Rio de Janeiro is best known for its spectacular setting, glorious beaches like Ipanema and Copacabana, the Sugarloaf Mountain, the iconic Christ Statue and the samba, but as you explore the city, one other thing will certainly grab your attention: the city’s stunning street art. I didn’t see much of it during my first trip to Rio in the 1990’s. On subsequent trips, I noticed the proliferation of increasingly elaborate designs coupled with vibrant colours in various neighbourhoods. These days, street art in Rio has been elevated to a true art form. In fact, the Mayor recently legalised graffiti and government institutions have started to finance street art projects which bring groups of artists together. Some street artists even exhibit their artwork in galleries and their work is featured on clothing, accessories and wallpaper (check out HomeGrown in Ipanema). Every year in September, the Art Rua Festival sees graffiti artists from around the world converge upon Rio to showcase their artistic talents.
Where to find street art in Rio
Extensive murals and individual pieces can be found throughout the city but some of the best places are in the Lapa (around the famous Selarón Steps and the viaduct) and Santa Teresa neighbourhoods, Cinelândia (city centre) and bordering the Jardim Botânico (Botanical Gardens).
You’ll come across fabulous examples of street art as you stroll around the city but if you’re interested in being guided by locals from the Rio art scene, check out the Rio Street Art tour or the Graffiti and Urban Art tour.
Read more about Rio de Janeiro on Velvet Escape.