The city of Rio de Janeiro is a feast for the eyes. From its art and murals to its rich history and vibrant culture, anyone who visits the city is sure to find something they like in Rio. And while there are plenty of neighborhoods that’ll catch your eye when you visit Brazil’s most famous city, some spots are just more kaleidoscopic than others.

Here’s a quick look at Rio’s most colorful communities.

Santa Teresa
Arguably the liveliest and most colorful neighborhood in Rio, Santa Teresa is beloved by hipsters and artists who fill its bars, cafes, and restaurants. The area is incredibly walkable and the old tracks that belonged to trolleys from a bygone era can serve as makeshift tour guides.
Santa Teresa is covered in some of the city’s most beautiful and coolest murals, with fresh designs and gorgeous hues splattered all over the streets, but the art isn’t the only thing worth seeing. Because Saint Teresa is one of the highest neighborhoods in Rio, it offers a spectacular view of the beautiful sprawling city below.

[Image via Flicker - CC BY-SA 2.0 - Jim Killock]

Lapa
The area of Lapa unfolds like a rainbow for any visitor. One of the brightest and most beautiful attractions to visit in Lapa is the Selarón steps, a tiled and bright walkway that leads visitors into the very heart of the neighborhood.
Lapa is filled with thrift shops, specialty stores, and spaces for live music. It’s draped with one-of-a-kind lights and decorations that make the murals on the streets come alive. Ramshackle pop-up stands sell caipirinhas, mojitos, and coffees.

[Image via Flicker - CC BY-SA 2.0 - Samantha Beddoes]

Flamengo
Those looking to trade sand and beach for green and quiet should head to Flamengo, at the tip of Guanabara Bay. The name, which means “Flemish” in Portuguese, comes from Dutch settlements that began at the end of the 16th century. The neighborhood has managed to evade a lot of the rapid development that many parts of Rio have experienced over the past fifty years and has retained its rich history and undeveloped greenness. Flamengo has a calmness that feels absent from the rest of Rio.
Centro
Like most city centers, Rio’s Centro is bumping. The area weaves together its past and present with historic monuments like the Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro and Paço Imperial standing between silver sky scrapers and colonial bars.
Centro mainly serves as Rio’s economic powerhouse, but arresting art pieces pay homage to Rio’s turbulent past. The juxtaposition between Brazil’s wealthiest and most powerful businessmen and the dressed down tourists and peddlers paints a picture of a country that’s finding its legs.

[Image via Flickr --CC BY 2.0 -- Dimitry B.]

There’s beauty to be found in the contrast. Locals laugh that this is the only place in Rio where you’ll find Cariocas — or a person from Rio — rushing. Like a complicated contemporary painting, Centro offers tourists a chance to think and appreciate.

[Image via Flickr -- CC BY 2.0 -- Rodrigo Soldon.]

Cosme Velho
One of the smaller neighborhoods in Rio, Cosme Velho is also known for its wonderful gardens and its close-to-nature vibes. Some of the homes need repair and restoration, but their dilapidated sophistication makes the area truly unique. It’s as though mother nature gave Cosme Velho to the people of Rio herself, and although the financial richness may have left, the area continues to thrive and prosper in many other ways.
The colorful highlight of Cosme Velho is the Largo do Boticário, a square that was designed in traditional neo-colonial style. The square features homes in bright blues, yellows, pinks, and greens. It’s reminiscent of Southern Antebellum architecture, except with wilderness creeping into the edges.

[Image via Flickr -- CC BY 2.0 -- Los viajes del Cangrejo]

Jardim Botânico
While not technically a neighborhood, Rio de Janeiro’s Botanical Garden or Jardim Botânico is one of the most colorful places that you can visit in Rio. The botanical garden is home to over 6,000 species of flora and features important archaeological, artistic, and historical artifacts. Its collection is vast and diverse, featuring indoor and outdoor plants across almost 350 acres.
The entrance to Jardim Botânico is well known and very distinguishable — a half mile row of palm trees leads visitors to the main areas. What’s interesting is that all these trees originated from a single frawn — the Palma Mater — which was destroyed by a strike of lighting. The garden is filled with orchids and lush spices. The aromas themselves would be colorful enough if not complemented by the enchantment of rare flowers, trees, and bushes.
Rocinha
Rocinha is Rio’s most populous favela (favelas are the slums of Brazil). What’s interesting about Rocinha, however, is that over time, this area has grown from being an urban slum into a developing community where the homes have grown to be several stories high, the area’s infrastructure has blossomed to support the 70,000 people that live there, and life does flourish.
Rocinha does continue to suffer from drug trafficking and some violence, but despite these obstacles, a well-planned visit to the neighborhood can reveal the inner workings of a very unfamiliar area. With houses basically built on one another up the hilly edges of Rio, Rocinha is the very definition of improvisation and survival.
Barra de Tijuca
Barra de Tijuca is Miami’s cousin in Rio. The beaches and the lifestyle of those in Barra draw the wealthy and the famous. Flashy jewelry and glitzy dresses flutter around the night, creating almost a live-action portrait of what it means to be glamorous.
Barra de Tijuca’s beaches are like the beaches you always expect to see in Rio: Long, white, and filled with beautiful men and women. It’s a sunbather’s delight and there is no shame. So take in the reds, golds, and yellows and let the warmth of the sun, some rum, and fun fill you up.
Santa Teresa
Arguably the liveliest and most colorful neighborhood in Rio, Santa Teresa is beloved by hipsters and artists who fill its bars, cafes, and restaurants. The area is incredibly walkable and the old tracks that belonged to trolleys from a bygone era can serve as makeshift tour guides.
Santa Teresa
Arguably the liveliest and most col...
Santa Teresa is covered in some of the city’s most beautiful and coolest murals, with fresh designs and gorgeous hues splattered all over the streets, but the art isn’t the only thing worth seeing. Because Saint Teresa is one of the highest neighborhoods in Rio, it offers a spectacular view of the beautiful sprawling city below.

[Image via Flicker - CC BY-SA 2.0 - Jim Killock]

Santa Teresa is covered in some of ...
Lapa
The area of Lapa unfolds like a rainbow for any visitor. One of the brightest and most beautiful attractions to visit in Lapa is the Selarón steps, a tiled and bright walkway that leads visitors into the very heart of the neighborhood.
Lapa
The area of Lapa unfolds like a rai...
Lapa is filled with thrift shops, specialty stores, and spaces for live music. It’s draped with one-of-a-kind lights and decorations that make the murals on the streets come alive. Ramshackle pop-up stands sell caipirinhas, mojitos, and coffees.

[Image via Flicker - CC BY-SA 2.0 - Samantha Beddoes]

Lapa is filled with thrift shops, s...
Flamengo
Those looking to trade sand and beach for green and quiet should head to Flamengo, at the tip of Guanabara Bay. The name, which means “Flemish” in Portuguese, comes from Dutch settlements that began at the end of the 16th century. The neighborhood has managed to evade a lot of the rapid development that many parts of Rio have experienced over the past fifty years and has retained its rich history and undeveloped greenness. Flamengo has a calmness that feels absent from the rest of Rio.
Flamengo
Those looking to trade sand and bea...
Centro
Like most city centers, Rio’s Centro is bumping. The area weaves together its past and present with historic monuments like the Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro and Paço Imperial standing between silver sky scrapers and colonial bars.
Centro
Like most city centers, Rio’s Cen...
Centro mainly serves as Rio’s economic powerhouse, but arresting art pieces pay homage to Rio’s turbulent past. The juxtaposition between Brazil’s wealthiest and most powerful businessmen and the dressed down tourists and peddlers paints a picture of a country that’s finding its legs.

[Image via Flickr --CC BY 2.0 -- Dimitry B.]

Centro mainly serves as Rio’s eco...
There’s beauty to be found in the contrast. Locals laugh that this is the only place in Rio where you’ll find Cariocas — or a person from Rio — rushing. Like a complicated contemporary painting, Centro offers tourists a chance to think and appreciate.

[Image via Flickr -- CC BY 2.0 -- Rodrigo Soldon.]

There’s beauty to be found in the...
Cosme Velho
One of the smaller neighborhoods in Rio, Cosme Velho is also known for its wonderful gardens and its close-to-nature vibes. Some of the homes need repair and restoration, but their dilapidated sophistication makes the area truly unique. It’s as though mother nature gave Cosme Velho to the people of Rio herself, and although the financial richness may have left, the area continues to thrive and prosper in many other ways.
Cosme Velho
One of the smaller neighborhoods in...
The colorful highlight of Cosme Velho is the Largo do Boticário, a square that was designed in traditional neo-colonial style. The square features homes in bright blues, yellows, pinks, and greens. It’s reminiscent of Southern Antebellum architecture, except with wilderness creeping into the edges.

[Image via Flickr -- CC BY 2.0 -- Los viajes del Cangrejo]

The colorful highlight of Cosme Vel...
Jardim Botânico
While not technically a neighborhood, Rio de Janeiro’s Botanical Garden or Jardim Botânico is one of the most colorful places that you can visit in Rio. The botanical garden is home to over 6,000 species of flora and features important archaeological, artistic, and historical artifacts. Its collection is vast and diverse, featuring indoor and outdoor plants across almost 350 acres.
Jardim Botânico
While not technically a neighborhoo...
The entrance to Jardim Botânico is well known and very distinguishable — a half mile row of palm trees leads visitors to the main areas. What’s interesting is that all these trees originated from a single frawn — the Palma Mater — which was destroyed by a strike of lighting. The garden is filled with orchids and lush spices. The aromas themselves would be colorful enough if not complemented by the enchantment of rare flowers, trees, and bushes.
The entrance to Jardim Botânico is...
Rocinha
Rocinha is Rio’s most populous favela (favelas are the slums of Brazil). What’s interesting about Rocinha, however, is that over time, this area has grown from being an urban slum into a developing community where the homes have grown to be several stories high, the area’s infrastructure has blossomed to support the 70,000 people that live there, and life does flourish.
Rocinha
Rocinha is Rio’s most populous fa...
Rocinha does continue to suffer from drug trafficking and some violence, but despite these obstacles, a well-planned visit to the neighborhood can reveal the inner workings of a very unfamiliar area. With houses basically built on one another up the hilly edges of Rio, Rocinha is the very definition of improvisation and survival.
Rocinha does continue to suffer fro...
Barra de Tijuca
Barra de Tijuca is Miami’s cousin in Rio. The beaches and the lifestyle of those in Barra draw the wealthy and the famous. Flashy jewelry and glitzy dresses flutter around the night, creating almost a live-action portrait of what it means to be glamorous.
Barra de Tijuca
Barra de Tijuca is Miami’s cousin...
Barra de Tijuca’s beaches are like the beaches you always expect to see in Rio: Long, white, and filled with beautiful men and women. It’s a sunbather’s delight and there is no shame. So take in the reds, golds, and yellows and let the warmth of the sun, some rum, and fun fill you up.
Barra de Tijuca’s beaches are lik...

About The Author

Dave Odegard

Dave Odegard is an ex-army brat turned internet word person, whose work has been published on Maxim Online, USAToday, Buzzfeed, and more. He is currently the Senior Content Writer at Fareportal (CheapOair's parent company) and spends his free time exploring the wilds of Brooklyn, New Jersey, and Sweden.