Wilder by Far and wild logo

The Best Beaches and Beach Retreats around Rio de Janeiro

Check our recommendations for the most beautiful spots to enjoy without flying

Amanda

Amanda

Latin America Specialist
Published on

08 Mar 2024

Updated on

12 Mar 2024

Blog Banner Facebook Cover Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, the vibrant heart of Brazil, seamlessly blends urban sophistication with breath-taking natural beauty. While iconic landmarks like the Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf Mountain captivate visitors, the beaches of Rio and beyond truly capture the city and country's allure. These golden stretches of sand, fringed by the azure Atlantic Ocean, offer havens of relaxation, adventure, and unparalleled scenic splendour.

From world-famous Copacabana and Ipanema to lesser known but equally captivating coves, Rio's beaches comprise a kaleidoscope of experiences awaiting discovery. We also take a look at the perfect beach resort and coastal options that offer a delightful end to your journey and are easily accessible by road from Rio de Janeiro. Consider the charm of a road trip and immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes of the lush Costa Verde (Green Coast) of Southern Brazil as you make your way to the perfect beach retreat.

Each boasts its own unique character, catering to a diverse range of preferences. Whether you crave the pulsating energy of bustling beachside promenades or the tranquil seclusion of hidden coves, this part of Brazil's coastline has something for everyone.

O Verview of Rio Brazil
Rio de Janeiro

Our carefully selected beaches and resorts promise not only a relaxing end to your travels but also the opportunity to discover hidden gems along the way.

We recommend visiting this region during Brazilian Summer, from November – April, when temperatures range from 25C to 35C. This coincides with festival season in Brazil when various cities host cultural and music festivals, attracting both locals and tourists and the region comes alive with the sounds of samba, bossa nova, and other Brazilian music genres. The main Carnival festivities occur in February or March, depending on the year however preparations and pre-Carnival events often begin during the summer. This is an exciting time to experience the energy building up for the grand celebrations.

Beyond their natural beauty, these sandy paradises are integral to the country's vibrant culture. They are gathering places for locals and visitors alike - melting pots of carefree joy, stunning athleticism, and artistic expression.

Angra dos Reis
Boats in Angra do Reis

Days can be spent in the region’s warm waters with fantastic opportunities for water sports such as surfing, kiteboarding, and sailing. There is also plenty of options for hiking, biking, and exploring nature reserves with the region's beautiful landscapes, lush forests and cascading waterfalls.

By night, the cities are alive during the warm summer nights with beach parties, live music, and a bustling atmosphere.

Beach Activities Rio Brazil
Sunset on Copacabana Beach

In Rio

Copacabana Beach

No visit to Rio de Janeiro is complete without experiencing the iconic Copacabana Beach. Stretching for over two miles along the city's curving shoreline, this world-famous beach is a true embodiment of Rio's infectious energy and joie de vivre. Framed by the towering peaks of Sugarloaf Mountain and the iconic Art Deco buildings that line its promenade, Copacabana is a sight to behold.

As you step onto the golden sands, you'll be greeted by a kaleidoscope of activity. Beach vendors hawking their wares, from refreshing coconut water to colourful sarongs, add to the vibrant atmosphere. Joggers and cyclists share the scenic beachfront pathways, while others indulge in a game of altinha, a local variation of footvolley that combines skill, grace, and a touch of showmanship.

Copacabana beach Rio Brazil
Copacabana Beach

But Copacabana is more than just a beach; it's a living, breathing cultural phenomenon. On Sundays, the promenade transforms into a bustling open-air market, where locals and visitors alike browse through an array of handicrafts, artisanal goods, and mouth-watering street food. As the sun sets, the beach becomes a stage for impromptu samba performances, with the rhythmic beats of drums and the sway of hips captivating all who witness this quintessential Rio experience.

Stay at Porto Bay Rio Internacional where the hotel's free beach service will allow you to unwind on Copacabana.

Ipanema Beach

Just a short stroll from Copacabana lies the equally legendary Ipanema Beach, a destination that has captured the hearts and imaginations of travellers for decades. Immortalized in the iconic bossa nova hit "The Girl from Ipanema," this beach is a true gem, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty, sophisticated charm, and an undeniable sense of cool.

As you make your way along the famous black-and-white wave-patterned mosaic sidewalks, you'll be greeted by a canvas of sun-kissed bodies, colourful beach umbrellas, and the gentle lapping of the turquoise waters against the soft, golden sands. Ipanema's allure lies in its ability to cater to a diverse range of beachgoers, from the fashionable and trendy to the laid-back and casual.

Ipanema Beach Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Ipanema Beach

For those seeking an active beach experience, Ipanema offers a plethora of options. Beach volleyball and footvolley courts are always buzzing with energy, while the calm waters provide the perfect playground for swimming, surfing, and stand-up paddleboarding. If relaxation is more your speed, simply stake out a spot on the sand, sip on a refreshing caipirinha, and soak in the infectious rhythms of the beach culture.

Ipanema beach sunset rio de janeiro brazil
Ipanema Beach

Ipanema beach is a lifestyle; the chic boutiques, trendy cafés, and lively bars that line the neighbouring streets offer a glimpse into the vibrant and stylish side of Rio. Whether you're seeking a fashionable new swimsuit, a gourmet seafood feast, or a night of lively samba music, Ipanema is sure to deliver an unforgettable experience.

Prainha Beach

Prainha Beach stands out as a must-visit paradise nestled within the lush Grumari Nature Reserve. This secluded gem is tucked away on the city's western edge, offering an escape from the bustling urban landscape and into a serene, natural oasis.

As you venture along winding coastal roads, Prainha Beach gradually reveals itself, a pristine crescent of golden sand embraced by verdant hills and towering rock formations. The beach's remote location within the protected reserve ensures its tranquil atmosphere remains unspoiled by crowds.

Prainha Beach Rio Brazil
Prainha Beach

Gentle waves lap against the shore, inviting visitors to bask in the warm Brazilian sun or cool off with a refreshing dip in the crystalline waters. Explore the nearby hiking trails winding through the lush Atlantic forest, or simply relish the sound of birds serenading from the surrounding slopes.

Despite its seclusion, Prainha Beach offers a few delightful beachside kiosks serving up fresh seafood, ice-cold beverages, and that unmistakable laid-back Rio vibe. This hidden treasure truly captures the essence of nature's splendor, making it one of Rio's most prized and picturesque beach destinations.

Santa Teresa Hotel is a stunning place to stay in the heart of Rio and is a good location to set off to explore Prainha Beach.

Prainha Beach Aerial Rio Brazil
Prainha Beach

Grumari Beach

Within the same Reserve as beloved Prainha, Grumari Beach offers true escape from city rhythms. This expansive golden stretch, flanked by lush hills and crystal waters, sanctuaries those seeking tranquil, secluded experiences. Coastal roads lead from Rio's urban landscapes to untamed natural beauty – Grumari's pristine sands and towering dunes shift with ocean breezes, revealing nature's power.

Grumari Beach Rio Brazil
Grumari Beach

One of the defining features of Grumari Beach is its sheer vastness – a four-kilometer sweep of uninterrupted, pristine shoreline that seems to stretch endlessly into the horizon. This incredible expanse ensures that even on busy days, you can easily find your own secluded patch of paradise to soak up the Brazilian sun in relative solitude, without the overcrowding that plagues some of Rio's more famous beaches.

Like Prainha, Grumari Beach's location within the Grumari Environmental Protection Area has preserved its untamed, natural splendor. The beach is fringed by towering green mountains that plunge dramatically into the azure waters, creating a ruggedly beautiful backdrop. The lush Atlantic Forest canopy parts to reveal this golden sand sanctuary, offering a true escape into nature's untouched embrace.

Leblon Beach

Between iconic Ipanema and Vidigal, Leblon Beach offers a sophisticated yet laid-back blend of coastal charm. This stylish sandy stretch attracts a diverse crowd – affluent locals to trendsetting visitors – seeking a taste of Rio's cosmopolitan beach culture.

Strolling the wide, well-maintained promenade, you're greeted by upscale beach kiosks and restaurants offering gourmet seafood dishes to refreshing caipirinhas. The beach itself is picture-perfect – golden sands stretching towards the azure Atlantic.

Leblon Beach Rio Brazil
Leblon Beach

For active days, volleyball, footvolley, and paddleboarding await. Or simply stake out a spot, soak up Brazilian sun, and enjoy the parade of fashionable beachgoers. Chic boutiques, cafes and bars lining neighbouring streets glimpse Rio's vibrant, stylish side – fashionable swimsuits, gourmet feasts, samba music nights.

Barra da Tijuca Beach

Stretching nearly 10 miles along Rio's western coastline, Barra da Tijuca Beach offers a sprawling, golden expanse – a true escape from the city centre hustle. This expansive beach haven lures outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers with wide-open spaces and endless exploration opportunities.

Barra da tijuca beach rio brazil
Barra da Tijuca

Making your way along the beach, you're struck by the sheer vastness – towering dunes and rolling waves as far as the eye can see. The endless stretch is punctuated by beach kiosks offering refreshments and rental gear for surfing, kitesurfing, paddleboarding.

For adrenaline junkies, Barra delivers. Strong currents and powerful waves exhilaratingly challenge surfers and bodyboarders, while steady winds make it ideal for kitesurfing. But tranquil moments await too – quiet nooks, peaceful picnic spots, and stunning sunset skies as day fades.

Barra da tijuca rio brazil
Barra da Tijuca

Joatinga Beach

Seeking escape from crowds and a taste of Rio's rugged natural beauty? Joatinga Beach is your haven. This hidden gem, nestled in a secluded cove flanked by towering rocky cliffs, offers tranquillity and seclusion hard to find elsewhere.

Getting there is an adventure itself – requiring a hike down a small path. But the effort is worth it as the beach rewards the intrepid with a stunning panorama of turquoise waters, golden sands, and lush verdant surrounds.

Joatinga Beach Rio Brazil
Joatinga Beach

At Joatinga, you enter a world untouched by modern hustle. This relatively small, secluded beach is a peaceful respite from famous beach crowds. Gentle waves and clear waters invite swimming, snorkelling, basking in the sun. Active adventurers can hike nearby trails for breath-taking vistas and wildlife spotting.

São Conrado Beach

For exclusive, upscale beach luxury, São Conrado Beach reigns supreme. Tucked away in one of Rio's most affluent neighbourhoods, this stunning stretch offers natural beauty, luxury amenities, and sophisticated ambiance that impresses.

Approaching São Conrado, you're struck by its grand surroundings – towering mountains providing a dramatic backdrop, and the crystal Atlantic Ocean stretching out as an irresistible refreshing embrace.

Sao Conrado beach rio brazil
Sao Conrado

But what truly distinguishes São Conrado are the luxurious amenities catering to discerning beachgoers – private beach clubs, upscale restaurants offering gourmet dining and cocktails, plush loungers with attentive service.

São Conrado's provides an indulgent relaxation sanctuary – stretch out on soft golden sands, enjoy lapping waves, and cool breezes while sipping caipirinhas or luxuriating in spa pampering. Do this while watching one of the main highlights of Rio, the paraglider descending over head and landing on the beach.

Sao Conrado rio brazil
Sao Conrado

Beyond Rio

Buzios

The enchanting peninsula of Búzios, just a leisurely 2.5-hour drive east of Rio de Janeiro, beckons travellers with its irresistible charm. Nestled amid this coastal haven are some of Brazil's most captivating beach resorts, enticing visitors from both the region and around the globe. Búzios offers over 20 pristine beaches, each adorned with crystal-clear waters and set against a backdrop of sculpted landscapes and exotic vegetation. With a rich history that traces back to European pirates and slave traders, this city has experienced periods of prosperity, evolving into one of Brazil's most picturesque fishing villages.

A pivotal moment in Búzios' history came when the iconic actress Brigitte Bardot discovered its allure during the 1960s, contributing to its popularity. Today, the peninsula stands as one of the most beautiful areas in Brazil, celebrated for its harmonious blend of rustic charm, distinctive architecture, incredible allure, vibrant nightlife, and a culinary scene that boasts sophisticated restaurants and boutiques.

Buzios beach
Beach in Buzios

Whether you seek the tranquillity of secluded beaches or the energy of the bustling town centre, Búzios caters to every preference. The unique atmosphere, with its cobblestone streets and vibrant colours, creates an ambiance that captivates the hearts of those who wander its charming lanes.

As day turns into night, Búzios comes alive with an exciting nightlife, offering everything from beachside bars to sophisticated clubs. The peninsula's allure is further enhanced by the presence of boutique shops and restaurants, providing an unforgettable blend of relaxation and refinement.

Far & Wild recommends Pousada Abracadabra, a client favourite in the heart of Buzios. This 16-room pousada oozes local charm and offers a great location to explore the local beaches. We recommend upgrading to the Deluxe Seaview room which offers a large balcony overlooking the bay.

Pousada Abracadabra pool
Pousada Abracadabra Swimming Pool

Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande, the largest island in the bay of Angra dos Reis, stands as a jewel on the Costa Verde, boasting a mesmerising landscape with over a hundred beaches. This idyllic tropical island, blanketed in lush jungle, is a sought-after destination and easily accessible from Rio de Janeiro. The journey leads to either Angra dos Reis (2.5 hours) or Mangaratiba (1.5 hours), followed by a scenic 1-hour boat ride.

Despite its current allure, Ilha Grande's past is tinged with the echoes of a maximum-security prison that operated until 1994, contributing to the island's isolation for decades. However, the closure of the prison, coupled with the establishment of the region as a State Park and Biological Reserve, has preserved the island's fishing village atmosphere, accessible solely by boat.

Praia Lopes Mendes Ilha grande Rio Brazil
Praia Lopes Mendes, Ilha Grande

The crystal-clear waters surrounding Ilha Grande teem with rich marine life, creating a haven for snorkellers and nature enthusiasts. Hiking trails meander through the heart of the Atlantic Forest, leading to serene creeks, rivers, and enchanting waterfalls. At the heart of the island lies the charming Village of Abraham, exuding a rustic atmosphere with informal bars and restaurants. From here, open forest paths beckon adventurers to explore uncharted beaches and secluded coves. The south side of the island, with its turbulent waters, provides a stark contrast to the calmer beaches on the north side.

In March 2014, the renowned Lopes Mendes Beach, located on the southern part of the island, was honoured as the third-best beach in Brazil, adding to the allure of Ilha Grande. Despite its peaceful ambiance, the island offers a range of accommodations, allowing tourists to embrace the laid-back island vibes for as long and as comfortably as they desire.

Far & Wild recommends a minimum stay of 3 nights at the beautiful O Sitio Ilha Grande. This charming, secluded property has only 8 rooms and its own exclusive beach which can only be reached by boat. The perfect tropical haven to disconnect and recharge.

O Sitio beach
O Sitio Beach

Paraty

Founded by the Portuguese in the 1660s, Paraty stands as a living testament to its colonial roots, preserving its original architecture and virtually unchanged culture over the centuries. This coastal gem served as a pivotal exportation site for gold from Minas Gerais to Portugal, weaving its history into the fabric of Brazil. Today, Paraty holds the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Monument status.

Wandering through the charming streets of Paraty is like stepping back in time, with exquisite churches and cobblestone streets that whisper stories of centuries past. Adding to its allure, the historic section of the city does not allow cars, enhancing the enchanting atmosphere that captivates visitors. The city's preservation efforts have transformed it into a captivating destination, where time seems to stand still.

Surrounded by lush forested hills and boasting dozens of secluded beaches nearby, Paraty is an unmissable destination for those seeking a blend of history and natural beauty. The backdrop of the Serra da Bocaína National Park, stretching inland through the Atlantic Rainforest and Araucaria Forest to the 2132m peak of Boa Vista, adds another layer of wonder to the region.

Paraty Brazil
Paraty

Beyond its historical charm, Paraty invites visitors to savour culinary delights in its delicious restaurants, offering a taste of local flavours. The fusion of colonial architecture, the absence of cars in the historic area, and the vibrant cultural scene make Paraty a unique and captivating destination. Whether you're strolling through its well-preserved streets, exploring nearby beaches, or venturing into the surrounding national park, Paraty promises an unforgettable journey into Brazil's rich history and natural splendour.

Far & Wild recommends Pousada Literaria, an urban sanctuary that seamlessly blends cultural exploration with the allure of beautiful beaches. By day, relax by a pristine beach, and in the evening explore the cobblestone streets of Paraty.

Lit external
Charming colonial exterior, Pousada Literaria

Conclusion

Rio de Janeiro and its surrounding areas are more than just stretches of sand and sea; they are living, breathing embodiments of the area's vibrant spirit and unparalleled natural beauty. From the iconic scenes of Copacabana and the tranquility of Prainha within Rio, to the charming history of Paraty and the natural beauty of Ilha Grande, this area has it all.

Ipanema Beach Rio Brazil
Ipanema Beach

These sandy paradises are gateways to a world of cultural immersion, adventure, and pure, unadulterated bliss. Whether you decide to stay within Rio or explore the surrounding by car, this bit of Brazil has everything you could ask for on your doorstep. Immerse yourself in the rhythms of samba and bossa nova, savour the flavours of fresh seafood and tropical fruits, and bask in the radiant warmth of the Brazilian sun. In these golden stretches of sand, you'll discover a piece of paradise that will forever etch itself into your memory and your heart.

Want to explore the magic of Rio and its beaches?

Call us to speak to a travel expert today

  • Amanda

    Amanda

    Latin America Specialist

Call an expert on

01768 603 715

Plan with an expert Plan with an expert

Have a look at our original holiday experiences and then contact us with your brief, or call 01768 603 715

A tailor-made itinerary just for you A tailor-made itinerary just for you

Our experts will send you a detailed holiday itinerary specified to your desires. It's our service promise to you.

Value guarantee Value guarantee

Tailor-made doesn't mean expensive! Ask about our price promise and book with financial security.

Looking for more of South America?

Read about some of the amazing things the continent has to offer

Show more articles