Ride the waves, hit the fairways or hunt down the latest designer fashions under the shadow of one of Rio’s most imposing peaks, the towering Gávea Rock.
If Copacabana and Ipanema beach are too crowded for your tastes, and Prainha Beach is too far, head to São Conrado Beach. Surrounded by the hills separating Rio de Janeiro’s main southern district from the neighborhood of Barra Tijuca, São Conrado Beach is easily accessible and yet it feels more secluded than other city beaches.
Spread out your towel and settle in for the day on this relaxing beach backed by sleek high-rise hotels and condominiums. Watch the surfers riding the waves, and look to the skies to see hang-gliders launching off nearby Gávea Rock. At 2,762 feet (842 meters), Gavéa Rock (Pedra da Gávea) is one of the tallest rock formations in the Rio de Janeiro area and offers spectacular views from the summit. Experienced climbers can hike to the top and back in around 8 hours.
If you are inexperienced or do not have enough time to spare, hike to Pedra Bonita, which stands just behind Gávea Rock. It’s a less strenuous hike to reach the summit of this shorter rock. While the views are less panoramic, you can still see over a large swath of southern Rio.
The wealthy neighborhood of São Conrado is a magnet for golfers and shoppers. Just north of São Conrado Beach is the Gávea Golf Club, a beautiful course with views of the beach and the surrounding hills. The club is open to visitors who are staying at an accredited hotel, but you’ll need to book well in advance. If designer fashion is more your thing, shop for a bargain at the São Conrado Fashion Mall. Set aside an afternoon to explore the 150 shops, several movie theaters and the food court at this luxury shopping mall.
Reach São Conrado Beach via bus or car by driving through the tunnel under the Dois Irmaos. There is plenty of parking available for a fee along the beach, and the neighborhood is small enough to navigate on foot once you get there. Alternatively, rent a bicycle and enjoy the cycleway which follows the coastline.