Santa Teresa's hilly location offers some of the most expansive panoramic views of Rio de Janeiro, and its relative remoteness has also helped it to become an artist's enclave. Spend the day view hopping while enjoying the ample neighborhood bars and shops.
Mirante Dona Marta
Most people have never heard of Mirante Dona Marta, but this is actually one of the best lookout points in Rio de Janeiro. Mirante Dona Marta is an observation deck and helipad located in the Dona Marta Favela in the Santa Teresa neighborhood. From this lookout point you are able to see Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer, the Rio beaches and downtown Rio de Janeiro. Unlike many of the other lookout points in the city it is relatively cheap to go to. Dona Marta is also closer to the city, and offers a closer view. Another bonus is that there are less crowds and lines to stand in. The helipad on Mirante Dona Marta still works and there are flights to it throughout the day.
Santa Teresa is the bohemian heart of Rio de Janeiro, and many original and creative goods can be found throughout its cobblestone streets. As is true for most bohemian enclaves, the area is popular with artists and intellectuals. And its hills make it one of the most scenic places to shop. Much of the original architecture and the character of the neighborhood have been preserved and it offers views of the entire city below. The best place to start is Largo do Guimarães, which can be viewed as the social center of the area. Largo do Guimarães often (but sporadicly) has individual craftsmen in the plaza setting up shop selling handmade jewelry, paintings and t-shirts. From there you can go walking from shop to shop. From the central point of Largo do Guimarães (the train/bus stop, walk across the street and up the stairs to the whimsical shop alongside the popular cafe Cafecito(http://www.cafecito.com.br/). Here you'll find interesting honey, jellies, coffee, beers, wines. After Cafecito, walk north and visit the other shops along Rua Almirante Alexandrino. Don't leave without visiting Vereda (http://www.lavereda.art.br), which is packed with high-quality art and goods by local craftspeople and artists.
Parque Das Ruinas
Parque Das Ruinas or Park of Ruins is a great place for visitors interested in seeing art in beautiful surroundings. The park contains the remains of a mansion which belonged to the Brazilian heiress Laurinda Santos Lobo. The house had been a meeting place for many great intellectuals and artists before the heiress’ death in 1946. Now the site is an architectural mix of old and new. Some of the original brick construction of the mansion remains and has been restored with brick, steel, and glass additions. There is a small gallery on the ground floor which generally displays work of Brazilian artists. Sometimes the park hosts other forms of artistic expression like music, dance or film viewings.However, the greatest draw of the park is the viewing platform. A splendid view of Rio is awaiting visitors that climb the steps to the top of the viewing platform, probably the most enriching “permanent exhibit” of the park.
Aprazível is a magical restaurant nestled amongst treetops in the hills of Santa Teresa, a bohemian neighborhood in Rio perched away from beaches and tourists. It’s location provides a view of the city that can be appreciated both day and night. The enchanting surroundings, service and food make for a high-level experience without being stuffy. The menu offers an artistic take on Brazil-inspired dishes that are inventive but accessible. Start with the Palmito Fresco Assado, grilled hearts of palm topped with pesto and cashew nut served inside of bamboo. Marreco Aprazível, grilled chicken breast dressed in a plum, and red wine reduction with rice and apple pure is a notable main course. Try booking ahead to see if you can swing a wood carved nook outside of the restaurant’s main dining area. And on a practical note, parking and even convincing a cab to drive you up Santa Teresa’s cobble stoned hills can be difficult on a whip, consider arranging transportation in advance or including your Aprazível visit as a part of an entire day of visiting Santa Teresa’s attractions.
Arcos da Lapa
The Arcos da Lapa are one of the few remaining architectural giants in Rio from the colonial era. It's a mammoth structure 42 arches stretching 270 meters (885.83 feet) in length. In its early days, it served as an aqueduct to bring water from the Carioca river to Largo da Carioca, to combat water shortage in the city. Now the landmark serves as a popular meeting spot for a night of Lapa debauchery. On any given night, you may find drummers, samba circles, hip hop ciphers, rockers, skaters, and crowds of partiers, all hanging around the arches. On Thursday through Sunday drink vendors selling juicy and budget-friendly caipirinhas and food vendors selling items like brazilian hot dogs and burgers set up their tents near the arches. The popularity of the area also attracts pickpockets so be cautious while walking around even during the day.