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Plan Your Trip to Rio de Janeiro: Best of Rio de Janeiro Tourism

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Rio de Janeiro
With its pretty beaches, dramatic mountains, and soundtrack of samba and bossa nova humming in the background, Rio de Janeiro casts a spell. Famed Ipanema Beach is still the place to stroll, sunbathe, and be seen. The largest Art Deco statue in the world, Christ the Redeemer, calls visitors to Corcovado Mountain. If that’s not enough, Rio is home to science and art museums, a buzzing food scene, a massive soccer stadium, incredible nightlife, and some 50 miles of beaches. If you're coming for Carnaval, Rio’s annual celebrations are full-on sensory overload with music, dance, floats, costumes, and food and drink all powering an around-the-clock party.

Travel Advice

Essential Rio de Janeiro

How to do Rio de Janeiro in 3 days

Mountaintop views, thumping nightlife, and family-friendly beaches
Read on

Beaches where you can escape the crowds (or join them)

As a Brazilian-American living in Brazil for the first time, I couldn’t have landed in a more exciting place than Rio de Janeiro. The city is the epitome of the “beautiful chaos” that Brazil is known for. Over the past three years, I’ve mastered the art of beach-going in Rio. Here’s where to go for a good time, and where to get away from the crowds.
Carla Vianna, Rio de Janeiro, RJ
  • Ipanema Beach
    Head to Ipanema for a true taste of Rio’s beach culture. Vendors sell everything from steamed corn and empanadas to chilled coconuts and sweet tea. You’ll share the sand with locals and travellers alike, including groups of friends playing futevôlei, a volleyball-like sport using just your feet. The iconic scenery, which includes a pair of pointy peaks known as the Two Brothers at the far end of the beach, makes it a must-visit.
  • Arpoador beach
    To the east of Ipanema, Arpoador is the surf and sunset spot. The water is often sprinkled with surfers, but there’s plenty of room for you to swim closer to the shore. The rock that juts out into the ocean is the best spot to watch the sunset in Rio. Grab a beer and settle in for the show as the sun dips behind the Two Brothers. Stick around for live samba music every Thursday.
  • Copacabana Beach
    Ipanema and Arpoador are known for their big waves. It’s almost a rite of passage to trade stories about being pummeled by the surf. But if you’re looking for a calmer beach day, head over to Posto 6 in Copacabana. The southern section of the beach is protected by Fort Copacabana, so the water is almost always calm enough for paddleboarding and kayaking. If you’re up early, it’s the perfect spot to catch the sunrise.
  • Vermelha Beach
    In the tranquil neighbourhood of Urca, this small patch of sand couldn’t be more different from the expansive shores of Ipanema, Arpoador, and Copacabana. The beach looks up at Sugarloaf Mountain, a stunning backdrop that’s reflected in its emerald waters. At day’s end, head to nearby Mureta da Urca. Grab a spot on the seawall in front of Bar Urca, a longstanding institution serving fried snacks and ice-cold beer, as the sun goes down.
  • Praia Da Joatinga
    I like to say that Joatinga Beach is Rio’s best-kept secret. While it’s open to the public, it can only be accessed through a condominium where the limited number of parking spots help curb the crowds. On weekends, Joatinga is always bustling. During the week, however, you might actually get the beach to yourself, especially if you arrive early. It’s bordered by tall cliffs that transport you far from the concrete jungle behind you.
  • Praia de Grumari
    About an hour from the centre of Rio, Grumari Beach feels a little more isolated. There’s little to no infrastructure here, although some rustic beach shacks serve fried snacks and fresh juices. Nestled within a nature preserve, the beach is surrounded by forested mountains. There’s limited parking, and if you don’t arrive early you probably won’t get a spot. Expect a healthy crowd on weekends, but nothing compared to Ipanema or Copacabana.
  • Perigoso Beach
    A hour-long drive takes you to Perigoso, a protected beach about 40 miles from the centre of Rio. With turquoise blue waters, it’s one of the prettiest stretches of sand within driving distance. Hike up Pedra da Tartaruga for views stretching back to the city, or continue on toward even more secluded beaches. The farther you get, the more empty the shores become. Pack water and snacks, since you won’t find vendors on these beaches.
  • Itacoatiara Beach
    The running joke is that the best thing about Niteroi—a city across the bay—is the view of Rio. But the coastal city does have its fair share of beautiful beaches. Known for its notoriously big waves, Itacoatiara is a hit among surfers. When the waves are too rough for swimming, take a dip in the natural pools nearby. Hike up the monolith at the far end of the beach to take in the entire coastline.