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Santa Teresa

About Santa Teresa

For those looking for something different than the golden sands of Ipanema and Copacabana, Santa Teresa has taken many a tourists affection over the past few years. The hillside neighbourhood of Santa Teresa lies just above downtown Rio, where aging 19th-century mansions, vintage restaurants and a bohemian spirit offer a very different take on the marvellous city. Famous for it's winding, narrow, picturesque streets that are frequented by tourists and artists alike, Santa Teresa make for a nice change for the day. Take in the artistically graffiti covered walls, visit the boutique shops, grab a bite to eat and watch the world of Santa Teresa go by.

Orignally built in the 1750's, by the end of the 19th century and into the early 20th Santa Teresa was an upper class area as illustrated by it's extravagant mansions, many of which are still standing.

Santa Teresa ceased being an upper-class neighbourhood long ago, but it has had something of a renaissance as an artistic hotspot. It is home to several artists, art studios and galleries.

Recently various boutique style hostels, bed & breakfasts and high quality restaurants have started to open, as the area continues to once again grow in popularity. All this while resisting big development in order to retain its colonial charm.

Getting there

Santa Teresa may be beautiful, but it's also a bit of a pain to get to. Your best bet is either to take the 006 or 014 bus from Centro, or see if you can persuade a taxi driver to make the climb.

Another option is to take a metro to Gloria or Cacete and then get a bus or taxi up from there.

You can see Santa Teresa in the North East of the map although it isn't marked. It is next to Lapa, up the hills. We recommend to either get a taxi or you can take the metro. Buses are also available but please note we strongly advise not to get a bus home from Lapa/Santa Teresa late in the evening. It can be full of dodgy characters and people have been known to get robbed on buses - be safe, just get a taxi home.

Tourist map

Getting Around Santa Teresa

The best way to explore Santa Teresa is simply on foot. Start at Largo do Curvelo and drink in the sweeping view of Guanabara Bay before taking the short walk to Parque das Ruínas. This once-grand mansion fell into ruin after the death of its owner in 1946, and its innovative glass-and-ironwork restoration uses the shell of what was left in a striking fusion of the old and the new. As well as having a spectacular view of its own, Parque das Ruínas sits alongside Museu da Chácara do Céu, the neighbourhood's principal art museum that includes works by Miró and Matisse and was the site of a famous robbery in 2006 when, during Carnival, works by Dali and Picasso were among those taken.

Largo do Guimarães is the closest thing this neighbourhood has to a centre, it's a good place to start off at.

Getting Away

There are many winding routes down from Santa to ground level. Walking down you'll find some stunning views of the city. If it’s late at night though we definitely recommend to take a taxi back home. Walking from Santa Teresa to Lapa at night is not recommended, there are frequently reports of tourists getting robbed making this journey, be safe - take taxi, it won't cost you much.

A note on the famous yellow "Bonde" trams

As soon as you arrive in the Santa Teresa neighbourhood you'll notice the tram lines lacing the streets. Sadly, the Bonde tram cars no longer run, due to a fatal accident in 2011 in which 5 people tragically died, leaving many more injured. You can visit a museum - "Museu do Bonde", documenting the historic origins of the famous yellow trams. There are plans to replace the famous street car tracks and reopen them, but as recently as May 2015, after a period of 15 months work, only around 20% has been completed.

Packed Rio tram 02 near Largo Guimarães

By Andre Oliveira (Santa Teresa) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Safety

BE WARNED: The tranquility of Santa Teresa can be deceiving, although largely safe in the main tourist areas - nearby Largo de Guimarães, the winding maze of streets make it easy to get lost, the neighbourhood is surrounded by favelas. Unless you know where you're going, it's best not to aimlessly wander, any doubts - check at the tourist information point. If it’s late at night we definitely recommend to take a taxi back home. Walking from Santa Teresa to Lapa at night is not recommended, there are frequently reports of tourists getting robbed making this journey, be safe - take taxi, it won't cost you much.

Sights

Museu da Chacara do Céu

The Museu da Chacara do Céu was inaugurated in 1972 and features work by Picasso, Dali, Monet and famous artists plus Chinese sculptures from the Shung dynasty, modern sculptures by Brazilian artists, Brazilian paintings including Di Cavalcanti and Portinari and a number of landscape paintings featuring old Rio. The museum is a mansion which occupies 18 thousand square meters. It was built in 1957 by Vladimir Alves de Sousa and the gardens by Burle Marx. It offers the best view of downtown, Guanabara Bay and Corvocado Hill. The rooms are furnished with jacaranda wood oriental rugs and original pieces of furniture used by Raymundo de Castro Maia.

Parque Das Ruínas

The Parque Das Ruínas- Centro Cultural Laurinda Lobo was originally a mansion occupied by Laurinda who played an important role in the social history of Rio. However, since the mansion was in such a state of ruin only a part of it was restored and was used for concerts and open air shows. You'll also now find the "Café das Ruinas" - Cafe of ruins here which is worth stopping for a snack.

Escadaria Selaron - The Lapa Steps

The Escadaria Selaron steps are a tourist favourite. Better know as the "Lapa Steps", they're a beautiful staircase going from Convento de Santa Teresa to Rua Joaquim Silva. Each step is unique and is made from ceramic, mirrors and tiles from all over the world. It is an ongoing project by Chilean artist Selaron, so do make it a point to marvel at his wonderful creations.

Famous Lapa Steps

The steps were heavily featured in the Snoop Dogg and Pharrel video for the hit song "Beautiful".

Shopping

Shops in Leblon

Santa Teresa is a great place to by tourist souvenirs, art work and other handicrafts made by local artists. Largo do Guimarães is the closest thing this neighbourhood has to a centre and a good starting point. The flocks of tourists have attracted stores and street stalls here flogging as much cheap jewellery and fridge magnets, to tasteful artwork and original artefacts. You'll find various art galleries and exhibitions on in ST, as well as places offering cooking courses, massages and yoga.

Restaurants & Bars

Keeping with its Bohemian theme, Santa Teresa has a wide of great restaurants of various influences. Here we recommend some of the best.

TOP PICKS

Aprazivel - Rua Aprazivel 62

A highly recommended, if pricey, restaurant in Santa Teresa, While the Brazilian and contemporary cuisine is above par, the views from the restaurant are simply breathtaking. You can opt for a table in a tree house, for a unique dining experience. You need to hike up to the restaurant - unless you can get a taxi to take you, but it is well worth the effort.

Bar do Gomes - Rua Aurea 26

Bar do Gomes as a great place to try out some local beers and cachaças. The building is nearly a hundred years old with fascinating décor, the staff are very helpful and always make you feel welcome. Fair prices and an English menu also help settle you in.

Bar do Mineiro - R. Paschoal Carlos Magno 99 - close to Largo de Guimaraes.

Bar do Mineiro - a cool bar in Santa Teresa

One of our favourites and our feature special. Bar do Mineiro is a classic hangout in Santa Teresa. At busy times of the year you could find waits of up to an hour to eat in here. Their Fejoada (Tasty and affordable traditional dish) is top notch, but if you're not in the mood for something so heavy try their famous black bean pastels (pastel de feijão) or some of the other tasty appetizers on offer, which are popular with tourists as well as the locals.

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Sobrenatural - Rua Almirante Alexandrino, 432.

For seafood lovers, on is the place to taste some delicious shrimp and crab dishes like the "pastel de siri e camarão". The staff are friendly and the ambience enjoyable. For a real treat order a seafood risotto, which is deliciously fresh and comes in large portions.

Café das Ruinas - R. Murtinho Nobre, 169

With a museum inside, the "Cafe of Ruins" has a beautiful view from it and is worth checking out.

Térèze - Rua Felicio dos Santos, 15

Térèze is a popular restaurant at Hotel Santa Teresa that has been rated one of the best. A somewhat pricey, fine dining option with excellent service. Chef Damien Montecer serves up some of the most delicious French dishes with a Brazilian touch. Being a student of Gordon Ramsay, you can expect the very best. Get 20% off by booking in advance here

Bar do Arnaudo - R. Alm. Alexandrino, 316

Good African influenced food from the North East of Brazil.

Nightlife

Nightlife in Rio

Santa Teresa is a quiet neighborhood with a nightlife that isn’t even half as vibrant as the other neighborhoods. The narrow alleys and small streets make the neighborhood more dangerous thus it is not advisable to venture out alone at night. However, as long as you take precautionary measures you can still have a fairly good time. The bulk of the bars are located around Largo dos Guimares and the slopes leading downtown. Avoid the alleys and stick to the business areas and shops, we strongly advise to take taxi's rather than walk when you leave somewhere in Santa Teresa at night.

Top Tips

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Couple a trip to Santa Teresa with a visit to Christ the Redeemer. Head to Cristo for the morning and then on the way back down from the top you can stop for lunch at Santa Teresa.

A good place to start your trip here is at Largo de Guimarães, it's located in the heart of the neighborhood on Rua Almirante Alexandrino. The square is filled with bars, restaurants, handicraft shops and is the center of carnival activities. Even before carnival you will sometimes see bands marching to practice before the main event. There is also a tourist information point there to offer you any guidance and point you in the direction of the museums and galleries.

BE WARNED: The tranquility of Santa Teresa can be deceiving, although largely safe in the main tourist areas - nearby Largo de Guimarães, the winding maze of streets make it easy to get lost, the neighbourhood is surrounded by favelas. Unless you know where you're going, it's best not to aimlessly wander, any doubts - check at the tourist information point. If it’s late at night we definitely recommend to take a taxi back home. Walking from Santa Teresa to Lapa at night is not recommended, there are frequently reports of tourists getting robbed making this journey, be safe - take taxi, it won't cost you much.

Interesting Fact

The Escadaria Selaron steps, better know as the "Lapa Steps", were heavily featured in the Snoop Dogg and Pharrel video for the hit song "Beautiful".

The famous Lapa steps

Amy Winehouse broke from the norm - rather than stay by the beaches, she chose to stay in Santa Teresa when she came to Rio. The Brazilian equivalent to her beloved Camden town in London, it seemed the perfect fit for the extraordinarily talented, singer and songwriter.

Amy Winehouse in Santa Teresa

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