Think of Rio de Janeiro, and images of stunning city beaches instantly spring to mind. Ipanema and Copacabana are arguably the most famous strips of sand in the world, and it would be a crying shame to visit the city of Rio de Janeiro without spending some time checking out the beach view (do try to pay some attention to the natural landscape as well as the perfectly-formed behinds clad in the teeniest of swimwear).
But these most celebrated of beaches are as busy as they are beautiful, particularly during the Brazilian summer and other peak tourist times. For those who like to feel a little less sardine-like on the beach, it's well worth taking a trip north of the city to the town of Buzios, where the sheer number of scenic beaches means that there's always plenty of space for everyone.
The sheer number of beaches in Buzios means there's always plenty of sunbathing space — Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson
Buzios sits on a peninsula located just over 100 miles northeast of Rio, and this one-time quiet fishing village is now the destination of choice for rich and beautiful cariocas (natives of Rio) looking to escape the crowds and spend a little time relaxing on some of the most beautiful sands to be found anywhere in Rio de Janeiro state.
The town caught the world's attention in the 1960s when the legendarily beautiful French model/actress Brigitte Bardot took a holiday here with her Brazilian boyfriend - the world's camera lenses were trained on town as the screen siren frolicked on the beaches in her bikini.
Today, a statue on the beachfront pays homage to Ms Bardot in her heyday, and there are restaurants, bars, guesthouses and even cocktails named in her honor.
Buzios is set on a picturesque peninsula — Photo courtesy of Laszlo-photo
While Buzios may be a hotspot for Rio's chic elite, the abundance of guesthouses here means that prices are competitive, and many of the small pousadas offer a lot more bang for your buck than the famously expensive hotels of Rio itself. During low season (from March-May and September-November), prices drop by up to 40 per cent, and there are a couple of camping sites for those on seriously tight budgets.
Drinking and dining options cater to every age group and every budget, and there are beaches to suit everybody from surfers, bodyboarders and groups of enthusiastic partiers to secluded romantic spots and larger beaches well equipped for families.
Coaches to Buzios depart from Rio de Janeiro's main bus station, the Rodoviaria Novo Rio, roughly every hour and take around two hours.