Guess I'm not overstating it if I say Copacabana beach is to Rio de Janeiro what Eiffel Tower is to Paris.
Who would dare to travel to any of those cities just to leave out two of their most iconic figures?
Would you?...don't even consider it!
Granted, both cities have a fair amount of attractions and may be hard to press them on at tight schedule, but you wouldn't skip Montmartre, Montparnasse and The Quartier Latin in Paris as much as Copacabana, Ipanema, the sugarloaf mountain or Corcovado mountain in Rio.
Or you shouldn't.
Even when not as trendy and upscale as its neighboring Ipanema and Leblon districts, in the south part of Rio, Copacabana beach is one of the most famous stretches of sand in the world, repeatedly voted within the top ten.
Equally ranks amongst the top ten places to celebrate New Year's Eve in the world. Actually, it's the ultimate New Year's party destination everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime.
Known locally as Reveillon, this massive, spectacular beach party congregates around 2,000,000 people along the 4km stretch of sand and Avenida Atlântica for a day-long celebration with live shows by famous performers in several stages, dancing and a fantastic firework display.
Only two conditions apply: dress fully in white (it's a tradition) and be prepared to have the time of your life.
It was in the 40s and 50s when Copacabana beach began receiving Hollywood celebrities and tourism started to roll in - soon after the Copacabana Palace Hotel was inaugurated - marking the beginning of brazilian beach culture as we know it today.
Got installed in the collective unconscious as the archetype of Brazil beaches - a country not short of options by any means - promising an exotic vacation in wild South America amidst white, fine sand, warm waters, infinite sun and sculptural bodies.
And nothing has changed much since then.
If you're happy as an observer - or fashion lover - you'll see the most wonderful display of bikinis, top-less and dental floss garments ever.
Should you decide to take a more radical approach, start by swimming and sunbathing, and hope for the best you can aspire to, because Copacabana beach has something to offer to everyone, irrelevant of your preferences.
There is indeed lots of options in terms of sports.
From brazilian beach volleyball to soccer to frescoball, jogging, surfing, boogie boarding or even a broader option at Avenida Atlântica over Sundays and holidays, when half of it gets closed to traffic and bicycles, skateboards, rollerblades and joggers roll free along the promenade.
By the way, while strolling along Copacabana promenade, keep an eye on the beautiful and unique black and white wave pattern (four kilometers long) designed by the Paulistano Roberto Burle Marx, a Rio de Janeiro attraction by itself.
And when evening comes, you'll find yourself sipping a caipirinha in one of the many bars overlooking Copacabana beach, thinking about how fortunate you are to be part of the cidade maravilhosa of Rio de Janeiro.
A very, very unique South America travel experience you won't forget in a lifetime...
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