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Copacabana Beach is undoubtedly the most famous beach in Rio de Janeiro and all of Brazil. If Ipanema beach is symbolised by La Garota, Copacabana is a brand all of its own.
The image of the famous promenade, known as the Orla de Copacabana, the work of Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, is recognisable the world over.
And the city of Rio de Janeiro has always been linked to Copacabana Beach. It is nicknamed "The Little Princess of the Sea" due to the crescent shape of the bay in which it is located.
This white sand beach, with over four kilometres of coastline, stretches from the Morro de Leme to the rocas de Arpoador southeast of Rio.
You may not find anywhere in the whole city with more atmosphere and life than Copacabana and, although the whole beach looks the same from afar, it's relatively easy to see that this isn't the case. Like the beach of Ipanema, Copacabana is organised by postos (lifeguard stations) and everyone finds their own space around these. For example, the area between the Copacabana Palace Hotel and Rua Fernando Mendes is known as the gay and transvestite beach, easily identifiable by the rainbow flag, although Ipanema really has more of a gay scene. The area between postos 5 and 6 is mainly frequented by families with children and youths flaunting their football skills, and the area of Fort Copacabana is the fishermen's beach, the perfect place to go first thing in the morning if you want to buy fresh fish.
To protect yourself from the sun, you can rent a parasol for the whole day for very little money. And if you get peckish or thirsty, don't worry. There are hundreds of vendors walking around the beach selling classics such as empadas and pasteis (pasty-type snacks usually filled with cheese, shrimps, palm hearts or chicken), fresh fruit... and, of course, drinks such as the classic Matte Leão, a cold tea with lemon, and the unmissable coconut milk.
And whatever else you want: a massage, flip-flops, a sarong, earrings...
Ah! And you can't go to the beach without trying the typical and unmissable Biscoitos Globo, which melt in your mouth. Virtually part of the cultural heritage of Rio, these super-light, sweet rings have been captivating cariocas since 1953. You'll see their unmistakeable bags everywhere.
Copacabana is also synonymous with sport and body worship. Along the beach there are numerous facilities for exercising the muscles, playing volleyball, paddle tennis, football and footvolley (a type of volleyball that uses the feet instead of the hands), and a huge bike path that is a continuation of the one that crosses the border or promenade of the beaches of Leblon and Ipanema.
But not everything is about sport... there are loads kiosks, small bars distributed along the promenade that offer refreshing drinks, sandwiches and fish- and seafood-based snacks, a small oasis ideal for cooling off and recharging your batteries.
And the party continues at night. Thanks to the lighting on Copacabana Beach, you can stay late into the night to carry on practising a sport or enjoying a cocktail or the traditional caipirinha at one of the kiosks, which often have live music.
As you can see, Copacabana can be enjoyed both by day and by night.
It also hosts major sporting events and celebrations such as the world famous Reveillon.
On 18 February 2006, the Rolling Stones gave a concert for more than one and a half million people here on the white sands, and on 28 July 2013, more than three million people gathered for a mass held by Pope Francis. Copacabana is an area for celebrations of all kinds.
As with other beaches in Rio, the best way to enjoy a day of sun and sea is to make sure you only bring the cash you need and nothing of value that could attract attention. At dinner time, the promenade of Copacabana Beach is always busy. It's also safe, although we don't recommend that you head to the area of the sand by the sea, since it's dark and secluded.
And by the way, although both slim and overweight cariocas may wear bikinis or even tiny "dental floss" bikinis without inhibitions or embarrassment, they never, ever go topless. In fact, it is prohibited. Although attempts are being made to change the legislation, going topless is considered an obscene act and punishable by three months to one year in prison.
Another attraction of the beach are the sand sculptures, some of which are spectacular. They typically charge up to two reals to allow you to take a photo with these genuine works of art.
On Sundays a lane of Avenida Atlântica is closed to traffic to allow people to enjoy the promenade. At night, Atlântica Avenue hosts the feirinha, the perfect place to buy souvenirs, casual clothes, crafts, instruments and paintings.
Copacabana is a unique cocktail, a mix between the south and north of the city of Rio, ready for you to discover.
This diversity is Copacabana’s greatest charm. In the same bar you can find a hotel waiter who has finished his shift and the owner of a luxury store enjoying their caipirinhas, and suddenly, they'll start to play some samba together.
Cariocas often say that you can find happiness in Copacabana whether you have one real or a million reals.
Don't hesitate: embrace the rhythm of one of the most talked-about beaches in the world.
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