The Striking South American Destination Has One Of The World's Largest Spray Paint Murals

When it comes to the best cities for art lovers to visit, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, should definitely be on your radar. Case in point: Eduardo Kobra is a Brazilian street artist known for his vibrant and large-scale murals. Arguably, his most famous work is the mural "Etnias" (Ethnicities), which was created for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The mural represents the five continents that the five Olympic rings symbolize by depicting people from each of those continents — specifically, those native to New Guinea, Ethiopia, Thailand, Europe, and Brazil. 

The mural is located in Rio de Janeiro's Olympic Boulevard area. Covering approximately 32,000 square feet, the "Etnias" mural is one of Kobra's largest works and, at the time of its creation, it was his largest to date. It won the Guinness Book of World Records title for "Largest spray paint mural by a team," referring to Kobra and the team who assisted him. Although Kobra beat his own record just the next year with a mural in São Paulo, Brazil, "Etnias" remains iconic and is a memorable site for all visitors to Rio.

Although Rio de Janeiro is known for its fun-filled beach scene, samba music, and sweeping landscapes, such as the ones found at Tijuca National Park, the city also has a seriously impressive art scene. Boasting some of the best street murals in the world and world-class museums, Rio offers plenty of "don't miss" spots for art lovers to visit.

Explore Rio's impressive street art scene

Along with viewing Kobra's work, visitors should also explore the art in the neighborhood of Santa Teresa, which has narrow winding streets and colonial architecture. This bohemian enclave is home to numerous art studios, galleries, and cultural spaces. For example, there's the Parque Glória Maria (formerly known as Parque das Ruínas), a cultural center located in the ruins of a mansion that often hosts art exhibitions, performances, and cultural events.

Jorge Selarón's Escadaria Selarón, or Selarón Steps, is a unique and iconic art installation located between Santa Teresa and Lapa. The staircase is adorned with over 2,000 brightly colored tiles, ceramics, and mirrors from over 60 countries. Each step tells a story, creating a visually stunning and immersive experience. 

"The lively neighborhood of Lapa surrounding the steps adds to the atmosphere, with live music and bustling local culture," wrote one reviewer on Tripadvisor. "While some areas may need maintenance, Escadaria Selarón stands as a powerful testament to art's ability to unify people and celebrate diversity, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts and travelers."

Check out Rio's art museums and cultural centers

For a more curated museum experience, head to the Museum of Modern Art (MAM Rio), located near Guanabara Bay. The MAM Rio has an impressive collection of Brazilian and international contemporary artwork. With rotating exhibitions and a stunning waterfront location, MAM Rio offers a perfect blend of incredible art while showcasing Rio's famous natural beauty.

The Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB) is a cultural center housed in a historic building in downtown Rio. This institution hosts a diverse range of cultural events, including visual arts, theater, cinema, and music. The rotating exhibitions often feature works by artists from all over the globe, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts. Plus, the CCBB has a coffee shop and tearoom along with an art library, and entry is free. 

For a more intimate art experience, visit Casa Roberto Marinho, a former residence turned into an art museum. This space showcases the private collection of Roberto Marinho, a prominent Brazilian media mogul. The museum features a diverse range of artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts, offering a glimpse into the personal tastes of an influential figure in Brazil.