Rio's settlement dates back to 1555. You can experience much of the city's rich history by visiting churches, government buildings, and villas in and around Centro. The metro is a good way to get downtown, but wear comfortable shoes and be ready to walk multiple blocks as you explore this historic city center. If you're not up for a long walk, consider taking an organized bus tour.

What locals generally refer to as Centro is actually several sprawling districts containing the city's oldest neighborhoods, churches, and most enchanting cafés. Rio's beaches, broad boulevards, and modern architecture may be impressive; but its colonial structures, old narrow streets, and alleyways in leafy inland neighborhoods are no less so. The metro stations that serve Centro are Cinelândia, Carioca, Uruguaiana, Presidente Vargas, Central, and Praça Onze.