A Guide to Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro

Ipanema Beach viewed from Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro © Craig FastIconic Ipanema Beach is home to Rio de Janeiro’s elite. The sweep of soft, white sand is backed by skyscrapers, exclusive hotels and designer shops. Christ the Redeemer looms between gaps in the architecture and mountains surround the beach on three sides. Out to sea, precipitous green islands lurch from the waves.

Base yourself in Ipanema and explore Rio de Janeiro’s many attractions, but don’t forget to allocate a day or three to enjoy the delights of Ipanema Beach – so good they wrote a song* about it.

Do

  • Learn to surf. The eastern end of Ipanema Beach is home to a number of surf schools. In the evening the sea is lit up by powerful bulbs, allowing surfers to catch the waves well into the night.
  • Shop. Or window shop, depending on your budget. Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Brazilian boutiques are liberally scattered between art galleries, posh homeware stores and coffee bars.
  • Play beach volleyball. A number of beach volleyball courts are available for public use. For the true Brazilian experience, strip to your thong bikini and play footvolley, a uniquely Brazilian sport combining football with beach volleyball.
  • Stretch your legs. Walk from the foot of the Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers) at the western end of Ipanema Beach along the pavement to Arpoador Point, just over two kilometres east. Along the way, indulge in some serious people watching in the many small beach bars that line the way.
  • Watch the sunset. Join the crowds on Arpoador Point at the eastern end of Ipanema Beach for views over both Ipanema and neighbouring Diabo Beach.

Sleep

  • Ipanema Beach © Craig FastLuxury
    Fasano Hotel, Avenida Vieira Souto
    Thoughtful touches of five-star luxury make this Philippe Starck-designed hotel the most coveted address in Ipanema. The rooftop pool has superb views across Ipanema Beach.
  • Mid range
    Everest Hotel, Rua Prudente de Morais
    Air-conditioned rooms with broadband internet located just one block from the beach and close to the many attractions of the lagoon. There’s also a swimming pool.
  • Budget
    Ipanema Beach House, Rua Barão da Torre
    Offering three-tier bunk rooms or private doubles, this is an excellently located budget option. Breakfast is included, there is free wi-fi and the communal areas, including a (small) swimming pool, are bright and comfortable, if a little cramped.

Eat

  • Luxury
    Porcaõ
    , Rua Barão da Torre
    Porcaõ is in fact one of a chain of traditional churrascaria – Brazilian barbeque restaurants. Huge portions of tender meat are sliced onto your plate from skewers in something close to a carnivorous orgy.
  • Mid range
    Botequim Informal, Rua Barão da Torre
    Waiters in bow ties and long green aprons attentively serve authentic dishes to a lively local crowd. There are many dishes for two people to share.
  • Budget
    Delirio Tropical, Rua Garcia d’Avila
    An excellent range of reasonably priced fresh salads and juicy meats mean the queue for this buffet-style restaurant frequently spills out onto the street.

Drink

  • Out to sea from Ipanema © Craig FastCaipirinha. Ipanema Beach’s many trendy bars are the place to sample Brazil’s national cocktail. Made from cachaça (distilled fermented sugarcane juice), lime and sugar, caipirinhas pack a delightful punch.
  • Agua de coco. Simply coconut water drank straight from a freshly opened coconut, agua de coco is served in the bars lining Ipanema Beach.
  • Coffee. Brazil is one of the world’s most prolific coffee producers and Brazilians take their coffee seriously. Drink it short and sweet.

* The Girl from Ipanema by Antonio Carlos Jobim.

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