By Georgia Grimond, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Jardim Botânico, the Zone Sul (South Zone) neighborhood that stretches from the city’s botanical gardens to Parque Lage at the foot of Corcovado and up into the hills behind, is considered by many to be one of Rio’s most bohemian and pleasant areas to live in.
A popular choice among Rio’s rich and famous, Jardim Botânico has a wealth of grand, uniquely designed detached houses unlike many other neighborhoods in Rio. However, it also has plenty of old-school charm, with smaller townhouses, particularly towards the Horto area, as well as apartment blocks too.
The greatest draw for many is the abundance of nature in the area. The rich greenery of the botanical gardens spills out over its fences, parrots frequently fly by and monkeys scurry along the electricity lines. It is easy to reach Vista Chinesa viewpoint, as well as waterfalls at the top of Lopes Quintas street. The Lagoa is only ever a short walk away.
Recently the neighborhood has developed something of a reputation as a culinary hub with openings from top Brazilian chefs, like ORO from Felipe Bronze and the eponymously named Roberta Sudbrack. There is also a number of more reasonably priced restaurants, including Volta, from the owners of Venga in Ipanema, La Carioca, which serves ceviche, and Le Capricciosa for authentic Italian pizza.
According to those in the know, with Casa Carandaí and Empório Jardim the area has some of the best options for breakfast and brunch at the weekend. La Bicyclette, a French bakery and restaurant, also operates two branches either side of the botanical gardens providing the perfect backdrop to your meal.
For British resident Lauren Holmes, the area has a European feel to it. “It reminds me of Trastevere in Rome,” she says, “With quiet cobbled streets and lots of greenery.” But adds that the real pull is that “You feel a part of Brazilian society – many families have lived here for generations.”
Without a metro stop, Jardim Botânico is sometimes overlooked by foreigners as a place to live. However, it still has a plethora of bus routes passing through and easy access to Centro via the Rebouças tunnel. Its quieter and more laidback atmosphere is part of the appeal.
Although real estate prices in Rio de Janeiro have cooled recently, falling 0.11 percent in May 2015, the city, and in particular Zone Sul, remains one of the most expensive places to live in Brazil. According to FIPEZAP, the average cost per square meter is R$10,653, compared to São Paulo’s R$8,570.
Jardim Botânico was ranked the fifth most expensive neighborhood to live in by FIPEZAP in March 2015, making it a more affordable option for many people who come to Rio than the beachside areas of Leblon, Ipanema, and Gávea which is only a short walk or drive away.
With one eye on the 2016 Olympic Games, the area is likely to be popular, particularly for short-term lets, as many events are scheduled to take place on the Lagoa and the neighborhood has good access to Barra and Zona Norte (North Zone) where the main venues are.