History Attractions in Rio de Janeiro

Rio is more famous for its beaches and its beautiful people than for its historic sites, but historical things to do in Rio de Janeiro are surprisingly abundant.

This one-time capital of Brazil has had a colorful history since it was settled in January 1502 by Portuguese explorers who mistook Guanabara Bay for the mouth of a great river, and dubbed the site 'Rio de Janeiro'(River of January) accordingly.

The most rewarding sites of historical interest in Rio de Janeiro can be found in and around Centro, with some of the best examples of colonial architecture to be found along Rua do Lavradio, one of the oldest streets in the city.

Centro's hilltop neighbor Santa Teresa also offers abundant treats for history lovers, and its cobbled streets are lined with crumbling colonial mansions. Ride the bonde (street car) up here from Centro for a taste of how locals got around the city in centuries past.

Historical things to do in Rio don't have to be dull for non-history buffs either - younger members of the family may take a certain gruesome delight in visiting the Museu da Republica in Catete. Here, visitors can step inside the third-floor bedroom where former President Getulio Vargas shot himself in 1954, with blood-spattered pyjamas and bullet all neatly exhibited for bloodthirsty visitors to see.

Rua do Lavradio

Rua do Lavradio
Lapa

Step Back in Time... read more

expert pick

Bonde de Santa Teresa

user rating

Rua Professor Lélio Gama, 65
Centro

Rio's last remaining street car... read more

Museu Nacional

Quinta da Boa Vista
São Cristóvão

Archaeology, botany, zoology and ethnology...
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Museu da República -- Palácio do Catete

Rua do Catete 153
Catete

Museu Casa de Benjamin Constant

Rua Monte Alegre 255

Leafy Retreat from the Heat... read more

Copacabana Fort

Praça Coronel Eugênio Franco 1
Copacabana

Protection Resort... read more

expert pick

Feira do Rio Antigo

Rua do Lavradio
Lapa

Shop to the sound of samba... read more

Museu do Índio

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Rua das Palmeiras 55
Botafogo

Celebrating Rio's first inhabitants... read more

Museu do Folclore Edison Carneiro

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Rua do Catete, 179
Catete

Traditional Brazilian folk art... read more
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