Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
I'd read that Copacabana wasn't what it used to be, but I was very impressed. I loved the patterns on the pavement, the beach was very clean, with a great vibe. The best part are all the kiosks on the sidewalk selling coconut water, caipirinhas and snacks. People watching at its best!
The heart of Rio beats in Copacabana, where everything happens.
From the Sugar Loaf or the Corcovado, the sights over the beach are awesome.
We were there in winter, and that, probably, makes all the difference about people and life.
I went with my family to Copacabana. My wife was there for work; I went along & brought our 5 year old daughter.
We went to Sugar Loaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer, etc. on a tour with an overpriced English speaking guide on a Sunday. It was perfectly safe.
We walked from our hotel to the Botanical Gardens, Parque Lage, the Lagoon (Lagua), and the military museum (Fort Copacabana) at the end of the beach. The Lagoon has a few clubs that look beautiful (Nautical club, Polo club, etc.) but you won't be allowed in, they are private. You can rent orange bicycles everywhere for R$5/day or R$10/month and you'll see people everywhere taking advantage of this. We walked past a graveyard and favelas on the way to the Botanical Gardens and Parque Lage, but it seemed fine if only a bit sketchy. The favelas are everywhere so don't think you won't be close to them wherever you stay.
We walked to the RioSul mall and enjoyed it. You have to pay to use the playground, but it is secured - only you can get your child in & out, they take your picture - and offers many activities for the kids ... including makeup, nails, and hair for the girls. They also babysit & play with the kids (R$15 first 30 minutes, R$10 each 30 minutes thereafter).
I never carried anything expensive, only carried a bit of cash and my cell phone, and a credit card (American AMEX which is almost unusable in Brazil ... you need the chip to be able to use the card). Honestly the only place that felt unsafe was Copacabana beach at dusk - too many street vendors, some seem to be following you. Everywhere else was fine. Nobody asks you for money. Expect all the restaurants to try to overcharge you, add things to your bill you didn't order, or charge you for the most expensive item on the menu. I found that pointing and contesting usually resulted in them reducing the bill. Don't fool yourself, Rio is quite expensive unless you come from the UK/Euro zone.
We chose to walk instead of taking buses where pick-pocketing is supposed to be common. We took taxis occasionally but only from the hotel, apart from back to the airport.
We did take a taxi from the domestic airport to the international one as the first cab driver misunderstood & took us to the wrong airport. The second cab driver was the standard yellow with blue and quoted us R$40-$50. It ended up being R$68 due to traffic jams everywhere but he accepted the remaining R$64 I had without difficulty. This would have been a $150-$200 fare in the states for comparison, the trip took over 1.5 hours.
I'm sure if you walk around with a Rolex and a Louis Vuitton you may have a different experience, you may be a crime target. But everything for us was great. I speak broken/basic Spanish which helps a lot, the languages are quite similar. If you don't speak any Spanish or Portuguese you may have some difficulty but we found English speaking people in most of the touristy spots.
Copacabana’s fame attracts cariocas and tourists (excuse me, travelers) alike. The first go there to show off - muscles or other soft tissue while the second go to see the show. The time I went was not the most blessed with balmy weather but there was still some action. Unfortunately, construction was under way which meant that large tract of the beach was fenced off. Still, there was money to be made. This was what kept the peddlers and sand artists stay put and the new generation of street beggar-muggers was on the alert as well.
Pinned down by these circumstances I had to reduce myself to the mainly symbolic consumption of coconut milk on the distinct Copacabana pavement and stare at the Copacabana palace in disbelieve - once upon a time this building was the only one on the beach (nice picture gallery at the back of the Palace testifies to that).
The pattern of the sidewalk mosaic is probably unique in relation to the other Rio beaches and specifically compared to Ipanema but not in Brazil as a whole. I was quite astonished to discover that little Foz (de Iguacu) had the same type of sidewalk (who plagiarized from whom?!) and even more - they had a third colour added to match the reddish soil of the area. What a statement! I wish the concrete sidewalks of my adopted Ottawa disappeared immediately.
The two most famous and probably best beaches in Rio, are Ipanema and Copacabana. There are lots of opportunities to play beach football, volleyball or just people watch in the sun. Don't forget to sip from a large green coconut.
Copacabana is the famous beach in Rio.
It was really bad for a few years and filled with sex tourists, prostitutes and pickpockets, but the goverment of Rio has recently made a big cleanup and closed the biggest prostitute bar in Copacabana and the area is becoming a nice place to visit again.
It´s a huge beach that is both very long and very wide and you just have to go there at least once.
If you go there late in the afternoon then they set up football grounds on the beach and have tournaments there.
Next to the Copacabana you have a beach front avenue lined up with little bars and haning out there is for sure one of the nicer things in life you can do.
Atlantic ave is one of the world's most beautiful ave......but a warning to all.....be aware of your surroundings.....people try to sell you anything at all times....even when eating people stick things in your face. Kids abound asking you for money !!!! BE CAREFUL.......tourist stand out like sore thumbs !!!!! Stay away from the girls, they tend to be working girls and won't think twice about robbing you !!!!! Beautiful picture spots, great people watching.... just BE CAREFUL !!!!!
Possibly the most famous stretch of sand in the world, Copacabana beach is synonymous with the hedonistic side of Rio – with sun, sea, beautiful bodies and New Year celebrations on the beach. Stretching for around five kilometers (the beach is called Leme at its northern end), Copacabana boasts soft white sand that is crammed with locals in tiny bikinis and shorts. Stalls selling ice-cold beers and caipirinhas line the beachfront, and joggers run along the pavements – famous for their distinctive wave-patterned black and white tiling. Avenida Atlantica is the busy road running along the beachfront, and across from the sands the road is lined with towering high rise hotels and apartment blocks, as well as any number of places to eat and drink. Be warned, however, that while a visit here is a must, Copacabana is not the best place to sunbathe. The water is too dirty for swimming, the beach is rife with pickpockets, and vendors selling tourist tat are annoyingly relentless in their drive to relieve you of your tourist dollar.
In Rio, life is a beach – and the quintessential Rio beach is Copacabana. This is a public beach, reflecting all aspects of local life. Here the beautiful people come to see and be seen. The bikinis are tiny and the girls who wear them are often stunning! There are always several games of volleyball going on, and of football too, with even the youngest boys showing some incredible skills with the ball.
You can walk the length of the bay (4 kilometres) along Avenida Atlântica, with the Sugarloaf visible at one end and at the other the headland that separates Copacabana from the next bay, Ipanema, with its small fort. At regular intervals you’ll find stalls selling refreshing coconut juice and other refreshments. The pavement has a beautiful wave pattern, reflecting the views out to sea.
One unmissable sight is that of the famous Copacabana Palace Hotel (see photo 4). The hotel was built in 1923 and has been a Copacabana landmark ever since, and many celebrities have stayed here over the years. In case you’re wondering, a night in a beach-view room here will set you back nearly US$900, and a penthouse suite US$3200, but just in case you win the lottery and want to stay here I’ve put the website below ;)
Opened in 1987, the Historical Army Museum within the Forte de Copacabana exhibits key military personalities from Brazil's history. Information about the objects on display, mannequins, military medals and furniture are provided by a bilingual multi-media system in a climate-controlled environment. The scenes take you from the Colonial/Empire times through to Brazil in the Second World War. More pictures can be found in one of my travelogues.
Admission is included in the price for visiting the fort.
Open: Tues-Sun 10am-5pm.
Built on the eve of World War I in 1914 by the German arms-maker Krupp, Copacabana Fort boasts walls of reinforced concrete 12m (39 ft.) thick. They protect a whacking great cannon (305mm) that could fire a deadly shell 23km (14 miles) out to sea. The army has done an excellent job presenting the interior as it was when it was a working bastion. One of the first things you see as you enter is the commander's quarters, preserved pretty much as it was in 1930 when it was used to lock up President Washington Luis after a bloody coup. Other rooms contain then-state-of-the-art instruments (lots of brass wheels and finely scaled calipers) for targeting and aiming the great guns. And down in the very bowels of the fort the cannon are still in place. Best of all, the bored soldiers guarding the place never leave the gate, so you're free to touch, fiddle, and play as much as you want. Twirl the knobs on the great cannon until its muzzle points towards your hotel, trundle a shell over from the magazine via the overhead conveyer belt, stuff it in, and let fly. (Actually the gun probably doesn't fire, but you can certainly have fun pretending). More pictures can be found in one of my travelogues.
Open: Open Tues-Sun 10am-5pm. Admission R$2.
Rio de Janeiro has a number of forts and fortresses all around, having as old ones as from 1565 (like Sao Joao fortress) and as new as from 1914, like this Copacabana Fort. It meant to protect the city from any attack/invasion coming from the sea. However, the funny thing is that the canyons (it seemed to me) were pointing almost to the city rather than the sea!
It is open to public, holding an army museum telling the military history of Brazil, and keeping the same characteristics of the old days. You can get also a nice panoramic of the gorgeous Rio coastline.
...at least in my opinion because it's that same beach where Chevy Chase from the movie "Fletch" ends his adventure by saying he was billing the entire tripnto Mr. Underhill's credit card. But its famous for other reasons like prostitution, crime, and crowds. However during my visit (in which I did not meet Chevy Chase) I only found the crowds to be an issue. Granted I wasn't looking to purchase a prostitute and I didn't go out to the beach at night but my feeling is that the latter two aren't that big of a deal. What is a big deal is the length of the beach and the amazing views of Rio and the famous Sugar Loaf, and while the crowds do kind of suck at the same time it makes for a vibrant culture filled day. From dudes in thongs to gals...well also in thongs....Copacabana is a veritable flesh market. There is fresh coca nut milk to drink while watching one of the many different volleyball games that are constantly going on and are wickedly entertaining. It may not be the most relaxing beach I have ever been on but it certainly was the most fun.
Note: Although I came across as lighthearted about the crime issues at Copacabana please take care to not go at night and during the day always be aware of your surrounding and never let your valuables out of sight.
Copacabana is an area in the southern part of Rio de Janeiro, known for its 2 mile beach which is one of the most famous in the world. Unfortunately Copacabana is somewhat the worse for wear, but is still great and extremely popular. Copacabana beach spans from lifeguard station 2 to lifeguard station 6. Its just pristine, spotless, wide white sand to relax on and plenty of activities to watch including volleyball, water sports, people watching and all night partying! Copacabana is also the home of foot volleyball. Hotels, restaurants, bars, and clubs dot the promenade. There is plenty of luxury accommodation like the historic Copacabana Palace or the modern Marriott and Sofitel but there is also plenty of local accommodation available at very affordable rates.
Rio de Janeiro is blessed with beautiful beaches, and Copacabana is probably the most famous of them all. It is said to be the birth place of the Brazilian bikini and beach volley. Ipanema is nearly as famous as Copacabana. A girl walking from the beach was the inspiration for the Brazilian musicians Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes to compose the world famous song ‘Girl from Ipanema’…
We spent some time hanging out at the beaches, just enjoying the sun or strolling along Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leme. There was always something going on. The ‘cariocas’ love the beach and it is more than a place to just swim and sun bathe. The beach is also a social meeting-place for them, they meet up to play beach volley, beach soccer, create sand sculptures, to talk and socialize, and - not least – have a good time…
On sunny days the beaches were really crowded, especially during the weekends or on holidays. We happened to be in Rio on the 20th January, which is a holiday honouring Saint Sebastian, the local guardian angel. It was a sunny day and we went to the Copacabana beach, and I have never seen so many people on a beach before. It was almost impossible to find an available spot for our beach towels. This was a little too much… but else no problems, and I think a visit to one of the beaches is a must-do in Rio…