By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Most guide books will undoubtedly recommend visiting the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas for its beauty, but the area is more than your simple tourist attraction. As one of the only neighborhoods in Rio which doesn’t have a favela, this sheltered district is home to a wealth of facilities and good transport links connecting it to Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Humaitá and Jardim Botanico.
Overlooked by the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer, by day the perimeter is awash with joggers, cyclists, roller-bladers or simply couples taking a leisurely afternoon stroll.
After sundown the atmosphere buzzes with trendy lakeside bars and eateries where one can enjoy a refreshing drink and gaze out upon the moonlit water.
Bar Lagoa is well known for being one of the oldest of its kind and is maintained to a standard typical of 1930’s art deco. Prices here vary depending on the order but the food is good and the ambiance pleasant.
Those looking to splash out are urged to visit the stylishly designed Mr. Lam, serving gourmet oriental cuisine for a price that might make the eyes water as much as the mouth but is worth it nonetheless.
As for culture, Lagoa can proudly boast one of the city’s finest art museums, The Eva Klabin Foundation. Situated on Avenue Epitacio Pessoa, this open house gallery is a unique, private collection exhibiting sculpture, porcelain and paintings accumulated from Klabin’s many travels throughout Brazil and the world including Hong Kong, Vienna and Rome.
Near enough to the hustle and bustle of Ipanema but at a distance that maintains its tranquility, a Sunday picnic on the banks of the lake offers a welcome alternative from sunbathing amidst a sea of deckchairs and beach brollies. Otherwise the many public outdoor courts and parks offer the chance to play football, volley ball, and tennis or relax with a good book and a fresh coconut from one of the mobile vendors.
The lake itself naturally offers a wealth of water sports such as rowing, sailing and water skiing. Or for those who just want to bob on the surface and admire the views, a swan shaped pedal boat can be hired for just R$20.
This provides the perfect opportunity to “nature spot” as the lake is abundant in birds and water life. In order to preserve its natural beauty, Lagoa has become something of a conservation project over the years as attempts are made to improve its wildlife following some misfortune neglect causing problems to its delicate ecology.
During the festive season the lagoon comes alive as it prepares to unveil its annual floating Christmas tree, the largest in the world, which attracts swarms of visitors each year. Boasting over 3 million lights the grand ceremony takes place in early December and kicks off with an eclectic firework display to mark the grand opening.
It comes as no surprise that Lagoa is one of ‘the’ sought-after neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro and with all that’s on offer, properties don’t come cheap. Since 2009 prices have risen somewhat with two bedroom apartments renting at between R$3,000 to a whooping R$15,500. Three bedroom rentals range from R$5,000 to R$17,000 all depending on the view and services provided by the building/complex.
Those looking to purchase a property outright will be left disappointed by the continuing lack of one bedroom apartments available. Fortunately two bedroom properties are in plentiful supply and cost between R$750,000 to R$1.6 million. Three bedrooms range from R$900,000 to R$4.6 Million and in both cases prices reflect the quality of the view and the added extras such as a swimming pool, gym or garage facility.