Copacabana Palace (5 Stars)Rio de Janeiro
Surroundings
Sights of Central Rio
Largo de Boticario
Rua Cosme Velho 822, Cosme Velho
A picturesque square of colourfully painted and tiled Portuguese style houses, perfectly placed for short visit en route to or from Corcovado. Named in honour of a former royal apothecary, resident of the square, it oozes colonial grace. Accompanied by the soothing trickle of water from the stream and the welcome shade of the tropical vegetation makes for a very pleasant break. Popular with artists, the square often hosts informal events and exhibitions.

 

Catedral Metropolitana
Av República do Chile 245, Lapa
The seat of the Archbishop of Rio was built during the 60s and 70s and is a huge, conical structure, with stunning 60 metre-high stained glass windows.


Centro Cultural do Banco do Brasil
Rua Primeiro de Março 66, Centro
This beautiful, renovated bank building now hosts theatre, recitals, exhibits and other cultural events. Check the listings for current exhibits.
   
 
Markets
Rio’s colourful weekend markets are popular with locals and tourists alike. The two artisan markets (the Feira Hippie near Ipanema beach every Saturday and The Feira Babilônia Hype in the Jockey Club alternate weekends) offer souvenirs, antiques, silverwork, leatherwork and so on.
The Babilônia Hype market fills with musicians, dancers and performers and creates a truly vibrant atmosphere whereas the Feira Hippie is aimed at tourists, so expect to pay over the odds. Both markets have food stalls serving local specialities. On Saturdays the Feira São Sebastião Quinze de Novembro (flea market) is a pleasant way to spend a few hours amid locals and browse genuine antiques, art-deco items and secondhand bargains.

 
Parks and Gardens
Park Lage
Rua Jardim Bôtanico, Jardim Bôtanico
The perfect tranquil break from the hustle and bustle of central Rio. This beautiful park, designed by an English landscape architect in 1840, with naturalised tropical areas interspersed with more formal gardens, lawns and lakes, lies at the foot of Corcovado, in the shadow of Christ the Redeemer. The many walking trails through the park lead you to hidden gems such as grottoes and pergolas, and you’ll come across monkeys roaming freely through the mango plantations.

Botanical Gardens
Rua Jardim Bôtanico, Jardim Bôtanico

The 141 hectares of Rio's Botanical Gardens are home to a wide range of plant species from Brazil and all over the world - 5000 species in total. The Imperial Palms, planted in 1809 by Prince Regent John VI, are among its most spectacular attractions. Huge trees decked with orchids contrast with giant Victoria regia lilies, bromeliads, royal poincianas and tropical foliage. 
The Botanical Gardens is a favourite hideaway for nature lovers, sweethearts and all those seeking peace and tranquillity.
   
Burle Marx
The home and gardens of landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx
Barra de Guaratiba, outskirts of Rio de Janeiro

In 1949, Brazil’s first ever landscape architect - and the designer of the iconic patterned pavements which grace the promenades of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches - bought a small estate just outside Rio in which to store his expanding tropical plant collection. Marx lived in the small house and built up an astonishing collection of 3500 varieties of mostly native flora, many of which are rare or endangered. Before his death in 1994, Marx bequeathed the collection to the people of Brazil and the 100-acre estate was deemed a national monument. Tours are available of the quirky interiors of the house and C16th chapel while botanists will have a field day in the inspired and inspiring gardens.

Fiscal & Panqueta Islands

Ilha Fiscal  (Fiscal Island)
The miniature palace on Fiscal Island is famous for having hosted the last ball of Brazil's crumbling empire. The ball was held on 9th November 1889 and the Brazilian Republic was proclaimed a few days later. Fiscal Island is located in Guanabara Bay close to Ilha das Cobras Island. Visits by appointment.

 

Ilha de Paquetá  (Paquetá Island)
The many charms of Guanabara Bay include this tiny island (just over one square kilometre) on which automobiles are banned. The island is also known as the Island of Love. Both residents and visitors must travel by bicycle or horse-drawn carriage along gravelled streets lined with bright royal poincianas. It can easily be accessed by ferry or hovercraft, which run regularly from the Praça Quinze de Novembro Square.
 
 
Tijuca Forest
Tijuca Forest is the world's largest urban forest, covering some 3200 hectares. It is home to hundreds of species of plants and wildlife, many threatened by extinction and found only in the Atlantic rainforest. Its historical attractions, including a giant statue of Christ, are well worth a leisurely visit. 

The forest is just a short drive from the downtown financial centre, the North Zone and Rio's smart beach districts. Its attractions include the Cascatinha Waterfall, the Mayrink Chapel, the Excelsior Lookout Point, the Paul and Virginia Grotto, Fairy Lake and the Solitude Dam, all favourite destinations for weekend family outings.
 

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