Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
Copacabana has been for many years, one of the reasons why people want to know Rio. The "Little Princess of the Sea" as it once was "depicted" on a song still keeps its charm - despite of not being considered the fanciest neighborhood in town anymore...
I may be a little suspect... I live in there... but I really love it. It's the most democratic and ecletic melting pot.. You will find there a little bit ( or a lot... ) of everything from glamour to decadence. From urban chaos to cozy little places where you may think you have been abducted to a small city, with parks and lots of green areas almost hidden but a delight to be discovered.
To better understand it, take your time, and use one or two days exploring all its possibilities. there's fun for everyone.
The name Copacabana has a Bolivian origin... Where there is the fort today, once was a chapel which housed a XVII century image of Our Virgin Lady of Copacabana, brought by the Portuguese from a small village around Lake Titicaca in Bolivia.
That chapel would later be demolished for the construction of The Copacabana Fort.
The Fort was built in 1914 to defend Guanabara Bay,and offers visitors many interesting attractions from the amazing panoramic views to the Army Historical Museum - and you will find there a nice spot to have a coffe and pastry, a branch of the "Confeitaria Colombo".
There is an entrance fee of $2 to visit the fort.
Framed by the wavy black and white mosaics of Avenue Atlântica, there are in fact 2 separate beaches in here: Leme (one kilometer) and Copacabana, (just over three kilometers).
This beach houses Rio's famous New Year's celebration which attracts over 2 million people from all over the world - most dressed in white for good luck, following a local tradition and it is really beautiful. Beautiful for the people, all in white, celebrating joyfully; beautiful for the Yemanjá rites with flowers on the sand and sea; beautiful for the wonderful fireworks display. A must see and a must experience at least once in a lifetime, indeed!
During the summer international championships of beach soccer, volleyball and other sports are promoted in arenas along the beach.
This is by far one of my favorite places in Rio. It is true that its fame has declined. Some points (like Help disco) is the point of prostitutes, even the taxi drivers warn you about it. You cannot swim in Copacabana beach without getting hit, if lucky, to a plastic bottle, clothes or paper stuff. In addition, you cannot also expect to walk around past midnight, especially in the area of Barata Ribeiro street, without running into beggers sleeping or drunk people singing trying to get home.
But it still have its appeal and attraction in several points. It still hold a very variety of restaurantes a quilo (where you can get delicious food and meat by paying its weight) of good quality and cheap prices.
Besides, the area of Avenida Atlantica is not only beautiful, but also very safe, especially from Posto 4 to Posto 6 (don't know about Posto 1-3). Actually, I found it more stimulating to do jogging and walking in Avenida Atlantica than in rua Vieira Soto (next to Ipanema beach). You'll also find lots of people doing any types of activities in here.
The accomodation in this area is also reasonably priced, because they cannot longer compete with Ipanema or Leblon. Plus it is also safe, because most of the biggest hotels are located here and police circulate more frequently now to guarantee safety to tourists. I strongly recommed lodging here just if the place is in the beach or maximum two blocks away from the beach (till rua Nossa Senhora da Copacabana).
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 ;)
In general New Year's Eve tends to be a highly over-rated party night. You end up paying ridiculous cover charges to get into smelly bars that were begging people to come in only 3 days before. What's more the drink prices are always 20% more than normal.
New Year's Eve in Copacabana finally delivered a party to be proud of and to remember forever. What better than to spend New Year's Eve outside, on the beach with 2 million of your closest friends? Beer flows a-plenty and is sold by hundreds of different vendors out of their make-shift styrofoam stands. The fireworks were fantastic and there was never a moment when you didn't feel safe.
The party stretches the entire length of Copacabana and there are music stages, aswell as portable toilets all over the place.
We brought champagne along while we walked and there was no problem with sticking the bottles in some vendor's cooler for a while just to keep them ready for midnight.
Most people wear some article of white clothing for good luck and the party goes on for as long as you are able to stand up.
Next to Forte de Copacabana you will find the fishermen's corner, which has been there for over 100 years...
It is a charming spot and it is amazing to see those fishermen actually making a living right in the heart of one of Rio's most urban areas.
It is nice going there early in the morning - just before the sunrise - and seeing them bringing the fish. Fresh fish for sale there every morning...
I truely enjoyed my walk on Copacabana. It was about 2 o'clock at night and it was only me and another girl walking.
After listening how dangerous it is to walk at night and to bring around camares, I had taken my oldest camera with me. That explains the quality of the picture :)
Nobody robbed us and I wish I ahd taken my digital camera with me.
Even though we were staying right on Copacabana beach, we only walked a small portion of it before heading back to the street in search of food and an ATM and then never found the time to walk the rest of it. It didn't seem nearly as populated as Ipanema beach, at least not the section of the beach near our hotel, my guidebook says that like Ipanema, Copacabana is broken down into sections with a gay section near the Copacabana Palace, young footballers near Rua Santa Clara, retirees and favela kids near posts 5 and 6.
And don't be caught humming that Barry Manilow tune as you are walking down the beach, his Copa, Copacabana is "the hottest spot north of Havana" so he's not singing about Rio!
Beach kiosks are open around the clock, offering refreshments and snacks.They are a good place to have a coconut water after jogging, riding your bike or rollerblading along the beach. Or - if you do not feel like working out - to just watch others doing it...
Copacabana is a well known area of Rio . I personally don't like much the area as it's gettin more and more unsafe, specially if you go to the interior zone. The beachfront though is still safe. Here is where the famous hotel Copacabana Palace is situated.
A center of activity both night and day, its beach is lined with kiosks, a bicycle path and racks, lifeguard posts, public showers and bathrooms, hotels, bars and open-air restaurants.
There are two separate beaches here: Leme and Copacabana. Copacabana remains one of the favourite beaches for tourists who travel to Rio.
This is another view from the Fort....
This small beach lies between the Fort and Arpoador Rocks ( seen in the back ) is a surf point and also where some bodysurf championships take place.
( here, a link for a bodysurf page - just in portuguese, sorry... )
Uma fortaleza de vital importancia na defesa da cidade, nas suas epocas mais antigas, tambem foi palco do movimentos dos tenentes contra a chibata
A fortress of vital importance in the city defense in the past centuries, was also stage of a military insurrection by liutenants of minor importance
The famous beach and neigbourhood of Copacabana ows it's name also to the Indigenas. "Sacobenapa" meant "the road of the Socos" in Tupi-guarani. Copacabana extends it self for 4,15km with the Atlantic Avenue by it's side. The sidewalk (Calcadao) has Portuguese art mosaic work in black and white.
Brasilians are very fond of sports, so they'll walk and cicle on the Calcadao and cicling lane. You can also find open air gims and soccer and volleiball fields on the sand. They invented also a new kind of sport called Footvolley, a mix of soccer and volley.
If you are thristy or hungry there are plenty of vendors passing by and stands with beer, fresh juices, fruits and sandwiches. Reserve the cans and give them to the people that colect all the cans and sell them back to the recycle companies. You can also rent a chair and an umbrella in the stands. Usually it costs R$ 1,00 per item. When you go to the water never leave your sutff alone. Keep your backpack close to you and in an eyes range view. People will take it before you know it! Do it as Brazilians do: take a towel and your flip-flops, and the enough money for a drink or food. There are also vendors of arts and crafts. They are very nice but they'll try to scam you. Talk with them to induce them to lower the price, but remember that they earn less than R$200 per month.
A few months ago the police riding buggies was implemented on the beaches patrol. They get to places fast and quick, so if you have a problem just hollow. The lifeguard crew makes the rescues through the help of professional divers that jump in the water from a helicopter. Then a basket is sent down where they put the victim inside. It's a spectacle to see although for the wrong reasons. Don't swim after drinking and beware of underater currents. There are posts of the lifeguards and medical assistance every couple of hundred meters. They call them by numbers and some "Postos" are more famous than others. You can get a free fresh water shower on them when you leave the beach.
Copacabana beach is probably the world's most famous beach and it's not hard to see why. Everything happens here, everything centres here, it's the place to be seen and the place to see! It stretches in a shallow arc shape for 4.5km where the wide sandy beach meets the clear waters of the Atlantic. During the day, the beach gets quite crowded and is a hythe of activity both on the beach itself and off it with people walking, cycling or rollerblading along the wide mosaic patterned pavement. There's also a narrow double cycle lane which you have to watch out for oncoming cyclists on so don't walk in it! Try not to show your wealth around to much as you're already stick out like a saw thumb against the bronzed bodies of the locals. This way you'd feel more relaxed so leave the camera's etc in the hotel. At night the beach is still used by guys playing volleyball and people taking a stroll so it's used all day round.