Explore Brazil’s oldest zoo and Latin America’s largest natural history museum or just do as the locals do and relax on the sunny lawns of this iconic park.
Rio residents love to lie on the sloped lawns of Quinta da Boa Vista (Park of the Nice View), one of Rio’s most popular public parks. Relax with locals on the grassy hills surrounding the lake before exploring the park’s other attractions, the Rio Zoo and the National Museum (Museu Nacional).
Explore the park’s open areas, where popular concerts take place during the summer. The park’s lake features an island crowned by a small, Greco-Roman-style structure called the Temple of Apollo. Take the narrow bridge out to the island to stand amongst the pillars, or rent a swan-shaped paddle boat and float across the water.
The main feature of the park is the huge neoclassical structure of São Cristóvão Palace. A long, tree-lined boulevard and a neatly landscaped garden lead up to the palace’s façade, which housed the imperial family of Brazil until the First Brazilian Republic was established in 1889.
From 1892 until today, the palace has housed the National Museum, which features exhibitions on natural history and anthropology. Tour the museum to see marvels like the 5.4-ton (4.9-tonne) meteorite that is the largest ever to be found in Brazil. And be sure to see “Luzia”, which at an estimated 11,000 years old, is the oldest human skeleton to be uncovered in Latin America. There is a small admission fee to enter the museum.
Visit the Rio de Janeiro Zoo to the park’s west. It’s the oldest zoo in Brazil. See Amazon-specific creatures like the blue macaw alongside typical zoo species like elephants and giraffes. At the entrance to the zoo, you will find a magnificent neoclassical gate that once stood before the São Cristóvão Palace.
On the park’s north edge, find a restaurant situated in what was once the chapel of the palace. Here, you can sample from traditional Brazilian delights like Bahian fish stew.
Quinta da Boa Vista is located in the northern part of Rio de Janeiro, just north of Maracanã Stadium. Both bus lines and a metro line stops just south of the park. Parking is available for a fee on the park’s grounds.