Why You Should Visit

Ipanema Beach is the energetic center of Rio’s coast. Anything that happens in that part of the south side is heard of in the rest of the city. The neighborhood made eternal by Tom Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes is a symbol of charm, luxury, and new trends each summer, and it offers its visitors much more than three kilometers of shore and beauty. There are bars and other attractions that await tourists, where nearly anything is music to the ears and eyes. It’s not a coincidence that this beach is one of the most loved by Rio citizens. Ipanema’s beauties are fairly diverse and usually do not leave its visitors disappointed.

Ipanema Beach

Places such as Bar Veloso went down in Ipanema’s history, where musicians, writers, and other intellectuals met. The bar was renamed Garota de Ipanema (Girl of Ipanema) and is still running in a region where Canastra and Delirium Café preserve the bohemian traditions. Ipanema Beach’s division into numbered stations is also very popular, where each station usually caters to different types of audiences. For example, there is Station Seven, where families, surfers, and samba composers are regular customers, and Station Nine, a point for artists and the LGBT audience. A park with nearly 30 thousand square meters at Arpoador is used as a stage for a daily beautiful display, where the sunset is applauded by a crowd thrilled by the landscape. And the hippie fair at Praça General Osório always has a hidden souvenir for those taking a walk around the neighborhood on Sundays.

Bathers on Ipanema Beach

Ipanema Beach is proud of having, among both its former and current residents, important names in Brazilian history. Gal Costa, Rubem Braga, and Ziraldo are some of them. Three presidents already lived near it: Castelo Branco, Eurico Gaspar Dutra and Juscelino Kubistchek. But none of these people were as famous as Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, also known as Helô Pinheiro. Her walks towards the beach when she was 17 inspired the song Garota de Ipanema (Girl of Ipanema), composed by Tom and Vinícius in 1962. The music was awarded with a Grammy in 1964 and recorded afterwards by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and even by the rock band Sepultura. This samba made Ipanema famous worldwide.

History of Ipanema Beach

The region that is known today as Ipanema had been home to the Tamoio Indians since at least 1558. They built a village there named Jaboracyá, which was destroyed shortly after by Portuguese settlers around 1575. José Antonio Moreira Filho, the second Baron of Ipanema, bought lands in the area in 1878. The name Ipanema means “bad water” in Tupi, and was given by this owner. The area hosted seven houses on it in 1879 and was a wide, sandy beach with cashew trees, armadillos, and fishermen’s tents. The company in charge of alloting Villa Ipanema was created four years after that and finished their work on April 26, 1894, handing over a neighborhood with 19 streets and two squares: Floriano Peixoto (now General Osório) and Coronel Valadares (Nossa Senhora da Paz).

Old Picture of Ipanema Beach in 1911

The place started developing throughout the years. Electric lighting arrived in 1902, and cable cars in the following year. Over a thousand people were already living in Ipanema around 1906 and, in 1912, 45 cable cars made 235 trips daily in the neighborhood. The first bus line was created in 1923 and, four years later, every plot in the area had already been sold. The Arpoador region was the birthplace of surf in Brazil in the 1950s, where the finals of the first national championship in this sport modality were held in 1965. The cable cars were removed from the neighborhood three years before that and were replaced by buses.

The Ipanema Band was created in 1965 and still marches today during Carnival, preserving the democratic tradition of welcoming anyone, with no constraints, and bringing revelry to Ipanema Beach. The parade of Feburary 7, 1973 was a special one because the group paid a tribute to Pixinguinha. The musician had died days before that during a baptism in which he was to be the godfather at Nossa Senhora da Paz church. Brazilian rock also owes a lot to Ipanema, since the first version of Circo Voador, an important show house, was opened in that neighborhood in 1982. The growing occupation of the area at the end of the 20th century resulted in houses being replaced by apartment buildings and in expensive real estate. When the subway station General Osório was launched on December 21, 2009, this trend was completed.

Ipanema Beach Today

Ipanema will soon get a new subway station. It will be at Nossa Senhora da Paz square and is expected to be launched in 2016. The station, which is part of Line 4, will have its entrances at Joana Angélica and Maria Quitéria streets. The expectation is that the station will be able to serve over 47 thousand passengers daily and create a 13-minute connection between the neighborhood and Barra da Tijuca. The launch is anxiously awaited by every citizen, who will be able to get to the beach and other attractions close by easily.

Ipanema Beach Boardwalk

Like Copacabana Beach, Ipanema Beach is a key location of leisure and physical activity for Rio citizens. They do some exercises and walk along the beach’s unique sidewalk. On Sundays and public holidays, a part of Vieira Souto avenue is closed to cars between 6am and 6pm (7pm in the summer), transforming it into a great leisure alternative for children and adults of all ages.

The touristic calling of Ipanema Beach caused important hotel companies to establish their units in the area, resulting in the neighborhood’s development. The most popular of them is Fasano, at number 80 on Vieira Souto Avenue. People who stay there can go on foot to the best bars in the area, like Garota de Ipanema, located at Vinícius de Moraes, 49. The young will find their perfect stop at Canastra, at number 42 on Jangadeiros Street. People who enjoy drinking the best beers will certainly like Delirium café, on Barão da Torre Street, at number 183.

Ipanema Beach in Preta Gil Block Carnival

Rio’s carnival turns the coast into a highly disputed stage for the huge amount of carnival blocks that march during the event. Besides the traditional Band of Ipanema, themed for the LGBT audience, Preta Gil’s block, Simpatia é Quase Amor, Afroreggae and Monobloco are also famous, and the last two are known for their memorable percussion instruments at Ipanema Beach.

The subway system is the quickest way to get to Ipanema. The Praça General Osório station works from Monday to Saturday from 5am to midnight, and from 7am to 11pm on Sundays and public holidays. Many of the bus lines departing from different sides of the city go across the neighborhood and are a good alternative. Sunscreen and bathing suits are nearly mandatory items for those who are looking forward to spending a day under the sun in the area. Ipanema Beach covers the the whole extension of Avenida Vieira Souto.

What No One Talks About Ipanema Beach

Even though Ipanema Beach is one of the most popular landmarks of Rio de Janeiro, some problems are regularly ignored by tourists because they are not revealed by the media directed to these visitors. But we believe that it’s important that our tourists know that both the Ipanema neighborhood and its beach have some issues that can ruin your good times.

  • Theft, stealing, and robbery ruin the trips of careless tourists at Ipanema Beach. That’s why we highly recommend you avoid displaying electronic devices excessively (cameras, smartphones, etc.). Unfortunately, some of these situations may incur violence. We recommend you move around the city carrying only essential items in a discreet manner while keeping an eye on your bags, purses, and wallets.
  • Favelas, or communities as they are also known, are areas inside other neighborhoods that lack basic urban infrastructures. The streets are narrow, building regulations are not followed, and the houses and windows are very close together. In most cases there is no basic sanitation and the availability of public services is poor. Many of these communities are held by organized crime, and conflicts between rival factions, as well as with police officers, happen constantly.
  • Normally, these locations are only accessible to local residents, and it’s not safe to go to these places alone. Even though some people, say there is, there is no charm or fascination to living in favelas, and life is extremely harsh in those places. It’s hard to see any in Ipanema because they are hidden behind the tall buildings of the area.
  • The street vendors and informal vendors, also known as camelôs, are people who walk on the streets or have tents on the sidewalk selling various kinds of products. The municipal government registers some of these vendors, who work at some spots with official permits. There are others who, however, work without a permit, and are sometimes removed by the Municipal Guard.
  • When buying from camelôs, pay attention to a number of details: eating food sold under these conditions, especially when the weather is too hot, may present health hazards since there is no effective control over how items are prepared and stored, and it is recommended not to eat anything in Rio de Janeiro that had a questionable preparation; products sold by camelôs have no receipts or warranties, thus if it is defective you will likely be unable to exchange it or get a refund; the prices can be very high, especially if a tourist is buying, putting the visitor in a spot vulnerable to scams during their purchase.
  • The street population is also present in Ipanema, as well as in almost the entire city. In general, adults are not looking for trouble and only ask for money to buy food. The teenagers and kids tend to hustle more. Sometimes they’re selling candies, sometimes asking for money, but it’s important to pay attention because small thefts occurring at the coast are usually done by kids and teenagers that wander on the streets. We recommend you do not display valuable items, and if you wish to contribute to them somehow, we suggest you do not give them money, but rather buy them some food.

Credits for the used images in this Ipanema Beach article: Augusto Malta, Fab de Nice, Marcos Fernandes, Monomakh e PSI_Ipanema.