Jardim Botanico neighbourhood steals its name from Brazil’s Emperor’s majestic gardens in the same region. The charming residential area in Zona Sul Rio (South Zone) backs onto the Atlantic rain forest, sheltered under the armpit of Christ the Redeemer Statue. The hug of nature and the walkable streets highlight Jardim Botanico (Botanical Garden) as a must visit area of Rio de Janeiro.
And there’s several prestigious companies that think alike, setting up shop in Jardim Botânico:
- Brazilian ballerina turned choreographer, Deborah Colker’s dance studio.
- The National Tropical Botanical School, a government entity dedicated to research, education and the conservation wheelhouse of the Brazilian tropics in Rio.
- PUC-Rio University is steps away in the neighbourhood of Gávea.
- IMPA, Instituto de Matemática Pura e Aplicadao, (Applied and Pure Math Institute), one of the best in the world is buried at the back of Jardim Botânico Rio.
What to do in Jardim Botänico?
1. Wander Around the 200-Year-Old Jardim Botânico
This magnificent garden is over 200 years old. Not only is it a wonderful way to explore the native Atlantic forest, it is also a committed collection of worldwide plants.
The gardens have specimens from Japan, a greenhouse of carnivorous plants, Australian tree the Melaleuca, California red-woods, Amazonian water lilies and many more.
This historical garden is also the epicenter for preservation of native Brazilian species. Today 3000 plant species in Brazil are considered endangered of extinction. This research into the flora and fauna of Brazil takes place at the Centro Nacional de Conservação da Flora (National Center of Plant Conservation) located on the Jardim Botânico premises.
- The address is Rua Jardim Botânico, 1008 – Jardim Botânico.
- Entrance for foreigners is R$67. Students in Brazil get half price with a valid ID from a Brazilian institution.
- Check the Jardim Botânico website for more information.
2. Spot Monkeys in Parque Lage
Parque Lage is a free, well-kept park located in Jardim Botanico neighbourhood.
During colonial Brazil this park was a sugar mill. After 1660, the park was bought by the Rodrigo de Freitas Mello family. Later in the 1800s, the land passed to British nobility. At this point it was landscaped into a European style, but held its unique vibe, brimming with Brazil’s gorgeous, tropical flora.
It assumed its name when Antonio Martins Lage bought it in 1859. Later Henrique Lage and his Italian opera singer wife, Gabriela Besanzono moved in. This is when the “Roman palazzo” was built, that nowadays houses the visual arts school.
The Visual Arts School holds exhibitions and offers courses for all your arty needs.
- The park also houses the Plage Cafe. Open from 9AM to 17PM, serving breakfast and lunch.
- See the Plage Cafe menu.
- Check the Plage Cafe website for more information.
- The green area of the park is open from 8AM to 18PM.
- Entrance is free.
Read about the Top 5 Places to See Monkeys in Rio.
3. Sample Fresh Brazilian Food in the Canopy of Jardim Botânico
At the entrance of Rio’s botanical gardens, the Garden Cafe restaurant sits in the fresh forest. You don’t need to pay to enter the garden to dine here. Often there is live acoustic music and the roof of outside terrace is made of living vines. Perfect for a day date.
- The address is, Garden Cafe, R. Jardim Botânico, 1008 – Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro.
- The Garden Cafe menu can be accessed here.
4. Try a Brazilian Steak at Filé de Ouro
Filé de Ouro doesn’t accept reservations, but they have a sheltered outside area where you can start with nibbles and drinks. At weekends there is always a queue.
As the name suggests, Filé de Ouro or Golden Steak in English, does divine Brazilian steak. The menu is divided by beef cut and how many people that are sharing in each dish.
- The address is R. Jardim Botânico, 731 – Lagoa, Rio de Janeiro.
- Check out what Filé de Ouro’s has to offer on their Instagram.
5. Hike to Christ the Redeemer Statue
Parque Lage is at the foot of the Corcovado Mountain, the home of the Christ the Redeemer Statue.
From the back of the park you can hike to the statue. This is a long four hour hike. Make sure you go in a group with plenty of water.
6. Go to the Rio Jockey Club in Jardim Botanico
The Jockey Club Rio is home to 10 bars and restaurants, along with weekly horse racing events. The grounds of the jockey club are large and often rented out for special shows, events and festivals.
From the grounds you can see the New Year’s Eve firework display on Copacabana beach. A less crowded option, if you are in the marvelous city to ring in the New Year.
Learn our tips on how to spend a Lazy Sunday at the Jockey Club Rio.
7. Hike to a Waterfall from Jardim Botânico
There are a number of waterfalls reachable from the back of Jardim Botânico through the Tijuca forest.
Cachoeira do Horta, cachoeira meaning waterfall, can be reached by road. Take the Estrada da vista Chinesa then walk 15 mins to the falls.
Another couple of waterfalls are accessible by hike from Rua Sara Vilela. These are called Cachoeira da Cortina and Cachoeira dos Primatas. Expect a half kilometer, light hike. Though note these are not accessible, paved routes.
We’ve included two Google map screenshots to show the start of the hikes.
8. Walk by the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas
The Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas was known to the Brazilian indigenous population as Sacopenapã, or “lagoon with flat roots” in Tupi-Guarani. The lagoon borders the Jardim Botânico neighbourhood.
Around the salt water lagoon is a 7.5 km track; it is great for walking, jogging or cycling.
You can rent both water pedalos and four-person land pedalos to enjoy this lagoon.
At Christmas a towering, lit-up Christmas tree is launched on the lake. The floating tree puts on nightly light shows of about 20 minutes. A tropical festive treat.
9. Go to Casa Caminhoá Cultural Center in Jardim Botânico Neighbourhood
Casa Caminhoá holds a mixture of artistic events and ventures.
Count on poetry recitals, local art exhibitions, seasonal handcraft fairs, pop-up stalls and more.
Support small local businesses by visited this culture center in the Jardim Botânico neighbourhood in Rio.