Exploring Historic Rio



Description:

Rio is justly famous for its magnificent beaches, but the city boasts plenty to impress history buffs as well as sun-worshippers. This four-day trip will take in the imperial city of Petropolis, the hillside mansions of leafy Santa Teresa, and the crumbling colonial streets and glorious churches of Centro. As most of Rio's historic attractions are to be found away from the beach zones, the base for this trip is a safe, secure hotel located in the heart of Centro.

Author: Lucy


Day 1 - Rio de Janeiro


While most visitors to Rio make their base in the beach zones of the Zona Sul, you'll be waking up in the heart of Centro - with some of the city's finest colonial architecture, museums and historic monuments right on your doorstep. After breakfast and a swim in the hotel's rooftop bar, make your way on foot to Avenida Rio Branco - Centro's main thoroughfare and home to some wonderful historic buildings. From here, make your way to Cinelandia and the imposing Bilblioteca Nacional - home to some 14 million books. You can take tours in English or Portuguese for around R$4 - tours last about an hour and a half. From here, it's a walk of about 15 minutes to Igreja da Candalaria, one of the prettiest churches in Rio. You'll want to spend at least half an hour here, after which you can jump in a taxi and ask the driver to take you to the Museu Historico Nacional (you can do this on foot, but it's time consuming and not 100 per cent safe). Here you can learn about the social history of Brazil - with permanent exhibitions documenting colonisation, the slave trade, military dictatorship and other defining periods in the nation's history. There's plenty to keep you occupied here for at least an hour or so, after which you can grab a bus or a cab to the small neighbourhood of Gloria, and the Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Gloria do Outeiro. Once you've had a look around, ask for directions to nearby Lapa, and the bar/restaurant Cosmopolita (if in doubt, take another cab as Lapa is a rather edgy neighbourhood.) At Cosmopolita, order a chiilled Chopp (draught beer) and a 'plate of the day', sit back and relax in the knowledge that you are still sticking to your historical itinerary - the bar has been serving drinks since 1906.


1

Guanabara Palace

Location:

Avenida Presidente Vargas 392
20071-000 Rio de Janeiro, BR

Contact:

tel: +55 21 2195 6000
fax: +55 21 2516 1582
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2

Biblioteca Nacional

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Location:

Av. Rio Branco, 219
Centro
20040-008 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: +55 21 22628255
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3

Avenida Rio Branco

Location:

Entre Praça Mauá e Avenida Beira Mar
(Centro)
20083-240 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

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4

Igreja da Candelária

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expert pick

Location:

Praça Pio X
20040-020 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: +55 21 2233 2324
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5

Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Glória do Outeiro

Location:

Ladeira Nossa Senhora da Glória
Glória
22211-120 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: +55 21 225 2869
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6

Museu Histórico Nacional

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Location:

Praça Marechal Âncora s/n
20021-200 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: +55 21 240 2092
fax: +55 21 220 6290
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7

Cosmopolita

expert pick

Location:

Travessa do Mosqueira 4, Lapa
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: 55 21 2224 7820


Day 2 - Rio de Janeiro, Rio e Janeiro


Day two, and it's time to visit Santa Teresa - possibly Rio's most picturesque neighbourhood. Perched high on a hill, the suburb is chock full of Belle-Epoque mansions, artists studios and narrow, cobbled streets, and has a charming small-time ambience. The neighbourhood's popularity among Rio's artistic, musical and intellectual community has earned it the nickname 'Montmartre of the Tropics', and you can easily while away an entire morning just admiring the arts and handicrafts in the cluster of stores around Largo do Guimaraes, the square that sits at the heart of the neighbourhood. To get here, you'll need to take the antique 'bondinho' (little tram), and the journey is a joy in itself. From the tram station next to Rio's Cathedral, the little yellow bonde rattles its way over the iconic Lapa Arches, taking in wonderful city views, before slowly winding its way up the hill to Santa Teresa. Stay on board until Largo das Neves, a Mediterranean-style square with a cute little whitewashed church, then follow the tram track back to Largo do Guimaraes. Here, you can enjoy a plate of authentic Minas Gerais food, and wash it down with an ice-cold bottle of Bohemia beer or a delicious Gengibra - sugar cane rum infused with ginger. Walk off the meal by following the tram track to Curvelo, and then follow the signs to Parque das Ruinas. Entrance to this park is free, and, from the top floor of a renovated Belle-Epoque mansion, you can see some of the city's best views. Right next door, the Museu Chacara do Ceu offers shady gardens and exhibitions by Brazilian and international artists. From here, head back to Curvelo and hop on the tram back down to Centro, keeping any eye out for the Carmelite convent of Santa Teresa, after which the neighbourhood is named. You can then walk up to the picturesque Arco do Teles, and get a flavor of how Rio's central zone would have felt back in colonial times. 15 bars sit side by side here, so you'll have plenty of opportunity to enjoy a drink while soaking up the atmosphere. From here you can walk to the Igreja e Mosteiro de Sao Bento, before heading back to the hotel.


1

Bonde de Santa Teresa

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expert pick

Location:

Rua Professor Lélio Gama, 65
Centro
20031-080 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: +55 21 222 1003 / +55 21 242 2354
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2

Santa Teresa

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expert pick

Location:

Ladeira de Santa Teresa
20241-140 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


3

Convento de Santa Teresa

Location:

Ladeira de Santa Teresa, 52
Santa Teresa
20241-140 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: +55 21 2224 2040
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4

Bar do Mineiro

expert pick

Location:

Rua Paschoal Carlos Magno 99, Santa Teresa
Santa Teresa
Rio e Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: 55 21 2271 9227


5

Arco do Teles

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Location:

Praça XV de Novembro
20010-010 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

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6

Igreja e Mosteiro de Sao Bento

Location:

Rua Dom Gerardo, 68
Centro
20090-030 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: +55 21 2291 7122
fax: +55 21 2263 5679
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7

Ilha Fiscal

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expert pick

Location:

Baía de Guanabara
20010-010 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: +55 21 25447992 (Tourist information)


Day 3 - Rio de Janeiro


Take an early morning walk to the Casa Franca-Brasil, where you can enjoy exhibitions of paintings, ceramics and other artefacts from across the ages. Once you start feeling peckish, head for Confeitaria Colombo, a wonderful example of Belle-Epoque architecture that today sells wonderful examples of delicious cakes, pastries, and hot and cold drinks. If you feel like splashing out, you can order 'afternoon tea', with waffles, eclairs, toasts and other sweet and savoury treats. After eating your fill, take a walk to the Museu do Indio, for a fascinating insight into Brazil's native people and their history. There are an estimated 270 different tribes of Indian in Brazil, and here you'll find interesting film footage, images and artefacts. You can then head up to Praca IV de Novembre, a pleasant historic square opposite the ferry terminal. There's a very good antiques fair here on Saturdays. Grab a cab or jump on a bus over to the charming neighbourhood of Urca, home not only to Sugar Loaf mountain, but also to the impressive Fortaleza de Sao Joao. From Urca you can head on foot to the neighbourhood of Botafogo, and the Museu Villa-Lobos, a must for fans of the composer. It's another cab ride over to Alto da Boa Vista and the Museu do Acude, but well worth it for the impressive ceramic and antique furniture collections and gorgeous tropical gardens. From here take a bus or cab back to the hotel.


1

Confeitaria Colombo

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Location:

Rua Gonçalves Dias, 32
Centro
20071-000 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: 55 21 22322300
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2

Casa da Suíça

Location:

Rua Cândido Mendes, 157
Glória
20241-220 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: 55 21 22525182
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3

Casa França-Brasil

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Location:

Rua Visconde de Itaboraí, 78
Centro
20010-060 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: +55 21 22535366
fax: +55 21 22535366
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4

Museu do Índio

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Location:

Rua das Palmeiras 55
Botafogo
22270-070 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: +55 21 2286 8899
fax: +55 21 2286 0845
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5

Fortaleza de São João

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Location:

Av. João Luis Alves s/n
Urca
22291-090 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: +55 21 2295 5340
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6

Museu do Açude

Location:

Estrada do Açude, 764
Alto da Boa Vista
20531-330 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: +55 21 2492 5443 / +55 21 2492 2119
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7

Praça XV de Novembro

expert pick

Location:

Praca 15 de Novembro
20010-010 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

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8

Museu Villa-Lobos

Location:

Rua Sorocaba 200
Botafogo
22271-110 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: +55 (0)21 2266 3845 / +55 (0)21 2266 1024
fax: +55 (0)21 2539 1715
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Day 4 - Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro


The imperial mountainside city of Petropolis is the first port of call today, and you'll need to be up bright and early as it's a 90-minute coach journey from Rio. The coach departs from Rio's main bus station - Rodoviaria Novo Rio - and, while there's no need for advance booking, you should leave at least half an hour's queuing time. Sit on the left side of the bus for magnificent views as the vehicle snakes its way up mountain passes, past waterfalls and mountainside mansions. The most important historic sights in Petropolis are Museu Imperial - former home of Brazilian emperor Dom Pedro II, the Gothic cathedral Sao Pedro de Alacantaram, and the Palacio Cristal (Crystal Palace). The latter was a wedding present to Princesa Isabel, and the site of a celebratory ball to mark the abolition of slavery in 1888. When you're done sightseeing, take a local bus back to Petropolis' rodoviaria, and head back to Rio itself. Make sure you're back in time to fit in a visit to the Convento de Santo Antonio, before heading over to the pleasant, whitewashed Paco Imperial, where you can browse the displays before enjoying a late lunch or evening meal in the adjoining restaurant, Atrium.


1

Petrópolis

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expert pick

Location:

60 meters north of Rio
25770-320 Petrópolis, Brazil


2

Convento de Santo Antônio

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expert pick

Location:

Largo da Carioca, 5
20050-020 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: +55 21 2262 0129


3

Atrium

Location:

Praça Quinze de Novembro, 48
21610-490 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: 55 21 2220 0193
fax: 55 21 2220 7517


4

Paço Imperial

Location:

Praça XV de Novembro, 48
20010-010 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contact:

tel: +55 21 2533 4491 / +55 21 2533 7762
fax: +55 21 2533 4359
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