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The world’s most famous beach: Copacabana

Copacabana is without a doubt the most famous beach in the world. The boulevard was designed by Brazilian architect Roberto Burle Marx, Fred and Ginger danced in the Copacabana Palace Hotel, and celebrities such as Marlene Dietrich and Lady Diana have stayed here. The beach along the crescent-shaped bay is dozens of metres wide and is beautifully situated between rock formations and swaying palm trees. It is always busy here: from daybreak until way past sundown.

The majestic Art Deco ‘Copa, Co-pa-ca-baaa-na’ Palace Hotel inspired Barry Manilow to write his global hit in the 1970s. Unlike the title suggests, the song ‘Copacabana’ is not about a beach or hotel, but about a night club (‘the hottest spot north of Havana’). Nevertheless, the idea for the song was born here after a heated discussion in the hotel bar on whether there had ever been a song with that title. The Copacabana Palace Hotel has recently undergone major renovations and now looks as good as new. The surrounding neighbourhood has also regained some of its former glamour.

Copacabana beach at sunset
Copacabana beach at sunset


The wavy pavement pattern in black and white marble

Paddling in the sea

Copacabana is easily accessible by underground. Disembark at Siqueira Campos station, which is located at the very heart of the neighbourhood and only 4 blocks from the beach. The first-kilometre stretch of the beach, Praia do Leme, is much quieter. Across from the luxurious Hotel Windsor Atlantica security guards keep an eye on the beach, as swimming here can be dangerous: the waves are strong, the sea bottom has a steep drop-off and currents are often treacherous. Yet paddling is just as nice and refreshing.

The picturesque Praia de Copacabana

Copacabana is depicted on many postcards – mainly because of its beautiful beach and striking pavement pattern. Day in and day out thousands of Cariocas and tourists stroll and jog on the famous wavy mosaic pavement in black and white marble, designed by Roberto Burle Marx. The beach is the place to tan, play footvolley and flirt. Beach bars sell chilled coconuts, ice-cold Brahma beer and freshly made caipirinhas. During the day, locals and tourists flock to the beachside boulevard to shop and eat; after sunset, they dance the night away in the hottest night clubs south of Havana. Life is fabulous on Copacabana beach.

“Beach bars sell chilled coconuts, ice-cold Brahma beers and freshly made caipirinhas.”