By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In the minds of many expatriates and Cariocas alike, Lapa is the place to go for good times and late nights, with live samba and dancing until sunrise. However, it is also a residential neighborhood and home for many who enjoy its casual atmosphere and comparatively lower property prices.
A neighborhood like no other, Lapa is filled with rich historical detail and architectural variety, perhaps the most iconic is the elegant 18th century Carioca Aquaducts, now affectionately known as the ‘Lapa Arches’.
Another must-see if the truly unique Escadaria Selaron (Selaron Stairs), a stairway lovingly decorated by Chilean artist Jorge Selarón using a colorful collection of tiles; and the stylishly repurposed colonial buildings, which house nightclubs and theaters along Avenida Mem de Sá.
Though Lapa’s nightlife is nonpareil, with legendary nightclubs Lapa 40 Graus, Club dos Democraticos, and iconic music venue Circo Voador all calling Lapa home, the restaurant scene is also something special.
Founded in 1926, Cosmopolita is a cosy, old-school restaurant, and a favorite among residents of Lapa. It is famed as the birthplace of the ‘Osvaldo Arranha,’ a thick fillet steak smothered in garlic and butter.
Nova Capela is another classic Lapa hangout, with décor that hasn’t changed much in its century of existence and Portuguese specialities such Lamb, Cod and Wild Boar. However, for those looking for something a little healthier, Lapa is also home to two acclaimed vegan restaurants, Gouranga Veggie, and Las Vegans.
Another fine attraction Lapa has to offer is on the first Saturday of the month when Rua do Lavradio hosts an antique market which has everything from knick-knacks to upmarket heirlooms. And for a different type of music scene, there’s the Sala Cecilia Meireles, one of the premier classical music venues in Rio.
While Lapa used to be known as one of the more precarious of Rio’s neighborhoods, its image has been cleaned up a lot in recent years, not least due to the successful model of neighborhood policing known as ‘Lapa Presente.’
When asked about living in Lapa, journalism student Luiz Franco did warn not to choose a flat too near the louder streets as it can make sleeping difficult. However, he also added, “Every time you want to have a beer with someone you can just go out and find a place to drink.”
Explaining, “You’re always close to the parties. If you want to have fun then its a cool place. You have to pay attention because there are still a lot of homeless people and drunk people at night, but it can be a lot of fun.”
Lapa has always been historically cheaper than Zona Sul (South Zone) neighborhoods, due to its bohemian reputation and emphasis on nightlife at the expense of daytime amenities.
However, it has been becoming more and more popular as a residential destination and now can be compared to Glória in terms of pricing and Botafogo in terms of desirability. The apartments do tend to be smaller and older than the beach neighborhoods further South.
Prices currently average around R$7,850 per square meter to buy and R$36 per square meter to rent. For example, R$650,000 will get a recently renovated 88m² two-bedroom apartment on Rua Guilherme Marconi: a quiet, residential street in the heart of Lapa.
While R$3,500 per month will secure a 85m² three-bedroom apartment complete with a balcony, one parking space, and access to a private pool, sauna, gym and laundry.