Rio de Janeiro’s vibrant and bohemian Lapa neighborhood is the epicenter of the city’s music scene, with an abundance of bars and clubs hosting local samba and forro bands. After dark, revelers spill onto the sidewalks of Rua da Lapa and Rua Joaquim Silva in the heart of Lapa.
Even in the daytime, Lapa is an interesting district to explore, with its striking colonial buildings now home to a string of vintage shops and cafés frequented by Rio’s creative types. The area is also home to one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, the Lapa Arches (Arcos da Lapa), an enormous 18th-century aqueduct that towers 210 feet (64 meters) over the central square. The Museum of Image and Sound (Museu da Imagem e do Som), which offers a journey through Brazilian cultural history, and the massive, modernist Metropolitan Cathedral are both located here.
Many general sightseeing tours of Rio de Janeiro make a stop in Lapa. But if you want to explore deeper, you can join a tour (by bike or by foot) that is more specifically focused on the city center, where Lapa is located. These tours typically also include a visit to the picturesque Santa Teresa neighborhood, uphill from Lapa. If you’re interested in nightlife, join a Lapa bar crawl with skip-the-line entrance to top clubs.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Lapa is a must-visit for those interested in Brazilian music and nightlife.
- Top clubs in the area include Rio Scenarium, Arco Iris, and Asa Branca, which are busy most nights—make a reservation, if possible.
- Cecília Meireles Hall (Sala Cecília Meireles), an important venue for chamber music, is located in Lapa.
How to Get There
Lapa is located on the southwestern edge of Rio de Janeiro’s Centro district, making it an easy add-on to a visit to the downtown area. The closest Metro station is Cinelandia (on line 1), which is a 5-minute walk from the heart of the Lapa district.
When to Get There
Colonial architecture, the cathedral, and the museum bring visitors to Lapa by day, but the neighborhood comes alive after dark, when the clubs fill close to bursting with music-loving revelers. And with its 42 grand arches dramatically lit at night, the Lapa Arches make a popular evening meeting place for cariocas (locals).
The Selaron Ladder
Lapa is home to many architectural landmarks, none so colorful as the brightly painted steps of the Selaron Ladder. The masterpiece of Chilean artist Jorge Selaron, the 215 steps of the Selaron Ladder are richly decorated with over 2,000 tiles in the colors of the Brazilian flag and mark the way up to the neighboring district of Santa Teresa.