Sun, sea and scantily clad beach beauties all spring to mind when one thinks of Copacabana, and while the neighborhood's golden age as the most glamorous destination in South America is now behind it, the arc of white sand and its backdrop of crashing waves and jungle-clad mountains remain an awe-inspiring sight.
See & Do
Copacabana's main attraction is undoubtedly its beach - in part due to the natural beauty of the setting, and in part due to the endless parade of tanned and toned bodies that stroll along here, clad in the tiniest of swimwear. While women favour the dental floss bikini, the men are fans of the skintight Speedos look, so there's plenty of eye candy whatever your orientation. Tear your eyes away from the beach bodies, and the beach itself, with some five kilometers of white sand backed by crashing waves and jungle-clad mountains, is a pretty impressive sight, too.
Visitors to Copacabana are spoiled for choice when it comes to picking a spot for lunch, dinner or just a snack and drinks.
The beachfront is lined with smart glass kiosks that house everything from pizza joints to seafood restaurants and Champagne bars, and you won't even have to change out of your swimwear to drink and dine here. For the ultimate 'I'm on vacation in Rio' experience, dinner and drinks at a Copacabana beach restaurant are hard to beat.
Copacabana has something of a reputation as a hotbed of seedy nocturnal activity, but there's more to the neighborhood's nightlife scene than strip joints and red light activity, although both can easily be found here should you be looking for them.
A string of more reputable bar openings, combined with the closure of the mammoth Help Discoteque - for a long time synonymous with Rio's seedy side - have led to a reinvigoration of Copacabana's nightlife scene, and the kiosks that line the beachfront are good places to start a night out. For real sophistication, head for Bar do Copa - the sleek and chic lounge and club at Copacabana Palace hotel.
Less expensive than neighboring Ipanema, Copacabana is the neighborhood of choice for those looking for beachfront accommodation that won't blow the budget sky high. That said, though, hotels along the beachfront are far from cheap, and those on the backstreets are troubled by traffic noise and congestion - Copacabana is one of the most densely populated places on the planet. For those with an ample budget, Copacabana Palace remains a glitteringly glamorous jewel on Rio's hotel scene and a top destination for A-listers, while the super-smart Sofitel, close to Ipanema, is a favorite among visiting heads of state.
At the other end of the scale, Ouro Verde offers rooms with a seaview in a kooky art deco building at reasonable (for the area) prices, and sits on the quieter end of the beach, known as Leme.
If you're looking for souvenirs that are more amusingly tacky than tasteful, Copacabana is the place to find them. The streets are filled with stores selling plastic replica Christ statues - some of which even glow in the dark - and baseball caps, while vendor stroll along the beachfront, hawking everything from soccer shirts to sarongs and bikinis, with the odd glow in the dark plastic Christ statue thrown in for good measure.