Ipanema and Leblon

Ipanema, Leblon, and the blocks surrounding Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas are part of Rio's money belt. For an up-close look at the posh apartment buildings, stroll down beachfront Avenida Vieira Souto and its extension, Avenida Delfim Moreira, or drive around the lagoon on Avenida Epitácio Pessoa. The tree-lined streets between Ipanema Beach and the lagoon are as peaceful as they are attractive. The boutiques along Rua Garcia D'Ávila make window-shopping a sophisticated endeavor. Other chic areas near the beach include Praça Nossa Senhora da Paz, which is lined with wonderful restaurants and bars; Rua Vinicius de Moraes; and Rua Farme de Amoedo. Gourmands should make a beeline for Leblon's Rua Dias Ferreira, where top-notch restaurants thrill diners daily. The lively bar scene here encompasses everything from exclusive lounges and wine bars to relaxed post-beach watering holes.

Ipanema is famous for its beach, beautiful people, and boutiques, so sun-seekers and shopaholics will want to spend at least a day here. There's a metro station a couple of blocks from the beach. Arrive at the beach early to bag a prime people-watching position and spend a few hours here—beach vendors will keep you refreshed with coconut water, soft drinks, beer, and snacks. In the afternoon head to Visconde de Piraja for shopping, before stopping at one of the many upscale restaurants for early evening food and drinks. Should you choose to make a night of it, there are plenty of lively bars here.

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