Morro do Babilonia

Scattered across the hillsides above Leme are two small favelas that lie side by side: Babilônia to the west (left side) and Chapéu Mangueira to the east (right side). These informal communities, home to about 4000 residents, have become a magnet for visitors since pacification arrived in 2009. Today in the area there are more than half a dozen hostels, simple bars and eating spots with amazing views (and great cocktails), and a mountaintop rainforest preserve.

As you walk up to the favelas, you can also check out the Mural de Babilônia, a breathtaking Gaudí-esque mosaic that covers a long sweeping wall (140 sq meters) near the bottom of the hill. The work was created by two artists from the Czech Republic who go by the names of X-Dog and Plebe, along with the help of dozens of volunteers.

Access to the favelas is via Ladeira Ary Barroso, off Rua General Ribeiro da Costa in Leme. If you don't feel like hoofing it, you can also take a mototaxi from here to the top.

Unfortunately, security has been highly unstable in recent years, and there were several high-profile gun battles in 2018. It's best to avoid the area until peace returns.