More than just a stretch of sand, Rio de Janeiro’s most famous beach is where locals and visitors from all over the world come to relax, strut, pose and play.
Gleaming hotels and forested hills line the perfectly curved 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) stretch of Copacabana Beach, one of the most famous beaches in the world. Abutting one of Brazil’s highest density residential areas, this beach is nearly always filled to capacity, but that’s part of its charm. Swim in the cool waters of the Atlantic amongst thousands of other visitors, join in a game of soccer on the sand or just sit back on a beach chair and order snacks from a beach vendor and watch the passing parade.
Start your visit by touring the whole length of Copacabana Beach. A wide promenade lines the entire stretch. Walk, jog or cycle along the path while taking in everything the beach has to offer. Halfway along the promenade, see the Belmond Copacabana Palace, a five-star hotel built in 1923 in art deco style.
Copacabana Beach is a hive of constant activity with Rio de Janeiro residents enjoying sports on the sand. Watch a game of soccer, which is Brazil’s most popular sport, or join in a game of beach volleyball. The beach also has several weight-lifting areas, where locals come to tan and show off their muscles. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent along the beach if you’d rather just relax.
Go to the southwestern tip of the beach to find Copacabana Fort, which is spread out along a rocky spit. Copacabana Fort was completed in 1914 and was retired as a defensive fortification in 1987. It’s now home to the Army Historical Museum where cannons and some other military equipment are on display. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday and there is a fee to enter.
The most exciting time to visit Copacabana Beach is on New Year’s Eve, when the beach is blanketed with over 2 million visitors who come to watch the world-famous fireworks show. Join the chaos on the sand, or reserve a room at a beachfront hotel for a more private vantage point.
Copacabana Beach is easy to get to from the city center via the metro or a bus. Parking can be difficult to find in the area, so public transportation is your best option for reaching the beach.