Centro, Lapa & Santa Teresa
Rio’s Central Business district is the cultural and economic center of the city, home to arts and history museums, cultural centers, churches and shopping malls.
Lapa, south of the Centro, is the city’s most lively neighborhood: the former red-light district is now an area dedicated to caipirinha in one of the many bars, listening to live samba and Bossa Nova under the famous Archos de Lapa (an old Aqueduct).
Santa Teresa is a picturesque neighborhood located on a hill, home to many artists and musicians, as well as the famous colored stairs “Escadaria Selaron”.
During the day, the Centro area is crowded and safe – though there can be pickpockets, but there is a police presence. It becomes empty and thus dangerous at night, and on sundays when all the shops are closed.
Lapa is very lively during weekends, but muggings are not unheard of. Stick to the center of the neighborhood and do not take any valuables.
Santa Teresa is considered dangerous at night, since it is surrounded by 3 favelas. Do not venture there alone, and prefer using taxis rather than walking.
Zona Sul: Copacabana, Leblon, Ipanema
The Zona Sul is perhaps the most famous and most touristic part of Rio. Home to the iconic landmarks like the Sugar Loaf Mountain, the Corcovado, the world-famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, it is a tourist’s dream come true. Most of the city’s hotels and upscale accommodation are located in the area
These neighborhoods are reasonably safe, although as a touristic place it attracts a whole lot of pickpockets and scammers. If you go to the beach, be EXTREMELY careful: there are many thieves who excel at stealing your belongings. Only take the minimum amount of money and personal items, and of course never leave them unattended.
It is dangerous to walk on the beaches at night, and even Cariocas don’t do it.
Home to the Maracana Stadium, the Zona Norte is a popular area with few touristic attractions. Tourists should avoid going anywhere North of the Maracana stadium, for the area is home to many impoverished neighborhoods and favelas.
If you take a look a the Favelas Map of Rio, you will see many of them are located North :