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Rio’s best beaches

  • Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

Last updated: 05 April, 2024

Life in Rio revolves around its long, golden beaches, where cariocas meet to relax, play and socialise. No visit to Rio would be complete without experiencing at least one. Beaches facing Guanabara Bay, including Botafogo and Flamengo, are pretty but water quality is poor. Atlantic-facing beaches, including Copacabana and Ipanema, are larger and cleaner. Beaches in the outer suburbs – like Grumari and Prainha – have the highest water quality and the best surf.

Join Rio locals for an early-morning workout. Joggers run along the sand, gym bunnies pump iron al fresco and everyone gathers at kiosks for a pre-work acai or coconut juice.

Who to go with: tour operators

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Barra da Tijuca

  • Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

Aerial view of sandy beach

Experience

At over 18km, this is the longest beach in metropolitan Rio. The water is clean, and the open ocean and prevailing winds make for good kite-, wind- and board-surfing. K08 offers kitesurfing courses. Rio Adventures offer surf lessons.

Charitas

  • Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

Sandy beach lagoon with palm trees

Experience

Head to this tranquil beach across the bay from Rio at sunset for superb views of the sun sinking behind the city, Sugar Loaf and Corcovado.

Copacabana Beach

  • Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Region, Brazil

Sandy beach with tourists and city in backgound

Bucket List Experience

This world-famous 4km crescent is the epicentre of Rio’s beach scene and the perfect place for beach sports and people-watching. It;’s not great for swimming – water quality is especially poor when the tide comes in.

Grumari

  • Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

Busy sandy beach with jungle hills in background

Experience

Nature-loving locals seek out this stretch of pearly sand backed by rainforest and washed by gentle waves. It’s a 40-minute drive from central Rio and you’ll need your own transport.

Ipanema Beach

  • Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

Waves crashing on busy sandy beach

Experience

Rio’s prettiest, chicest ocean beach, is watched over by the impressive Dois Irmaos mountain that sits behind. The water is cleaner, and the crowd more exclusive the further south you go, where Ipanema Beach merges into the more upscale Leblon Beach.

Itacoatiara in Niteroi

  • Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

Beach surrounded by tropical greenery

Experience

With hulking boulder-mountains backed by pristine rainforest, a long broad sweep of surf pounded sand and no high rise buildings, this beach – across the bay from Rio in Niteroi, is beautiful and unspoilt.

Prainha

  • Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

Beach with large mountain in background

Experience

Backed by rainforest-swathed mountains, washed by clean open Atlantic and with no buildings, Prainha in the far southern suburbs, is one of Rio’s prettiest surf beaches.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 0+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Water temperatures average between 21°C and 27°C. Don’t wear or take valuables to the beach – only bring what you’re prepared to lose. And never walk on Rio’s beaches after dusk; muggings are common.

Rio’s best surf beaches are Barra da Tijuca, Grumari and Prainha, on the outskirts of the city. You can hire boards there, or take a lesson with rioadventures.com – with 20-25 knot winds, warm waters and a sandy bottom, Barra da Tijuca is also a kitesurfing hotspot. K08 offers courses recognised by the International Kiteboarding Organisation.

For post-beach refreshments, head to one of the many small drinks kiosks up and all the ocean beaches – for fresh, ice-cold coconuts. (You drink the delicious fresh juice straight out with a straw). Or make for a juice bar for a bowl of purple acai slushie – a vitamin-packed rainforest berry and local superfood.