A stretch of mountainous coastline with a cluster of buildings at the point where the mountains meet the sea. A figure paddleboards on the sea in the foreground. They appear tiny compared to the mountains and the sea. Image: Alexandre Macieira/Riotur


One of the keys to Rio’s appeal? An eight kilometer stretch of coastline made up of some of the world’s most famous beaches. Explore your beachy options, from the famous Copacabana to spots perfect for surfing or avoiding the crowds.

Meet you there?

An aerial view of Copacabana beach. A curved stretch of sand reaches towards a large rocky hill. Tightly packed building hug the sand on the left, while the sea laps the beach on the right. Foamy waves appear where the sea meets the sand. Image: Ricardo Zerrener/Riotur


A road runs between two bands of low vegetation. To the left of the road is a sandy beach and the ocean, with gentle waves lapping the sand. Two birds fly above the road. Forested mountains are visible at the end of the beach.

Two miles of sand and calm waters

According to Big 7 Travel, Grumari is among the 50 best beaches in the world to visit during the summer holidays. Families tend to favor this beach for its calm waters and because there’s plenty of space for children (although it can get crowded over the weekend).

Located west of Barra da Tijuca, Grumari has limited dining and shopping options nearby, so bring your own food and drinks if you plan to spend time here. The rustic beach is in an environmentally protected zone.


A crowded beach is visible through a gap in the trees. The beach is surrounded by rocky, tree-topped cliffs. Residential buildings dot the cliffs. People are scattered through the water, and appear to be swimming. Gentle foamy waves are visible where the water meets the beach.

A small, exclusive piece of paradise

This tiny – but perfectly formed – crescent beach has just about the cleanest water in Rio. It attracts surfers and nature lovers, as well as people who just want to get away from the city’s more hectic beaches.

Even though it’s located between popular beaches, there is no easy access by public transport and, even by car, it can be difficult to park on busy days. Part of the charm of Joatinga is that its slightly tricky accessibility makes it feel all the more exclusive. Please note: the currents and waves at this beach can be dangerous.

Barra da Tijuca

Low gentle waves appear in the foreground, spread across the width of the photo. Larger waves break behind them. Two kitesurfers crest the largest wave. The sky is dotted with kitesurfing kites. In the background, a rocky, forested island is visible on the horizon.

Lots of space for sports

Wider, longer and whiter than their more famous counterparts in Rio’s South Zone, Barra’s beaches are the perfect place to spend a lazy day sunbathing before taking a dip in the cooler waters.

These beaches tend to be much less crowded than Copacabana, and stronger winds make them ideal spots for watersports including kitesurfing and windsurfing.


A nearly empty crescent beach wraps around a bay enclosed by forested hills. Foamy waves gently lap the sand. Some people appear to be gathered towards the far end of the beach. Image: Pedro Kirilos/Riotur

For surf and nature lovers

Prainha beach is a prime surfing spot, and – with its secluded bay and forested hills – is considered one of Rio’s hidden gems. Located in Barra da Tijuca, the beach is part of a protected rainforest area and is a lot less crowded than the famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.

On the beach, kiosks serve sandwiches, juices and açaí bowls. Parking is available, and you can drive here via Avenida Estado da Guanabara. A surf bus also travels between the beach and the city center every three hours.



An aerial view of Copacabana beach. A wide strip of sand curves along a bay. The beach is busy with people, but not crowded. To the left of the sand is the sea, with waves lapping the sand. To the right of the sand is a road and, on the other side of the road, a row of multistory buildings. Image: Rafael Catarcione/Riotur.

The city’s most famous beach

Copacabana lines a crescent-shaped bay. Dozens of meters wide, the beach is beautifully situated between rock formations and swaying palm trees. The world-famous boulevard it lines was designed by Brazilian architect Roberto Burle Marx.

Mere steps from the sand is the Copacabana Palace, a hotel where Fred and Ginger danced, and where celebrities including Marlene Dietrich and Lady Diana have stayed.

Copacabana beach is easily accessible by Metrô Rio, so it’s very popular and very crowded. You can disembark at Siqueira Campos station, which is located just four blocks from the beach. The Praia do Leme stretch of Copacabana is quietest, so consider heading here if you’re trying to escape the crowds.

An aerial view of a stretch of sand lining a bay. A large cluster of rock abuts the beach at the point where it meets the next bay. Image: Riotur
An aerial view of Arpoador beach. Image: Riotur