Ipanema district and beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Ipanema district in the south of the city is the most expensive area of Rio de Janeiro and, with its beautiful beach, top restaurants and exclusive shops, forms a first-class holiday destination.

Ipanema, literally "churned up water", is located in the eponymous district in the south of Rio de Janeiro and is the city's second most important beach after the world-famous Copacabana. Just like Copacabana, Ipanema and its wonderful beach are among our top 10 most beautiful beaches in Brazil and top 10 sights in Rio de Janeiro.


The Ipanema district is one of the more upscale parts of Rio de Janeiro, which makes the combination of big city and beach unique in the world. The Brazilian flair also offers other advantages. It is not for nothing that the Travel Channel named Ipanema Beach the "Sexiest Beach in the World".

Ipanema beach

Surfers and sunbathers cavort in Rio's Ipanema district on the bright expanse of sand divided into sections by "postos", Brazil - © Donatas Dabravolskas / Shutterstock
© Donatas Dabravolskas / Shutterstock

As in terms of notoriety, Ipanema beach is also geographically right next to Copacabana, separated only by a rocky outcrop called Arpoador with a fortress. Nevertheless, a somewhat different clientele meets in Ipanema, because behind the beach stretches Rio's most expensive residential district.

See and be seen is the motto here, which runs through all social strata of Rio. And there is plenty to see. Brazilians are known for their permissiveness, but there is hardly anywhere else where muscles and curves are flaunted as much as on the beach of Ipanema.

Surfers and sun worshippers flock to Ipanema every day on the bright expanse of sand, which is divided into sections by "postos", as the lifeguard towers are called here. Cool drinks ranging from beer to the country's typical caipirinha are served on all corners and people meet to chat, play football, volleyball or footvolley.

Bathing is almost a secondary matter here and, due to the treacherous currents, not always completely safe. Each posto has its own atmosphere, of which Posto 10 or the alternative-inspired Posto 9 are among the best known and most popular.

Landmark Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers)

At the western end of Ipanema beach in Rio, the distinctive hills of Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers) rise into the sky, Brazil - © Donatas Dabravolskas / Shutterstock
© Donatas Dabravolskas / Shutterstock

At the western end of the beach, the striking Dois Irmãos hills with the favela of Vidigal rise into the sky. Against the setting sun, they form the breathtaking backdrop for the natural spectacle of the red fireball, which is celebrated with applause every evening by a crowd of caipirinha- and coconut water-sipping spectators.

PICTURES: Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro

Photo gallery: Ipanema district and beach in Rio de Janeiro


Ipanema district

The chessboard-like streets with their characteristic patterned pavement make it easy to find your way around Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - © Catarina Belova / Shutterstock
© Catarina Belova / Shutterstock

The Ipanema district also became famous through a song by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, who sang about the "Girl from Ipanema" in 1962. The light-hearted and erotic flair of this bossa nova hit aptly describes the attitude to life in Ipanema.

The chessboard-like streets with their characteristically patterned cobblestones make it easy to find one's way around Ipanema and to stroll through the attractive neighbourhood without any problems. Private investors are responsible for Ipanema's well-kept appearance, with classy boutiques, first-class restaurants and cosy cafés.

Art, culture and carnival in Ipanema

After sunset, people meet on Ipanema beach in the trendy clubs and bars of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - © marchello74 / Shutterstock
© marchello74 / Shutterstock

Ipanema also has a lot to offer culturally, with art galleries, museums and theatres. After sunset, people meet in trendy clubs and bars and swing their hips to exuberant samba rhythms until dawn.

The beach promenade is particularly inviting to stroll along on Sundays, when motorised traffic makes way for walkers, cyclists, joggers and skaters. As a counterpart to the Rio Carnival in the famous Sambodromo, Ipanema even has its own carnival parade here with the Banda de Ipanema, which attracts around 15,000 party animals every year.