This tiny island in the middle of Guanabara Bay provides a picturesque retreat from the bustling city life, yet lies just a short boat trip away from Rio’s city center. The calm beaches, untamed wildlife, and family-owned bars create an idyllic scene and offer an escape from the city. The fact the island is an auto-free zone adds to the charm and the only methods of transport are by bike, on foot or traveling by horse and carriage.
What was once the beginnings of a promising, luxury hotel has remained empty and abandoned for the last 44 years after a series of bankruptcies among the involved stakeholders. Nowadays, the Gavea Tourist Hotel – otherwise known locally as the Skeleton Hotel – has become a hangout point for those in the know, who go there to explore the empty shell of the hotel and take in the extraordinary views from the top.
Once the hotspot of the elite, famous and wealthy, who enjoyed regularly parties there, Largo do Boticario – a square surrounded by six houses – now stands abandoned. The neo-classical style of the houses remain as do the vibrant colors of their façades, yet the steely determination of the surrounding forest is evident as the plants and trees slowly creep through the walls and take over the buildings. Largo do Boticario is open to the public and the unusual architecture makes for a fascinating day trip.
A small cobbled alleyway that twists and turns remains tucked away in Centro yet its quiet appearance during the day is deceiving. At night, Arco de Teles comes alive with live Brazilian bands and a crowd that flock here for the after-work happy hour. Go to enjoy spontaneous dancing to lively music whilst sipping on chilled beers on a balmy Rio evening.
Mirante Dona Marta offers one of the most classic and spellbinding views of Rio de Janeiro, yet surprisingly isn’t known on the traveler circuit. The advantage of this is fewer crowds and more space to take in the incredible vista that stretches out over Guanabara Bay and the Sugarloaf. It can be accessed by a short hike to the top or by car.
Viaduto de Madueira is in a neighborhood in the north zone that is rarely visited by tourists, it is mostly residential and offers little in terms of traveler entertainment. However, Viaduto de Madueira is worth the trip for hosting one of the best outdoor parties in the city. Held only on Saturday nights, the party starts at 10pm and continues until the crowd goes home. The music is mostly hip-hop and local black music played by the best local DJs. It is one of the most authentic local parties in Rio.
Far away from the tourist spots in the south zone of the city you’ll find Pedra de Pontal. Located in Recreio, it offers one of the most picturesque views in Rio yet remains largely unexplored by tourists due to its remote location. To get to the top, visitors need to cross a small strip of sand and hike up to the peak. The views overlook two beaches either side of the rock and out over the ocean and Recreio.