Fort of Copacabana: history, views & breakfast

Fabio Jardelino | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Ready to experience Rio like a real resident? Read this article, as I will drive you through one of the most famous morning routines in this city, at the Fort of Copacabana. Located at the end of Copacabana Beach, before Arpoador Beach, it is a popular tourist spot in the south zone of Rio de Janeiro. It is not just a great place for those looking for open-air, but a getaway from the daily stress. With a splendid view and a lot of history to tell, Copacabana Fort is one of those places that attracts both locals and tourists. This trip has everything you need for a relaxed and enlightened day: an important historical spot, an amazing view, a beach atmosphere, and, of course, a good breakfast. The Fort of Copacabana may not be the most famous tourist destination, but it surely is one of the best. You can have an amazing day there, as the surrounding of the fort separates two of the most famous beaches in the world, Copacabana and Ipanema

© iStock / Luiz Barrionuevo


To understand the history of this fortification, first, you have to understand that several forts were built in the country's major cities at the time of the colony. It started in the 16th century against the threat of invaders and pirates battles, and it lasted until the beginning of the Brazilian republic in the 20th century, seeking to reduce the vulnerability of Rio de Janeiro, the capital of Brazil at the time. That is why, on November 16, 1907, the construction of this modern fortification started. The fort is on a strategic location as it was a region whose rocks advanced against the sea towards the entrance of Guanabara Bay, offering an excellent area for placing artillery pieces. 

© Arquivo Nacional do Brasil / unknow author

The construction occurred between 1908 and 1914 in the form of a bunker, and it was a challenge for military engineering. Its outer walls are 12 meters thick and face the sea. This same spot is the house of Krupp German cannons, seated in armored and revolving domes. Two 305 mm cannons could hit targets 23 km away, being at the time the most powerful battleground in Latin America.

© Wikimedia Commons / Carlos Alkmin

Start the day with a breakfast

The best way to start your day in Rio is with a good breakfast, and the Fort of Copacabana can offer you a good experience, together with Park Lage (my favorite place to enjoy a good meal while enjoying a nice view). But keep in mind that it can be very crowded from morning to lunch on weekends and, especially on holidays. So, my tip is to go on weekdays in the morning or on weekends more towards mid-afternoon, it is usually much more relaxed. Another important piece of information here is the dress code. As this is a military zone, it is forbidden to go inside in swimsuits or flip-flops, so if you plan to go to the beach after, bring some clothes in your bag.

© iStock / Clara Werneck

Despite being popularly known as the 'breakfast of the fort', the fortification military employees do not actually offer the breakfast. Actually, there are two coffee shops on site: Confeitaria Colombo and Café 18 do Forte. Right after the gate, you can already reach Confeitaria Colombo, which is a franchise of one of the most traditional and famous restaurants in Brazil, located originally at the center of Rio and funded in 1894. But I guarantee that both places are equally good and have very similar prices. 


Several fortifications across the country host military museums. The Fort of Copacabana is one of them. It holds one of the most complete museums about the history of the Brazilian army. The Brazilian Army History Museum dates back to the 19th century, and since then, it has changed several addresses in the city, being extinct and recreated until 1987, the year in which it took up residence at the fort. There, you can see important facts of the terrestrial military history in the Colonial-Empire, Republic, and Temporary Exhibitions rooms. With a varied collection of fifteen thousand items in its Technical Reserve, the museum has clothes, weapons, and rare personal objects of historical military figures, such as a lock of Napoleon Bonaparte's hair. 

© Wikimedia Commons / Adenildegonzaga

The neighborhood

The whole fort has a majestic view of the beach of Copacabana, being located just at its end. As you already know, Copacabana is not just a beach, it is a whole neighborhood located in the southern zone of the city of Rio de Janeiro, the cradle of modern Brazilian culture. It borders the neighborhood of Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, Ipanema, Botafogo, Leme, and Humaitá. As it is the most famous beach in the world, it is full of restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels, etc. Basically, everything is made to host tourists in the most comfortable and entertaining way. With all this available, it is easy to find a good path to complete your day after this amazing morning trip.

© iStock / microgen

But if you want to keep the good-vibe day, my advice for you is to go to the other side of the fort, in the direction to Arpoador Beach. Specifically, go to the Arpoador rock, the best place in Rio de Janeiro to enjoy a nice sunset near the beach. During the day, surfers enjoy the strong waves and beautiful sun, and at the beginning of the night, the stone is the main attraction. The rock, which stretches out into the sea, offers a very beautiful view of the hill Dois Irmãos and every day gathers a huge number of people around 17h30. Keep in mind that the place is simple, just with a little infrastructure. This place is considered one of the best places in Rio because it looks very natural and picturesque. 

I hope you have enjoyed this chill day at the Fort of Copacabana, a place full of history, amazing views, and an outstanding breakfast

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