Botafogo and Urca are two neighborhoods in the south zone of Rio de Janeiro that tend to get overlooked in favor of the more glamorous beach regions of Copacabana and Ipanema. However, Botafogo has a lively nightlife scene and plenty of great things to do during the day. Urca is the more relaxed out of the two, yet still is unmissable in any trip to Rio de Janeiro.
Relax On The Beach At Praia Vermelha
Tucked into a small bay with surrounding peaks and vegetation, Praia Vermelha is a beautiful and charming little beach that sits at the foot of the famous Pão de Açúcar (Sugaloaf Mountain). The rocks that protect the shores keep the seas calm and smooth, making perfect conditions for canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding or a relaxing swim. The beach is in the quiet neighborhood of Urca where there are plenty of bars and restaurants to visit after a day at the beach.
Check Out Urban Art At GaleRio
GaleRio is a space dedicated for graffiti and urban art, and displays the works of some of Brazil’s best street artists. It houses collections of paintings, installations, sculptures and objects that are transformed into art, such as phone booths made into furniture and much more. GaleRio also contains EixoRio, an ongoing open-air project to create the largest urban art gallery in the world.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Enjoy The Views At Pão de Açúcar
One of the most iconic points in Rio de Janeiro is Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) and it attracts visitors all year round for its stunning views across the city and the sea. Getting up there is half of the fun; visitors must take two cable carts that connect between the base point at Praia Vermelha, Morro da Urca and the Sugarloaf Mountain itself.
Sing Your Heart Out At A Karaoke Night In Botafogo
For those that want to belt out a few karaoke classics, then there is no better spot to be at than Botafogo on a Wednesday night. One of the best nightclubs in the area, Casa da Matriz, hosts a karaoke party every Wednesday with renditions of old classics and new indie music. Also on Wednesdays, Cabaret Lounge has a live DJ to accompany the karaoke singers (great for those who are shy!) with a mix of rock, indie and pop songs.
Watch A Brazilian Film At Estação Botafogo
Estação Botafogo is a showcase for Brazilian films. Here, the cinema screens new and old films, all produced and made by Brazilian filmmakers and actors. The center captures Brazilian culture through moving picture and is a great way to discover new and upcoming foreign films. ‘Eu Sei que Vou te Amar’ (I know That I Will Love You) by Arnaldo Jabor was the first film to ever be screened at this cinema in 1985.
Go On A Bike Ride
A fantastic and popular service in Rio is the Itau bike stations. Bikes can be rented for R$10 per day with a limit of one hour per bike. There is a bike station right next to Praia Vermelha in Urca. Rent a bike from there and cycle through Urca and across Praia de Botafogo to see beautiful views of the bay and see Sugarloaf Mountain from different perspectives.
Eat a Hamburger
With food truck events being the current craze in Rio, the humble hamburger is the ‘in’ food right now. Comuna, a bar and casual restaurant in Botafogo, is one of the best places in Rio to get a delicious homemade burger. The X-Wilson is one of the most popular burgers on its menu and is made up of a 160 gram beef burger served with gouda cheese and a choice of sauce; vegetarian options are available, too.
Famous for its generously filled pastels and serene views across Guaranara Bay, Bar Urca is popular among tourists and locals alike. Go to the bar, grab a few beers and some pastels, and sit across the street on the wall that overlooks the bay. The casual yet lively atmosphere is friendly and it’s a perfect stop after a day of sightseeing around Urca.
Have A Splurge At Shopping Rio Sul
Botafogo is home to one of the most popular shopping malls in the south zone of the city known as Shopping Rio Sul. This mall is a great place to check out popular Brazilian brands such as Osklen for clothes, and Agua de Coco and Bumbum Ipanema for swimwear. There is also a large dining area with great restaurants to dine at.
Shopping Rio Sul, Rua Lauro Müller, 116, Botafogo, RJ, Brazil +55 21 2122 8070
By Sarah Brown
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.