Rio De Janeiro was my dreamiest escape to date and I often think about it fondly and long to go back. I’m not a lifelong beach lover but couldn’t help fall in love with the beauty and versatility of the beaches in Rio. Whether you’re looking for a lively party spot, the perfect waves for surfing or a tranquil spot to unwind, there is a stretch of sand to suit every taste.
beautiful sunset, people swimming in sandy beach

Photo by Nan Palmero on Flickr

Few cities in the world boast a beach as their main attraction. Rio de Janeiro  has over 99 beaches that stretch over 83 km of coastline. Insane right? It’s impossible to see all of them on a short visit but in this guide, I’ll share my favourite 9 beaches in Rio de Janeiro and their unique features to help you narrow your search.

9 best beaches in Rio de Janeiro

Copacabana- Rio’s iconic beach

Copacabana is world famous and the crowd-pleaser among all of Rio de Janeiro’s beaches. This 2.5 mile stretch of golden sand, with its crescent-shaped coastline and azure waters draws both locals and tourists. its striking black and white wave-designed promenade, a signature of the famous Brazilian landscape architect, Roberto Burle Marx is one of the most recognisable in the world and is a popular spot for joggers and cyclists, adding to the vibrant energy of Copacabana.

Copacabana beach and promenade viewed from different angles

The beach is lined with kiosks, bars, and restaurants and is known for its bustling nightlife. In the afternoon, locals and tourists go to the beach to enjoy the lively atmosphere. Youngsters play volleyball while Bossa Nova rhythms play in the background and the tantalising aroma of grilled meats from the nearby restaurants fill the air. My favourite time to visit Copacabana was in the early morning when I could enjoy the crowd-free beach and quiet promenade.

Ipanema Beach – Where Sophistication Meets Natural Beauty

If Copacabana is the life of the party, Ipanema is its chic, sophisticated cousin.

surrounded by the stunning Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers) mountains, which provide a breathtaking backdrop for sunset lovers, Ipanema radiates elegance and refinement.

waves and 2 mountain peaks in an empty beach

The beach offers a variety of activities for all ages. From beach football and Frescobol to surfing and paddleboarding, there’s always something happening on the sands of Ipanema. The beach is also home to a bustling Sunday market, Feira Hippie de Ipanema, where visitors can shop for local handcrafts, art, clothing, and food.

Sunset is definitely the best time to visit Ipanema beach, as Cariocas (Rio locals) head to Arpoador Rock to witness one of the most spectacular sunsets on the planet.  Get there early to find a spot as it gets crowded pretty quickly.

fiery yellow sky on an empty beach and a mountain in the background

Local Tip:

Barraca do Uruguai at Posto 9 have some of the best sandwiches of Rio.

Leblon Beach – A Tranquil and Upscale Beach Experience

 Next to Ipanema is Leblon Beach, a quieter beach with a low-key atmosphere, making it an ideal spot for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the busier beaches. The beach is also home to a shaded playground for children which makes it a perfect destination for families.

Leblon is surrounded by some of Rio’s most upscale neighbourhoods and offers a different kind of Brazilian beach experience. The beachfront is lined with luxurious apartments and high-end restaurants.

Local Tip:

Head to the Lookout viewpoint at the end of the beach to admire the stunning view from a different perspective.

Praia Vermelha – A Hidden Gem In the middle of the city

 Praia Vermelha was my favourite beach in Rio, a hidden gem which I discovered by accident as I got off the taxi when I went to visit the neighbourhood of Urca. I couldn’t believe that such an exotic spot could exist in the city, it’s so wild and so perfect you would expect to find it in a remote island or somewhere you could only access by boat or a helicopter ride. Instead here it was, nestled in the shadow of the Sugarloaf Mountain and surrounded by residential buildings. It was so empty and quiet on a Monday morning and I couldn’t help but feel envious of the people who lived there and were just going about their day. Are they aware how lucky they are to have paradise at their doorstep? Do they take it for granted? It was a surreal feeling. Praia Vermelha is a very small beach; it has red sand which is a unique feature among Rio’s predominantly golden beaches.

girl standing on sand in an exotic beach in rio de janeiro

The sea is calm thanks to its location in the Guanabara Bay, making it safe for swimming and perfect for families.

Here you will find few kiosks that serve food and drinks, which you can enjoy while soaking in the breathtaking views. The beach also offers a unique view of the sun dipping below the horizon, with the silhouette of the Sugarloaf Mountain standing majestically.

Spectacular sunset, golden blue sky and a mountain silhouette on one of the most beautiful beaches in rio de janeiro

Local tip:

Enjoy a leisurely walk through the charming neighbourhood of Urca, hike Morro Da Urca and take the cable car to the Sugarloaf mountain.

Barra da Tijuca Beach – Rio’s Longest and Most Modern Beach

 Barra da Tijuca, or simply Barra, is a stark contrast to the traditional charm of Rio’s southern beaches. It’s the longest beach in Rio and boasts an impressive 11 miles of white sand and clear waters. This modern beach is located in one of the newest districts of the city, characterized by large shopping malls, multi-lane highways, and high-rise condos.

Barra’s atmosphere is distinctly different from the other beaches on this list. It’s quieter and less crowded, offering a peaceful respite for those seeking solitude. The beach is also a popular spot for water sports, with areas designated for kitesurfing, windsurfing, and bodyboarding.

A wide green beach with high rise condos and mountains in the background

Photo by Kash Ous on Pexels

Next to the beach you’ll find BarraShopping, the largest shopping mall in Latin America, and several high-end restaurants and bars. Despite its modern appeal, Barra manages to retain natural beauty with its preservation areas and parks, such as Bosque da Barra and Parque Marapendi.

Local Tip:

Visit Praia do Pepê, a popular beach spot within walking distance to Avenida Olegario Maciel, a street filled with restaurants and the best place to party in Barra.

Prainha Beach – A Secluded Paradise for Surfers and Nature Lovers

 This secluded stretch of sand is a paradise for surfers and nature lovers. Located in a nature reserve, Prainha beach is surrounded by lush vegetation and towering cliffs, making it one of the most beautiful beaches in Rio.

Exotic beach with white sand and cliffs, one of the most beautiful beaches in rio de janeiro

The beach is known for its excellent surfing conditions, attracting surfers from around the world. The powerful waves and the beautiful surroundings create an idyllic setting for a day of surfing. Despite its popularity among surfers, Prainha remains relatively uncrowded due to its remote location.

The beach is only accessible by car or shuttle bus and has a small parking lot so get there early as spaces are limited. You can also walk from the centre of Rio and hike through a small rainforest for about 45 mins in order to reach the beach.

Local tip:

Hike with a local guide if you are not used to the area and don’t carry valuables. Take a picnic as there are no food stalls on the beach.

Grumari Beach – The Untouched Beauty of Rio’s Western Coast

 Another secluded and slightly remote spot located within a nature reserve. Grumari beach is located about 11 miles  from the centre of Barra. This beach is larger than Prainha but equally beautiful with its red sand, clear waters, and surrounding vegetation.

beautiful secluded beach with green water and lush vegetation

Grumari is a favorite among locals who appreciate its calm atmosphere and raw beauty.

The beach is only accessible by car or Uber which is very affordable in Rio de Janeiro, and parking can be difficult especially during peak season. There are no street vendors but you can enjoy a lovely meal at one of the many seafood restaurants near the beach.

Local tip:

Due to its remote location and the lack of residential buildings, it can be difficult to get a mobile signal in Grumari beach so bear that in mind if you plan to book an Uber on the way back.

Try this GetYourGuide hike that takes you to the most secluded parts of Prainha and Grumari beaches in a small group setting.

Joatinga Beach – A Secret Beach for the Adventurous traveller

Another secluded paradise that’s only accessible via steep trail or a single bus lane but the stunning cliff views and beautiful beach are worth it. This small beach is known for its clean waters and strong waves, making it a popular spot for both beginner and expert surfers.

Close up view of an emerald green beach in Rio de Janeiro surrounded by green vegetation

Photo by Rodrigo Soldon Souza on Flickr.

Located in the luxurious Joá neighborhood, Joatinga  is a popular spot with the locals who come here to escpae the touristy beaches of the city.

Local tip:

The sand line is small so check the tide and wind conditions before you travel.

Praia do Secreto – A Hidden Natural Pool

Praia do Secreto is a natural pool that’s located near Prainha at the west zone of Rio. This remote spot offers a tranquil setting and stunning natural beauty, making it a favourite among locals seeking a peaceful beach experience.

crystal clear water and a small natural pool with sunbathers in rio de janeiro

Local Tip:

Check the tide tables before you visit, as the natural pool only forms when the tide is low. Remember to bring your snorkeling gear to explore the underwater world.

Final thoughts

Rio De Janeiro’s beaches are as diverse as they are beautiful. Whether you prefer the lively energy of Copacabana, the sophistication of Ipanema, the tranquillity of Vermelha, or the adventurous appeal of Joatinga, Rio has a beach to suit every taste, each one offering a unique experience that reflects the city’s stunning natural beauty.


  • April 28, 2024

    Wow! I’m a HUGE beach lover and the beaches in Rio de Janeiro sound amazing! I’m so intrigued to visit and experience them myself soon!

  • April 28, 2024

    Wow. Rio looks beautiful. That first picture of the boardwalk looks a little bit like Miami Beach. I’ve always wanted to go to Brazil. Had no idea their beaches were so amazing.


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