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With stellar historic monuments and some of the city's best nightlife, Lapa enjoys the best of both worlds in the city. Standing not far away from the city center, the neighborhood is a favorite hangout for locals as well as visitors who wish to avoid Rio's tourist-trodden hotspots. From the brilliant architecture of Arcos da Lapa, to the happening nightspots offering a healthy dose of culture and wild partying, Lapa is a brilliant showcase of the city's character.
Named for Santa Teresa Convent from the 1750s, this neighborhood, with its winding streets and hilltop views, is a major attraction for tourists and artists alike. Although no longer the affluent area it once was, Santa Teresa is still home to some mansions, one of which is the Chácara do Céu, which was once home to art collector Raimundo Otoni Castro Maya. It now serves as the Museu da Chácara do Céu. Visitors should definitely take the tram ride that starts at the city center and takes them through the streets of Santa Teresa.
The Escadaria Selaron, or Lapa Steps as they are widely known, were created as a tribute to the people of Brazil by Chilean artist Selaron. He has decorated the long, wide stairway between Lapa and Santa Teresa with green, blue and gold (the colors of the Brazilian flag) ceramic tiles to create a stunning mosaic. The walls of the stairway are a similar color, with the artist using tiles from around the world as a base on which to paint his own, unique images. U2, along with Snoop Dogg and Pharrell, are among the famous artists to have filmed here.
This four kilometer (2.49 mile) stretch skirting the Copacabana Beach, is one of the city's most picturesque avenues. Lined with excellent hotels, restaurants and boutiques, Avenida Atlantica sees a perennial bustle throughout the day, populated not just by tourists, but locals as well. The street is a major site of the city's extravagant New Year's Eve celebrations as well.
The most famous beach in the world, Copacabana has lost little of its mystique and charm over the years. Positioned in a wonderfully rich setting with a backdrop of sharply rising hills and a concrete jungle, this is the best place to feel the Carioca spirit. Sit at one of the many restaurants along the beachfront to enjoy a batida or caipirinha, or take a stroll on the famous and often imitated Burle Marx designed sidewalks. In the summertime, its pristine sandy landscapes are dotted with prolific sunbathers who come here from all parts of the city just to bask under Rio's bright mid-day sun. Surfing is permitted here.
This beach-side suburb of Rio is home to some of the city's most famous citizens. From celebrities to business tycoons, this neighborhood is dotted with houses of globally renowned personalities. As one would expect, the area is replete with some of the city's best businesses, from luxurious hotels and restaurants to happening nightclubs and designer boutiques. The serene beach, named after the neighborhood is its most popular attraction.
Named for the vibrant Ipanema neighborhood it's located in, Ipanema Beach truly embodies the Brazilian spirit that inspired the Bossa Nova song "The Girl from Ipanema". Sparkling white sand stretches as far as the eye can see and the Dos Hermanos (Two Brothers) mountains form a picturesque backdrop. Rio's tropical weather means plenty of Sun, and the beach draws crowds of Brazilians and visitors looking to relax here. Each of Ipanema's postos or zones has a unique spirit, from the vibrant Posto 9 with its party vibe to the surf-friendly Posto 7. Beach culture at its best, Ipanema offers something for every visitor. Due to the forceful undertow, it's best to swim with caution.