A magnificent merging of land and sea, exotic Copacabana is one of Rio's most densely populated residential areas. Home to more than 150,000 inhabitants, the area swells with many more people at certain times of year, especially in summer when the area is its most vibrant and colourful.
A haunt for international jet setters since as long ago as the 1920s, there are a wide range of reasons why people the world over dream about spending time in Copacabana. First of all there's the hotels, nightclubs, restaurants, cafés and shops, but above all there's the stunning beach. As one of the most famous strips of white sand in the world, just don't go to Copacabana expecting a tranquil island style slice of serenity.
Right along the beach you'll find a buzzing atmosphere. Teaming with footballers singing their team’s anthem and favela kids showing off their ball skills, cariocas and tourist’s alike line the beach drinking acai or caipirinhas, with pineapple vendors weaving their way through the hordes of bronzed bodies.
As in Ipanema, different groups stake out their own stretch of sand. Leme is where to find older residents mixing with favela kids, while just west of the Copacabana Palace is the colourful gay and transvestite community section of the beach which you'll recognise by the rainbow flag. Young football and foot volleyball players make the area near Rua Santa Clara their courts, while posts 5 and 6 next to Forte de Copacabana is the unofficial fishermen’s post, where in the morning you can purchase the freshest catch.
Though lazing in the sun, swimming and surfing make up a big part of Copacabana's lifestyle, you can also go jogging or bicycling along the beachside pathway. History buffs will love exploring the 1914 built forts standing sentinel at either end of the beach, while a short walk further from the beach will take you to one of the best shopping centres in Rio. Come nightfall and Copacabana becomes a whole different world with bars and clubs staying open until the very early hours of the day.