Downtown Rio de Janeiro: Why it’s Worth Visiting

When it comes to discovering all of the wonders of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, it’s natural that your mind tends to wonder to the many tourist attractions. And while those spots are popular for a reason, there is a hidden gem that all travellers to Rio should experience: downtown Rio de Janeiro.

Downtown Rio de Janeiro – the not so obvious Rio de Janeiro – may not have any beaches that bring in the masses, but you will be entranced by its charm. From its beautiful churches and architecturally stunning buildings, downtown Rio de Janeiro will soon have you under its spell.

See also: Top Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The revamping of downtown Rio de Janeiro


To the surprise of many who first encounter downtown Rio de Janeiro, there is quite a bit to do there! From more cultural and historic scenes to outdoor adventures, this location has been created with every tourist in mind.

For starters, it is worth noting that the local City Hall has been dedicating its time and resources to renewing and revamping this area. From the moment you step downtown you will immediately notice a newfound energy and life in this space that definitely makes it worth the visit. Every corner of this location is being redesigned to cater to the needs of locals and tourists whilst offering everyone access to authentic Brazilian experiences.

Downtown Rio de Janeiro attractions, Brazil
Municipal Theater – Theatro Municipal in Downtown Rio.

Top attractions in downtown Rio de Janeiro


Don’t be blinded by all of the attractions in the city centre that you accidentally overlook all that downtown has to offer you. There is an exquisite list of attractions that will keep you busy and entertained for hours. Better yet, many of them are affordable too, meaning you won’t have to break the bank trying to truly experience downtown Rio de Janeiro.

After only a few minutes of walking through the streets of downtown Rio you will immediately notice that there are a plethora of museums, cultural centers (some are free, like CCBB), and lots of places that still have a touch of that 19th century feel. In fact, it’s like walking into the past and getting to reexperience all of its gorgeous surroundings. We can all thank City Hall for this as this has been a great part of their mandate – to refurbish and restore many of the historical artefacts of the area.

If you aren’t too sure where to start when it comes to figuring out where you should go first, then here are a few ideas for you:

  • Go to the Municipal Theater – Theatro Municipal. It was inspired by a similar building in Paris – the Opera House. It has just been restored, and it is beautiful, Praca Marechal Floriano s/n RJ. It is an absolutely breathtaking building with a rich history that deserves your attention. You can also take in the architectural sophistication of this building too as its designs and structures have transcended various eras.
  • Just around the corner, you will see the National Library – Biblioteca Nacional (Av. Rio Branco, 319 – Centro), that was finished in 1908 and houses more than 13 million books and the National Museum of Fine Arts – Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (Av. Rio Branco, 199 – Centro). Not only will you be enthralled by their book collections but by the aesthetic appeal of this national library!
  • A little further, an example of modern art on open air, that you can appreciate freely, by one of the most important artists of the world, Candido Portinari. This is a definite bucket-list entry that deserves a top spot too.
  • If you would like to visit the picturesque neighborhood of Santa Teresa, just take the tram and enjoy the ride – there is plenty to feast your eyes on whilst route the destination. Always remember to take very good care of your personal belongings, especially because the tram is open. It’s very cool, but I recommend that you do it during the day for safety reasons.
  • If it’s the first Saturday of the month, you should defiantly, without a doubt, visit the Lavradio Fair. It will immediately remind you of Santelmo, in Buenos Aires, or Portobello Road, in London. But you will have no doubt that you are in Rio de Janeiro – the music will tell you. It’s in the bustling streets that are filled with locals chatting and playing music as well as the decadent smells coming from all of the restaurants the dot the area.

See also: Casa Rosa: Best Place to Be on a Sunday Afternoon in Rio De Janeiro

Join this downtown Rio walking tour!

Candelaria Church in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Candelaria Church in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Among the best places where you can go to eat and/or have fun are:

– Carioca da Gema (Avenida Mem de Sá, 79, Lapa, Admission US$ 7, Open 7 days a week)

– Rio Scenarium (Rua do Lavradio, 20, Lapa, Closed on Mondays) – there are two shows on weekdays (starting at 7:30 pm) and three shows on Fridays and Saturdays (usually starting at 10 pm)

– Democraticus (Rua do Riachuelo, 91, Lapa, Admission US$ 5, Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

– Santo Scenarium (Rua do Lavradio, 36, Lapa, Open for Lunch, shows on Saturdays, usually 9:30 pm)

See also: Foods, Drinks and Bars You Should Try While in Rio de Janeiro

Read about Day Trips from Rio.

Colorado girls ride hourse

Summer in Pagosa Springs, Colorado – Worth it!


If you’re looking for something a little bit different this summer, why not head to a part of America that is usually reserved for winter vacations, Pagosa Springs in Southwest Colorado.

It is true Pagosa Springs is a prime spot to visit during the winter months.

That is when the hot springs are beckoning, the ice skating rinks are in prime condition and the favorite activities include cross-country skiing, ice fishing, skiing and snowboarding, sleigh rides, sledding and snowmobiling.

The fall period when the temperatures are just starting to drop is also very popular with hunters who hope to harvest elk, deer and other game animals. The summer time is often when vacationers will head towards the beaches and lakes, away from the prime winter destinations.

But what if you tried something a little different and looked into all Pagosa Springs has to offer for the summer time?

Situated along the San Juan River and surrounded by the San Juan National Forest, the Weminuch Wilderness and the Rocky Mountains, the natural beauty of Pagosa Springs is simply breathtaking.

The area is located north of the New Mexico border and is situated on the Western Slope of the Continental Divide creating an unusually mild climate compared with the surrounding Southwest towns. The area is named after one of the largest and hottest natural springs in the world, which continues to draw people in year around for its relaxation and therapeutic powers.

Aside from relaxing in the hot springs, other summertime activities include fishing, hiking and rafting.

Starting at the beginning you’re going to need somewhere to stay. I recommend the Luxury Log Cabin on the Golf Course. This stunning 2,100 sq ft cabin boasts four bedrooms and two bathrooms, comfortably sleeping 12+ guests. Perfect for big family getaways or a vacation with friends.

You can overlook the fairway from the extra-large deck or the second story balcony, while the morning hot air balloons drifting past. Perhaps you might even want to go for a ride! For the times you’re not out enjoying all Pagosa Springs has to offer, the home has satellite TV, wireless internet and a fully equipped kitchen.

Once you’ve sorted your accommodation you can plan your trip!

Perhaps you want to start by doing a little fishing!

There are numerous rivers, lakes and reservoirs around the area which offer endless hours of quality fishing. The area offers warm, lower-elevation waters to fish for catfish, bass, perch and pan fish as well as the higher cool and cold-water lakes, ponds and creeks packed with pike, kokanee salmon and trout. The Piedra River in particular is a canyon river west of Pagosa Springs and the East Fork of the San Juan  are packed with fat brows and foot-long stocked rainbow trout.

Other great areas to check out are the Echo Canyon Reservoir, Lake Capote Recreation Area (no state license is required and permits are only $8 for adults), Navajo Reservoir and Williams Creek Reservoir.

If you’re not into fishing but love water activities, there’s plenty for you to do in Pagosa Springs.

The many rivers, lakes and reservoirs are the perfect places to get out on the water either kayaking, jet skiing, whitewater rafting, canoeing, floating or motorized boating. Navajo State Park is a favorite reservoir for water sports as it boasts 15,000 acres of water surface and even extends into New Mexico.

Williams Creek Reservoir, Big Meadows Reservoir and Echo Reservoir are the perfect places to take out your canoes or kayaks. Here you can enjoy breathtaking views in a quiet and peaceful surrounding.

But for those thrill seekers out there, whitewater rafting on the San Juan River is the way to go. At the start of the summer (May and June) the river is flowing heavily with snow-melt, providing excellent conditions for whitewater rafting.

When the temperatures get hot and the river calms down, the best way to cool off is by enjoying a floating trip. Float tubes can be rented and a few hours on the river is a perfect way to spend a day with the family.

If you’re the golf type, you certainly don’t need to go far. Just steps away from the Log Cabin is the 18-hole Pinon course and the 9-hole Ponderosa at the Pagosa Springs Golf Club. Of course if you’re looking for a mini golf style course, there are two of those within the Pagosa Springs area for good family fun.

Of course one of the biggest draw cards of Pagosa Springs is the stunning scenery, natural wonders and of course, the wildlife. With over 3 million acres of national forest of scenery and the Rocky Mountains just in the backyard begging to be explored also, there’s plenty to see and you could spend weeks exploring it all.

While there are plenty of scenic drives you can take, the best way to experience it all is to get out on foot, on a bike, or best yet, on horseback!

There are hundreds of miles of trails in the Pagosa Springs area simply begging to be walked or run. You can choose between trails through high alpine meadows, along the river, in the canyons or through dense forests. The Turkey Springs area is said to have some of the best tracks in the region.

Biking is another excellent way to see Pagosa Springs, and with the numerous paved roads, single tracks and forest roads there are plenty of opportunities to see the amazing views from your bicycle.

For something a little different, check out the area on horseback.

The area is a favorite with horse enthusiasts and seeing the area while horse trekking adds something a little extra special to your sightseeing. While you’re exploring the great outdoors it is almost guaranteed you will come across various wildlife species living within the national forest so make sure you take a camera!

There are plenty of other great activities to enjoy in Pagosa Springs, particularly if you’re there with children. The historic train ride on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad or the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is always a favorite. Both railroads provide museums with history of the trains and various adventures and activities for the whole family.

A hot air balloon ride is something the kids are bound to love, and gives you a spectacular view of Pagosa Country. The Chimney Rock Archeological Area is also an excellent attraction which features ancient Pueblo Indian ruins. The area holds numerous events throughout the summer including Native American festivals, full moon programs and educational tours.

For a bit of culture in your vacation, why not catch a live performance at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. If you’re interested in the history of the area, be sure to check out some of the local museums, including the San Juan Historical Museum, the Fred Harman Art Museum or the Parelli Natural Horsemanship World Headquarters and Museum.

The Historic Liberty Theater on the main street is also a good place to visit, particularly if you want to catch a movie. Established in 1919, the theatre is the fourth oldest in Colorado! There are also plenty of art galleries, such as Pagosa Photography, the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts Gallery, Shy Rabbit Contemporary Arts and the wild Spirit Gallery which are worth checking out, particularly if you’re struck with a rainy day.

Before you leave Pagosa Springs make sure you stop by The Choke Cherry Tree to pick up some home-made candies and chocolates.

Pagosa Springs has a lot to offer its summertime visitors, and there is no doubt the visitors will leave the area with a grin on their face after a fantastic summer vacation.

Why not give Pagosa Springs a try this summer!