Sitting on the Turkish bed the traveler unbuttoned his shirt,
loosened the belt, looked on the broken mirror in front of him,
a face of tired traits, darkened, three days without shaving.
By Brazzil Magazine
After the Sheraton there is no beach along the coast for a few km until Pepino beach in
São Conrado. You can also take Avenida Niemeyer to the tunnel leading to Barra da Tijuca.
Pepino is a beautiful beach, less crowded than Ipanema. It’s where the hang-gliders
hang out when they’re not hanging up there. Along the beach are two big resort hotels, the
Hotel InterContinental and Hotel Nacional. Behind them, nestled into the hillside, is
Brazil’s biggest favela, Rocinha.
Bus No 546, 547 or 557 goes to Pepino. Don’t take valuables, as these buses are
frequent targets of robbers. There is also an executive bus (No 2016 `São Conrado’) that
goes along Copacabana and Ipanema beaches to Pepino.
Praia Barra da Tijuca
The next beach out is Barra. It’s 12 km long, with clean, green water. The first few km
are filled with bars and seafood restaurants (peixe frito is recommended). Further
out there are only barracas (food and drink stalls) on the beach. It’s calm on
weekdays, and crazy on hot summer weekends.
Barra’s population has doubled in the last 10 years and it’s currently the most
fashionable place to live in Rio. There are more than a hundred closed condominiums, and
the area is now known as the Califórnia Carioca.
The beaches further southPrainha, Grumari, Marambaiaare very beautiful and
worth exploring but not easily accessible by public transport. They only get busy on
weekends when bus lines swell. All have barracas. Prainha, the next beach past
Barra, is one of the best surfing beaches in Rio. Grumari is arguably the prettiest beach
near the city, and there is a restaurant on the beach where the crabs are good.
To reach these beaches by car you can turn off the Rio-Santos road, BR-101, at Barra
and follow the beach road. If it’s a busy weekend, go a few km further and turn left at
Estrada Bemvindo Novais, at Recreio dos Bandeirantes or Estrada Vereador.
This stadium, Brazil’s temple of soccer and a colossus among colosseums, easily
accommodates over 100,000 people and on occasionthe World Cup Game of 1950 or
Pelé’s last gamehas squeezed in close to 200,000 crazed fans (although it’s
difficult to see how). If you like sports, if you want to understand Brazil, or if you
just want an intense, quasi-psychedelic experience, then by all means go see a game of futebol,
preferably a championship game or one between rivals Flamengo (Fla) and Fluminense
Brazilian soccer is perhaps the most imaginative and exciting in the world.
Complementing the action on the field, the stands are filled with fanatical fans who cheer
their team on in all sorts of ways: chanting, singing and shouting; waving banners and
streamers in team colors; pounding huge samba drums; exploding firecrackers, Roman candles
and smoke bombs (in team colors); launching incendiary balloons; throwing toilet paper,
beer and even dead chickenspossibly macumba inspired. The scene, in short, is
Obviously, you have to be very careful if you go to Maracanã. Don’t wear a watch or
jewelry. Don’t bring more money than you need for tickets, transport and refreshments. The
big question is how to get to and from the game safely.
The big games are held on Sunday at 5 pm year-round. Tourist buses leave from major
hotels at 2.30 pm (they often run a bit late) for 5 pm Sunday games. They cost about $25,
which is a ripoff, but it’s the safest and easiest way to get to the game. They drop you
off and pick you up right in front of the gate and escort you to lower-level seats.
Unfortunately this is not the best perspective for watching the game, but it is the safest
because of the overhead covering which protects you from descending objects (like cups
full of bodily fluids).
However you get to the stadium, it’s a good idea to buy these lower-level seats, called
cadeira, instead of the upper-level bleachers, called arquibancada. The
price is $8, unless it’s a championship game, when it’s more.
The metro is closed on Sunday, and taking a bus or cab can be a hassle, Getting to the
stadium isn’t too difficult: catch a bus marked `Maracanã’ (from the zona sul, No
434, 464 or 455; from Centro, No 238 or 239) and leave a couple of hours before game time.
Returning to your hotel by bus is often a drag. The buses are flooded with passengers and
thieves set to work on the trapped passengers. Taking a cab is a possible alternative, but
they can be hard to flag down; the best strategy is to walk away from the stadium a bit.
Surprisingly, driving a car to the stadium is pretty easy. You should leave a couple of
hours before kick-off and, for easy departure, park away from the stadium. The traffic
isn’t all that bad and if you arrive early you can watch the preliminary games.
Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf)
Sugar Loaf, God’s gift to the picture-postcard industry, is dazzling. Two cable cars
lift you 1300 meters above Rio and the Baía de Guanabara. From here, Rio is undoubtedly
the most beautiful city in the world. There are many good times to make the ascent, but
sunset on a clear day is the most spectacular. As day becomes night and the city lights
start to sparkle down below, the sensation is delightful.
Everyone must go to Sugar Loaf, but if you can, avoid going from about 10 to 11 am and
2 to 3 pm when most tourist buses are arriving.
The two-stage cable cars (295-8244) leave about every 30 minutes from Praça General
Tibúrcio at Praia Vermelha in Urca. They operate daily from 8 am to 10 pm and cost $8. On
top of the lower hill there’s a restaurant/theatre. The Beija Flor samba school puts on a
show on Monday from 9 pm to 1 am. Less touristy shows are the Friday and Saturday Carioca
nights. They have some excellent musicians; check the local papers for listings.
To get to Sugar Loaf take a bus marked `Urca’ from Centro and Flamengo (No 107); from
the zona sul, take No 500, 511 or 512. The open airbus that runs along the Ipanema
and Copacabana beaches also goes to Sugar Loaf.
Corcovado & Cristo Redentor
Corcovado (Hunchback) is the mountain and Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) is the
statue. The mountain rises straight up from the city to 709 meters. The statue, with its
welcoming outstretched arms, stands another 30 meters high and weighs over 1000 tons (a
popular song talks about how the Cristo should have his arms closed against his chest
because for most who come to Rio the city is harsh and unwelcoming).
The statue was originally conceived as a national monument to celebrate Brazil’s 100
years of independence from Portugal. The 100 years came and went in 1922 without the money
to start construction, but in 1931 the statue was completed by French sculptor Paul
Landowski, thanks to some financial assistance from the Vatican.
Corcovado lies within the Parque Nacional da Tijuca. You can get there by car or by
taxi, but the best way is to go up in the cog trainsit on the right-hand side going
up for the view. The round trip costs $11 and leaves from Rua Cosme Velho 513 (Cosme
Velho). You can get a taxi there or a bus marked `Rua Cosme Velho’a No 184 or 180
bus from Centro, a No 583 from Largo Machado, Copacabana and Ipanema, or a No 584 from
During the high season, the trains, which only leave every 30 minutes, can be slow
going. Corcovado, and the train, are open from 8 am to 6.30 pm. Needless to say, the view
from up top is spectacular.
Santa Teresa Bondinho
The bondinho (little tram) goes over the old aqueduct to Santa Teresa from
Avenida República do Chile and Senador Dantas in Centro. Santa Teresa is a beautiful
neighborhood of cobbled streets, hills and old homes. Favelas down the hillsides
have made this a high-crime area. Young thieves jump on and off the tram very quickly. Go,
but don’t take valuables. Public transport stops at midnight, so you’ll need a car if you
are going anywhere after that time.
There’s a small Museu do Bonde at the central tram station with a history of Rio’s
tramways since 1865 for bonde buffs. You may wonder why people choose to hang onto
the side of the tram even when there are spare seats. It’s because they don’t have to pay.
The Museu Chácara do Céu (224-8991), Rua Murtinho Nobre, 345 Santa Teresa, has a good
collection of art and antiques.
Parks & Gardens
Parque Nacional da Tijuca
Tijuca is all that’s left of the tropical jungle that once surrounded Rio de Janeiro.
In 15 minutes you can go from the concrete jungle of Copacabana to the 120-sq-km tropical
jungle of Parque Nacional da Tijuca. A more rapid and drastic contrast is hard to imagine.
The forest is exuberant green, with beautiful trees, creeks and waterfalls, mountainous
terrain and high peaks. Candomblistas leave offerings by the roadside, families
have picnics, and serious hikers climb the summit of Pico da Tijuca (1012 meters).
The heart of the forest is the Alto da Boa Vista with several waterfalls (including the
35-meter Cascatinha Taunay), peaks and restaurants. It’s a beautiful spot. You can get
maps at the entrance.
The entire park closes at sunset and is rather heavily policed. Kids have been known to
wander off and get lost in the forestit’s that big. It’s best to go by car, but if
you can’t, catch a No 221, 233 or 234 bus.
The best route by car is to take Rua Jardim Botânico two blocks past the botanical
garden (heading away from Gávea). Turn left on Rua Lopes Quintas and then follow the
Tijuca or Corcovado signs for two quick left turns until you reach the back of the
botanical garden, where you go right. Then follow the signs for a quick ascent into the
forest and past the Vista Chinesa (get out for a view) and the Mesa do Imperador. Go right
when you seem to come out of the forest on the main road and you’ll see the stone columns
to the entrance of Alto da Boa Vista on your left in a couple of km.
You can also drive up to Alto da Boa Vista by heading out to São Conrado and turning
right up the hill at the Parque Nacional da Tijuca signs.
Open daily from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm, the garden was first planted by order of the prince
regent Dom João in 1808. There are over 5000 varieties of plants on 141 hectares. Quiet
and serene on weekdays, the botanical garden blossoms with families and music on weekends.
The row of palms, planted when the garden first opened, and the Amazonas section with the
lake containing the huge Vitória Régia water lilies, are some of the highlights. It’s
not a bad idea to take insect repellent.
The garden is on Rua Jardim Botânico 920. To get there take a `Jardim Botânico’ bus:
from Centro, No 170; from the zona sul, No 571, 572, or 594.
After the garden walk, go a few blocks down Rua Jardim Botânico, away from the beach,
to Alfaces at Rua Visconde da Graça 51 for an excellent light lunch with an assortment of
salads and good desserts at outdoor tables.
Just a few blocks down from the Jardim Botânico at Rua Jardim Botânico 414, this is a
beautiful park at the base of Parque Nacional da Tijuca. There are gardens, little lakes
and a mansion, which now houses the Instituto de Belas Artesthere are often art
shows and sometimes performances there. It’s a tranquil place, with no sports allowed and
a favorite of families with small children. It’s open from 8 am to 5.30 pm. Take a `Jardim
Parque do Flamengo
Flamengo is a park with loads of fields and a bay for activities and sports. There are
three museumsMuseu Carmen Miranda, Museu dos Mortos da Segunda Guerra Mundial and
Museu de Arte Modema. Inside the park, along the bay, the Barracuda Rio restaurant
(265-4641) is a great spot for bay and people watching. There’s a deck and tables outside
where you can drink or eat, and inside you can get a more substantial meal. It’s also open
To get there take buses marked `Via Parque do Flamengo’: from Centro, No 125 or 132,
and from the zona sul, No 413 or 455.
Parque da Catacumba
With high-rise buildings on both sides, Catacumba is on the Morro dos Cabritos, which
rises from the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. It was the site of a favela, which was
destroyed to make the park. A shaded park for walkers only, it’s a good place to escape
the heat and see some excellent outdoor sculptures. At the top of the hill there is a
great view. Catacumba also has free Sunday afternoon concerts during the summer in its
outdoor amphitheatre featuring some of Rio’s best musicians. Check the Sunday newspaper
Parque da Cidade
Up in the hills of Gávea this park is also calm and cool, and popular with families.
Open daily from 8 am to 5.30 pm, the Museu da Cidade is in the park grounds.
Parque do Catete
The grounds of the old presidential palace are now the Parque do Catete, a quiet refuge
from the city; the park has monkeys hanging from the giant trees.
Quinta da Boa Vista
Rio’s main park and museum of natural history makes a great Sunday outing, and if you
want to make a day out of it, the zoo, Nordeste Fair and Maracanã soccer stadium are all
nearby. The park is open daily from 8 am to 7 pm.
This museum and its grand imperial entrance are still stately and imposing, and the
view from the balcony to the royal palms is majestic. However, the graffitied buildings
and unkempt grounds have suffered since the fall of the monarchy. The park is large and
busy, and, because it’s on the north side of the city, you’ll see a good cross-section of
The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm, and admission is about $l
(free on Thursday). There are many interesting exhibits: dinosaur fossils, saber-toothed
tiger skeletons, beautiful pieces of pre-Columbian ceramics from the littoral and planalto
of Peru, a huge meteorite, hundreds of stuffed birds, mammals and fish, gory displays of
tropical diseases and exhibits on the peoples of Brazil.
The last of these are the most interesting. Rubber-gatherers and Indians of the Amazon,
lace workers and jangadeiro fisherfolk of the Northeast, candomblistas of
Bahia, gaúchos of Rio Grande do Sul and vaqueiros (cowboys) of the sertão
are all given their due. What’s interesting about these exhibits is that, with a little
bit of effort and a lot of traveling, you can see all of these peoples in the flesh. The
Indian exhibit is particularly goodbetter than that of the FUNAI Museu do Índio.
The museum is at the Quinta da Boa Vista. To get there from Centro take the metro to
São Cristóvão or bus No 472 or 474; from the zona sul take bus No 472 or 474 as
Museu Nacíonal de Belas Artes
At Avenida Rio Branco 199 is Rio’s premier fine-art museum (240-0160). There are over
800 original paintings and sculptures in the collection. The most important gallery is the
Galeria de Arte Brasileira, with 20th-century classics such as Cândido
Portinari’s Café. There are also galleries with foreign art (not terribly good)
and contemporary exhibits.
The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 am to 5.30 pm; and Saturday, Sunday and
holidays from 3 to 6 pm. Photography is prohibited. Take any of the city-bound buses and
get off near Avenida Rio Branco, or take the metro to Carioca station.
Museu Histórico Nacional
Restored in 1985, this former colonial arsenal (2205829) is filled with historic relics
and interesting displays, one of the best being the re-creation of a colonial pharmacy.
The building is near the bay at Praça Marechal Âncora.
Museu Folclórico Edson Carneiro
The small Edson Carneiro museum should not be missedespecially if you’re staying
nearby in the Catete/Flamengo area. It has excellent displays of folk artprobably
Brazil’s richest artistic traditiona folklore library, and a small crafts store with
some wonderful crafts, books and folk records at very cheap prices.
The museum is next to the grounds of the Palácio do Catete. The address is Rua do
Catete 181, Catete, and it’s open Tuesday to Friday from 11 am to 6 pm, and Saturday,
Sunday and holidays from 3 to 6 pm.
Museu da República & Palácio do Catete
The Museu da República and the Palácio do Catete have been wonderfully restored.
Built between 1858 and 1866 and easily distinguished by the bronze eagles on the eaves,
the palace was occupied by the president of Brazil from 1896 until 1954, when Getúlio
Vargas killed himself here. His bedroom, where it took place, is on display. The museum,
which occupies the palace, has a good collection of art and artifacts from the republican
period. It’s open Tuesday to Friday from noon to 5 pm. Admission costs $0.50.
Museu do Índio
At Rua das Palmeiras 55, Botafogo, the Museu do Índio (286-8799) has a good library
with over 25,000 titles, a map and photo collection and a quiet garden. The Indian
exhibits in the Museu Nacional at the Quinta da Boa Vista are better.
Museu H Stern
The headquarters of the famous jeweler H Stem, at Rua Visconde de Pirajá 490, contains
a museum. You may find the 12-minute guided jewelry tour interesting if you’re in the
neighborhood. With a coupon you can get a free cab ride to and from the store and anywhere
in the zona sul.
Museu Carmen Miranda
The small Carmen Miranda Museum in Parque do Flamengo is across the street from Avenida
Rui Barbosa 560 and is open Tuesday to Friday from 11 am to 5 pm, and Saturday and Sunday
from 1 to 5 pm. Carmen, of course, was Hollywood’s Brazilian bombshell, although she was
actually born in Portugal. She made it to Hollywood in the 1940s and has become a cult
figure in Rio. During Carnaval hundreds of men dress up as Carmen Miranda look-alikes. The
museum is filled with Carmen memorabilia and paraphernalia, including costumes, T-shirts,
posters, postcards, records and a small exhibit.
This museum is in a century-old building and is dedicated to the memory of Heitor
Villa-Lobos. This great Brazilian composer, regarded as the father of modem Brazilian
music, was the first to combine folkloric themes with classic forms. As well as personal
items, there’s also an extensive sound archive. At Rua Sorocaba 200 in Botafogo, it’s open
from Monday to Friday from 10 am to 5.30 pm.
Museu de Arte Moderna
At the northern end of Parque do Flamengo, looking a bit like an airport hangar, is the
Modern Art Museum. Construction began in 1954, but for much of the past few years all that
one has been able to see of the museum are its grounds, designed by Brazil’s most famous
landscape architect, Burle Marx (who landscaped Brasília).
The museum was devastated by a fire in 1978 which consumed 90% of its collection. The
museum has worked hard to rebuild its collection, and today it’s the most important center
of contemporary art in Rio, with a permanent display of over 4000 works by Brazilian
Museu Naval e Oceanográfico
This museum chronicles the history of the Brazilian navy from the 16th century to the
present, It’s close to Praça 15 de Novembro and is open every day from noon to 4.45 pm.
In Bauru, behind the Modern Art Museum, the Naval Museum is open Tuesday to Friday from
11.30 am to 5.30 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 5.30 pm. It documents the Brazilian
navy’s role in WW II and has ship models.
Museu Histórico e Diplomático
Housed in the restored Itamaraty Palace, which was home to Brazil’s presidents from
1889 until 1897, the museum has an impressive collection of art and antiques. Located at
Rua Marechal Floriano 196 (a short walk from Presidente Vargas metro station), the museum
has guided tours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 to 4 pm. To guarantee a tour in
English or French, call the palace on (253-7961).
Sambódromo & Museu do Carnaval
Designed by Oscar Niemeyer and completed in 1984, the Sambadrome also houses the Museu
do Carnaval. It contains lots of material relating to the history of Rio’s samba schools.
It’s open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. Enter through Rua Frei Caneca. Empty
sambadromes are like empty stadiumsthere’s not a lot happening.
Museu Chácara do Céu
Located at Rua Murtinho Nobre 93, Santa Teresa, this is a delightful museum that
occupies part of the old mansion of wealthy industrialist and arts patron Raymundo Ottoni
de Castro Maya. It contains art and antiques from his private collection, which he
bequeathed to the nation, including works by Monet, Vlaminck, Portinari and Picasso to
name a few. The house is surrounded by beautiful gardens and has a great view of Guanabara
It’s open from Wednesday to Saturday from noon to 5 pm and on Sunday and holidays from
1 to 5 pm. Entry is $4, free on Sunday. To get there, take the No 206 or 214 bus from the
Menezes Cortes bus terminal in the Centro to the `Curvelo’ stop. You can take the tram,
but don’t carry valuables.
Museu Histórico do Exército e Forte de Copacabana
Built in 1914, the fort preserves its original characteristics, with walls up to 12
meters thick and fortified with Krupp cannons. The museum displays weapons, but one of the
best reasons to visit is the fantastic view of Copacabana. The fort is open from Tuesday
to Sunday between 10 am and 4 pm. Entry is free.
Museu Casa do Pontal
Owned by Frenchman Jacques Van de Beuque, this impressive collection of over 4,500
pieces is one of the best folk-art exhibitions in Brazil. Works are grouped according to
themes, including music, Carnaval, religion and folklore.
The museum is located just past Barra at the Estrada do Pontal 3295. It’s open on
weekends from 2 to 5.30 pm
Excerpts from Brazil – A Travel Survival Kit, 3rd edition, by
Andrew Draffen, Chris McAsey, Leonardo Pinheiro, and Robyn Jones. For more
information call Lonely Planet: (800) 275-8555. Copyright 1996 Lonely Planet Publications.
Used by permission.
Buy it at
Brazil – A Travel Survival Kit
by Andrew Draffen, Chris McAsey,
Leonardo Pinheiro, Robyn Jones,
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