Sugarloaf Mountain Guide: The Best Attraction in Rio De Janeiro
Read our ultimate travel guide on how to visit Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Pão de Açúcar is a must-visit when you want to enjoy beautiful views over the city - take a famous cable car to the city's icon.
Pao de Acucar known as Sugarloaf Mountain is one of the most iconic and sought-after landmarks of Rio de Janeiro and top attraction you must visit while exploring this stunning South American city. Our guide will help you to get the most of your trip.
Standing on the top of the massive 396 meters high mountain overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro, its famous beaches, historical center, modern skyscrapers, Tiuna National Park with the Christ the Redeemer statue and the harbor will leave you speechless. That's exactly the word describing how we felt.
We always considered Rio de Janeiro to be one of the most exciting cities in the world, and we always wanted to visit it to soak in the atmosphere and explore it.
When the day has finally come, and we spent 72 hours in the city, we must say that our expectations were even exceeded. There is no denying that Rio de Janeiro couldn't have been settled in the more beautiful landscape and we quickly fell in love with the city, and one of the reasons was the breathtaking views.
When planning your itinerary for Rio, make sure you put Sugarloaf Mountain high on the list!
HOW TO VISIT SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN
We took the Uber from the city center right to the entrance, from where we started our visit to Sugarloaf Mountain.
If you are staying near Ipanema or Copacabana Beach, you can also jump on an irregular bus from Copacabana, number 511 and 512, but taking a taxi is much quicker, safer and efficient in this case. There is an information kiosk where you can get some general information and safety advice about the area.
You have two options on how to visit Sugarloaf Mountain.
Take the modern cable car all the way to the top, or hike the first section to Morro da Urca, a smaller mountain nestled between the cable car entrance and Sugarloaf Mountain, and take the cable car from there.
We felt like we needed some exercise, so we decided to hike to Morro da Urca and skipped the first cable car section.
The trail starts at the left corner of Praia Vermelha beach, and it will take you along the coast for a bit. This part is popular among locals who jog here often. The trail is well-maintained and signposted, and you shouldn't miss the sharp turn to the left where you enter to Atlantic forest inhabited with monkeys, tropical plants, and butterflies.
Though the monkeys look super-cute, they are introduced animals causing lots of damage to the native animals, and you shouldn't feed them.
There are informative signs everywhere about this species and about the harm they cause, but some people ignore them. We saw a tourist couple feeding monkeys with bananas while taking selfies, so a local woman, who went to the mountain to work out, pointed out that they shouldn't feed them they started to act surprised and apologetic although they must have known that what they did was not cool.
The trail itself is surprisingly easy to hike, but it's cut out of a very steep hillside, and the humidity combined with hot temperatures will make your heart rate go up, and you will get really sweaty. It's a good exercise though. The trek to Morro da Urca hill should take you between 20 to 30 minutes depending on your pace and physical condition.
At the top of Morro da Urca, you will get the stunning views of the city unfolding right in front of you. If you've arrived by the cable car, you have to transfer to the other station at the end of the platform in order to get to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.
We stayed there for a while admiring the landscape and were undecided for a while if we want to pay the hefty price for the tickets. Views from the first platform were so beautiful, and we were not sure if it is worth it to get even higher.
Finally, we decided to go for it, bought the ticket and queued in a long line for about 20 minutes before we were able to board the cable car.
The ride from Morro da Urca to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain is fast, takes about three minutes and you get the 360° views of surroundings. You only need to survive some elbow massage from other impatient travelers.
The views from the Sugarloaf Mountain are breathtaking and immediately became one of our favorites when we think of large cities we've visited so far. You can stay on the top as long as you wish to enjoy the immense beauty and while you're ready to leave your spot, you must retrace your steps to get back to the entrance.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN
The best time to visit Sugarloaf Mountain and avoid crowds is early in the morning or late in the afternoon to catch the sunset, the place is in its busiest from 10 AM to 3 PM, during this period there's a high chance you will wait for the cable car for 30 minutes or more.
HOW MUCH COSTS VISIT OF SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN
A full return cable car ride from the entrance to the top costs R 79, if you decide to hike to Morro da Urca, and take the cable car from there, the price is R 59.
The uber ride from the city center cost approximately R 20, on the way back we tried Uber Juntos, a shared option which is only available in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, and paid half though it took a little bit longer as the driver picked up another couple along the way.
There is a ridiculously overpriced restaurant at the top selling a small slice of pizza for $4, so if you're feeling hungry, do yourself a favor and get a burger from one of the stalls next to the Praia Vermelha beach.
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IS IT WORTH PAYING FOR THE CABLE CAR?
The answer, of course, depends on your budget and interests but even though Morro da Urca Mountain offers great views, they're nothing compared to the scenery you will get from Sugarloaf Mountain, so we can only recommend you to invest some money here.
We even liked the views from Sugarloaf Mountain better than those from Christ the Redeemer at the Corcovado Mountain.
HOW TO STAY SAFE WHEN VISITING SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN
Visiting Sugarloaf Mountain is one of the safest activities you can do while in Rio de Janeiro.
The majority of tourists will arrive at the entrance of the cable car lower station by taxi or visit the mountain with a tour. From there you either take a cable car or hike the first part and the area is considered safe for hiking as it is close to the police station and military base.
Check out our article if you are concerned about general safety in South America.
DO I NEED A GUIDE
We do not think it is necessary to hire a guide or travel with a tour when visiting Sugarloaf Mountain as it is pretty much straight forward.
But if you prefer certain comfort, you can consider booking Sugarloaf Mountain Tour. The guide can, of course, tell you more about Rio de Janeiro, the area and can describe you in detail what you can see from the top and you won't have to worry about transport as well as you will be picked up from your hotel.
WHAT TO PACK FOR SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN
It's really hot in Rio de Janeiro, and you might end up waiting in a line for half an hour or so. Bring enough water, and if the sun becomes unbearable, use the umbrella as the protection against it. Comfy shoes are a great choice if you decide on hiking up the first part.
Umbrella | In case it rains, bring along an umbrella. You can also use it as sun protection.
Sunscreen | We used SPF 50+ every day in Brazil.
Camera | You will have one of the best views over the Rio de Janeiro, so bring your camera.
You can also check out our South America packing list, if you're planning on traveling around this beautiful continent.
WHERE TO STAY IN RIO DE JANEIRO
There is no shortage of accommodation in Rio, but it can be booked out long in advance during busy periods such as Carnival or Eastern. When looking for a hotel, always check the reputation of the area first. There are two major areas where visitors usually stay - near the city center or close to two famous beaches.
Budget | Hotel Belas Artes - It will probably be hard to find a room with breakfast close to the city center for a similarly cheap price, so when available, go for it.
Mid-range | Ibis Rio de Janeiro Santos Dumont - A classic modern chain hotel where you know what to expect. It is in a safe area, and the service is excellent.
Luxury | Miramar Hotel by Windsor - Amazing hotel located right across Copacabana Beach is a top choice for everyone looking for a high standard and perfect settings.
Alternatively, search for your accommodation via Hostelworld.
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