Copacabana is arguably the most famous neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, for better or for worse. It’s an old school neighborhood where at one time the rich and famous used to come and party. Some of them still do, but now the place is so infested with tourists and peddlers that it’s lost much of the charm it possessed back in the 60’s and 70’s. It’s also become a bit of a more dangerous and shady place in the last 20 years, so especially if you’re tourist and you stand out, watch your pockets and valuables. In my opinion if you want a more, let’s say family friendly locale, it’s best to stay in Ipanema or Leblon.
That being said, Copacabana does have a few redeeming qualities, most notably its beach. Literally just tens of meters from the neighborhoods main avenue, Av. Nossa Senhora de Copacabana, is praia de Copacabana, the Copacabana beach. Though it has become increasingly commercial, this avenue is lined with restaurants, small shops and above all, interesting people. The beaches are also nice, if not crowded. The views though of the Atlantic Ocean are beautiful, like what you’ve probably seen in postcards or picture books of Rio.
Things to See and Do in Copacabana
Forte de Copacabana and Museu Histórico do Exército
Built in 1914 and used as a prison to keep political prisoners, the Forte de Copacabana, or Copacabana Fort has some spectacular views of the surrounding areas. There is also a nice cafe with really good coffee. More info can be found at the Forte de Copacabana official website.
This is probably the most famous and posh hotel in all of Rio, not to mention one of the most expensive. There are several restaurants and a club (maybe now there are a couple, haven’t been in a while) on the premises. This place is a favorite with both locals and tourists alike. Just because outside the hotel though, especially at night since there can be some shady characters around.
The Beach (praia de Copacabana)
No explanation needed.
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