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.
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.
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.
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.