Offbeat Activities in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is as eccentric as it is beautiful, and offbeat Rio de Janeiro activities and attractions are quite often simply stumbled upon while you are looking for some other site that is more firmly established on the tourist trail.

Kooky characters and a refreshing lack of self-consciousness leads to a city full of flamboyant types, and there are many aspects of life in Rio that will leave visitors scratching their heads in bemused appreciation.

While it's hard to predict where you will come across some curious aspect of Carioca life, there are some offbeat sights in Rio that are beginning to establish themselves as tourist attractions in their own right.

To see a real eccentric at work, head to the Escadaria Selaron ('Selaron Steps') in Lapa, where the Chilean artist Selaron has spent years turning a long, steep flight of steps into a colorful, tile-covered tribute to Rio and its residents.Selaron can be spotted at work most days, almost always clad head-to-toe in red, and is happy to pose for pictures - it is also possible to buy pieces of his work, but be prepared to haggle hard if you want to get a good price. With his red attire and long, curled moustache, Selaron is the archytpal eccentric artist, but his colorful works are truly unique.

Selaron's stairwell leads up to the bohemian bairro of Santa Teresa - itself awash with offbeat attractions, but the picturesque hillside neighbourhood is best visted by the bonde (street car) that departs from a small terminal close to the city's love-it-or-loathe-it cathedral.

The bonde rattles over the Arcos da Lapa (Lapa Arches), another icon of bohemian Rio and a lively nightlife hub at weekends, taking in sweeping vistas of the city before clattering up the steep hills to Santa Teresa. Despite extensive repairs to the line, it is not uncommon for the tram to break down on route, but hey, such is life in Rio, and walking the rest of the way will give visitors a chance to appreciate the neighborhood's many beautiful mansion houses.

While the antiques fair that takes place in Centro's Rua do Lavradio is a rewarding attraction for fashion fans and antiques hunters alike, the Saturday flea market at Praca 15 de Novembro, by the ferry terminal, is a more off-beat attraction and rewards the serious bargain hunter with everything from collectible vinyl to vintage fashion finds and all manner of kooky curiosities in between.

At night, forget the super-styled bars and nightclubs of Ipanema and Leblon, and head to Lapa for a real slice of nocturnal Rio life. One of the most popular spots for locals and foreign visitors alike is Scenarium, a live music venue and restaurant that doubles as a warehouse for antique articles and film props.

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Ilha de Paquetá

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Baía de Guanabara

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