Rio de Janeiro for Culture Lovers

No longer is Rio in a cultural shadow of it's smart sister Sao Paulo, the sylish city known for its artistic venues.

Spurned on by hosting major events such as the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and the 2016 Olympic Games, the city has smartened up and a whole new raft of venues has now given it even more of a swagger. One of the most exciting new venues is the futuristic Museu do Amanha, with its interactive science exhibits. It's in the port area of the city, a neighborhood that's enjoyed a regeneration, also including the new Museo de Arte do Rio. Across the bay, Niterói Contemporary Art Museum (MAC Niterói) is another artistic gem, designed by Oscar Niemeyer.

There are plenty of ways of seeing Rio's performing arts, too. On an informal scale you can see street music and dance at temporary stages along the Feira do Rio Antigo, the monthly open-air antique fair, or classical opera and ballet at the historic Theatro Municipal. And in a former bank, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB) art exhibits are combined with a glowing repertoire of live performances.

Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow)

A major landmark along Rio's waterfront, this new, futuristic museum champions technology, science and ideas, with plenty of interactive exhibits. Open Tues–Sun, 10am–6pm (last ticket 5pm). Adult R$10; conc R$5; Tues free.

Theatro Municipal

The theater is a splendid piece of French-inspired, lavish neoclassical pomp. On either side of the ostentatious colonnaded façade are rotundas, surmounted by cupolas, watched over by the muses of poetry and music alongside an imperial eagle.

MAC Niteroi

Located outside Rio, in the nearby city of Niteroi, this collection of contemporary art is displayed in this stunning flying-saucer-like museum designed by Oscar Niemeyer. 

Feira do Rio Antigo (antique fair)

This lively antiques street market, held the first Saturday every month, has a wealth of items from huge cabinets to antique jewellery and records. There are plenty of little restaurants and bars, plus barbecue stands in the evenings. 

Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR)

This was one of the first art galleries opened in early 2013, part of the port zone regeneration. The slick museum showcases artists who established the Brazilian style, including Burle Marx, Castagneto, Dall’Ara, Di Cavalcanti, Facchinetti, Goeldi and Iberê, plus those who are shaping Brazilian art today.

Museu de Arte Moderna

This striking modernist building houses the best collection of modern art in Brazil, outside São Paulo. Works by many well-known Europeans sit alongside collections of Brazilian modern and contemporary art, including drawings by Cândido Portinari and etchings of everyday work scenes by Gregório Gruber.

Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB)

This fine early 19th-century neoclassical building with a beautiful glass domed roof hosts many of the city’s large and distinguished art shows, including some excellent photographic exhibitions. Please check for events and opening times.

Museu Histórico Nacional

This is one of the city’s more distinguished museums, with a collection of magnificent carriages, historical treasures, colonial sculpture and furniture, maps, paintings, arms and armour, silver and porcelain.

Museo Seleçäo Brasileira

This soccer-themed museum has trophies, film footage, signed shirts and more exhibits to celebrate Brazil's national sport.

Museu Internacional de Arte Naif do Brasil (MIAN)

The museum, which re-opened in 2012 after renovation, is one of the most comprehensive of naïf and folk paintings in the world with a permanent collection of 8,000 works by artists from 130 countries. The genre is typically simple and unrefined in its portrayal of nature, and inspired by Henri Rousseau.