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10 Things to KNOW Before Visiting Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio (Pão de Açúcar)

10 Things to KNOW Before Visiting Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio (Pão de Açúcar)

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Rio de Janeiro is undeniably one of the most iconic destinations in South America if not the entire world. Travelers place this city high on their bucket lists, and having traveled there several times, I can see why. Not only is Rio overflowing with culture, amazing food, and incredible sights but it’s also surrounded by beautiful attractions.

One of the top natural wonders of Rio de Janeiro is Sugarloaf Mountain. It’s one of the most visited sights in Brazil for good reason. This spectacular monolith gives a 360-degree view of the city and Guanabara Bay. Plus, you can see the Christ the Redeemer statue from the top!

There are various ways to experience Sugarloaf Mountain – you can ride in a gondola, rock climb, hike, and chill at its peak. But there really is a lot to know about this mountain – and you’ll want to make the most of your time here. So keep reading for everything you need to know before visiting Sugarloaf Mountain!

1. About Sugarloaf Mountain

Bailey at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Bailey at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Sugarloaf Mountain has become one of the most highly visited spots in Rio. Over one million people visit this mountain each year! It’s also a staple of the city’s skyline, setting the backdrop to many iconic photos.

Stretching 396 meters (1,299 feet) tall, this monolith was named a UNESCO historic site. It became famous when its tramway was installed in 1912, which was only the third in the world! Riding the tramway up to the top is still one of the most popular ways to visit Sugarloaf Mountain today. 

The mountain was named Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) because it resembles a sugarloaf. A sugarloaf is when sugarcane is refined into a cone-like shape, similar to the shape of the mountain! It received its name when Brazil was well known for its sugarcane exports. 

People travel from all over the world to experience the mountain’s natural beauty. It is one of the largest and most popular rock climbing spots in the world, and probably one of the most beautiful if you ask me! It also has some of the best hiking trails in South America. And once you reach the top, there are restaurants, a museum, observation decks, and a gift shop. 

2. Where is Sugarloaf Mountain?

Ocean view from Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Ocean view from Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Sugarloaf Mountain is located right in Rio de Janeiro. It sits at the mouth of Guanabara Bay on a peninsula that stretches out to the Atlantic Ocean. 

There is a smaller mountain called Morro da Urca that you have to climb before you reach Sugarloaf Mountain. There are two cable cars, one up each mountain, that you can ride to get to the top of Sugarloaf. Or, if you feel like you need a workout, take the short hike up Morro da Urca and catch the cable car to Sugarloaf. 

Related Read: There’s so much to explore in Brazil! To narrow it down, read about the best places to visit in northeast Brazil.

3. When is the best time to visit Sugarloaf Mountain?

Sunset view from Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Before and during sunset!

Anyone who has visited Sugarloaf will agree that the best time to visit is at sunset. The views from the top are nothing short of incredible, and watching the sun go down as the city lights up will become a memory that sticks with you forever. Without a doubt, I say that this is the best time to go!

However, Sugarloaf Mountain has become a popular destination, so it can get pretty busy and touristy! The best way to avoid crowds is to go early in the morning. The cable cars run every 20 minutes and are open from 8:30 am to 8 pm, with the last cable car going up at 6:30 pm. So you don’t have to get up crazy early to experience this sight with fewer people! 

The best time of year to visit Rio de Janeiro is from December to March, as this is the summer season. I would also recommend visiting in the shoulder season (September-November) as it’s not quite as hot!

4. How much does it cost to take the cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain?

View from the cable car going up Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
View from the cable car going up Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

While there are a few ways to experience Sugarloaf Mountain, I’d say riding the cable car is a must-do! After riding gondolas all over the world, this might be the most beautiful one I’ve experienced. I mean – look at those views in the picture above! 

This cable car experience through Viator makes visiting this famous sight simple. You can pre-purchase your ticket, so you don’t have to figure it out upon arrival, making your experience much easier!

It costs $33.58 USD per adult, and anyone under 21 or over 60 is half-price! This includes the roundtrip ride up both Morro da Urca and Sugarloaf Mountains. And because the cable cars leave every 20 minutes, you can stay at the top as long as you’d like. There’s no need to pick a specific departure time – tickets are valid at any time on the day you choose.

If you are looking to avoid some of the crowds and wait time, you can get this skip-the-line cable car ticket. For $54.57 USD and half-price for kids (ages 3-12), your ticket allows you to bypass all main lines whether you’re going up or down the mountain! This is a great perk if it’s a busy day. And again, you can arrive and leave anytime the cable car is running!

For those that love to plan ahead, buy your standard cable car ticket here. Or, make the experience even more seamless by grabbing your skip-the-line fast pass here!

5. Can you hike or climb up Sugarloaf Mountain?

A man rock climbing on Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This was way too scary for us!
Close up of a rock climber on Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
At least they provide the right gear!

Yes, you can hike and climb to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain! There are a few different ways to do it. 

The first option is to hike up Morro da Urca. This is a pretty easy hike and a popular jogging spot for locals. And if you’re concerned about safety while traveling through South America, there’s no need to worry! This hike is in a super safe area.

The Morro de Urca hike is about 1.8 kilometers (a little over 1 mile) one way and can take about 40 minutes. It’s a great way to experience the outdoor scene of the city. As an added bonus, you’ll save some money by not riding the first cable car. Once you reach the top of Morro Hill, you can catch the second cable car to get to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. 

Now if you’re looking for more of an adventure, you can climb to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain! This giant monolith draws rock climbers from all over the world with over 270 different routes. 

This Sugarloaf Climbing Tour is one epic experience. What I really love about this tour is that it is a small group with a maximum of 6 people. You can tailor it to your skill level, ensuring your safety and making it challenging yet fun! 

This 3-hour tour is suitable for new climbers or those who are very experienced. You’ll spend a few hours hiking, scrambling, and climbing the steep face. Once you reach the top, you’ll have time to enjoy the views, as well as the restaurant and bar before taking the cable car down.

There are some sights only available to climbers, like the Philosopher’s Stone – not to mention insane views as you ascend the mountain!

Make sure to wear appropriate climbing attire and be at the meeting spot by 2 pm. The $81 USD price covers all the climbing gear, your experienced guides, and the return cable car ride. You’ll need to be between 10-65 years old and in good shape to join the tour. Also, I’d definitely bring some snacks and water since climbing can build up quite the appetite!

Climbing Sugarloaf is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And since group size is limited, I’d secure your spot online today!

Related Read: Adventurous travelers might also want to learn about backpacking throughout Brazil. It’s a HUGE country, and backpacking is a great way to explore it on a budget!

6. Facilities at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain

Clássico Beach Club - Urca
Photo credit: Clássico Beach Club – Urca
Clássico Beach Club - Urca food and drinks
Photo credit: Clássico Beach Club – Urca

The top of Sugarloaf Mountain isn’t like your normal mountain peak. They’ve built up a structure that is nearly a mall, including restaurants, bars, a museum, and even a tattoo studio!


There are multiple restaurants on top of the mountain, so you have plenty of options! It is nice that the facilities are so big, so it really never feels too busy. There are a variety of types of food, from pizza to classic Brazilian, and there is even a bar!

Clássico Beach Club offers cocktails, burgers, and salads with beautiful presentation. It has a chill vibe and is open from 9 am – 6 pm every day. However, it can get a bit busy during the middle of the day, and you might have to wait for a table. Keep in mind that food is about double the price at the top of the mountain than it is below!


If you’re not feeling like sitting down for a meal, stopping by the cafe is a great option! You can grab a coffee or a cool refreshing drink as you wander around the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. The cafe is quick and easily located near the cable cars, so you can refuel your day of exploration. 

Gift shop

There are a few shopping options at the top of the mountain. Whether you stop by the gift shop for a Sugarloaf souvenir or find something even more exciting to buy, you’ve got choices! It’s always fun to pick up something to remember the stunning views and fun time! And if you prefer something more permanent … there’s always that tattoo studio!

7. What are the best tours in Rio that visit Sugarloaf Mountain?

There are many tours in Rio de Janeiro, and several visit Sugarloaf Mountain. To help you narrow it down, I’ve highlighted my top choices below. So keep reading to find one that suits your needs!

Full Day in Rio: Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf, and more

Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro from the air
Another top attraction in Rio!
A cable car travels up Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Almost at the top!

Rio has so many iconic sights that it can be difficult to decide how to best spend your time. That’s why we love this full-day tour that takes you to the best sights in Rio! It’s an efficient way to see multiple spots, yet you never feel rushed. It’s our top pick if you only have 2 days in Rio.

Your local guides will take you to the highlights of the city, providing transportation and entrance fees. They’ll share fascinating information along the way, so you’ll be a Rio expert by the end of the day!

The tour begins with a hotel pickup from the south and west zones of the city, where most tourists stay. Your first destination is the famous Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado mountain – a must-see in Rio! You’ll drive through the beautiful Tijuca National Park and head up the mountain, where you will see this incredibly large statue. 

You’ll make your way down the mountain and stop at more statues, cathedrals, and local shops, and finally break for an authentic Brazilian steak buffet. 

Finally, you’ll make your way to Urca, where you will ascend Sugarloaf Mountain in the two-cable car system. This is an awesome way to view the Christ the Redeemer statue you were just at! There are sooo many photo opps on this journey – so make sure that phone is fully charged!

This tour begins at 8:30 am and lasts 8 hours, which means you can fit many activities into your day – more than I could even list! A couple of my highlights include Maracanã Stadium and the Sambadrome (which is where the world-famous Carnival takes place). There is so much included in this tour, and the convenience of local guides gives you a unique perspective of Rio. 

The full tour with the Sugarloaf ticket and lunch costs $144 USD. If you don’t want to include the Sugarloaf ticket or lunch, it’s just $59 USD per person. However, prices are $10-$15 USD more expensive on the weekends for both options.

If you want to see it all in one day, book this comprehensive and fun tour here!  

The Best Half Day in Rio

Bailey at the top viewing platform of Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio, Brazil
A tour takes the stress out of your visit!

This half-day tour takes you to two of Rio’s most famous locations. You’ll see Christ the Redeemer on top of Corcovado Mountain and then head to Sugarloaf Mountain for the most spectacular views of the city. You have two options: beat the crowds on the early morning tour or sleep in and join the afternoon one. Either way, you’ll have the rest of your day free! 

Personally, I prefer the early morning tour because it’s less busy and you get to witness a beautiful sunrise over Rio! This tour offers hotel pickup for those staying in Leblon, Ipanema, and Copacabana neighborhoods. Be ready to go at either 7 am or 1 pm depending on which time you choose.

You’ll start by heading through the Tijuca Forest to the Christ the Redeemer Statue. Here you’ll learn about the history and significance of this famous Rio location. You will then make your way to Sugarloaf Mountain, passing landmarks such as Palácio Guanabara and Largo do Boticário. I loved the cobblestone streets and colorful historic houses you see en route!

Finally, you’ll summit Sugarloaf Mountain for an unforgettable view over Rio. You’ll take both cable cars up, stopping halfway to enjoy more vistas.

We love that this 5-hour tour has two departure times. So you can beat the heat and crowds in the AM – or have a leisurely morning and go in the PM.

When purchasing this tour, you have the option to include all entry fees for a total of $110 USD. Without these fees, you’ll pay $80 USD. However, you’ll still pay admission on the day of, totaling roughly 200 BRL ($41 USD). Honestly, it just seems easier to have it all included so you can avoid the hassle of paying in cash (and it works out cheaper).

Both tours include roundtrip transportation and your local guides. They make seeing these top two Brazilian sights easy! So for an enjoyable half-day through Rio, book this tour online here!  

Sugarloaf Mountain Half-Day Tour

Copacabana Beach as seen from Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Copacabana Beach as seen from Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

We love this half-day tour because you get to see lots of Rio’s best sights, including Sugarloaf Mountain, but it is much more budget-friendly! Experiencing the best of the city doesn’t always have to be a big travel expense. 

This 4-hour tour starts around 8 am with hotel pickup. You’ll be transported all over the city, which takes a lot of the stress out of the day. The local guides are great sources of information, so as you drive around the city, you’ll learn a lot about the history and culture as you go. 

You’ll pass by Rio’s best beaches, including Leblon Beach, Ipanema Beach, and Copacabana Beach. This gives you a great look at even more natural beauty that surrounds the city – and perhaps spot some of the best places in Brazil you’d like to return to later on.

Your first stop will be at The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian. This historic cathedral is simply stunning, and you’ll have time to explore inside as well!

Finally, the tour will bring you to Sugarloaf Mountain. You’ll ride the cable cars up to the top and take in the views of the city below! This is one of my favorite views in Rio and the highlight of this tour.

I like that this tour offers several language options. All the tour guides speak English, Spanish, and Portuguese, but you can request someone who speaks German, French, or Italian as well. And there’s an audio guide in even more languages including Russian and Mandarin – so no one will miss out!

This half-day tour actually includes a lot for only $31 USD! You’ll have roundtrip transportation and friendly tour guides. You can add the cost of cable car admission for $37 USD. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay in cash on the day of – around 160 BRL (roughly $33 USD).

This is a great way to experience Sugarloaf Mountain and the iconic sights of Rio! To snag this deal, check availability and book your tour online here!

Rio Sunset Tour Including Sugarloaf, Christ the Redeemer, Cathedral, and Selaron

View of Red Beach from Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
View of Red Beach on the way up!
The Selaron Steps in Rio de janeiro, Brazil
The Selaron Steps in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

As we mentioned earlier, seeing Sugarloaf Mountain at sunset is the best time to go! That’s why this Rio Sunset Tour is a must. Not only will you see a sunset to remember, but you’ll also visit Christ the Redeemer, the Cathedral, and the Selarón Stairs! That’s a lot of beauty in one tour.

This half-day tour starts at 12:30 pm and offers pickup/dropoff from your hotel or a predetermined meeting point. You’ll pass by beaches and historic statues as you make your way to the first stop: Christ the Redeemer! You will have about an hour to take in this incredible place, but there is more to see!

The tour will take you to see the Cathedral of Saint Sebastian, then to the Selaron Steps. These brightly colored steps are a classic spot in Rio and the perfect photo opportunity! 

Finally, as the sun is getting lower, you will arrive at Sugarloaf Mountain and ride in the cable car to reach the top just in time for sunset! A Brazilian sunset atop a mountain is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Trust me, you won’t want to miss it! 

This whole experience includes roundtrip transportation, entrance fees, and your guides for $103 USD! And if you have kids (ages 3 -11), they’re just $67 USD. However, all prices increase $11 USD on weekends.

It will certainly be a tour that you’ll remember for a long time after. To catch many sights and that sunset on Sugarloaf, book this tour in advance!

Related Read: For budget travelers heading to São Paulo, read about cheap and free things to do in Sao Paolo here!

8. Can you visit Sugarloaf Mountain at night?

View of Rio de Janeiro at night from Sugarloaf Mountain, Brazil
View of Rio de Janeiro at night from Sugarloaf Mountain, Brazil

You can visit Sugarloaf at sunset and enjoy the bright lights of the city as it gets darker. However, it’s not open at night.

The park closes at 8 pm, with the last cable car going up at 6:30 pm to give you enough time to enjoy the top. So while you can catch a glimpse of the city lights against the twilight sky, you can’t visit it at night.

9. Can you see Christ the Redeemer from Sugarloaf Mountain?

Sunset view from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
You can see Christ the Redeemer on the tallest peak just right of center!

Yes, you can see Christ the Redeemer from Sugarloaf, and it is spectacular! Although small, seeing this iconic landmark from Sugarloaf Mountain was a highlight for me!

However, the incredible Christ the Redeemer statue isn’t the only thing you’ll see. You’ll also have a view of the sprawling city below, Guanabara Bay and Botafogo Bay, and surrounding mountains. It is truly one of the best vantage points in Rio.

10. Is visiting Sugarloaf Mountain worth it?

Views from Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Yes, visiting Sugarloaf Mountain is absolutely worth it! It is one of the top attractions in Rio for good reason. Not only do you get the spectacular 360-degree views, but the facilities at the top are fun to explore, and you get to take a cable car ride.

The whole experience is unique to the city and is a must-visit during your time in Rio. I can easily say this was one of my favorite ways to experience the city. I highly recommend visiting Sugarloaf Mountain to any traveler. 

Related Read: Another awesome place that’s worth visiting is Iguazu Falls. Read everything you need to know before going to Iguazu Falls so you’re prepared to see this spectacular waterfall.

Other Activities to do While in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Daniel and Bailey on the streets of Rio de Janeiro during a bloco party at Carnival
Carnival is so much fun!

There’s so much to do in Rio, it’s impossible to get bored here! The city is full of exciting experiences you won’t want to miss while you’re exploring Brazil. If you’re looking for activities to fill up your Rio itinerary, we’ve got you covered.

  • Celebrate Carnival – If you schedule your trip to Rio around the end of February/early March, you’ll catch one of the biggest parties in all of South America: Carnival! There are festivities during the day and “blocos parties” during the night. There are so many things to do during Carnival and great ways to experience Carnival on a budget, so you better be prepared for a week you won’t forget! For tickets to the main show, grandstand seats start at $30 USD.
  • Enjoy Samba at Pedra do Sal – For a more authentic side of Rio, Pedra do Sal at night is the place to go. Known as the birthplace of Samba, this neighborhood knows how to party! You can experience this lively scene by yourself or book this Samba tour that includes a bit of the history and culture and a Samba party!
  • Hike to the Two Brothers Lookout – This is one of the most iconic viewpoints in Rio, overlooking Copacabana Beach and offering incredible views of the landscape below. Two Brothers Lookout is a 3 km (1.8 mile) out-and-back hike that is doable for most travelers. For an even more epic view, you can book a hiking tour to catch the sunrise from the top and have the convenience of a local guide.
  • Relax on Copacabana Beach – A trip to Rio is not complete without spending some time on Copacabana Beach. After all of your days of adventuring and touring, a fun beach day will be needed! This is a lively beach with vendors selling beers, cocktails, and food, so you can really hang out all day. You can’t miss out on this classic Rio beach!
  • Take a Brazilian cooking class – You are going to encounter some amazing food while in Brazil. What better souvenir to take home than knowing how to make some popular meals? This 3-hour cooking class will teach you how to make seven dishes, including dessert and the famous Caipirinha. It’s a fun way to dive into the culture and eat some yummy food! 

Where to Stay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

view of the pool and beach at PortoBay Rio de Janeiro
Imagine swimming with this view! Photo Credit: PortoBay Rio de Janeiro
a clean hotel room with patio overlooking the ocean
Photo Credit: PortoBay Rio de Janeiro

Rio is a HUGE city, so there are tons of places to stay. The three most popular areas to stay in Rio are Copacabana, Ipanema, and Lapa/Santa Teresa.

Each location is unique, with Copacabana and Ipanema being close to the beach and Lapa and Santa Teresa more in the historical part of the city. We have recommendations for each area so you can figure out the best option for you.


Budget travelers will love Pura Vida Hostel. It’s clean and social, with lots of space to party just like a local, and dorm beds start at $22 USD per night. It’s only 2 blocks from Copacabana Beach and a 15 min walk to Arpoador, which has plenty of restaurants, supermarkets, and pharmacies. The staff is warm and welcoming and makes your stay even more fun with their social personalities! You can book a room on either or

If you can spend a little more, Nacional Inn Rio Copacabana is a popular choice. It’s a few blocks from the beach and has a pool with an excellent view. Although the rooms are on the small side, that shouldn’t matter too much if you plan to spend most of your time outside of the hotel. They offer a fresh breakfast with bread, meats, cheeses, and fruits. There’s also an on-site bar and a sauna. Rooms are around $100 USD, and the best deals I’ve found are on

Luxury travelers should stay at PortoBay Rio de Janeiro. It’s a 4-star beachfront hotel with a rooftop pool, gym, spa, and sauna. The on-site La Finestra restaurant serves really delicious Brazilian dishes as well as other international cuisine. The complementary breakfast buffet has fresh fruits, juices, and hot and cold choices. It’s also within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and popular bars. You can book a room with a sea view for around $200 USD.


Ipanema Beach House is the best budget option, with dorm beds starting at $17 USD. This historic house is in a very safe neighborhood of Rio – just one block from the metro station! It’s super close to the chill Ipanema Beach, and there’s a pool near the main building! Other more popular beaches are only 2 km (1.2 mi) away. It’s also easy to book on either or

For medium-budget travelers, Arena Ipanema Hotel is a beachfront property with stunning views, a restaurant and bar, and a rooftop pool with lots of lounge chairs to work on your tan. There is a fitness center and sauna and a 24-hour help desk if you need anything. For the price of $143 USD a night, booking a room here is great value!

Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro is another fantastic option for luxury travelers – and you can’t get any closer to the water! It has a rooftop pool and all the facilities you’d expect, like a wellness center offering massages, a gym and sauna, a fine-dining Italian restaurant, a sunroom, and a nightclub – it’s perfect! A bed here will set you back $491 USD, but your room will have modern furnishings, a minibar, robes, and a TV. Some even have a seating area and a bathtub. So book your luxury stay in Ipanema here!

Lapa and Santa Teresa

I love the Selina Lapa Rio de Janeiro for budget travelers. This chain hostel is trusted all around the world for being clean and modern with excellent facilities. Rooms are air-conditioned, and dorms start at $14 USD, while a standard private room is $50 USD. The property is close to happening bars and restaurants, but Selina’s restaurant is loved for its breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or for coffee from the coffee house! You can reserve a room on or

The Mansion Aline is located in Santa Teresa and would suit a medium to high-end budget. The hotel has a rooftop jacuzzi as well as breathtaking views over the city. The deluxe suites have their own spa baths, a patio, and a private kitchen with a minibar and coffee maker. All rooms have a view of the city and river/garden views. One night here will average $169 USD and can be reserved on

Thanks for reading!

Bailey poses for a photo at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janiero, Brazil
Thanks for reading!

When in Rio de Janeiro, you absolutely must visit Sugarloaf Mountain! The views and activities at the peak are incredible – and getting there is half the fun. The whole experience is one of my most cherished memories from my time here. So if you’re planning a trip, we hope this guide has made it that much easier.

If you did find this info useful, check out my other blogs about Brazil or the rest of South America. For a little sneak peek, I’ve linked to some articles below. Thanks for reading!

11 Fun Things to do in Olinda & Recife, Brazil

10 Things to KNOW Before Going Scuba Diving in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

COMPLETE Guide to Exploring Chapada Diamantina National Park, Brazil

15 BEST Things to do in Argentina – Our Argentina Highlights