Travel tips you can trust
This seashore in Rio de Janeiro is the world's most famous beach. It has a striking setting. Tropical-flora mountains and a wall of tightly packed high rise hotels and apartment buildings provide a picturesque backdrop.
Numerous bikini-clad sunbathers, soccer and volleyball athletes, and people gawkers pack the 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) long crescent sandy stretch. It's a lively, unforgettable scene you should experience at least once in your lifetime.
Famous, but ...
It's the best known beach on earth, but one of the worst in terms of swimming. The water is sometimes dangerous (riptides and crushing waves) and unclean (items include used diapers). I recommend you don't even think about swimming.
However, sunbathing, strolling, and people watching are fine as long as you keep a sharp eye on you personal items - and you don't mind shouting beach vendors.
Nearby Ipanema Beach (popularized by the song) is less hectic and attracts a more sophisticated beachgoer. Click Ipanema Beach for my web page on it.
When to come
Best period: December to early March (summer in the southern hemisphere). Carnival and the beach's lively New Year's Eve celebration fall within this span. Worst period: June to August (winter). Air and water temperatures are chilly - and the sea can be rough.
Location in Brazil
Carnival in Rio
Christ the Redeemer Statue
Fernando de Noronha
Niteroi Contemporary Museum Art
Salvador de Bahia
Sugar Loaf Mountain