Spending Time in Rio’s Santa Teresa

By Leo Byrne, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Hiding in the hills above the energetic Lapa, the winding roads of the Santa Teresa district are a great destination for those looking to spend time away from Rio’s beaches. Its collection of cafes, art shops and eclectic restaurants mean that it’s oft touted bohemian reputation is well earned.

Bar Mineiro, Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

Bar Mineiro is so popular that its patrons regularly overflow into the street, photo by Leo Byrne.

Unfortunately the Santa Teresa is not currently accessible by what was the jewel in its crown, the picturesque ‘bonde’ or tramline, after an accident that occurred eighteen months ago.

Nonetheless it’s still easy to access the neighborhood, and the best way is to take one of the small buses that leave from Avenida Gomes Freire in Lapa.

The bus will stop at the Largo dos Guimarães, the small square which lies at the heart of this charming district. From the little plaza, visitors to the area can opt for a short walking tour along Rua Dias de Barros.

Offering some fantastic views of Rio’s downtown on one side, and Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf) mountain on the other, the walk along cobbled streets terminates in the Parque das Ruinas (Park of Ruins).

The park itself contains the remains of a mansion which belonged to Brazilian heiress Laurinda Santos Lobo, once a forum for Rio’s artistic community. Immediately adjacent is the Museu Chacara do Ceu, where art lovers can see pieces by international luminaries like Matisse and Miró.

View from Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

The walk to the Parque das Ruinas has some of the best views of Rio’s Centro district, photo by Leo Byrne.

Those looking for refreshment will find no shortage of options around the Largo dos Guimarães. Along the Rua Paschoal Carlos Magno, Cafecito Cafe is an open-air coffee shop with free Wi-Fi that is well in keeping with the neighborhood’s feeling of easy languor.

“Santa Teresa is very beautiful and very safe, [even] safer than Copacabana. There are many restaurants here and shops selling local crafts and gifts,” Eustavo Braga, manager of the Terra Brasilis Hostel told The Rio Times.

One culinary highlight is the low key but still trendy Espirito Santa located on Rua Almirante Alexandrino. Here patrons can enjoy various eclectic dishes from the Amazon while soaking up some great views of Rio.

In stark contrast to many of the Zona Sul (South Zone) flashy boutiques and chic shopping malls, Santa Teresa is also characterized by a litany of small arty stores that dot the neighborhood. There’s also the hip looking and newly re-opened cinema, Cine Santa Teresa, which shows both Brazilian international independent films.

The district saw the number of visitors dwindle following the bonde accident, however things seems to be once again to be on the upswing. Its intriguing blend of disheveled looking colonial mansions and cosmopolitan atmosphere mean that the district is also attracting more long term visitors.

“I think it’s a great place to live and visit. You wouldn’t think that one of Rio’s best neighborhoods would be one that isn’t near any beaches,” expatriate resident Franc Dupont told The Rio Times.

No trip to Santa Teresa would be complete without a visit to Bar Mineiro. The award winning ‘boteco’ is perennially popular but really fills up on Sundays. The bar is easily recognizable from its jovial and mixed clientele that spills out onto the surrounding street and pavement opposite.

One further entertainment highlight is the Bar do Fatinha on Rua Áurea. Slightly off the beaten track, the little venue has a bubbling atmosphere aided by frequent live samba and forro music.

16 Responses to "Spending Time in Rio’s Santa Teresa"

  1. herve de belleville  January 9, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    To be in Sta. teresa is to be in another world–or I should say– in another city within Rio. the vistas are superb and the nightlife is, well, you it…

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  3. Wittykook (Geraldine Denise Kuss)  January 22, 2013 at 8:08 PM

    This is a very true description of Santa Teresa, where I have lived , on and off , for thirty years. Presently finding my way back ther to discover that the ONE SUPERMARKET that existed has been closed. It would really be a pity if there were only bars and hotels an drestaurants in Santa Teresa and no utlitie for the residents. The City Coucil should be looking into this as it has done in other neighbourhoods, like Ipanema and Leblon.

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