While Rio de Janeiro has an amazing coastline, the city offers so much more than just beachside relaxation and caipirinha sipping.
In fact, the best way to enjoy the coastline for an adventurous traveler might not be from the seaside, but rather viewed from up above.
Luckily, there are three awesome and easy-to-reach hikes within the city of Rio de Janeiro, which offer outstanding views and an excellent way to burn off some caipirinha calories.
Each of my 3 favorite hikes in Rio de Janeiro is unique, which I’ll expound upon below, but they also share some commonalities. All three hikes cost less than a few dollars to enter, are easy to reach from Zona Sul, and genuinely make you forget you’re in a major bustling city while you take in forest scenery and sweeping seashore vistas. And as a bonus, they all feature a multitude of friendly, curious monkeys along each route.
Before you set out on your hiking adventure, remember to bring a water bottle, apply sunscreen, and wear sneakers or hiking shoes.
Located in the Tijuca forest – the world’s largest urban forest – Pedra Bonita offers unparalleled views of Rio de Janeiro. To get to the trail, you can take any taxi to the Sao Conrado hang gliding ramp.
Not for the traveler who is fearful of heights, the lower lookout point on Pedra Bonita is also used as a jumping-off point (literally) for paragliding and hang gliding. From the hang gliding point, you’ll continue onto the signposted Trilha da Pedra Bonita (Pedra Bonita Trail), where you will be hiking much, much higher, for about 25 minutes, until it seems as though you are on top of the whole city.
Once you’ve reached the peak, you’ll be able to explore the fairly smooth, flat surface of Pedra Bonita (perfect for a picnic or snack!) while taking in the amazing views of the surrounding mountains, Rocinha favela, and the Rio de Janeiro cityscape. You’ll never realize just how vast and diverse the landscape is until you’ve seen it from the top of Pedra Bonita.
Morro do Leme
Perhaps the easiest to reach trail in all of Rio de Janeiro, Morro do Leme is also definitely the safest. Because it is located within a military compound, this is one place in Rio where you can relax your fears about thieves.
Located on the far end of Copacabana Beach in Leme, and walking distance from almost anywhere in Zona Sul, Morro do Leme offers an easy, paved trail leads through the military compound and up the hill. Once you’ve reached the top, you can explore the old fort that still sits there and now offers a military museum, including signs in English.
Because it isn’t very well known, the peak of Morro do Leme is frequently deserted, and offers great photo opportunities and time for quiet exploration. The views of Copacabana beach, the bay, and Pao de Acucar are especially noteworthy.
Morro da Urca
Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf) is without a doubt one of Rio’s most famous attractions, reached using a system of two cable car tracks.
For a different way to visit the standard site, though, you can hike up Morro da Urca instead of taking the first cable car, and then continue on with the second cable car from there. Don’t make the same mistake as me on my first time – buy your cable car ticket for Morro da Urca to the top of Pao de Acucar at the base of the hill before you set out on your hike, as there are no ticket vendors on top of the Morro.
The first section of the trail is paved, and the second is a bit more difficult, especially after the rain, with slippery mud and tree roots jutting out. Make sure to wear hiking shoes or at least sneakers.
Once you’ve reached the top of Morro da Urca, you’ll be blessed with wonderful views of the surrounding sea and beaches, a worthy trip even if you don’t intend to continue on the cable car up to Pao de Acucar.
Did you have any idea that you could hike in Rio? Which hike would you most like to tackle?