Rio de Janeiro’s legendary Copacabana Beach evokes images of white-sand shores, sun-kissed volleyball players, tourists sipping agua de coco out of bright green coconuts, and bikini-clad revelers partying long into the night. And for the most part, that’s pretty accurate. Add in a touch of local carioca (Rio residents) flavor and a splash of the obscure, and it becomes obvious how thousands of people easily spend entire days (and nights) wholly entertained on the world’s most famous beach.
Copacabana’s roughly 2.2-mile (4-km) stretch along Brazil's Atlantic coast is divided into seven informal sections, or postos. Although visitors are free to wander wherever they please on the beach, those looking for a particular vibe may want to get a lay of the land: Postos two through six draw the largest crowds thanks to landmarks such as Copacabana Palace, and posto seven is the best surf spot from dawn till dusk—thanks, in part, to a floodlight. Stretch your legs with a stroll along the boardwalk and Avenida Atlantica or a jaunt to the many beachfront shops, or incorporate Copacabana Beach into a full Rio de Janeiro tour for a quick look at the city’s top sights. Guided tours often combine trips to Copacabana with visits to nearby sites such as the Christ the Redeemer statue, Sugarloaf, and downtown Rio.
Things to Know Before You Go
No matter where you park in the sand, bring plenty of sun protection and leave your valuables at home—cheap snacks and drinks will get you through the day without too much cash outlay. Vendors hawk everything from cold drinks and snacks to reasonably priced towels and souvenirs.
Look left for views of Sugarloaf Mountain and the historical Fort Duque de Caxias, and catch sight of Copacabana Fort and Two Brothers Hill to the right.
Leme occupies the span between postos one and two, and posto eight marks the transition to Ipanema Beach, popular among locals.
Although Copacabana is lit up at night, it’s still wise to avoid walking along the beach after sunset.
How to Get There
The easiest way to get to and from Copacabana Beach is in a yellow taxi, which is also an economical option. There are three metro stations a few blocks north of the beach, and numerous city buses stop in the vicinity. Myriad city tours, both group and private, also stop on Copacabana’s sands.
When to Get There
The beach is open and crowded year-round, but plan your visit during Rio’s warm season—December to March—to enjoy the water. Weekends are busier than weekdays, and Sunday is a popular time to visit because part of Avenida Atlantica is closed to cars. Keep your eye out for various volleyball, soccer, and other sporting events taking place on the beach throughout the year.
Sports on Copacabana Beach
Volleyball nets, soccer courts, and other sports equipment facilitate physical activity all along the beachfront. Copacabana’s sands are also popular training grounds for those practicing capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines dance, acrobatics, and music with Angolan tradition for a graceful, fluid, and powerful form of movement.