On the other side of the point from Forte de Copacabana, the lively waters off the Praia do Arpoador are popular with families and the elderly as the ocean here is slightly calmer than at Ipanema, which is a couple of kilometres away (Leblon lies thereafter). Much more tranquil than Copacabana, the beaches in these areas are stupendous, while the only bar/restaurant on the beachfront is Caneco, at the far end of Leblon – a good spot to aim for anyway, as you’ll enjoy a fine view towards Ipanema from here. As with Copacabana, Ipanema’s beach is unofficially divided according to the supposed interest of its users. Thus, the stretch of sand east from Rua Farme de Amoedo to Rua Teixeira de Melo around posto 8 is where gay men are concentrated, while the nearby posto 9 is where artists and intellectuals ponder life. On Sunday, the seafront roads – Avenida Vieira Souto in Ipanema and Avenida Delfim in Leblon – are closed to traffic, given over to strollers, skateboarders and rollerbladers.
Since the 1960s, Ipanema has developed a reputation as a fashion centre second to none in Latin America. Although many in São Paulo would dispute this, certainly the bairro is packed with bijou boutiques flogging the very best Brazilian names in fine threads. If you do go shopping here, go on a Friday and take in the large food and flower market on the Praça de Paz. For quality clothes, however, prices are quite high compared with their European or North American equivalents.
A former Rough Guides Managing Editor, Keith Drew has written or updated over a dozen Rough Guides, including Costa Rica, Japan and Morocco. As well as writing for The Telegraph, The Guardian and BRITAIN Magazine, among others, he also runs family-travel website