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Copacabana Beach and Neighborhood

Copacabana Beach

Copacabana beach is located in the neighborhood that carries the same name, in the southern area of the city of Rio de Janeiro. Considered one of the most famous beaches in the world and affectionately nicknamed by the population of Rio as "Princess of the Sea", the history of Copacabana beach is a mix of tradition, glamour and glory. Its sands are home to large events such as world championships of beach soccer, volleyball world championships, concerts, bringing together up to 1 million people (such as the Rolling Stones) and the biggest New Year party on the planet with more than 2 million people and magnificent fireworks. The big avenue at the beachfront is called Atlantic Avenue.

The curvy design of its sidewalk is known worldwide and was inspired by the sidewalk of Lisbon and used by landscape designer Roberto Burle Max on the beach walk.

In the 1970s, a large landfill was created by engineer Hildebrando de Goes Filho to widen the lanes of Atlantic Avenue and to redo the tubes that carry all the sewage from the South to the emissary of Ipanema and also to prevent the seawater to arrive at the Avenue Nossa Senhora de Copacabana and invade the garages of the buildings of Atlantic Avenue during springtides. Later a bicycle path and a few kiosks for public attendance were added.


The district was originally called Sacopenapã until the mid-18th century. It was renamed after the construction of a chapel holding a replica of the Virgin of Copacababna. In 1873, Baron the Mauá got the authorization to install the first telegraph cables for the Brazilian Submarine Telegraph Company. A little house was built (where we can find Posto 6 today) for the connection of the submarine cable with the Brazilian Telegraph network. In 1874 Brazil was linked to Europe by this cable. The neighborhood of Copacabana was incorporated to the city of Rio de Janeiro on July 6th of 1892 with the inauguration of the tunnel "Real Grandeza", nowadays known as the old tunnel (Tùnel Velho). With the tunnel the streetcar lines were extended to Copacabana and the area started to become more developed. (Until then the area was used by farmers).
On march 4th 1906 the new tunnel is opened, Túnel Engineer Coelho Cintra, which linked Botafogo with Copacabana on the Salvado Corrêa street (today Princess Isabel Avenue). The same year mayor Pereira Passos, had the works started to build the Atlantic Avenue at the beach front, until then the area was actually the backyard of the houses at Nossa Senhora de Copacabana street. In 1914 the Copacabana Fortification is inaugurated, a year after the Leme Fortification (nowadays Duque de Caxias Fortification). In 1920 the Copacabana district counted already 20.000 residents, who started demands for public schools, hospitals and squares for the children. In September 1923 the Copacabana Palace Hotel was inaugurated at the Atlantic Avenue, at that time it was considered the most sumptuous building of South America and one of the most beautiful of the world. The Hotel became a place of meeting for the "carioca" high-society and, because of this the lands in the neighborhood increased in value. After the arrival of the Copacabana Palace the neighborhood really started to develop as the place to be for the upper class. Lot's of politicians and personalities chose Copacabana for their residence. The growing popularity of Copacabana and the new way of transportation by cars had Copacaban congested very soon, so new tunnels were needed, In 1960 the tunnel Sá Freire Alvim (which connects Rua Barata Ribeira to Rua Raul Pompéia) was opened. The same year the duplication of the new tunnel at Princess Isabel Avenue was also inaugurated. In 1963 a tunnel which connected the Tonelero and Pompeu Loureiro streets was opened. Because everybody wanted to live in Copacabana, even the les rich social groups, they started to build higher buildings (max. 12 floors) and smaller apartments, also known as "JK's" as a reference to President Juscelino Kubitchek, but it realy was an abbreviation of "Janela (=window) and Kitchenette". In March 1971, governor Francisco Negrão de Lima inaugurated the Atlantic Avenue with its 4 km. as it is today. In 1991 the special lane for bicycles was added. Nowadays tourism is the main business of Copacabana.


  • Every Sunday or holiday, the lanes closest to the beach are closed to motor vehicles and local residents and tourists can ride their bikes, roller skates, skateboards or walk along the ocean.
  • Copacabana has the 11th highest Human Development Index in Rio, the 2000 census put the H.D.I. of Copacabana at 0.902 which is comparable to the H.D.I. of Portugal at 0.900. Even though the high, there are four slum areas in Copacabana: Morro dos Cabritos, Pavão-Pavãozinho, Chapéu Mangueira and Babilônia (Leme).
  • Copacabana has the biggest concentration of retail stores of Rio.
  • More than 60 hotels can be found in Copacabana with "Copacabana Palace" being the oldest "Sofitel" the most expensive.
  • Population of the Copacabana : 160.000 people


  • Public showers - under the new kiosks or at the lifeguard station (Posto x).
  • Public bathrooms - under the new kiosks or at the lifeguard station (Posto x).
  • Food and beverages.
  • Bars and Restaurants.
  • Lifeguards
  • Chairs and umbrellas for rent on the beach.
  • bycicle paths.

How to get there:

Cantagalo station
Siquera Campos station
Cardeal Arco Verde station


From Ipanema
From Leme