It’s easy to see why Rio de Janeiro was nicknamed the “Marvelous City” when you’re gazing down at it from the heights of Sugarloaf Mountain (Pao de Açúcar). From its soaring 1,300-foot (396-meter) summit, the city unfolds around you, with views of the iconic Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, the Tijuca Forest, and the Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) statue standing tall atop Corcovado Mountain to the west.
As one of Rio’s most popular and enduring attractions, Sugarloaf Mountain deserves a spot on every itinerary, especially for first-time visitors. A two-stage cable car takes riders to the summit high above the city, with the first ascending 722 feet (220 meters) to Morro da Urca, where it’s possible to grab a snack as you overlook Guanabara Bay or hop on a helicopter tour. The second cable car ascends to the top, an experience included in most Rio sightseeing tours that also stop at attractions such as Corcovado Mountain, Santa Teresa’s art district, Copacabana Beach, Sambadrome, and Maracanã Stadium. Visitors pressed for time can pre-book skip-the-line Sugarloaf entrance with priority access to the cable car.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Sugarloaf Mountain is a must-see for first-time visitors to Rio de Janeiro.
- Choose between skip-the-line admission and a small-group or private tour of the mountain.
- Kiosks at the top of the mountain serve snacks, sodas, ice cream, and caipirinhas.
- Remember to bring sunglasses and a hat, as it may be bright at the top of the mountain.
How to Get to Sugarloaf Mountain
Sugarloaf Mountain is a stop on almost every city tour, and most travelers get to the top by taking a cable car ride. Those with energy to burn can make the relatively easy hike up Urca Hill from the ground station to Morro da Urca (30 to 40 minutes), then ride the second cable car to the top. Buses 511 and 512 stop at the ground station on Avenida Pasteur.
When to Get There
Weekend afternoons tend to be the most crowded at Sugarloaf Mountain, with the longest cable car lines and the biggest crowds at the top. To avoid the lines and heat, plan for a morning tour. For one of the most impressive views the city has to offer, visit on a clear day just before sunset.
An Adventurous Ascent
Rock climbers from around the globe come to Rio for a chance to scale Sugarloaf Mountain, where 40 routes of varying difficulty lead to the top. Guided climbing tours outfit participants with all gear and equipment necessary to make the ascent with no previous experience required.