The list of clichés about where to go in Rio is almost endless. Its such a diverse and beautiful city that I could go on and on about it and I believe I would never end. So, I am focusing on the most obvious, safe, and that will certainly satisfy everyone. I will also, on another post, write about my “secret” places and another not so secret favorite places.
Today I will focus on the Jardim Botânico (Botanical Garden) and Parque Lage.
Jardim Botânico – the Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden is a magic place showcasing an outstanding diversity of flora and fauna. It was founded in June 1808 by D. João VI, who was the prince regent, of Portuguese Monarchy that was governing Brasil. It is one of the ten most important Botanical Gardens in the world, being home to the rarest species of plants of the Brazilian flora and also of other countries. It is a great option for family programs and a true treat for the lovers of nature. The Botanical Garden Janeiro is listed both by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute and was defined by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve area.
There are more than 6,000 species of plants, over an approximate area of 54 hectares, divided in several environments. Just walking around it, amidst the fragrances, sounds, views, discovering a new feature at every step, watching the bird diversity, the monkeys running from one place to another, the squirrels calmly looking at you as if you were part of the setting, or simply sitting on a bench and letting time flow is a program you will not forget soon. Make sure you do not get distracted by the calmness and peace of the place and take a time to visit the various attractions of the garden, which include:
- Central Fountain (Chafariz Central or Chafariz das Musas): Four figures are represented in the central fountain, that was made in England and transported to Rio: music, poetry, science and art.
- Casa dos Pilões: an archaeological nucleus representing the activity of the former gunpowder factory.
- Orquidário: Contains and immense collection of orchids as well as anthuriums, ferns and avencas, being one of the most beautiful collections
- Japanese garden: It was created in 1930´s, and is a delight to the eyes, showcasing the delicacy of Japanese culture, with its bonsai, cherry trees and bamboos
- Sensory Garden: it was conceived in a way that the plants can be touched by the visitors, and it was mainly aimed at the visually impaired. It has aromatic plants and the visitor is invited to touch and smell. Plant species are identified by plaques with braille writing.
- Amazon Area: This part of the botanical garden evokes the vegetation of the Amazon, with examples of rubber trees, andirobas and cacao.
The Garden is open every day of the year except December 25 and January 1st. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 8am to 5pm, and on Mondays from 12am to 5pm. The entrance fee is approximately 5USD, being free for children under 5 years old and half entrance for people over 60 years old. The entrance is only by Rua Jardim Botânico nº 1008 and there is no parking available on site.
You can get there by car, taxi, Uber, cabify or Bus. Those who drive can park at Jockey Club, located opposite the Garden, and Santos Dumont Square, 31 (in front of the Square). Visitors to the Botanical Garden have a discount, by presenting a parking ticket stamped at the Garden when paying for the parking time. For people with severe difficulties of locomotion there is exclusive parking (4 parking spaces), which entrance is through Rua Jardim Botânico, 1008.
- Wear comfortable clothes and sneakers
- Take mosquito repellent.
- There are drinking fountains and WC in the park., but taking a bottle of water is always advised
- Do not forget your camera
- Check the Botanical Garden website and the Facebook page for special events.
- Jockey Club and Rua Pacheco Leão, behind the Botanical garden have excellent gastronomic options
- There is an app from the botanical garden both for , iPhone, iPad e iPod Touch and Android
Parque Lage is located near the Botanical Garden, at the foot of Morro do Corcovado where Christ the Redeemer is. Parque Lage is a place that joins culture, arts and nature in an unique way.
When you cross the entrance gate you enter into a magic world of green, where a diverse flora, both native and European makes you believe that conservation is a dream come true. Walking inside you get to the main building and all of a sudden you are transported to the 16th century, in a unreal feeling of being truly in the past.
Parque Lage was, in 1957, listed by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (IPHAN) as a historical and cultural heritage site. It was initially designed by the English landscaper John Tyndale in 1840. As you walk through it you come across imperial palms, artificial lakes and islands, caves and the aquariums embedded in the walls of a cave with a diversity of fish.
The main building, which is a mansion from the 16th century, hosts the School of Visual Arts (EAV) that offers free workshops and classes for artists, training courses for young people, as well as diverse program of exhibitions, and seminars. The EAV also has a library and an auditorium.
To get there you can get the same bus as for the Jardim Botânico and although both are close to each other, I would advise to visit them on separate days to make sure you take enough time to enjoy the place. Taxi, Uber and Cabify are also options to get there, as well as driving. Contrary to the Botanical Garden, parque Lage has 50 parking spaces within the park, for approximately 2.5USD per period. t is also easy to park in the surrounding streets. The Park is open 7 days a week, from 08:00 – 17:00, and the entrance is free of charge.
- Free maps are distributed in the Visitor Center
- The central courtyard has a pool, and there is a Bistro (Bistro Plage) that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sit there and enjoy a coffee or meal while watching and listening to the art and music events that take place all year round. Be prepared to pay high prices, as with any other tourist point in Rio;
- Explore the trail leading to Corcovado, but be careful, it’s not for beginners, and it can be dangerous for people that do it alone
- If driving go to Vista Chinesa (there are directions to get there) from where you will have a stunning view from the City. If a woman, be careful and do not go there alone
- Take comfortable shoes and clothes as well as a bottle of water and mosquito repellent
- If staying in Leblon, Copacabana, Ipanema or Lagoa, walk from parque Lage home. Its a beautiful walk, around the lagoon. Make sure you have comfortable shoes as the distance can be considerable.