Copacabana is home to some of Rio's fanciest and most popular accommodation options, but there are also lots of small, cheap, clean hotels around Flamengo and Catete. Like other beaches in the city, Copacabana is clean, and seems to attract some of the world’s most beautiful people – who come to see and be seen. Surfing is popular, and locals have developed a unique way of riding the waves called pegar jacaré (meaning 'to grab an alligator'). The iconic promenade is instantly recognizable by its black and white geometric wave pavement design, and there are historic forts to be seen at both ends of the beach.
The first mile of Copacabana, Leme is less touristy than its more famous cousin. The neighborhood takes its name from a nearby rock formation whose shape is similar to the helm of a ship. Local families gather here to relax and play beach soccer or volleyball.
A huge New Year’s Eve fireworks display attracts two million people to Copacabana every year, and revelers dress in white for good luck. The beach is also the venue for enormous free concerts by artists such as the Rolling Stones. Copacabana’s nightlife is legendary, and the streets are packed with bars, nightclubs and restaurants. For maximum safety, visitors are advised not to visit the beach late at night.