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Best Beaches in Rio

At Rio de Janeiros beaches an eclectic mix of people from all walks of life – rich and poor, young and old, super-fit and beer-bellied – come to play and talk the day away against a backdrop of crashing waves and the mountainous green peaks you'll never be far from. Each different beach will bring you a different type of person, find out whether it's Ipanema, Copacabana or something else altogether that'll tickle your fancy.

<<< Now choose a beach!

Ipanema & Leblon Beach

Ipanema Beach / Leblon Beach

Ipanema beach is our favourite at the Rio Vibe. Busy, but more relaxed than it's more famous counterpart Copacabana. Here you won't find people hassling you to buy things quite so often. Many tourists that now come also choose to spend most their time at Ipanema, but choose your Posto (point of the beach) wisely - it could change everything! Flanked by the towering Dois Irmaos (Two Brothers) mountains, the beach is informally split into sections according to social groups. For example, the young and the beautiful head to Posto Nove (lifeguard post 9), while gay beachgoers congregate by the rainbow flag in front of Rua Farme do Amoeda.

Choose your Posto (point of the beach) wisely - it could change everything! Rio really is a city that loves its sports, you'll see people playing football, volleyball, futvolei (foot volleyball) running, skating, rollerblading, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, jogging and enjoying the beautiful beach promenade. Other beachgoers just relax and enjoy the scene. For sun-lovers, there’s much to take in: the sand, the sea, the food and drink vendors and scantily clad beach beauties definitely make for some great people watching. There are many stunning beaches in Rio, try to check out a few.

Ipanema Postos

Postos - lifeguard towers - divide the beach into different sections, with each subculture drawn to its particular posto you'll find an intriguingly different mix of people. Here we break down Leblon and Ipanema beach for you.

Posto 7

Arpoador – Right at the far East side of Ipanema (left as you look at the sea) is Posto 7. A 4km walk away from Leblon, you'll see the rocky ledge stick out at the end. Arpoador is where the biggest waves hit Zona Sul (The South Zone). Inevitably this is where the surfers hang out, but they share the space with body boarders and a collection of hippies. Definitely not for beginners, surfing here can be dangerous because of the close proximity of the rocks. Given its metropolitan location, crowds are ferocious and competitive. Check out our surfing section for more details.

Arpoador is also the top spot to watch sunset from the beach. As the sun starts to go down, crowds of people head to the rocks or nearby cafes to grab a place to watch it. Obligatory is to clap once it dissapears over the horizon.

Posto 8

Starting at Posto 8 towards posto 9 is the gay section. You can’t miss it, starting with the rainbow flag in front of Rua Farme do Amoeda you'll find a noticeably different crowd. Carnival and New Year attracts a huge crowd of gay people from all over the world here. You'll find Rio is a very gay friendly city.

Posto 9

Posto 9 is where the young, cool and beautiful trendy crowd go. Usually quite busy, nowadays you'll find a healthy amount of rather red, toasty looking tourists here as well. It is where the fashionistas, celebrities, gays, tourists, classic Cariocas all come together.

Barraca do Uruguai (#80) is slightly more pricey than other stands, but has deservedly earned the reputation for the best drinks, food (chimichurri sandwiches) and eye candy. Anthony Bourdain even visited during his Rio episode.

Posto 10 - 11, Leblon

Less celebrated than near neighbor Ipanema (it's really a continuation of the same beach), here you'll tend to find more families with kids enjoying the beach. Also as Leblon is the wealthiest area in Rio you'll find more of an upmarket, relaxed vibe with noticeably beautiful people. Check our Leblon page for more details

Top Tips

The main road parallel with the beach is closed in one direction on a Sunday, you'll find it full of people walking, talking, running and enjoying the great outdoors. Check it out yourself!

Start your day in the best way. Wake up for sunset and take a stroll along the beach or go for a run. It's a different kind of vibe at this time of the day, revel in it's beauty without the crowds. What better way to start your morning?

If you're by yourself and fancy a dip in the sea, even if you don't know portuguese - just gesture towards someone respectable looking about your bag and the sea and they'll know what you mean and be happy to watch it for you.

Keep your bag in front of you, not behind, as someone could easily take it long before you realise.

The beach is lit at night and there are police in the area, but it’s still not wise to walk on the sand after dark – stay near the liveliest beach kiosks when venturing out. Always stick to busier areas.

Ipanema beach has people selling all sorts. You can even get yourself a new bikini while you relax on the beach, and pay by card!! Ipanema Bikini seller

Interesting Fact about Ipanema

“The Girl From Ipanema” - the second-most recorded popular song in history, was apparently inspired by a bikini clad girl walking, unsurprisngly - Ipanema beach, in the 1960's.

Nearby Rio

As if the beauty of the city of Rio de Janeiro wasn't enough, the state of Rio de Janeiro is blessed with an incredible array of places is visit. From Colonial towns to paradise islands - Rio de Janeiro boasts lush green jungled mountains, stunning blue sea, nature reserves, pristine secluded beaches and much much more. Check out our guide to some of the best places...

Islands of Paraty

An island off of Paraty

Barra

Not to be outdone but it's nearby neighbours like Ipanema & Copacabana in Zona Sul, Barra also has some truly magnificent beaches.

Barra da Tijuca Beach

Barra da Tijuca, Rio's longest beach, stretches a whopping 11 miles, and with its usually excellent waves and water conditions, will be home to many of the Summer Olympics 2016 venues. Not surprisingly, Barra has become a mecca for the athletically inclined, and attracts scores of long and short board surfers, bodyboarders, kite surfers and windsurfers taking advantage of the prime conditions.

Barra Panorama

Novices can stop by one of the many surf schools along the beach to sign up for a lesson should they be moved to join the throngs, rather than watch from the sandy shores. And should your appetite kick in, don't be alarmed; many kiosks line the beach selling food and coconut water.

Prainha Beach

If you've tired of the see-and-be-seen beaches of Brazil, make your way farther along the coast to Prainha Beach, a blissfully quiet, stunning crescent of sand flanked by rainforest-covered mountains. The sands here are soft and white, and the waves of the bright blue waters attract many surfers, though it's also common to see families enjoying the secluded shore here. Come during the week and it'll be even quiter of course.

Prainha beach, Barra

There are a handful of kiosks selling food and drinks. To reach Prainha, it's easiest for tourists to take a taxi from their hotel as it's not easy to reach via public transportation, or grab a lift with someone if you've got/made friends with a car! If taking a taxi from your hotel, have your concierge schedule a taxi in advance with a fixed rate.

Grumari beach

Drive just a little bit past Prainha beach and you'll come to yet another wonderful, quiet beach called Grumari. It's well off the beaten track for a tourist and worth going that extra mile if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the citys beaches.

Grumari beach, Barra

Copacabana & Leme Beach

Copacabana in the daytime

Basics of the Beaches

Sun, sea and scantily clad beach beauties all spring to mind when one thinks of Copacabana. The 4km arc of white sand and its backdrop of crashing waves and jungle-clad mountains are an awe-inspiring sight. One of the most famous beaches in the world, the magnificent stretch of land and sea always has a flurry of activity stretching its length: the beat of samba, cariocas and tourists lining up for caipirinhas at kiosks, favela kids showing off their football skills, and beach vendors picking their way through the mass of bronzed bodies.

The sidewalk along the beach on Avenida Atlântica is made with many black and white stones, forming an attractive mosaic in the shape of waves and which has become a symbol of the city.

You'll find a wide range of sports activities going on every day at the beach, football of course, surfing, volleyball, futvolei (foot volleyball) and a whole host of others. Rio really is a city that loves its fitness, the main road parallel with the beach is closed in one direction on a Sunday, you'll find it full of people walking, talking, skating, rollerblading, running and enjoying the beautiful beach promenade.

Copacabana & Leme Beach Slideshow

Top Tips

Start your day in the best way. Wake up for sunset and take a stroll along the beach or go for a run. It's a different kind of vibe at this time of the day, revel in it's beauty without the crowds. What better way to start your morning?

Stop for a nice refreshing, fresh coconut at anyone of the kiosks as you take a walk down the wavey mosaic path.

The main road parallel with the beach is closed in one direction on a Sunday, you'll find it full of people walking, talking, running and enjoying the great outdoors. Check it out yourself!

Copacabana is beautiful in the evening as well, sit at one of the many kiosks, take in some live music and watch the world go by.

The beach is lit at night and there are police in the area, but it’s still not wise to walk on the sand after dark – stay near the liveliest beach kiosks when venturing out. Always stick to busier areas.

With the official name Historic Military Museum, Copacabana Fort is one of the icons of the city, situated on the extreme edge of the beach of the same name. Entrance to the fort is only R$ 6,00.

Copacabana is not just limited to the beach: the neighborhood is full of restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, theaters, galleries and is fun both day and night.

If you're by yourself and fancy a dip in the sea, even if you don't know portuguese - just gesture towards someone respectable looking about your bag and the sea and they'll know what you mean and be happy to watch it for you.

Keep your bag in front of you, not behind, as someone could easily take it long before you realise.

Interesting Facts

Considered a national monument the Copacabana Palace hotel has hosted stars including Madonna, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Marilyn Monroe, Walt Disney and Princess Diana.

In August 2014, Usain Bolt thrilled crowds on a specially-built track on the famous beach with a time of 10.06, dancing samba after his win.

Praia Vermelha -- Red Beach

Praia Vermelha beach in the daytime

Praia Vermelha is located in the neighborhood of Urca - right next to the cablecar entrance up to the Sugarloaf. If you feel like having a change from Ipanema or Copacabana for a day, this is perfect. The sandy cove is greatly complimented by the beautiful landscape surrounding it, sitting between the Morro da Urca and the hill of Babylon peaks. The beach normally has slow, calm waves but still gets deep quickly.

The Red beach gets its name because the sand becomes reddish when the sun goes down, due to the reflection of sunlight on the coarse crystals of the sand.

The beach is flanked by two fortresses, now occupied by the Military Circle of Praia Vermelha and the municipal school Gabriela Mistral. In the region there are several historical monuments. At the beach there is a statue of Chopin. In General Tiburcio square, behind the beach, is the Monument to the Heroes of Laguna and Dourados and the Monument to the fallen in the Communist Conspiracy.

Getting there

You can see Praia Vermelha on the far right of the map

Tourist map

Top Tips

After you've finished at the beach, you can head right as you leave and follow a pathway for a short walk. There you can see various fruits, views of the beach and sometimes even monkeys!

Praia Vermelha is a great spot to try some Paddle Boarding. The water is usually calm and the backdrop is beautiful once you get out there. What better place to start?

Aerial view

Great beach info before you go!

What to bring:

a sarong (not a towel…no one uses towels on the beach)

suntan lotion

sunglasses

all the rest you can buy there…

What not to bring:

  • DO NOT bring anything valuable to the beach, especially a phone or passport. (ESPECIALLY A PASSPORT, Never ever EVER!)

Anywhere along the beaches of Rio, once on the sand, scout out the Barraca (numbered stands selling drinks) that looks good to you, rent a chair and an umbrella from these if you want. (Everything on the beach costs about 5 Rs - waters, beers, snacks, except a Caipirinha and an umbrella which are 10 Rs) You might pay per round or most often at the end of your stay. Order drinks from your chair, buy bikinis from vendors (they even accept card), eat açai and make friends!

The main road parallel with the beach is closed in one direction on a Sunday, you'll find it full of people walking, talking, running and enjoying the great outdoors. Check it out yourself!

A MUST: Order a Matte (iced tea with lime) and a bag of Globo crackers (salgado- salty) from a vendor wearing an orange outfit. It is a classic Carioca (Rio native) tradition

The Rio Vibe Recommends:

Posto 9 is the most interesting and trendy part of Ipanema. It is where the fashionistas, celebrities, gays, tourists, classic Cariocas all come together.

For many more top tips about the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Check out the top beaches in Rio info pages and their top tips sections!


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