Urca beach is not known to casual tourists. That’s why you will see mostly residents wading on its waters. It’s a traditional and affluent neighborhood with low population density. Its beach, although very small with a less than a kilometer of coastline, offers a great view of Sugar Loaf Mountain and Urca Hill and is very popular among the cariocas.
A life of privilege
The beach here takes on a mantle of exclusivity since the beach-goers here seem to know each other.
For good reason, because residents prefer this small beach to the more expensive and crowded Copacabana. You will see here parents with their children, couples sunbathing, teenagers and young adults playing water sports. Even with many people around, especially during weekends, you will notice that everyone respects the space of the other. Praia Vermelha is a good spot for non-swimmers for its shallow waters.
Some have all the luck
Even if the beach is small, it’s packed with so many goodies. Surrounded by four mountains, two military forts, the Guanabara Bay, three beaches and the Sugar Loaf Mountain, there’s so many things to do here. It earned the moniker ‘Red Beach’ because of the reddish tint of its sand.
There are several museums and old houses featuring colonial-style and neo-classical designs in this neighborhood dating back to the 1920s.
Exploring the beach and its environs
‘Forte Sao Joao,’ located at the foot of Sugar Loaf, is a testament of Portuguese engineering. Built in the 1700s, there are no weaknesses in its foundation. The fort has a museum displaying the weapons and bullets used in that period. Urca Hill is also a good spot to get an unimpeded view of the neighborhood. From there, you take a cable car for Sugar Loaf. The beach has bars and restaurants offering home-made dishes from seafood, meat to vegetables.
Don’t leave without setting foot on the ‘Rio-Sul Shopping Center.’ Close to the shopping mall is a passageway that gets you to Ipanema and Copacabana. It’s interesting to note that the famous singer and actress Carmen Miranda was from Urca.