These largely residential neighborhoods connect the southern beach districts and Centro via a series of highways that intersect here. It's easy to reach these neighborhoods by metro. Apartment buildings dominate, but Rio Sul—one of the city's most popular shopping centers—is here, as are some of the city's best museums and public spaces.
The eponymous beach at Flamengo no longer draws swimmers (its gentle waters look appealing but are polluted; the people you see are sunning, not swimming). A marina sits on a bay at one end of the beach, which is connected via a busy boulevard to the smaller beach (also polluted), at Botafogo. The city's yacht club is here, and when Rio was Brazil's capital, it was also the site of the city's glittering embassy row. The embassies relocated to Brasília long ago, but the mansions that housed them remain. Among Botafogo's more interesting mansion- and tree-lined streets are Mariana, Sorocaba, Matriz, and Visconde e Silva.
The pleasant middle-class neighborhoods of Flamengo and Botafogo feel less hectic than tourist hot spots such as Copacabana and Ipanema and are easy to explore on foot. Don't bother with the beaches but instead plan a cultural day. Take the metro to Botafogo for the beautiful gardens of Casa Rui Barbosa and the impressive Casa Daros cultural center. From here, take the metro or hoof it to Flamengo and the free Oi Futuro museum, dedicated to the history of telecommunications; the beachfront; and Flamengo Park before dinner at Porcão, Rio's famouschurrascaria .