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Where to stay in Rio de Janeiro – a travel guide to Rio de Janeiro’s neighbourhoods

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Use this insider’s guide to the Rio de Janeiro’s neighbourhoods to book the best Rio de Janeiro hotel for you and take the stress out of your visit.

Centro

At the heart of Rio de Janeiro is the bustling Centro district, dotted with pockets of elegant colonial architecture, neoclassical monuments and baroque cathedrals. Rio’s main square and commercial hub, the Praça XV de Novembro, is lined with grandiose residences of past Portuguese monarchs. Leading south, along Rio’s downtown artery Avenida Rio Branco, stands the 17th-century Convento de Santo Antônio – a cloistered refuge decorated in blue tiles. Good bus links head north to the international airport while further south are Flamengo beach and affordable Rio de Janeiro hotels.

See all hotels near the Church of Our Lady in the Centro district

Lapa and Santa Teresa

The lively Lapa district hugs the western bank of Avenida Rio Branco, just south of the centre. Samba musicians fill the area’s bohemian bars and spill out on to the narrow alleys for impromptu street parties. Climbing high over Lapa is the monumental Roman- style aqueduct Arcos da Lapa, rising to the leafy neighbourhood of Santa Teresa. Here, cobbled streets, 19th-century mansions and arty cafés cling to the hillside giving stupendous vistas. Designer hotels and chic bars add to the ambience.

See all hotels near the Convent of St Anthony in the Lapa district

See all hotels near Arcos de Lapa in the Santa Teresa district

Copacabana

South of the centre, bordered by Avenida Atlântica, the glittering coastline area of Copacabana awaits. A sweeping bay of white sand peppered with towering buildings, Copacabana encapsulates Rio de Janeiro’s vibrant beach life. The Art Deco Copacabana Palace Hotel sits on mosaic pavements opposite the palm-fringed shore, while the Pão de Açúcar (sugar loaf) mountain rises triumphantly from the water to the east. Locals browse Avenida Nossa Senhora de Copacabana for the latest ware before heading to the beach shacks for a refreshing caipirinha cocktail.

See all hotels in Copacabana 

Ipanema and Leblon

Following the sparkling seafront west of Copacabana takes you to Rio’s most fashionable districts. Ipanema’s upmarket boutiques back on to glorious white-powder sand where tanned locals saunter among volleyball games and coconut-juice sellers. Continuing along the beach, jungle-clad mountains loom over chic hotels and luxurious restaurants in Leblon. Overlooking the area, arms outstretched, stands Rio’s miraculous Christ the Redeemer statue, on Corcovado hill. 

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See all hotels in Leblon 

Barra da Tijuca

The coastline runs west to the upscale suburb of Barra da Tijuca where family-friendly hotels and sparkling shopping malls line 12km of stunning beach. Clean azure waters lap gently next to beachfront bars and fresh seafood restaurants. Cariocas (local Rio residents) flock here for laid-back living. Barra da Tijuca is where to stay in Rio de Janeiro for convenient shopping and tranquil beach life. 

See all hotels in Barra da Tijuca