Escadaria Selaron : The Selaron Stairs

Located on an unassuming backstreet of Rio de Janeiro, a few blocks from Cinelandia metro station, tucked away behind bars, restaurants, and homes, lies the unexpected explosion of color and creativity known as the Selaron Stairs (or Escadaria Selaron in Portuguese). This fanciful creation sprung directly from the imagination of Jorge Selaron, as a “tribute to the Brazilian people” in the words of the artist.

Selaron Stairs Escaderia Selaron Rio de Janeiro

Once a dreary residential staircase, Selaron turned the steps into a bright, colorful, inspiring work of art. Selaron Stairs Escaderia Selaron Rio de Janeiro

With the help of tiles sent from all over the world, the artist spent over 13 years creating the masterpiece for public enjoyment.

Selaron Stairs Escaderia Selaron Rio de JaneiroThe artist funded his work through selling paintings, and worked tirelessly on his creation which he never deemed complete, saying “This crazy and unique dream will only end on the day of my death”.

Which, sadly, it did on January 10, 2013. The artist Jorge Selaron was found dead on his famous steps, his body marked with burns. The murderer(s) were never found.

Selaron Stairs Escaderia Selaron Rio de Janeiro

While the artist is gone, his steps live on in worldwide recognition. Featured on TV, in newspapers, and even in music videos (like by U2 and Snoop Dogg), the Selaron Stairs are on iconic part of Rio de Janeiro. They are a popular locations for kids and adults, tourists and locals to hang out, snack, and just sit on the steps to people-watch.

Selaron Stairs Escaderia Selaron Rio de Janeiro

The houses surrounding the stairs have gotten in on the spirit of Selaron, painting their homes bright colors and many opening popular hostels.

Selaron Stairs Escaderia Selaron Rio de Janeiro

The stairs are especially popular with local kids, who sometimes use the smooth red sections as a slide!

Selaron Stairs Escaderia Selaron Rio de Janeiro

Necessary Details

The stairs are located in Lapa, nearest to Cinelandia metro station.

They are free to enter any time of day or night, but visiting during daylight is advisable. At night, people gather to smoke week and drink on the stairs in boisterous groups.

Be aware of your surroundings, as the area surrounding the stairs (and the square by the metro) are not known to be the safest, and thefts happen regularly.

Necessary Details: Rio de Janeiro

What Else to Do in Rio de Janeiro
Check out my full guide to Rio de Janeiro here, which includes the best suggestions for hiking (including my favorite Morro do Leme hike), where to eat, weekend getaways from the city (including Buzios), and the best beaches.
You can read every article I’ve ever written about Rio de Janeiro (and there’s a lot: I lived there for almost two years!) here.
Viator offers a bunch of different Rio de Janeiro tour options, including for visiting Christ the Redeemer, and provides excellent customer service and refunds if anything goes wrong — much more than local operators would do.
Where to Stay in Rio de Janeiro
If you have around $100 per night to spend, you can’t get a better value than Rio 180 hotel — each room is a suite and has its own private hot tub along with incredible views!
For a wider range of pricing options, check here  or Airbnb is a great value in Rio de Janeiro and in Buzios. You can use this link for 39USD off your first stay!
How to Arrive to Rio de Janeiro 
You can take the bus into Rio de Janeiro from many destinations within Brazil, but most people choose to fly. While Copa Airlines isn’t my favorite carrier, they do usually offer the cheapest flights. To check the latest low prices on airfare to Brazil, try Skyscanner , or if you have some date and/or destination flexibility and want to score the absolute lowest prices, try
Visa information for Brazil and Visa Renewal in Rio de Janeiro
I’ve written an extensive post (along with Q&A about the topic in the comments) here

A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

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