One of my favorite ways to explore a city is with the Free Walking Tour groups. Before visiting Rio de Janeiro, I had seen images of Corcovado, Sugarloaf, and the world-famous beaches, but hardly ever the city center. I was curious to know what Rio is like outside of the touristic areas, so I booked a walking tour. I was surprised to find European style architecture, colorful street art, many city improvements since the Olympics, and much more.
Here are the top places to visit in the Rio De Janeiro downtown:
Lapa is a neighborhood in the downtown with a bohemian vibe, buzzing with nightclubs, street art, and music
One of the most touristic and recognizable sights in Rio is the "Seleron Stairs", a sweeping staircase made up of tiles from the colors of the Brazil flag. It was created by Chilean born artist Jorge Selaron in 1990 who started renovating the dilapidated staircase in his neighborhood.
Today, there are over 2000 tiles collected from over 60 countries,. The line to take a photo on the steps is buzzing with tourists and locals, and can last for over 20 minutes long. This work of art is proclaimed to be a tribute to the Brazilian people and is admired by people from around the world.
This two story coffee shop was ranked as one of the most beautiful in the world, found right here in Rio Centro.
Centro features European architecture inspired by France and Portugal, with a unique Brazilian flair. It is mostly a commercial district and much of the area is closed on Sundays, so be sure to visit during the week to catch the downtown during its liveliest moments.
This stunning Art Nouveau opera house is a highlight of Rio De Janeiro's classic architecture. The theater was created during the early twentieth century with a luxurious facade. The interior is just as grandiose, and features nightly dance and musical performances.
Selina Hostel and Coworking Space
One of the best ways to enjoy the city center is from a rooftop. Check out the top floor of Selina for an epic view of Centro, where you can spot Rio's most unique architecture highlights all in one place, including the Petrobas Building, Carioca Aqueduct, Rio Cathedral. You can even grab a caipirinha at the bar and catch a musical performance.
What are your favorite places in the Rio downtown? Comment below!
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We are two adventurous young professionals who turned our passion for travel into a blog to help others travel more.