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Guide to beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema
Copacabana beach

Copacabana Beach

The name "Copacabana" comes from the church "Nossa Senhora de Copacabana" named after the patron saint of Bolivia.
Originally the name given to the area by the native Indians was Sacopenapa. Named after a bird, that probably lived in the area.
Luckily the name changed in the mid 18th century after the above mentioned church was constructed in the location of today´s Copacabana Fort, on the border between Copacabana and Ipanema.

Copacabana beach stretches over 4 km (2,5 Miles) from "Posto Dois" next to the area of Leme to "Posto Seis" bordering the areas of Arpoador and Ipanema.

The mountains in the back of Copacabana function as a barrier between Copacabana and Botafogo.
Because of this it was difficult to access Copacabana, until "the old tunnel" was opened in 1892 (Túnel Velho).
Between 1902 and 1906 it was decided top open a second tunnel (Túnel Novo).
Both tunnels goes from Copacabana and Botafogo. The newest tunnel is leading to Shopping Rio Sul almost at the border with Leme.

Copacabana Palace, even though only inaugurated in 1923, is one of the historical buildings in Copacabana.
After the construction of the hotel of Copacabana Palace, the area got developed with high end buildings and apartments.

From the 2nd world war until 1970 Brazil had an amazing economic growth. In the beginning of this period Copacabana was a high class area with large apartments.
Traits from this early period can still be seen with the large apartments currently located in Avenida Atlántica.

From the 50s there was a building boom with smaller apartments, making the area less sophisticated and more populous.
Today there are more than 60 hotels and a dozen or so hostels. It is no longer considered among the more sophisticated areas of Rio.
If you stay in Ipanema during your visit to Rio you should perhaps also walk about in Copacabana, just to notice the difference between the neighborhoods.

The promenade (stones) for pedestrians and bicycles in Avenida Atlantica, by the beach, is famously designed by landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.

Ipanema Beach

Ipanema is the more chique beach/neighborhood and started to known as such with artists and intellectuals settling down there in the 60s.
It is since this time the beach of Copacabana has lost much of its stature.
Ipanema has, in addition to a large selection of art galleries and restaurants, also a gay friendly setting with places in the beach and pubs for gays.
For the English speaking tourists there are also Irish pubs in Av Visconde de Piraja close to the square of General Osório (with metro of same name).

The name Ipanema was given by the native Indians (Tupis) and means "Bad Waters" and relates to the undercurrent in the waters.
Today the name Ipanema is also very well known due to the song "Garota de Ipanema", a Bossa Nova song written by Vinicius de Moraes.

You should experience Ipanema all the way from Arpoador, which is the stone structure close to Copacabana, to the beach and area of Leblon on the opposite side.
Also it is easy to get to the Lagoa from Ipanema beach as it is only a few blocks away.
© - Guide to the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro.