Rio de Janeiro does not live by beach alone! Visiting the historical city center of Rio de Janeiro is an invitation to the cultural history of Colonial Brazil. At Cinelândia are the first cinemas, libraries, and theaters in Brazil, all currently part of the city’s heritage. The Santa Teresa neighborhood also has a lot of history to tell, with the Lapa arches and the traditional streets surrounding them. Use our tips and take a tour that breathes culture and art, in downtown Rio de Janeiro.
The best part of travelling is escaping the obvious! Beyond beautiful beaches, Rio de Janeiro has a lot of history to share
Our first tip is to start the day at Confeitaria Colombo. Enjoy the varied menu while you take in the building’s architecture, a secular tradition of Rio de Janeiro. After breakfast, visit the Municipal Theater, located ten minutes from Confeitaria Colombo. There you can do a bilingual guided tour that last about an hour, and take lovely photos of the building.
Next to the Municipal Theater is the National Fine Art Museum, and the National Library Foundation, both must see cultural spaces of Rio de Janeiro. The Fine Art Museum collection has about fifteen thousand works, including paintings, sculptures, sketches, and prints, collected since the time of John the VI of Portugal. The National Library, considered by Unesco to be one of the ten largest national libraries in the world, is estimated to have over ten thousand items in its collection.
Located near Cinelândia, is Lapa, a region famous for its architecture, bars, and restaurants. There you will find the Carioca Aqueduct, and important inheritance from Colonial Brazil. Lapa is known for its nightlife, with several bars and parties for all musical tastes.
You should also visit the Selaron Steps, a local landmark that has been the set for several music videos. The steps are the work of the late Chilean artist Jorge Selarón, who revitalized the steps when he lived there. You may enjoy the steps from one of the nearby bars, or sit on the steps and enjoy the music of the ever-present regional musicians.
To wrap up your tour of Rio’s history, still in Santa Teresa neighborhood, visit the Parque das Ruínas, a mansion with cultural activities and artistic exhibits. Among the mansion’s ruins are panoramic lookouts and terraces, with an exclusive view of Rio de Janeiro.