10 Best Rio de Janeiro Beaches

Hint: two of them have inspired songs

Whether you're visiting for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, planning a future trip to Brazil or just want to daydream, here are the best beach in the city, as recommended by DK Eyewitness Travel.

Start planning for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo with our 5 Best Things to Do in Tokyo.

Meet your new favorite travel companion: the hot-off-the-presses 2016 Top 10 Guides from DK Eyewitness Travel (DK, $14). These guidebooks offer quick-hit lists of the best eats, stays and dos in locales like Barcelona, San Francisco and Iceland. Just in time for the Summer Olympics 2016, here are their picks for the top beaches in Rio de Janeiro. Text reproduced by permission of DK, a division of Penguin Random House, from DK Eyewitness Travel: Top 10 Rio de Janeiro (2016).Courtesy DK Eyewitness Travel
Copacabana From the 1930s to the 1970s, this fine, broad beach was the trendy place to lay a towel in the city. Since the 1980s, it has grown a little tawdry, especially at night. Sunbathing is best in front of the Copacabana Palace hotel.Shutterstock
Ipanema and Leblon These two contiguous neighborhoods have the cleanest, safest, and most beautiful beaches in the city, and are the favorite playgrounds of Rio de Janeiro’s upper-middle class.Shutterstock
Charitas Cariocas are fond of saying that the best thing about Niterói — the city across Guanabara Bay —is its views of Rio. None are better than those from Charitas in the afternoon, when Corcovado and the Sugar Loaf are silhouetted against the setting sun.Shutterstock
Barra da Tijuca Rio’s largest beach is 11 miles long and has both crowded and isolated stretches. It is a favorite with surfers, windsurfers, and fishing enthusiasts. The suburb, known for its many wealthy and famous residents, is characterized by long avenues, apartment blocks, and shopping malls.Shutterstock
Recreio dos Bandeirantes Despite being very built up, Recreio dos Bandeirantes is a peaceful suburb. The long, straight beach here is pounded by powerful waves, making it a good surf spot.Shutterstock
São Conrado This beach, which is a landing point for hang-gliders, is popular with local television celebrities, many of who have expensive apartments in the fortified tower blocks that stand between the sea and the city’s largest favela, Rocinha.Shutterstock
Arpoador This beach around the rocky headland at the southern end of Copacabana features cafés, coconut stalls, and juice bars where Cariocas hang out. Strong waves make it popular with surfers but the rocks are unsafe after dark.Shutterstock
Flamengo This stretch of pearl-white sand is the prettiest of all the Guanabara Bay beaches and affords wonderful views of the bay and the Sugar Loaf. The water is now far too dirty for swimming and the beach itself is unsafe after dark. The bay is best enjoyed by boat tour; views of Rio from the water are magnificent.Shutterstock
Botafogo The Sugar Loaf sits at the southern end of this perfectly rounded cove, which lies between Copacabana and Centro, at the mouth of the bay. It was a popular swimming spot until the 1960s, when pollution made bathing inadvisable.Shutterstock
Grumari Surfers head to this beach at Rio’s southern end beyond Barra da Tijuca. The clean waters here are also the coolest in the city. There is a powerful undertow, however, which makes it unsuitable for swimming.Shutterstock

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