There’s a reason they call Rio de Janeiro the Cidade Maravilhosa, or the “marvelous city.” With both mountains and beaches, Rio de Janeiro is one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Thanks to its terrain, it is home to some of the most incredible viewpoints in all of Brazil. On your next visit, make the trek to check out some of these fabulous views of Rio de Janeiro.
Corcovado is the name of the mountaintop that houses Rio’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, seen in basically every photograph of the city. The mountain itself is the highest peak in the area, and the statue juts out over a cliff and overlooks the entire city. This bucket list landmark has panoramic views that span all of the Guanabara Bay, Zona Sul (the South Zone) and Centro (Downtown).
To get there, you can either catch a van or tour bus, or take the funicular car (R$61-74) to the top. Be sure to go early, as the platform gets jam-packed with tourists during the day.
2. Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf Mountain)
Tough to pronounce and hard to ignore, the Pão de Açúcar mountain is a towering rock formation located in Zona Sul‘s neighborhood of Urca. A short walk or taxi ride from many tourist areas, Pão de Açúcar boasts stunning views of Copacabana, Praia Vermelha, and Botafogo, three of Rio’s popular neighborhoods. Botafogo also houses a yacht club, so sailboats often swirl around the bay below.
To get to the top, you can hike ~30 minutes to 1 hour from Praia Vermelha to Morro da Urca, then take a cable car (R$40) to Pão de Açúcar, or just take the cable car all the way up (R$80). There’s also a strenuous 2-2.5 hour hike, which involves some rock climbing, to the top of Pão de Açúcar – you should only attempt this if you are a serious climber.
Vidigal is one of Rio’s favelas and sits at the base of the Dois Irmãos mountains. Because of its steep terrain, it offers amazing sunrise views of Ipanema, Leblon, and the ocean below. In recent years, Vidigal has seen an uptick in guesthoses and hostels, as well as foreign inhabitants.
Spend the night sipping cocktails and dancing at Alto Vidigal, then stay for sunrise over one of the most spectacular viewpoints in Rio.
Rocinha is one of the most famous neighborhoods in Rio. This favela is home to hundreds of thousands of people, as well as many businesses, restaurants, and shops. Though many may not expect it, the top of Rocinha offers stellar views of Rio, including Corcovado, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, and Zona Sul. This is arguably the best view of Rio that visitors don’t have to walk or hike to.
To get to the top, walk up the main road (Via Ápia) of Rocinha until you reach the very top, or take the 538 or 539 buses into Rocinha, then get out at the top, once you start to see the view. I recommend always going with a local Rocinha-based tour guide or someone else who knows the area.
5. Dois Irmãos
In every photo of Ipanema beach, you can see two sombrero-like rock formations towering over the west side. These mountains are called Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers), and you can hike to the top for a jaw-dropping reward. With 360 degree views of Rio, including the ocean and the entire South Zone, this is a hike that can’t be missed.
To get there, walk or take a bus or taxi to the entrance of Vidigal. From there, walk up the main street or take a moto taxi or van to the campo de futebol near the top of the hill. You’ll find a path on the back side of the football field where you begin your hike. Up and back, it takes 1.5-2 hours.
Featured image credit: Alobos Life (Flickr)