South America

Beaches of Rio de Janeiro – Copacabana and Ipanema

The thousands of miles long Brazilian coastline features countless beautiful beaches, some crowded and famous all over the globe, others secluded and untouched by the hands of man. They all have their charm, but one can’t think of beaches in Brazil without the words Copacabana or Ipanema popping into their heads.



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By far the most popular beach in Brazil and one of the most famous in the world, Copacabana lies right in the heart of the “city that never sleeps”, Rio de Janeiro. The 4 km strip of golden sand became famous in 1923, when the luxurious Copacabana Palace hotel was inaugurated right in the middle of the Copacabana borough.


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All kinds of celebrities, from film stars to members of royal families stayed at the Copacabana Palace and it was even featured in a number of motion pictures. You could say it was the hotel that put Copacabana Beach on the international tourist map. Even after all these years, the giant Copacabana Palace is regarded as one of the most beautiful hotels in the city and many tourists come to admire it, even if they don’t plan on staying in it.


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Copacabana is the perfect place to lie on the sand with a nice icy drink in hand and just soak up the sun while admiring the beautiful garotas (young women). Or, if you’re the active type, you can get involved in a game of beach soccer or beach volley. Brazilians are very good at both so you’ll probably lose, but at least you’ll have had fun doing it.


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One of the busiest New Year’s destinations in the world, Copacabana attracts more than 2 million tourists every year and offers them a truly unforgettable experience. There’s nothing quite like dancing barefoot in the sand, singing along with total strangers while hundreds of fireworks light up the sky.


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Like many beaches in Brazil, Copacabana features strong currents and powerful waves, so think twice before venturing too far into the ocean. The water is also pretty cold, but you’ll get used to that, eventually.



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That word sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? That’s because you’ve heard Antonio Carlos Jobim’s bossa nova song, “The Girl from Ipanema”, at least once in your life. Located just up the coast from Copacabana, Ipanema Beach is in a whole other league and is regarded as THE place to be during the summer.


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For the last fifty years Ipanema has been setting beach trends that the whole world followed. We’re talking about the place where the famous tanga (tiny bikini) was invented and where it was first worn by a pregnant woman, back in the sixties. This is also where women first took their tops off and decided to sunbathe without a tan line. Although they reconsidered and decided the tan line was actually sexier, topless caught on in other parts of the world. The G-string bikini for men was also born here when a famous Brazilian celebrity was seen wearing a pair on the beach.


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Everyone who’s anyone comes to Ipanema Beach to enjoy the sun’s rays and that makes it the perfect destination for people-watching. From celebrities to beautiful, tanned vixens displaying their bikinis, you’re bound to see all sorts of beautiful people at Ipanema.


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It is just as lively as Copacabana during the day and twice as lively during the night. The best time to visit this heavenly strip of sand is around the famous Carnival of Rio, when people rush to celebrate in the streets of Ipanema, before the colorful parades on the Sombrodromo. It also features much calmer waters, safe for the average swimmer.

3 Comments for "Beaches of Rio de Janeiro – Copacabana and Ipanema"

Sammy says on September 25th, 2012 at 7:47 pm:

I really love the third photo you have of Copacabana. The waves look so interesting and defined!

I agree – it is the best place to lie on the sand with and icy drink. I didn’t play any volleyball.. you’re right, the brazillians are pretty damn good at this. I wouldn’t be up for the challenge! Haha!

Btw do you know the app “Guia Rio de Janeiro Guide”? You can get it on your iPhone. Has a lot of cool stuff about Rio there. Also there’s a book you can get on Amazon called Rio for Partiers. I highly recommend these!


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