Mingle with the local residents on one of the world’s most famous beaches, admire art deco buildings and party until dawn in this effervescent neighborhood.
Copacabana epitomizes Río’s trademark image of beach, jungle-covered mountains and sun-kissed bodies. Also known as the Princesinha do Mar (Princess of the Sea), Copacabana buzzes with energetic activity around the clock. Relax with the city’s beautiful people on the sweeping beach, dabble in watersports, dance all night at clubs and visit historic landmarks.
The centerpiece attraction is the 2.5-mile-long (4-kilometer) Copacabana Beach. On its golden sands practice capoeira martial arts, sunbathe, swim and play beach soccer or volleyball. Try surfing and stand-up paddleboarding or relax beneath the shade of a rented umbrella. Look north toward Sugarloaf Mountain and see forested hills rise above art nouveau and neoclassical edifices.
The mosaicked esplanade of Copacabana Boardwalk borders the beach and entices dog-walkers, joggers and skaters. Enjoy some people-watching. Stop at a quiosque (beach bar) for a cold beer or freshly squeezed fruit juice. Feast on salgadinhos, fried dough balls stuffed with cheese, meat, seafood or vegetables.
In the neighborhood’s southwestern corner is Copacabana Fort. Used as a military fort from 1914 to 1987, it now houses the Army Historical Museum, which has no admission fee. Leave the coast and wander the streets of Barrio Peixoto, a sleepy district of art deco houses. In Edmundo Bittencourt Square older residents play chess and children explore a playground. It seems a million miles from the energetic beachside area.
Copacabana’s commercial streets are a dreamland for shoppers. Art galleries, boutiques, department stores and surf shops spread along Avenida Nossa Senhora de Copacabana and Rua Barata Ribeiro. Experience the boisterous atmosphere of a boteco (pub) and dine at an espeto corrido (all-you-can-eat grill). After dark, hop between the brewpubs, cocktail lounges, live music venues and samba clubs.
Reach Copacabana easily from all parts of the city via public buses and the metro. Sundays are fun, when beachfront Avenida Atlântica becomes pedestrian-only and fills with artisans and street performers. Come for New Year’s Eve and be part of the huge and flamboyant open-air beach party.