Rio’s magnificent Botanical Garden at the foot of Corcovado, the mountain from which Christ the Redeemer presides, is a great spot for a peaceful start to the day. The visual treats include a grand avenue of imperial palms, a sensory garden, the ruins of the old gunpowder works, and an orchid house featuring more than 700 species. The streets of the surrounding upmarket Jardim Botânico neighbourhood are rich with vegetation too and harbour some of the city’s best restaurants and cafes.
Nearby is the stunningly green and shady Parque Lage, which is home to a picturesque 1920s mansion that houses the School of Visual Arts, the alma mater of Beatriz Milhazes, among other notable Brazilian artists. After a turn around the
One of the gastronomic stars putting Jardim Botânico firmly on the map, both locally and internationally, is Puro, where chef-proprietor Pedro Siqueira serves creative, delicious twists on classic Brazilian dishes with sweet simplicity and unbeatable produce.
With lunch out of the way, it’s time to head off to another leafy neighbourhood nearby, Gávea, and one of the city’s loveliest art institutions, Instituto Moreira Salles, which has an outstanding reputation for fine art photography. The 1951 mansion epitomises Brazil’s world-famous slant on modernism, with its smooth lines and white curves accentuated by lush tropical gardens created by landscape maestro Roberto Burle Marx. If you only visit one cultural space in Rio, this would be an excellent choice.