Photo snappers and local flavor enthusiasts in Rio de Janeiro, take note: just a couple of metro stops from Copacabana Beach and a couple more from downtown Rio, Largo do Machado is a scenic, tranquil square offering ample photo opportunities.
The square is anchored by the imposing 19th-century church Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Glória ("Our Lady of Glory," not to be confused with the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Glória do Outeiro in neighboring Gloria), and at its heart is a statue of Our Lady herself, surrounded by jetting fountains. The church is open to the public and worth a visit for its ornate interior.
Largo do Machado provides plenty of photo opportunities — Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson
Home to flower stalls, coconut water stands and handicraft sellers and surrounded by accessibly-priced restaurants, Largo do Machado has a wonderfully tranquil ambience, and the square is a good spot for people watching and photo-snapping.
Themed street fairs take place regularly here, with the focus often on books, clothes or arts and crafts, and there's a small play area at one end that should prevent younger visitors from complaining of sightseeing overload.
The square is also one of two jumping-on points for official vans up to the Christ statue (the other is in Copacabana), and you can buy tickets here as well as board the van.
Of the many restaurants, the rustic Adega Portugalia is a standout: tables and chairs overlooking the square make for a pleasant spot to try typical bar snacks such as bolinhas de bacalhau – little cod and potato balls – washed down with an ice-cold chopp (draught beer) or a glass of Portuguese wine.
Budget travelers, take note: at R$6 a glass, the house white wine here is less than half the price charged in most Rio establishments, and while it's unlikely to win any prizes, it's surprisingly drinkable.
Adega Portugalia is a pleasant place for eating, drinking and people watching — Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson
It's worth setting aside a couple of hours before or after a trip to the Christ statue to spend at this pleasant square, which tends to be overlooked by tourists and as such is free of the pushy souvenir vendors that can be an annoyance at Rio's tourist hotspots.
The square is also a good stopping-off point for anybody on their way to downtown Rio. Largo do Machado even has its own metro station, making it extremely easy to reach from either Centro or the touristic heartland of the Zona Sul (the city's beautiful, wealthy "South Zone").