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Inland Zona Sul

In the western portion of the city north of Leblon, trees and hills dominate the landscape in the neighborhoods of Jardim Botânico, Lagoa, Cosme Velho, and Laranjeiras. In addition to their parks and gardens, these primarily residential neighborhoods have marvelous museums, seductive architecture, and tantalizing restaurants. The architecture is a blend of modern condominiums and colonial houses. These neighborhoods tend to be quieter during the day because they're not on the beachfront, but they do have some of the hippest nightclubs in Rio. You can't say you've seen Rio until you've taken in the view from Corcovado and then strolled through its forested areas or beside its inland Lagoa (Lagoon) Rodrigo de Freitas—hanging out just like a true carioca.

These picturesque inland neighborhoods lack metro stops, so the best way to visit them all in one day is as part of an organized tour or with a private guide. If you have time to spare, each neighborhood warrants at least half a day's exploring. Be sure to visit Lagoa, which can be reached on foot from Leblon, Ipanema, and Copacabana, and the nearby Botanical Gardens. Cosme Velho is home to impressive mansions as well as the station for trains up to the Christ statue, and it's a pleasant stroll along the main road from here to Laranjeiras, which has some good bars and restaurants as well as pleasant squares and street markets.

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