Sunbathing, Swimming and Socializing: The 10Best Rio de Janeiro Beaches

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

Like the famously tanned and toned beachgoers who frequent them, Rio de Janeiro beaches are dramatically beautiful, 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 jawdroppingly photogenic 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 work out for free while simultaneously working on their tans, and there are (paid) bathrooms at the lifeguard posts that are strategically located on the beachfront from Copacabana right out to Barra da Tijuca in the West.

Some visitors may be surprised (and perhaps disappointed) to learn that topless sunbathing is in fact banned at almost all public beaches in Rio (with the exception of one nudist beach located in the far west of the city), but those keen to 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.

Costa Verde
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson


If you´ve been partied hard during your Rio vacation and need a little R&R in more tranquil surrounds, the Costa Verde (Green Coast)of Rio de Janeiro State has you covered. This glorious stretch of coastline takes in almost countless...  Read More



Sao Conrado is one of the most chi-chi neighborhoods in Rio, and the sporty youth of the area like to strut their tanned and toned stuff at Sao Conrado beach. Alongside hangliders resting between flights, you´ll find yourself surrounded by...  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

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 right at the foot of Sugar Loaf mountain. The mountain and ocean backdrop is stunning, and the calm waters are occasionally clean enough for...  Read More

Copacabana Beach
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson


Copacabana was once synonymous with glitz and glamor in Rio, and while it's now somewhat overshadowed in the chic stakes by neighboring Ipanema, it's still gloriously beautiful. The soft curve of white sand stretches for some five kilometers,...  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



While Copacabana wins out as the most picture-perfect city beach in Rio, Ipanema is another dazzling beach beauty and considered the more chic of the two neighboring strands. With fewer high rise hotels than Copacabana, Ipanema is the ideal...  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.