Downtown Rio de Janeiro – the not so obvious Rio de Janeiro – here are no beaches, but beautiful churches and other buildings.

Attractions in downtown Rio de Janeiro

City hall has been renewing the area. It’s worth the visit. There are museums, cultural centers (some are free, like CCBB), and lots of places that still have a touch of the 19th century. In fact, it’s like walking into the past.

Go to the Municipal Theater – Theatro Municipal. It was inspired by a similar building in Paris – the Opera House. It has just been restored, and it is beautiful, Praca Marechal Floriano s/n RJ.

Downtown Rio de Janeiro attractions, Brazil
Municipal Theater – Theatro Municipal in Downtown Rio.

Just around the corner, you will see the National Library – Biblioteca Nacional (Av. Rio Branco, 319 – Centro), that was finished in 1908 and houses more than 13 million books and the National Museum of Fine Arts – Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (Av. Rio Branco, 199 – Centro).

A little further, an example of modern art on open air, that you can appreciate freely, by one of the most important artists of the world, Candido Portinari.

If you would like to visit the picturesque neighborhood of Santa Teresa, just take the tram and enjoy the ride. Always remember to take very good care of your personal belongings, specially because the tram is open. It’s very cool, but I recommend you to do it during the day.

If it’s the first Saturday of the month, you should visit the Lavradio Fair. It will remind you of Santelmo, in Buenos Aires, or Portobello Road, in London. But you will have no doubt that you are in Rio de Janeiro – the music will tell. It’s in the streets and at the restaurants all around.

Among the best places where you can go to eat and/or have fun are

– Carioca da Gema (Avenida Mem de Sá, 79, Lapa, Admission US$ 7, Open 7 days a week)

– Rio Scenarium (Rua do Lavradio, 20, Lapa, Admission US$ 8, Closed on Mondays) – there are two shows on weekdays (starting at 7:30 pm) and three shows on Fridays and Saturdays (usually starting at 10 pm)

– Democraticus (Rua do Riachuelo, 91, Lapa, Admission US$ 5, Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

– Santo Scenarium (Rua do Lavradio, 36, Lapa, Open for Lunch, shows on Saturdays, usually 9:30 pm)

Check out the below Rio de Janeiro downtown tours

Read about things to do in Rio de Janeiro.

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  • I'm sure you've had similar experiences I had whilst traveling. You're in a certain place and a fellow traveler, or a local, tip you off on a little-known beach, bar or accommodation. Great travel tips from other travelers or locals always add something special to our travels. That was the inspiration for Travel Dudes.