10 Best Beaches for Sun-Lovers and Sightseers in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro´s beaches are justly famous the world over, with Ipanema and Copacabana capturing the world´s attention like no other other stretches of sand in the world.

The fame of these beaches is due in no small part to the parade of bronzed beach beauties (of both genders) that saunter along the soft yellow sand, clad in swimwear that leaves virtually nothing to the imagination. But the beaches themselves are equally stunning, with white sands flanked by mountains and fringed by coconut palms.

Rio's most famous city beaches can be found in the tourist heartland known as the Zona Sul (the absurdly scenic South Zone), while more elbow room can be found in more isolated spots to the West of Ipanema and Leblon. 

Exercise stations line the beaches, allowing locals - and visitors - to keep their beach bodies in trim for free while working on their tans, and the beaches are informally divided into sections according to their nearest ligeguard post, or posto. Among the most famous is posto nove (post nine) in Ipanema, where a young, sociable crowd gathers. Posto Um, in Leme, is good for families. 

Some visitors may be surprised (and perhaps disappointed) to learn that topless sunbathing is in fact prohibited at almost all public beaches in Rio (with the exception of one nudist beach located in the far west of the city), but can rest assured that a couple of postage stamp-sized swathes of material are considered sufficient to cover ladies´ modesty while female backsides are rarely troubled by anything more substantial than a thin triangle of cloth that perches atop the buttocks. Meanwhile, male sunseekers strut proudly in the tightest trunks imaginable.

Taking a tandem hangliding trip over Rio de Janeiro is one of the best ways to take in the out-of-this-world cityscape, and those who do choose to take a running jump off a jungle hilltop will make a soft landing at this scenic beach to the west...  Read More

Costa Verde
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson

Rio de Janeiro�s city beaches are famous the world over, and with good reason. But if you´ve been partying hard during your Rio vacation and are feeling the need for a little rest and relaxation in more tranquil surrounds, the Costa...  Read More

Some 30 kilometers west of Rio, Grumari is a wonderfully unspoilt beach surrounded by dense jungle and accessible only by car or by taking a very long, arduous hike (there are no bus routes out here). The beach is as sedate and tranquil as...  Read More

Ipanema and Copacabana may be Rio´s most famous beaches, but its longest stretch of sand is actually the less famous Praia da Barra da Tijuca, to be found in a wealthy suburb some 30-40 minutes´ bus or cab ride from central Rio. This...  Read More

At Copacabanas farthest point from Ipanema the famous beach becomes known as Leme, and this part of the beach is generally a few degrees more tranquil than elsewhere on this most celebrated of sands. Shaded by jungle-clad hills and attracting...  Read More

Some 40-minutes bus or cab ride away from Ipanema and Copacabana, this scenic beach is a popular hangout for surfers and body boarders. Although packed at weekends and on public holidays, it is usually blissfully quiet during the week. The...  Read More

Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson

Located between the world famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, Arpoador is not a beach whose name trips off the tongue as easily as those of its more famous neighbors, but this curve of sand is well worth your beach time. Really an...  Read More

Surprisingly overlooked by many visitors to Rio, Praia Vermelha is a small curve of coarse sand that sits right at the foot of Sugar Loaf mountain. The mountain-and-ocean backdrop is stunning, and the calm waters are occasionally clean enough...  Read More

Copacabana Beach
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson

Copacabana Beach was once syonymous with glitz and glamour in Rio de Janeiro, and while it now loses out in the chic stakes to neighboring Ipanema, Copacabana still more than merits a visit. That soft curve of white sand stretches for some five...  Read More

While Copacabana wins out as the most picture-perfect city beach in Rio, Ipanema is easily the more chic of the two neighboring stretches of sand. Less flanked by high rise hotels than its neighbor, Ipanema is the ideal place to while away...  Read More


Meet Lucy Bryson

Lucy is a British freelance writer living in Rio de Janeiro since 2007. While there are some things she misses about her home country, the lure of year-round sunshine has proved too powerful to resist.