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The first of the city’s “pacified” (police-controlled) favelas, Santa Marta is one of the few that is safe and accessible to tourists, with tours aimed at raising awareness and funds to help improve the safety and living conditions of Rio’s notorious slums. 

Santa Marta Favela is no stranger to the limelight – its innovative Favela Painting project, the brainchild of Dutch duo Haas & Hahn, has garnered global attention, and it even starred in the music video for Michael Jackson’s 1996 hit ‘They Don't Care About Us,” a moment remembered with the bronze Michael Jackson statue erected in the central square. Since then, guests as diverse as Madonna, former Brazilian president Lula and Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus have all visited the famous favela, a rainbow of makeshift houses sprawled along the steep hillsides above Botafogo.
 
While favela tourism remains a controversial undertaking, tours of the Santa Marta Favela offer visitors the chance to learn about both the positive and the negative, showcasing the rich local culture and samba scene, but also educating outsiders on the issues of drug trafficking, gang warfare and poverty that still plague many of Rio’s 700+ favelas.

Practical Info

Santa Marta Favela is located in the Botafogo district of Rio de Janeiro’s South Zone and can be reached by public transport (buses 154 and 438) from Rio Centro, but it is most commonly visited by guided tour.

Tours & Tickets

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Rio de Janeiro Combo Tour: Santa Teresa, Corcovado Mountain and Santa Marta Favela

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 14 Reviews

Visit some of Rio de Janeiro’s most famous attractions and discover the various sides to the city on this full-day tour with a local guide. Explore the ...  Read more

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $155.99

Favela Tour in Rio de Janeiro

4 star rating: Recommended 25 Reviews

Venture into a Rio de Janeiro favela (the Brazilian version of a shanty town) on this half-day educational tour. See the day-to-day lifestyles of locals who ...  Read more

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $64.99

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