Without doubt the most charming district of the city, Santa Teresa was built on the hills of the central part of Rio around a convent. In the 19th century it became known for its winding streets lined with castle-like colonial houses featuring quaint gardens. Some are foolhardy enough to attempt walking here, but most take the bonde eléctrico tram.
This is a neighbourhood to get lost in, and to then find refuge in one bar and then another, listening to jazz or bossa nova until the wee hours. Many festivals are also held here, and the Portas Abertas event in July, when artists open the doors of their studios, draws crowds. Nearby is the cultural centre of Parque das Ruínas, worth a look for its architecture, as is a visit to the former home of the Brazilian politician Benjamin Constant.