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Rio de Janeiro - City

Guide to Copacabana And Ipanema


Picture of Copacabana Beach seen from Leme (Ipanema Beach is in the background out of view)
Copacabana Beach

The most famous event on Copacabana beach is the New Years Eve.
Every last day of the year hundreds of thousands are gathered on the beach for the fireworks.
Visitors, mostly dressed in white, have access to free entertainment and informal sale of beer.
Beach starts to get crowded from around 21.00 and countdown starts from 23.00.

Depending on the weather the party lasts until next morning.
With so many people heading north with the metro - it takes a while to empty the beach.

The name "Copacabana" originates from the church "Nossa Senhora de Copacabana" which was located where Copacabana Fort is located.
It is believed that the church was constructed in the 17th - however it was destroyed in the 20th century.

This area was quite empty as little as a hundred years ago.
It was difficult to get to Copacabana until the old tunnel was opened in 1892 (Túnel Velho).
This tunnel became the first connection between Copacabana and Botafogo.
Between 1902 and 1906 it was decided to open a new tunnel (Túnel Novo).
Currently this is the tunnel next to the shopping Rio Sul and the one you will see most of.

Copacabana Palace, even though only inaugurated in 1923, is one of the historical buildings in Copacabana.
Looking at pictures from the 20s this hotel stands almost alone as a majestic construction.
Eventually the area developed with high end buildings and apartments.
Traits from this period can be seen today with the large apartments currently located in Avenida Atlántica.

From the 50s there was a building boom with smaller apartments.
Making the area less sophisticated and more populous.
Squeezed between the ocean and the mountains there are limited room for new constructions,
causing the whole neighborhood to be developed within a short time frame.

The beach is 4 Km and stretches from Leme (Posto 2) to Arpoador in the connection with the beach of Ipanema.
The promenade (stones) is famously designed by landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.


Ipanema, with its large selection of restaurants, is the more chique neighborhood and beach as Copacabana has lost some of its stature.
For the tourist there are Irish pubs where one can meet other foreigners close to the square General Osório in the main shopping street of Av. Visconde de Pirajá.

One notice large difference of which the calmness one can walk in the streets of Ipanema in comparison to the streets of Copacabana.
Ipanema is also close to the Lake - another must see spot in Rio de Janeiro.

Same applies to Arpoador, the mountain close to Copacabana Fort. Place to relax during sunset.

The name Ipanema was given by the native Indians (Tupis) and means "Bad Waters" and relates to the undercurrent in the waters.
One should avoid swimming far out in Ipanema beach.

While Copacabana mainly got developed in the 50s - Ipanema got developed and its structure formed when artists and intellectuals started to gather in houses, restaurants and bars in the neighborhood.