Beach Vacations to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Panema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Panema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Alberto Coto/Photodisc/Getty)

Rio de Janeiro Beach Travel Tips

  • Typical of a beach destination that is also a major city, Rio de Janeiro's water can be very polluted. Don't enter the water at all at the beaches of Praia Vermelha and Botafogo.
  • Theft is common on Rio's beaches. Don't carry valuables and, if possible, go to the beach with a friend or in a group so that someone can watch your belongings (towels, bag, etc.) at all times. Bring a minimum amount of money—just enough for snacks.
  • Some hotels, including the Copacabana Palace Hotel, have beach service—towels, bar service, and chairs.
  • Public transportation exists between Rio and cities along the coast—including Araruama, Búzios, and Cabo Frio—popular trips for beachgoers and water-sports enthusiasts. Check with local travel agencies or plan an independent excursion using bus connections from the Rodoviaria (the central bus station downtown).

Few cities in the world associate with the beach lifestyle more than Brazil's Rio de Janeiro. This vast city is really a collection of neighborhoods scattered over several beaches, some of which—like Ipanema and Copabacana—are among the most famous in the world. This seafront urban landscape is nestled in verdant jungle-festooned mountains and hills, creating one of the most spectacular urban settings travelers will ever see. It is no wonder that Cariocas, as the locals are known, call their city A Cidade Maravilhosa, The Marvelous City.

Virtually every beach offers at least one water activity, especially surfing, popular at the nearby beaches of Ipanema, Leblon, and Barra da Tijuca and at beaches within two hours of Rio including Araruama, Búzios, Angra Dos Reis, and Cabo Frio—all considered part of the region within the state of Rio de Janeiro. These areas are popular with foreign tourists and Brazilian vacationers alike.

There is no shortage of services along the main beaches, lined with high-rise hotels and accessible by subway, bus, and taxi. Restaurants, shops, and walkway kiosks offer meals, snacks, drinks, and souvenirs. The black-and-white swirled mosaic walkways are an attraction as well. Designed by famous Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, they double as sports centers—with open-air gym equipment and jogging paths—and offer prime spots for people-watching. While you will find all types of bodies in Rio, the beautiful body rules. Bathing suits are skimpy for both men and women, but you won't find topless sunbathing despite everything you have heard.

Some of the city's main tourist points include Corcovado, a mountain topped by the famous statue of Christ, one of the symbols of the city, looking out onto Sugarloaf Mountain. Flamenco Park lines the waterfront and is also home to the Museu Carmen Miranda, celebrating the most famous of Brazilians. Sailing enthusiasts should make sure to head to the lagoa (lagoon), an incredibly tranquil body of water within the city.


Published: 7 Jul 2009 | Last Updated: 30 Mar 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Rio de Janeiro

$493-$565
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#1
Belmond Copacabana Palace
$248-$440
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#2
Windsor Atlantica
$333-$358
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#3
Porto Bay Rio Internacional Hotel
$181-$217
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#4
Promenade Princess Copacabana

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