Scale this mountain on foot or by cable car to see impressive views of Rio’s beaches, rain forests and its most famous statue.
Located on the coast of the southeastern corner of Rio de Janeiro, Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) resides within forests, water and hills at the edge of Guanabara Bay. Rock climbers conquer the mountain using appropriate gear, but most visitors take the glass-sided cable car to the top. Originally built in 1912, the cable car transports 65 visitors per trip and offers panoramic views the entire way.
Sugarloaf Mountain offers remarkable views of nearby beaches, local rain forests, adjacent hills and the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. The lush rain forests provide a sharp contrast against the surrounding granite hills. Historians attribute the mountain’s name to the 16th-century practice of molding sugar into a cone-like shape. These “sugar loaves” were common during the peak of Brazil’s sugarcane trade.
The mountain draws crowds year-round, but the best times to visit are each day early in the morning and 90 minutes before sunset. Make sure you have clear skies and bring your camera to capture Rio’s scenic beauty from 1,300 feet (396 meters) above sea level. Right beneath you is Copacabana Beach, which connects to Ipanema Beach at its southern end. To the west, enjoy views of Rio’s iconic member of the “New Seven Wonders of the World,” the Christ the Redeemer statue.
Cable cars depart every 20 minutes from morning until evening. Before reaching the top, you will board two cable cars. One stops at Morro da Urca and the other stops at the peak, Pão de Açúcar. Be sure to check with the ticketing office if you visit during major holidays as cable-car trips typically close around noon on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and close completely on Christmas and New Year’s Day. If visiting between December and March, be prepared for the cable car to close early on weekend evenings to accommodate seasonal performances.
Access to Sugarloaf Mountain is from Praia Vermelha at the southern entry to Guanabara Bay. You can walk to Guanabara Bay from nearby Copacabana Beach, or use boat or bus if you are coming from farther afield.