By Darren Griffiths

The Best Beaches in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

26th August 2023

With a stunning Atlantic coastline on one side, and tall mountains on the other, it is no wonder that Rio de Janeiro is often the first place to explore on any of your Brazil holidays.  Brazil is not all about Iguazu Falls! Most everyone wants to see that iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer towering over the city as a great guardian. Whether you are on a honeymoon, a family vacation, holidaying with friends, or just traveling solo, no visit to Brazil is deemed complete without seeing some of the world-famous beaches of Rio de Janeiro. 

So check out these top beaches in Rio and immerse yourself in its superb beach life. With beaches to suit all tastes and styles as each of them has its own charm. Your choice, ultimately, will depend on what activity you are looking for, whether it is a stroll on the beach sidewalk, sunbathing, surfing, or simply socializing. However, one thing all these beaches in Rio have in common is their breathtaking landscapes.

Praia Vermelha (best for families)

The charm of Praia Vermelha (Red Beach) lies in its peculiar location at the foot of the Sugar Loaf mountain, one of the few around Rio which is sheltered and has mild waves. Though the beach may not be suitable for sunbathing, this shelter makes it a great spot for the beginner surfer to learn.

Enjoying the shade of the coconut trees and street food vendors thronging the sidewalk has made it a firm favorite with local families and visitors alike. Apart from the reddish sand and the secluded setting visitors can enjoy a cable car ride to the top of the 1300′ high mountain or walk on the mile-long promenade along the coastline. The best way to reach Vermelha is by hiring a taxi as public transportation is not available.

Copacabana (must-visit beach in Rio)

First in a string of Rio’s Atlantic Ocean-facing beaches, the iconic half a mile long strip of sand known as Copacabana Beach is flanked by high-rise hotels against a backdrop of even higher mountains. The often crowded beach has a bustling mosaic-topped promenade with a unique wave-like pattern that is called Avenida Atlantica and is a perfect place to stroll and watch the revelry of Rio unfold before your eyes.

From soccer to volleyball, to live music, the atmosphere here is lively every moment of the day. There are plenty of benches and kiosks serving Brazilian food. The best way to avoid the crowds is to arrive as early in the morning as possible. But if you are not a morning person then consider renting a bike to ride along the promenade like a local – it comes highly recommended.

Praia de Secreto (best secluded beach)

Located between Prainha and Macumba, this beach surfaces only when the tide is low. This type of large tide pool creates a natural swimming area where tourists can enjoy a dip in calm waters. Praia de Secreto gets its name, the secret beach, because it is not easily accessible and involves a short hike over rocks. Though the beach is unsuitable for the physically impaired, it offers a perfect respite from the hustle and bustle of Rio de Janeiro.

Leblon (a favorite with celebrities)

Leblon Beach is flanked by high-end resorts and gourmet restaurants and is located in one of the wealthiest districts of Rio. That said, the atmosphere here is much more subdued and sophisticated than its neighbor, Ipanema.

Because of its location, most beachgoers to Leblon are from the upper echelons of society, who consider this slice of heaven their own. Here you can find a variety of restaurants in the vicinity of Leblon Beach where guests can enjoy a meal and appreciate the great views at the same time.

Ipanema (best to experience local vibe)

Ipanema Beach is a stunning urban patch of pristine sand that inspired the famous song “Girl from Ipanema” about a beautiful girl walking on the beach. This beach is crowded most days of the week but it still is a good place to visit to get the true feel of Rio. All sorts of people come here to relax, surf, workout, or simply gaze at the idyllic waters of the ocean.

The local favorite spots on Ipanema beach are Arpoador Rock and Posto 9 as well as the 2.6 km long promenade from where tourists enjoy watching the setting sun as it paints the sands with its orange hues.

Grumari (best for surfing)

Gurmari Beach is much bigger and more pleasingly maintained than its nearest neighbor of Prainha. Since the beach far sees few tourists on the weekdays, here you can enjoy 3 km of clear sand. The beach sits between two hillocks and the whole scene blends beautifully with the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Waves at Gurmari reach a height of 3 meters, as a result, this place is a hit with surfers who throng here in large numbers on holidays and weekends. Gurmari Beach is perfect for visitors who like tranquillity and pitch an umbrella in a secluded spot. A good option while on Gurmari is to hike up the rocky outcrops and enjoy captivating views of Rio de Janeiro on one side and the Tijuca National Park on the other.

Barra da Tijuca (best for water-based activities)

Stretching for almost 18 km, Barra da Tijuca is by far one of the longest of all beaches in Rio de Janeiro. Good waves and other excellent water conditions made this place one of the top venues for the Summer Olympics held back in 2016. Not surprisingly, Barra da Tijuca has been attracting adventure junkies, windsurfers, kite surfers, and bodyboarders who come here to enjoy the prime water conditions from all around.

Should one be so inclined, there are scores of schools to teach newcomers how to surf, but there is enough space if you would rather just watch the surfers from the beach. When in need of a bite to eat, head to the many kiosks lined up on the side selling coconut water and tasty snacks.

Pranitha (best for natural beauty)

If you want to be far from the maddening crowds, make your way a little further down the coast and you will come across Pranitha Beach. A spectacular and blissfully quiet stretch of pristine sand awaits you. The beach is flanked by mountains covered with dense forest from all sides. The beach is spotlessly clean and the sand is soft and white. The blue waters are a magnet for surfers and families who love to spend time on any of the secluded spots present along this beach.

Apart from the crescent-shaped sand, you can find a small number of kiosks for retail food and drinks on the beach. To reach Pranitha it is most simple to take a taxi from your hotel in Rio as public transportation is not available. Be sure to book your taxi in advance and decide on the rate beforehand.