Although less famous than its nextdoor neighbor Copacabana Beach, Ipanema holds its own with quiet charm and considerably cleaner surroundings, and it does it without skimping on any of the white sands, blue waters, or local character that give Rio de Janeiro’s beaches their claim to fame.
Ipanema Beach (Praia de Ipanema) is on the ritzy side of Rio, backing onto an upper-class neighborhood full of high-end hotels and classy dining establishments. Although it’s easy to spend a day lounging on the sand (chair and umbrella rentals are available), those looking for a more immersive experience will find it on a guided city tour that combines a stop at Ipanema with other top Rio attractions such as Sugarloaf Mountain, the Statue of Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor), the Lapa neighborhood, or the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon. Bike tours offer a popular way to cover more ground in less time, while private tours ensure that you see everything on your list in comfort.
Things to Know Before You Go
Ipanema is divided into various postos, or sections, each with its own vibe—some are best for sunset barbecues and others are especially gay-friendly or suited to sunbathers.
Vendors walk the beach selling everything from snacks to hammocks, so you can stay put all day.
If you’re not sure which Rio beach is right for you, take a guided beach tour of the favorites such as Arpoador and Leblon before you commit to a full day.
Ipanema means “bad, dangerous waters” in the local indigenous language—a good reminder to only swim in designated areas, as the waves can be big and the undertow strong.
How to Get There
The easiest way to visit Ipanema is on a guided tour, many of which include door-to-door transportation from your hotel. Otherwise, catch the metro to Ipanema/General Osorio or take any of the buses marked “Ipanema” from Centro.
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. Visit in the morning for smaller crowds and less heat, or head to the beach in the evening to watch the sun set over the Atlantic.