Lapa (62)

If there is something that identifies the Marvellous City, it is indisputably its music. To enjoy the best music and Rio's famous joy, there is nothing like a visit to the bohemian neighbourhood of Lapa, where the city's true heart is beating.

On the one hand, the bustling historic centre and, on the other, the picturesque and traditional neighbourhood of Santa Teresa. The Lapa neighbourhood offers a perfect blend of images, sounds, tastes and sensations that make it unique. Beyond its traditional restaurants and bars and its lively nightlife, Lapa is worth your visit both at day and night.  

Lapa has beautiful houses from the 18th and 19th centuries, with charming arches and wrought-iron balconies, as well as its typical facades painted in blue, green and orange hues. Lapa surprises visitors with its contrasts, and, despite being quite touristy, it is also a good place to appreciate the daily life of Brazilians.

With its famous Arcos da Lapa, whose official name is Aqueduto da Carioca, as it was built as an aqueduct to carry water from the Carioca river to the city centre. In the late 19th century, the aqueduct changed its role and became a passage on which the famous tram of Santa Teresa, affectionately known as bondinho, circulated (and hopefully will do so again). 

The bondinho of Santa Teresa became one of the major tourist attractions in the Lapa district, as you could enjoy privileged views along its route. 

From Arcos da Lapa, you can also walk and discover the picturesque Selarón staircase. The curious creation by the Chilean, Jorge Selarón, has become one of the most visited places not only within the Lapa district, but throughout Rio de Janeiro as well. 

Unquestionably, in this neighbourhood you can eat authentic Brazilian food or stop for a chope gelado, that is, a very cold beer. 

For example, a few metres away, at the foot of the Selarón staircase, there is one of the most traditional bars in the area, Adega Flor de Coimbra, a place which is imbued with Portuguese spirit and where you can try some of the best bolinhos de bacalhau (cod fritters) you can find in the Lapa district.

Another excellent place is Boteco, where you can sample its traditional coxinhas as well as tapas or snacks, among which we would highlight empadas de camarão, (pies with shrimp filling), accompanied by an excellent caipirinha.

In Lapa, you can also eat the best fried fish in town; at several sites on André Cavalcanti street, such as Bar do Peixe, Bar Peixe & Cia and Estação do Peixe, which literally invade the sidewalk with their blue chairs. If you prefer chicken instead of fried fish, Gargalo Galeteria is your place to eat some delicious roasted chickens, a place where you can even hear live samba. 

If you like flea markets, every first Sunday of the month the Feira do Rio Antigo is held, a lively antique and craft fair on Rua do Lavradio, which is filled with antique furniture and objects.

At night, the undisputed appointment is with samba, the local music par excellence. There are many places in the Lapa district where you can listen to live music and dance. One of them is the famous Carioca da Gema or the huge Rio Scenarium, a place with several rooms and a stunning decoration in each of them.

Another option for those who want to make the most of a bohemian night in the Lapa district are the shows of the famous Circo Voador, i.e. the Flying Circus; although it is called a circus, it is not actually a circus, but rather a concert venue with shows almost every day. Its billboard is highly varied, so the environment and those who visit it are as well. It is a good platform for young talent. Some of Rio's best artists, like Seu Jorge, started their career here. It surely is another excellent example of the diversity of the Lapa district and Rio de Janeiro.

If you get hungry, do not worry; here you will find places that are open 24 hours, for example, a few steps from Carioca da Gema, there is Nova Capela, serving its signature roast kid, which, as people say, is able to raise anyone after a long night with samba and caipirinhas.

Breathing that bohemian and authentic air, watching the mix of people of all kinds, admiring its buildings that evoke ancient times of splendour, knowing the true local spirit and culture, getting lost on its small streets ... To be honest, a visit to Rio would not be complete, if you do not visit the Lapa district. 

Although, here, we recommend to be extra cautious; it is not safe to walk around at night on streets with little traffic and away from the bar and restaurant area.

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