Bohemian Hideout in Rio

Discover another side of Rio de Janeiro in artsy Santa Teresa.

By Kyle Ver

Rio de Janeiro is well-known for sultry beaches, such as Ipanema and Copacabana, and its vibrant Carnival. In the hills above the city’s downtown is another, quieter gem: a charming artist’s haven called Santa Teresa. Here you’ll find 19th-century mansions (some restored, some in ruin), galleries and restaurants. But the neighborhood’s greatest appeal may be its friendly, village-like vibe.

Views From the Hill

Begin your off-beach excursion by riding the bonde (“bon-jee”), one of the oldest street railway lines in the world. You can catch the canary yellow tram for free at Carioca Station, down the street from the metro stop of the same name. From your wooden bench seat, you can take in views of downtown Rio and Lapa as you cruise over the Carioca Aqueduct, before ascending picturesque cobblestoned streets into the hillside Santa Teresa.

Hop off at Largo do Curvelo. Kitty-corner to the station is a small park with a view toward Gloria and Guanabara Bay. Farther along Rua Murtinho Nobre sits the Museu da Chácara do Céu. Once the mansion of an art patron and businessman, the building was redesigned to include modern features, furniture and rare books and affords sprawling views of Rio.

Bohemian Style

It’s a 15-minute walk from the Museu da Chácara do Céu to Galeria Camayoc Huasi, owned by artist Domingos Cardoso. The homey working art studio houses some of Rio’s most beautifully detailed favela art. More likely than not, Cardoso himself will be working on his next piece. Vintage postcards, wooden saint bracelets and other tokens for sale fill the rest of the space.

For a quick pick-me-up of cafezinho (Brazilian espresso) and German-inspired cuisine, continue to Mike’s Haus Imbiss, on the corner of Rua Paschoal Carlos Magno and Rua Felicio dos Santos, which serves up groovy bossa nova tunes and delicious filé de omelete with rice and beans ($5).

Next door, Tucum is a fair-trade-goods boutique that sources its handcrafted merchandise—such as therapeutic incense with aromas of rose and myrrh, as well as woven bracelets, wooden sunglasses and timepieces—exclusively from indigenous Brazilian artisans.

Taste of Brazil

You can’t leave Brazil without a taste of its official dish, feijoada, a savory pork-and-bean stew. Simplesmente (feijoada for two, $20*), on Rua Paschoal Carlos Magno, has tables facing the street that afford great people-watching and serves its feijoada in stone bowls. You know you’ve chosen your dinner spot well when local artist Cardoso comes in for a bite.

Galeria Camayoc Huasi
342-A R. Almirante Alexandrino; 011-55-21-3117-3977
Mike’s Haus Imbiss
90 R. Paschoal Carlos Magno; 011-55-21-3549-4114
Museu da Chácara do Céu
93 R. Murtinho Nombre; 011-55-21-3970-093;
115 R. Paschoal Carlos Magno; 011-55-21-2221-0337
100 R. Paschoal Carlos Magno; 011-55-21-3128-2957
  • *Prices have been converted to U.S. dollars. Estimated meal prices do not include drinks, tax, or tip.
  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: May 2016