Breaking Down the Districts of Rio de Janeiro
The city of Rio was founded in 1565 and is the second largest city in Brazil. Today, it is one of the most visited cities in the Southern Hemisphere. It is well known for its soft, white sand beaches and its annual Carnaval festival. The city’s harbor, which makes the appearance of entering the mouth of a river, is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The city is separated into four districts, each with their own popular attractions.
The historic downtown center of the city is also its financial district. It hosts many important historical buildings, including Tiradentes Palace, Metropolitan Cathedral, Pedro Ernesto Palace, and Paco Imperial, a colonial building and former home of the monarchy. It also has many fine museums, including Municipal Theater, National Library, National Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum of Modern Art. The Passeio Publico is an 18th-century public garden.
The South Zone is the natural wonder of Rio. The Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas runs through the middle of the district. It is home to many of Rio’s best beaches, including Copacabana, celebrity spotting, Ipanema, Leblon, and Arpoador, breathtaking sunset views. The area also boasts the Sugar Loaf Mountains and Corcovado, home to the 125 foot Christ the Saviour statue. The mountains are absolutely stunning and great for a hike, or you can take a cable car to the tops for an incredible view of Rio. Tijuca National Park is one of the largest urban parks in the world, and Jardim Botanico is a botanical garden and science laboratory that you could spend hours exploring.
The North Zone is best known for Maracana Stadium, the largest football stadium in the world and home of the 2014 Fifa World Cup. You will also find the Soccer Museum at the stadium. Visit the Imperial Palace at Quinta da Boa Vista Park, which houses the National Museum, a natural history museum where you can see dinosaur fossils and tanned, mounted animals such as jaguars.
The West Zone is home to many of the best samba schools in Rio. The Lapa neighborhood has a great nightlife and dancing scene. The Barra da Tijuca neighborhood has a beach that is great for hang-gliding and many great shops and eateries. It also hosts Pedra Branca, the highest peak in Rio.