The Complete Guide to Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro

Whether you’re on a weekend break or a longer trip to Rio, at some point, a visit to the Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro (Pão de Açúcar in Portuguese) will definitely crop up in any itinerary. It’s a typical tourist destination, yet with good reason – the views at the top are breathtaking, and the whole journey to the top is an adventure in itself.

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Don’t have time to read the whole article?

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Soaring close to 1,300 feet, this dome-like giant silently observes the city’s highlights – from the famed Copacabana and Ipanema beaches to the Guanabara Bay gateway, the lush Tijuca Forest, and the unmistakable silhouette of Christ the Redeemer.

This guide provides you with comprehensive insights for your visit, including transportation, ticketing, and handy insider tips. If you prefer exploring with a group, scroll down to discover our handpicked selection of top-rated tours like this one.

Guide To Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro

Where is Sugarloaf Mountain Located

The Sugarloaf Mountain is in a quiet, peaceful neighborhood called Urca and is next to a smaller peak known as Morro da Urca – you will need to get to the top of this little peak first before going the rest of the way to the Sugarloaf.

Morro da Urca is next to Praia Vermelha, which is a small yet charming beach and worth spending a bit of time there soaking up the sun, hiring a canoe, stand-up surf paddling, or simply cooling down with a fresh coconut.

Guide To Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro

How to Get Here

There are four main ways to get to Sugarloaf. The first and easiest way is by UBER or a regular taxi. UBERs are incredibly safe in Rio, so you don’t have to worry about that.

The second is the bus. From Copacabana, you’ll have to jump on Bus 511, 581, 583, or 104 that go in the Urca direction, just latter you need to be careful to get off just after the bus passes Shopping Rio Sul and continue by turning right and walking in a straight line to Praia Vermelha in the direction of Urca — it takes about 10 minutes. The bus will drop you off around a 3-minute walk from the entrance of Sugarloaf.

Third is the Metro. The closest metro station is the Botafogo stop. The main downside of taking the metro is that once you get off at Botafogo, you’ll have to walk around 30-35 minutes to reach Sugarloaf. You can also the connecting bus 583, which will take you straight to Sugarloaf.

The last, and also another easy option, is to take a tour. There are two different types of tours. The first is a hiking tour, while the second is a full-day tour that usually includes various Rio highlights, like Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf, and the Seleron Steps.

Guide To Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro

Sugarloaf Rio Tours

sugarloaf rio tour

If you aren’t keen on getting to Sugarloaf yourself, then there are plenty of great tours that will take you up to the top. My favorite Sugarloaf tours include:

Full Day in Rio: Christ by Train, Sugarloaf, Maracanã, Selarón & Lunch tour takes you to Rio’s top attractions in a day. Visit the revered Christ the Redeemer by train, ascend Sugarloaf Mountain via cable car, and explore the legendary Maracanã stadium. Pause at the colorful Selarón Steps and enjoy a delightful barbecue lunch at a local steakhouse. Round-trip hotel transport is included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE.

The Rio Sunset Tour Including Sugarloaf, Christ the Redeemer, Cathedral, and Selaron allows you to experience the magic of a Brazilian sunset. A skilled guide navigates you through Rio’s bustling streets, visiting key sites like the magnificent Christ the Redeemer, the unique Metropolitan Cathedral, and the vivid Selarón Stairs. Cap off your afternoon with a breathtaking sunset from atop Sugarloaf Mountain, overlooking the renowned Copacabana Beach. Round-trip hotel transport is included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE.

The Best of Rio in a Full Day Tour – Corcovado, Sugar Loaf, Selaron, and More offers an early-morning opportunity to capture rare, crowd-free photos of the iconic Christ the Redeemer. You’ll then explore other Rio highlights, including Copacabana and Botafogo Beaches, Tijuca Forest, and Sugarloaf Mountain. Savor a delicious steakhouse lunch and round off your tour at Maracanã Stadium and Sambadrome. Round-trip hotel transportation is included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE.

Guide To Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro

How to Get To The Top

Personally, I love the hike up Morro da Urca, then taking the cable car (or Bondinho as it’s known in Portuguese) the rest of the way. But whichever way you prefer, it’ll be a wonderful experience with plenty of jaw-dropping views.

Guide To Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro

Take the Cable Car

The cable cars leave the ground station next to Praia Vermelha and amble up to Morro da Urca. From there, you can take another cable car to the Sugarloaf.

There is no rush, though – once you are at Morro da Urca, you can stop to take advantage of some of the refreshments, such as the restaurants and snack bars (or the bar for a caipirinha should you need a little extra courage the second leg!) before boarding the second cable car to the Sugarloaf mountain. Each stage of the cable car takes just three minutes, and the cable cars depart every 20 minutes.

A return journey costs R$160 / USD$33 for a regular ticket and R$260 / USD$55 for a fast-pass ticket. Tickets either be bought in advance online or upon arriving at the ticket office. The fast-pass ticket grants you access to a VIP, air-conditioned lounge at the first station to enjoy the best view of the city in an exclusive way.

Opening hours:
Weekdays — 9:00 am to 8:00 pm.
Weekends, holidays, and amendments — 8:30 am to 8:00 pm. Last boarding at 6:30 pm.
The gate to access the hike closes at 18:00 during the winter and 19:00 during the summer.

⚠️ Make sure to double (and triple) check the first and last journeys from Sugarloaf Mountain and Morro da Urca. The last thing you need is missing the last cable car down or not having enough time to really enjoy your time here.

Guide To Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro

Hike up to Morro da Urca

The hike follows a trail that starts at the base point of Morro da Urca and winds its way to the top of the hill. From the top, you can either hike back down or take the cable car (make sure to buy it at the bottom first.

The start of the hike is to the left-hand side of Praia Vermelha beach (if you were facing the ocean) and takes you through a gate along a concrete path before leading you to the well-developed path that cuts through the Atlantic forest.

The hike from bottom to top is quite steep in places and takes about 30 minutes. I would recommend taking a little something to eat and water, but should you forget, there are plenty of restaurants, bathrooms, and drinking fountains at the top.

Guide To Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro

Hike + Cable Car

If you hike to the top of Morro da Urca, there are two things that you can do. You can either take the cable car back down to Praia Vermelha or take the cable car to the second peak, also known as Sugarloaf. You can also just hike back down.

It’s a good idea to bring some ID to show your age in case you’re asked. The official website states to bring an original copy, but I’ve never heard of a photocopy not being accepted as long as the quality is good. You can buy the tickets online or at the ticket centers next to Praia Vermelha Beach.

⚠️ Note: You can only buy tickets in these two places, so be careful if you hike to Morro da Urca and want to get a cable car back down – you will have to get a ticket at the bottom first (lesson learned from personal experience!). Debit cards, credit cards, and cash are all accepted.

Guide To Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro

Mountain Climbing

I haven’t done it – yet. But I would love to. If you go, please comment on your experiences below. I would love to hear all about it! While Morro da Urca is possible to leisurely hike to the top, Sugarloaf Mountain is only accessible by cable car or actual climbing, which takes between 90 minutes and two hours, depending on the level of difficulty.

The guides recommend that you have a little bit of experience to climb the Sugarloaf as some climbing routes are tough going. Yet if you are super keen and have no experience, then you can try the Costão route, which is still a challenge but better for beginners. For the more experienced climbers, the ItalianosCoringa or Secundo route may be more up your street due to their vertical challenges and tests of agility and strength.

Here are some reputable climbing tours that will safely guide you up the Sugarloaf alongside their seasoned experts. They also have English-speaking staff too: Nattrip Ecotourism and Adventure, Rock Climbing Classes, and this Climb to the Top of Sugarloaf Mountain tour.

Guide To Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro

When to Go

The mornings are a good time to go to avoid the afternoon crowds that reach peak numbers on weekends and holiday periods, especially around Christmas, New Year, and Carnival. The afternoon during the summer can reach immense temperatures, so be prepared with sun-cream and plenty of water, especially if you hike the way up. Avoid cloudy days, too – the view may be disappointing.

The most rewarding time to go is at sunset on a clear, sunny day. Watch the sun dip behind the horizon and take in the city’s major landmarks, such as Corcovado mountain and the Christ the Redeemer, and further to the south, Copacabana Beach.

Guide To Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro

Attractions

As well as the panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro from the top of the Sugarloaf mountain, there are several other surrounding and nearby attractions.

Praia Vermelha

As I’ve mentioned, the beach at the base of Morro da Urca is tucked in between two rock sides that are covered in exotic vegetation that act as a wind barrier and make the water there calm and smooth.

It’s perfect to have a dabble at stand-up surf paddling (about R$60 to rent for one hour) or canoeing over the bay to explore the little cracks and crannies in the rocky walls (about R$10 – R$20 an hour). The sand is made up of larger grains than in other commercial beaches in Rio but lay down a kanga (beach towel), drink a cooling caipirinha, and you won’t even notice the difference.

Morro da Urca

The top of the hill has several restaurants and drinking options as well as fashion stores such as Havaianas and H.Stern jewelry (perhaps catering for the odd romantic proposal at the top of the Sugarloaf? *swoon*). There are also sporadic events happening there, such as music shows or sunset parties in the evenings. The events are listed on the official site page and are worth a visit for a guaranteed unforgettable party.

Helicopter ride

The helicopter ride is undeniably expensive but gives a beautiful aerial view over the city, including many landmarks depending on how long you take the tour.

➤ I recommend The Best Helicopter Flight – Sugar Loaf and Christ the Redeemer, which offers a 30-minute flight over the city of Rio de Janeiro. ➥ BOOK IT HERE.

Bar Urca 

Some snacks and beer from Bar Urca (Photo: viagenspossiveis)

One of Urca’s most charming and beloved bars is definitely a must-visit post-hike and is about a 15-minute walk from Praia Vermelha beach. Go to the bar, order a chilled beer and some snacks, and take it across the street to sit on the wall that overlooks the bay.

If you miss the sunset at Sugarloaf, try to catch it here. It’s not as dramatic, but it’s certainly one to remember. Bar Urca is easily one of my favorite places for a chilled drink and a few empadas (Brazilian pies) or a cheese pastel. There are always groups of friends there or couples idly chatting in the charming, understated environment that anyone can enjoy.

Guide To Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro

Sugarloaf in Rio: Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Sugarloaf Mountain so famous?

Sugarloaf Mountain is famous for its unique dome shape, its breathtaking panoramic views of Rio de Janeiro, and the exciting cable car journey to its summit, making it a symbol of the city’s natural beauty.

Why is it called the Sugarloaf?

Sugarloaf Mountain got its name due to its resemblance to a traditional form of refined sugar used in the 16th century. The sugar was shaped into a tall cone, similar to the mountain’s unique dome shape, and was called a sugar loaf.

Can you walk up Sugarloaf Mountain Brazil?

Yes — you can hike up Sugarloaf Mountain. You can hike up to Morro da Urca or right to the top of Sugarloaf. However, most visitors prefer the cable car ride for its safety, comfort, and panoramic views.

How long does it take to walk up Sugarloaf Mountain?

For experienced hikers, ascending Sugarloaf Mountain can take about 90 minutes to 2.5 hours, depending on fitness level and pace.

What is an interesting fact about Sugarloaf Mountain?

The cable car system, installed in 1912, was one of the first of its kind in the world. Since its inception, it has transported millions of visitors to the mountain’s peak, offering stunning views of Rio de Janeiro.

More Rio de Janeiro Blog Articles

I can tell you firsthand that hiking in Rio de Janeiro of the best ways to enjoy Rio — so I’m glad you landed on this article to book yours. If you’re looking for more info on traveling to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, check out these additional Rio travel guides:

Final Thoughts: Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro

The magnificence of Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro is something that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. Whether you choose to hike Sugarloaf Mountain Rio or take the cable car, you’re in for a treat.

By visiting the Sugarloaf in Rio, you not only explore the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain Rio de Janeiro, but also take part in a historical journey dating back to the early 20th century. Remember to get your Sugarloaf Mountain Rio tickets or Sugarloaf Rio de Janeiro tickets in advance to ensure a seamless experience.

The beauty of Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, especially the vistas of Rio Sugarloaf Mountain, is a memory that will undoubtedly stay with you forever. So when you’re in Rio de Janeiro, make sure that Sugarloaf Rio, or as some call it, Rio Sugarloaf, is high on your itinerary. The adventure of the Sugarloaf Mountain Rio de Janeiro Brazil experience awaits you.

Have I missed any key points that you would really like to know? Or do you have any experiences of going there that you would like to share? If so, leave a comment below and I’ll be in touch!

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3 Comments

  1. Hi from Austria
    What are the cable car operating hours in July 2020 ?
    You can find different informations on the Internet.
    First cable car at 8:00am or at 9:00 am?

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