That Rio de Janeiro is a place with many natural beauties and charming coastal districts that’s something you already know. But what you may not know is that despite most of the fame going to Copacabana and Ipanema, Leblon is also a place that deserves attention.
Aside from being able to enjoy the beach right next to the Corcovado, you’ll be able safely enjoy good restaurants, bars, theaters, and maybe even ending up appearing on the background of a local soap opera, since many of them are shot in the district.
In this post we’re going full-in on everything you need to know about Leblon, the places to visit, bars to go to, the best locations for a night out, and even give you some little known facts and local tips about the district.
The Map of Leblon
First of all, let’s take a moment to talk about the location of the Leblon district. It is housed in the south zone of Rio de Janeiro, and it’s had as one of the most prestigious areas in town. It has many luxury apartments and is considered one of the most expensive places to live in Brazil.
It is situated right next to Ipanema (separed by the Jardim de Alah canal), Lagoa (which houses the famous Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas) and the Dois Irmãos slum, which is one of the most famous locations in Rio de Janeiro.
The district is also very near Gávea and Jardim Botânico, two other high-end districts in Rio. Given the privileged location next to the beach and other touristic attractions, many tourists search Leblon for accommodations, even though most rates and service fees are considerably higher here.
How To Get To Leblon?
If you’re arriving in Rio de Janeiro from the Galeão Airport, the best way to get to Leblon is by taking an Uber or a yellow cab directly to the district. But given the city’s history of violence and theft, even if you’re going to Leblon from the Santos Drummond airport (which is considerably closer), I’d still suggest you to take an Uber there.
The Leblon Beach
The beach is undoubtedly the major highlight of the district. Although it is visited by many tourists, it is mostly attended by local residents, giving it a family vibe. Therefore, if you’re bringing kids on your trip, Leblon would be the best beach to go out of the Leblon-Ipanema-Copacabana hub (we’ll see more on why that is).
The Leblon beach officially begins at the Jardim de Alah canal, which separates the district from Ipanema. The two beaches are pretty much an extension of one another, with the exception that Ipanema gets a lot more hype amongst tourists, making the Leblon beach more peaceful.
On the flip side, the sand strip at Leblon isn’t as big as the one seen at the Copacabana and Leme beaches, which regularly causes the beach to get pretty crowded, especially during the Summer. Despite that, watching the sun goes down at Morro Dois Irmãos is a beautiful experience that I never get tired of.
Other than that, the beach has several kyosks, in which you can rent beach chairs and beach tents, as well as purchase an assortment of drinks and snacks. There are also many beach vendors that circulate in the sands, selling everything from food, to sunglasses and accessories.
Things You Can Do At The Leblon Beach
Aside from bathing in the waters and soaking up the sun (and the landscape), there are a few things you can do at the Leblon beach:
Go to the Leblon Observatory
If you are looking for that perfect instagrammable place, look no further. The Leblon Observatory is located right at the end of the beach, and gives you a breathtaking view of the Leblon, Ipanema and Arpoador beaches.
The huge wooden deck and the ocean bouders gives the place a very picturesque quality, perfect to contemplate the view. The Observatory also has a small bar, that serves soft drinks, beer, coconut water (fresh and served on the fruit), and a few snacks.
Where: Nyemeyer Avenue
How Much: free of charge
Best Way to Get There: walking
Visit Parque Penhasco Dois Irmãos
The Parque Natural Municipal do Penhasco Dois Irmãos is a beautiful green area very close to the Leblon Observatory. It serves as a environmental preservation area, and it is still little known by most tourists who come to Rio de Janeiro.
We visited the Park and you can see that and many other great lookouts in Rio de Janeiro in the following video:
Inside the park you’ll find many attractions, such as toys and rides for kids, a multisport court, beautiful gardens and a trail that leads to the bottom half of the Dois Irmãos Slum (which is called Irmão Menor).
The highlight here are the four observatories, from which you can see many famous locations in Rio de Janeiro, such as the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, the Botanical Garden, the Corcovado, and the Ipanema and Leblon beaches.
Where: Aperana street, 178
How Much: free of charge
Best Way to Get There: by Uber
Visiting Hours: every day, from 8 am to 5 pm
Play Volleyball at the Beach Courts
Playing volleyball (or handball) at the beach courts in Ipanema and Leblon have already became city staples. No matter what time of the day or how hot the sun is, you’ll always see people playing in the sands, it almost became this cultural aspect of the south zone of Rio de Janeiro.
If you’re a fan of the sport, the local residents are always happy to play with new people, so don’t be shy to join in the game. If you have a large group to play with, even better! If you happen to be playing in the late afternoon, don’t be distracted by the sunset at Leblon!
Where: Delfim Moreira Avenue
How Much: free of charge
Opening Hours: 24/7
Bring Your Baby to Leblon’s Baixo Bebê
This is a valuable local tip if you’re planning to bring your baby along your trip to Rio de Janeiro. Leblon’s Baixo Bebê is a recreational center with toys, inflatable pools, and a lot of infrastructure for the little ones.
Right next to the playground, you can find a kyosk that’s able to support parents that may need to change their kids for example, bringing a lot of confort for the parents.
Where: Delfim Moreira Avenue, next to beach station 12
How Much: free of charge
Opening Hours: every day from 9 am to 5 pm
Restaurants in Leblon
Leblon is also an established gastronomic area in Rio de Janeiro, counting on many different restaurants to chose from. Here are a few examples of where you can go for a delicious meal in the district:
Being praised by locals as one of the best steakhouses in Rio de Janeiro, Giuseppe Grills serves a huge variety of meat cuts, from juicy rump steaks to chorizo beefs, prime ribs and even seafood.
The drink manu is also pretty impressive, with many soft drinks, alcoholic beverages (the wine menu is so good). The restaurant is an excellent choice to take your family and friends while in Rio de Janeiro, with a very good staff and personnel to serve your meal.
Where: Bartolomeu Mitre Avenue, 317
Opening Hours: Mondays to Thursdays from 12 am to 12pm
Fridays & Saturdays from 12 am to 1 am
every Sunday from 12 am to 11 pm
This restaurant has been part of the district’s history for over 50 years now, having a faithful following given it was able to maintain it service quality over the years. The waiters still dress as they used to when the restaurant first opened, wearing distinct white suits.
The staple course in Restaurante Degrau are the place’s pastéis, which are kinda like a deep fried dough stuffed with various types of fillings. These are the perfect starters to get your appetite going, just make sure not to eat too many and ruining your main course!
Where: Ataúfo de Paiva Avenue, 517 B
Opening Hours: every day from 11 am until the last client leaves
If you’re a fan of French cuisine, Brasserie Mimolette will most likely be a good choice to have dinner. The restaurant specializes in remixing classic french dishes. The decoration is pretty interesting, with a modern twist on the industrial style.
Amongst chef’s Elia Schramm recommendations, there is the Mollet Egg (breaded soft yolk egg with fresh mushrooms) and the Bourguignon steak; which consists of ox brisket slowly braised in red wine, aligot, bacon, and other spices. Yum!
Where: Afrânio de Melo Franco Avenue, number 290 – 402A
Opening Hours: Mondays to Thursdays from 10 am to 11 pm
Fridays & Saturdays from 10 am to 12 pm
every Sunday from 12 am to 10 pm
Gero Rio has recently moved to Ipanema in recent years, but it is such an intrinsic part of the history of Leblon (it was opened for over 20 years in Leblon)that we had to include it on our list.
The Gero Rio restaurant is now housed by the Fasano Hotel, where many international celebrities choose to stay when they come to Rio de Janeiro. So you can only imagine how fancy Gero Rio is.
If you’re looking for a upscale place to eat, with excellent food and sophisticated invirnoment, Gero Rio is the place to go. The restaurant specilizes in mediterranium cuisine, with many option to choose from.
Where: Vieira Souto Avenue, 80
from Mondays to Thursdays, from 12 am to 3 pm and from 7 pm to 11 pm
Fridays & Saturdays from 12 am to 4 pm and from 7 pm to 1 am
every Sunday from 12 am to 10 pm
Gero Trattoria is Gero Rio’s italian-focused branch, which is housed by the Leblon Shopping Mall. The restaurant has a more casual and laidback vibe to it, attracting more young people than the original.
Aside from the many traditional italian recepies, one the highlights of the menu are the artisanal paninis, baked everyday and served fresh from 3 pm to 9 pm. The risottos are also an excellent choice, as the restaurant features different versions of the meal as the course of the day.
Where: Afrânio de Melo Franco Avenue, number 290 – 113
from Mondays and Tuesdays, from 12 am to 5 pm
from Wednesdays to Saturdays, from 12 am to 10 pm and from 7 pm to 1 am
every Sunday from 12 am to 6 pm
The Nightlife in Leblon
The bars in Leblon are also pretty big staples in the city. The beach + cold beer combo is a famous combination amongst citizens and tourists, and there are several places you can go to quench your thirst and escape from the heat. Here are a few examples of where you can go:
Bracarense is the typical Carioca bar: casual bar, casual dress code, very cold beer and delicious bar snacks. The place is one of the most traditional bars in Leblon (and in Rio de Janeiro), having opened its doors back in 1961 and still going on strong with the business.
I’ve been to Bracarense several times, and funny enough, most of them in the same situation: I left the beach in the late afternoon to go home, spotted the bar open, and couldn’t leave without having a cold one. The bar’s fame got big to the point it was even once elected as the best bar in Brazil by The New York Times!
So if you’re visiting Leblon, having a drink at Bracarense is pretty much a staple, don’t leave it out of your list!
Where: José Linhares street, number 85.
from Mondays to Saturdays, from 9:30 am to 12 pm
every Sunday from 10 am to 10 pm
If Bracarense wasn’t traditional enough for you, Bar Jobi should probably do the trick. Ever since it opened its doors back in 1956, Bar Jobi is a reference when it comes to the bohemian nightlife in Leblon.
The mood is pretty casual, you can either choose to seat at one of the bar’s tables (if you’re looking for a confortable spot to have something to eat), or you could just stay at the tables set up in the sidewalk. I personally find it much more appealing to be on the outside, so I pretty much always hang outside Jobi.
The place is also famous amongst locals looking for a late night snack after leaving the clubs, especially since it is one of the few bars in the region that remains open mostly all night long.
Where: Ataulfo de Paiva Avenue, number 1166
Opening Hours: from Sundays to Thursdays from 11 am to 4 am
from Fridays and Saturdays from 11 am to 6 am
If you want to have a drink at the same place where Tom Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes (authors of the famous Garota de Ipanema and staples in Brazil’s bossa nova genre) used to hang, head to Veloso Bar in Leblon.
With a very similar vibe as Bracarense (beach bar), the Veloso Bar have an excellent cost-benefit, with many delicious dishes. On Tuesdays, the bar holds a weekly “all you can drink” with Brazilian beer brand Original.
Where: Aristídes Espíndola street, number 44
Opening Hours: from Mondays to Fridays from 11 am to 1 am
every Saturday from 11 am to 2 am
Closed on Sundays
Academia da Cachaça
If you’re a fan of cachaça (traditional Brazilian alcoholic beverage made with sugar cane), this place will knock your socks off. And you’ve never tried cachaça before, this place will also knock your socks off.
Academia da Cachaça is a reference in Rio de Janeiro on the subject of cachaça, with over 90 different brands and various recipes to prepare your drink. If this is your first time trying it, I would suggest trying the most traditional mix, with lemon and honey, you can’t get anymore Brazilian than that.
Where: Conde Bernadotte Street, number 26
from Sundays to Wednesdays from 12 am to 12:30 pm
from Thursdays to Saturdays from 12 am to 1:30 am
Cultural Attractions in Leblon
If you’re looking for theaters, movies and anything of that sort in Leblon, the district’s got you covered. Here are the main cultural attractions in Leblon:
Kinoplex Leblon Movie Theater
Housed by the Leblon Shopping Mall, the Kinoplex Leblon Movie Theather has 5 different big show rooms, always with the latest releases on show. The place also has a pretty varied bomboniere, where you can get different combos for popcorn, sodas and sweets.
The movie theaters at Shopping Leblon are pretty soughted by the locals, as not only are the show rooms pretty comfortable and cozy, but it’s also safer, since it is run from inside the mall.
Where: Afrânio de Melo Franco Avenue, number 290
Opening Hours: depends on the day and on the movies being shown. You can visit the Theater’s webpage to check the updated schedule and movie slots.
Cine Leblon is a charming old-school movie theater in Leblon. Different from most theaters in Rio de Janeiro (or most places for that matter), Cine Leblon is not inside any malls or galleries, which gives it that vintage flair.
The theater first opened its doors back in 1951, having only a single show room with a little less than 1300 available seats. Fast forward 61 years later, Cine Leblon is on the verge of reopening its doors after closing in 2015.
As of March 2021, the theater is currently on what seems to be the final touches on the work being made in its structure, promising to reopen when the Covid-19 pandemic subdues in the city and theaters are allowed to open again.
Where: Ataulfo de Paiva Avenue, number 270
Opening Hours: to be announced
Teatro do Leblon
Located in the charming galleries at Conde de Bernadotte street, Teatro do Leblon is a staple in the district. Opened for many many years, it’s not unusual to see plays featuring big Brazilian actresses such as Fernanda Montenegro for example.
Where: Conde de Bernadotte Street, number 26
Opening Hours: depends on the availability of the play
Teatro Casa Grande
Teatro Casa Grande is a big deal in the history of not only the district of Leblon, but also to the city of Rio de Janeiro. Having over 50 years os history, the place was a known shelter for artistic and cultural debates during the military dictadorship back in the country’s mid 60s to mid 80s.
After recovering from a fire in the 1990s the theater remains today as one of the city’s staples, exhibiting national and international plays.
Where: Afrânio de Melo Franco Street, number 290
Opening Hours: from Tuesdays to Fridays from 12 am to 8 pm
every Saturday from 3 pm to 9 pm
Closed on Mondays
Well, that was it for our Leblon guide! The Leblon district is very cozy and appealing, so even if you’re not staying in the district, it’s definitely worth it stopping by to experience how charming it is.
While you’re here, I think we might also interest you with these:
6 interesting facts about Copacabana Beach – think you know everything about Rio de Janeiro’s most famous district? Check this post to find out!
Swimming In Rio Beaches: The Do’s And Don’t’s – if you want to know all about how to stay safe and still be able to enjoy the local beaches in Rio de Janeiro, we got your back!
Living in Rio: How much does it cost in USD? – thinking about moving to Rio de Janeiro? We gathered all the important info you should know about living costs in the city right here!
Is Leblon in Rio de Janeiro safe?
Yes, the Leblon district in Rio de Janeiro is pretty safe. As one of the most expensive areas in town, Leblon has a lot of police security making rounds on the streets. Still, it’s never a bad thing to be careful, as there are still punctual robberies that take place in Leblon.
Where is the safest place to stay in Rio de Janeiro?
The safest area to stay in Rio de Janeiro is the south portion of the city. The districts of Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana, Flamengo, Botafogo, Urca, Jardim Botanico and Gávea are all the located in the south zone, therefore, considered safer for tourists.
Cover Photo: Leblon neighborhood aerial overview – Credit: WikiCommons