. Leblon also has some of the best nightlife in the city, which means if you’ve got the money you can do some boutique shopping, hang out at the designer bars and eat at the Michelin star restaurants.
Jardim Botanico is a mostly residential area. Unless you are thinking about moving to Rio there is not much to bring tourists to this side of the city. However, having said that the tree lined streets and of course the beautiful botanical garden.
The name of the neighbourhood actually comes from the old landowner and means ‘set on fire’ (given how most surnames derive from a profession I’m wondering how he got given this name, I digress…) and is a middle class neighbourhood. The biggest attractions in this part of town are probably the two big malls.
This is where you’ll find Sugar Loaf Mountain, one of the biggest natural attractions in the city. It’s also got a great little beach that isn’t as busy as Copacabana or Ipanema. That said, Urca is mostly just a quiet residential neighbourhood.
Catete was once the administrative capital of Brazil. This is where you can find some of the really grand buildings like the old Presidential Palace for example. However since the capital moved to Brasilia Catete has been on a downward spiral. For all that, its decadence holds a certain charm.
Laranjeiras is the current seat of the Provincial Government and has some pretty impressive grand buildings. This in part comes from the fact that it is also one of the cities oldest neighbourhoods. However, it is a mostly residential area.
Centro is the commercial and business heart of the city. During the day people in sharp suits swarm the streets on the way to fancy skyscrapers, but in the evenings the place is almost completely deserted; this also makes it very dangerous.
The most famous landmark in Lapa is the old aqueduct that trams cross over on their way to Centro. Centred on this large square are also a number of clubs and bars, meaning that this area gets pretty busy during the evenings and weekends.
This is a peaceful tree lined area that winds up the hills of Rio. It’s primarily a residential area, but there are a few bars and restaurants dotted around. Most of them can be found close to the top of the hill, which also offers great views of the city.
Similar to Leblon, Recreio is another upmarket residential area that is populated by rich Brazilians, famous actors and models. It’s a great area of the city to live in, if you can afford it of course. There is of course a fantastic beach in this area of the city as well.