Museu Histórico Nacional

Top choice in Rio de Janeiro

Housed in the colonial arsenal, which dates from 1764, the impressive Museu Histórico Nacional contains relics relating to the history of Brazil from its founding to its early days as a republic. Highlights include gilded imperial coaches, the throne of Dom Pedro II, massive oil paintings depicting the horrific war with Paraguay and a full-sized model of a colonial pharmacy.

There’s some attention paid to Brazil’s indigenous population and curious pieces such as the quill that Princess Isabel used to sign the document abolishing slavery in Brazil. There's also a good restaurant and cafe here (mains R$42 to R$52).