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Introducing Ipanema & Leblon

The favored address for young, beautiful and wealthy cariocas (residents of Rio), these twin neighborhoods boast magnificent beach and tree-lined streets full of enticing open-air cafes, restaurants and bars. They're also the epicenter of the city's high-end shopping, with dozens of colorful boutiques and multistory galerias (shopping centers) selling pretty things that can quickly deplete a budget. While traditional sights are few, you can frolic on the beach and explore the leafy streets. Ipanema is also Rio's gay district, which revolves around the cafe and bar scene on and near Rua Farme de Amoedo.

Ipanema acquired international fame in the early '60s as the home of the bossa nova character 'Girl from Ipanema.' It became the hangout of artists, intellectuals and wealthy liberals, who frequented the sidewalk cafes and bars. These days, the artists and intellectuals have moved on, and the area is better known for its high-priced apartments and luxury lifestyle. This is, after all, Rio's most affluent district. While few cariocas can afford to live here, the streets and beach attract a wide cross-section of society, from surf kids from the outskirts to long-time residents and fashion-conscious 20- and 30-somethings who pack the open-sided bars by night. Ipanema and Leblon are among the city's top destinations for dining and drinking.