A city nestled beneath forest-clad mountains; Rio de Janeiro is a natural beauty, fringed by famous beaches, from Copacabana to Ipanema. Bronzed Brazilians bathe in the shimmering Atlantic Ocean, run and ride bikes along the promenade or relax on the honey-white sand. Visitors flock to this celebrated coastline. But to experience Rio like its stylish residents (known as “Cariocas”) it’s best to frequent the smaller, secluded beaches. Though still bustling on the weekends, these beaches offer stunning views and are less crowded than the more renowned holiday locales. Here is our guide to Rio’s hidden coastal hotspots, with tips on where to stay when you’re there.

Praia da Joatinga

Along the western stretches of the city, away from the main throng, lays exclusive Joa where a cove of golden beach meets emerald waves, only accessed via a steep coastal path. Praia da Joatinga has sensational views of offshore islands and is popular with surfers and a cool, young crowd. The surrounding area is mostly residential, giving it a more serene feel and presenting the perfect opportunity to socialise with some of the sophisticated locals. To sleep in style, check-in at La Suite by Dussol, a boutique retreat with exotic gardens, a jaw-dropping infinity pool and seven stunning suites that offer breathtaking panoramic views of the ocean.

Praia da Reserva

Away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Praia da Reserva offers an oasis in the form of a long stretch of white sandy beaches. Located between Barra da Tijuca and Recreio, this environmentally protected area offers more space and fewer crowds, allowing you to immerse yourself in the pure nature and beauty of the area.

Praia da Ferradura, Búzios

A three-hour drive from the city brings you to Búzios. It’s been a favourite beachside hideaway for celebrities since Brigitte Bardot holidayed here in the 1960s. Ferradura, or Horseshoe Beach, is a charming cove where famous faces and fashionistas come for a seaside escape. Spend a weekend at Insolitos Hotel, a retreat fit for fashion royalty, which has been immaculately designed with original artworks and opulent furnishings.

Prainha Beach

Development hasn’t yet reached peaceful Prainha, where just a few kiosks provide refreshments and even fresh fish to the relaxed crowd who make it here. A crescent of flaxen sand, surfers come to ride the pounding rollers on this quiet bay, which is surrounded by lush hills. It’s best reached by an hour-long taxi ride from town. Pousada Jardim de Marambaia is a stunning colonial-style mansion, conveniently located in nearby Guaratiba, with an outdoor pool and restaurant serving traditional dishes.

Leme Beach

Leme is a natural extension of Copacabana. This bay is not only more peaceful but even more beautiful than its famous cousin, with captivating views of Sugar Loaf Mountain. Hip Rio residents have moved into the area and want to keep it all for themselves. The beachfront is home to a cluster of elegant hotels and restaurants. Plus, if you’re feeling adventurous, take the 40-minute hike through a beautiful forest up the foothills of Forte do Leme, or Forte Duque de Caxias. At the top, you’ll be met with a gorgeous 360 view of the Sugarloaf and surrounding beaches.

Praia do Leblon

This is one you might have heard of. Located just next door to Ipanema, it’s the place to head for a quieter, chicer seaside vibe that’s still close to the central buzz. One of Rio’s most exclusive neighbourhoods, Leblon feels distinctly European and is home to many of the city’s hottest restaurants and bars, lining Rua Dias Ferreira.

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