Rio is home to some of the world’s most famous beaches. From sexy Copacabana to artsy Ipanema, countless beach options lay just outside your door in Rio. Here are some of the best spots to enjoy the beach like a true carioca.
Perhaps the most famous of all of Rio’s beaches, Copa remains a crowd pleaser. Rent a chair at one of the beach kiosks, order an acai smoothie, or a Skol cerveja and relax at one of the world’s most famous beaches. Nearly 3 miles long, Copacabana beach begins at Princesa Isabela Avenue and ends at Posto Seis (lifeguard post 6). It is framed by a gorgeous wave-patterned sidewalk designed by artist Roberto Burle Marx. It is also home to Rio’s legendary New Year’s Eve event, when an estimated 2 million cariocas and friends head to the beach dressed in white to ring in the New Year.
Made famous the world over long ago by the song The Girl from Ipanema, Ipanema beach has been a favorite amongst Brazilians for far longer than that. Ipanema stretches for more than 2 miles, starting from Pedra Dois Irmãos to the Ponta Arpoador. It touches both Copacabana and Leblon, but is much easier to navigate because the streets there are set up on a grid system. Home to art houses, some of trendy restaurants, and countless cafes, Ipanema is the place to people watch in Rio. It is also one of the least polluted of Rio’s beaches due to the constant swells. Crowds gather nightly to watch the sunset.
The wealthiest neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Leblon is well known for its array of cafes, sophisticated nightlife, and of course, the beach. Perhaps less trendy than Ipanema, Leblon is more exclusive and thus offers a quieter, less crowded beach scene. It is an especially family-friendly beach, as it has an outdoor kids playground and changing area called Baixo Baby in Posto 12. When you are done with your beach excursion, you can head to Rio Design Leblon, a boutique mall that houses some of Rio’s best shops.
Known for its incredible views and great surfing, Arpoador is a small beach located right between Ipanema and Copacabana. You can find almost any sport being played on the beach here, and can often catch a surfing competition as they are held at Arpoador frequently. Surfboards are available for rent at a reasonable price, and there is even a surf school if you are up for a lesson. You can also go night swimming at Arpoador because it’s beach is very well-lit.
Called simply “Barra” by locals, Barra da Tijuca Beach is a local spot without the small beachside cafes and shops that Copa and Ipanema have. Favored by surfers and activity enthusiasts, the water at Barra is some of the cleanest in all of Rio. The shopping and entertainment in Barra districts are not walk able, and a car is really needed to explore. It has much more of an ‘Americanized’ layout as it is home to South America’s largest mall.