Gávea is a favorite residential area, with a number of attractions to the international visitor. It has a lot to live up to, with neighbors like Leblon, Lagoa, Jardim Botanico and São Conrado. You will be passing by the entrance to Gávea on your way to or back from the Jockey Club and the Botanical Garden. You may not suspect that Praça Santos Dumont, that during the day is a peaceful green area, at night is one of Rio's most popular baixos!
A good excuse to start your visit is a quick stop at the Bacalhau do Rei, in the beginning of Av. Marques de São Vicente. They serve one of the best cod fish croquettes in town (it's a Portuguese delicacy). The bakery on the same side of the street a couple of blocks away is also a good bet. Other than locals, their fresh-baked loaves attract buyers from Leblon, and even Ipanema.
Well, since you're in the area, Marques de São Vicente is the main artery of Gávea. Across the street from the bakery you will find Shopping da Gávea, one of Rio's most sophisticated malls. The upscale shops feature home furnishings, decor, books, antiques and fashion. There are theaters, and a number of excellent restaurants and eateries (Chez Anne has the best brigadeiro fudge).
Keeping on Marquês (while in Rio drop last names once you've been property introduced), the first detour will take you to the Planetarium, a must for visitors with children. But we are not stopping right now, as a little further up is the entrance to PUC, the Catholic University. Inside, in addition to mingling with the college students, visit Solar de Grandjean de Montigny. It is the listed as the home of the historical French architect who also designed the Casa França-Brasil, Downtown.
Just like there's an Upper Leblon there's an Upper Gávea, home to many of Rio's poshest mansions. Keep going up, and keep to your right to reach Parque da Cidade. This beautiful green park with trails and a small museum is to be added to the list of any visitor interested in Rio's history and nature. The American School is a bit further up.
On your way back from your visit to Gávea, keep an eye for the S-shaped building that dominates the foot of Morro Dois Irmãos. They had to put down a whole block of apartments when they were building the tunnel to São Conrado - it goes right through the building.