The sparkling sea serves as a backdrop for what can only be described as the world’s prettiest gym. Rio’s athletes tend to hang out on the shores of Ipanema. This is the best spot to watch (or join) a pick-up football game. Pull up a chair, and you’ll quickly understand why this country has the greatest number of World Cup victories under its belt. Even the amateur football players are amazing. Keep an eye out for games of futevôlei, volleyball played with the feet instead of the hands, and frescobal, similar to paddle ball. Rio’s beaches are also popular with runners and power walkers, who cut through the sand in bathing suits and bare feet.
On Sundays, the roads next to Rio’s beaches are closed to traffic until the early evening. Pedestrians, bikers, and rollerbladers take over. Rent a bike, and enjoy having roads normally clogged with cars all to yourself. You’ll pass dance parties, street musicians, and vendors selling beer and coconuts. Pay a few reals to see how your skills compare to the tightrope walkers prancing across slack lines strung between the palm trees on Copacabana beach. The traffic-free days are popular with families, and you’ll see several generations cruising the city together on two wheels.