The picturesque neighborhood lies a little off the tourist track, tucked away between the legendary beaches, the iconic Christ statue and the artsy charms of Santa Teresa. This lends the neighborhood a tranquility hard to find elsewhere in the city.
In Laranjeiras, there are no high-rise chain hotels or hordes of vendors hawking tourist tat, and the chattering voices heard in the bars and restaurants are almost exclusively speaking Portuguese.
Laranjeiras is a friendly, relaxed neighborhood — Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson
Any tourists in the neighborhood tend to be passing through on their way to nearby Cosme Velho, home to the funicular railway station for rides up the steep, jungle-clad sides of Corcovado mountain and up to the Cristo Redentor.
Tiny capuchin monkeys (known locally as micos) jump through the abundant tall trees and run along telegraph wires, and the neighborhood is circled by the verdant hills that bring Atlantic rainforest virtually to locals’ front doors.
Laranjeiras’ biggest claims to fame are its grand palacio ("palace") and the training ground of big name Rio soccer team Fluminense, the two of which are handily located side by side.
But Laranjeiras’ lower key charms include some lively street fairs, and the neighborhood is best visited on Saturdays, when a lively street market springs up on a neighborhood square at the center of the bairro ("neighborhood").
From around 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting, the area around Rua General Glicerio – a rather well-heeled street – throngs with stalls selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to handmade clothes and jewelry. The shopping is set to the sound of live choro and samba, and it's given a further festive edge by the presence of a long-standing stall that doubles as a CD store and bar.
The famous Bar do Luiz specializes in batidas, sugar cane rum mixed with fruit and condensed milk. Here they also sell bottles of artisan cachaca for enjoyment at home.
For those in the mood to carry on the festivities, nightfall sees a lively street party scene at Praca Sao Salvador, a larger square some 15 minutes’ walk away. Here, a cluster of bars and street sellers attracts a large crowd of drinkers to a scene that is notably calmer and less pick-up focused than the more famous street party in nearby Lapa.