The best hikes in Rio de Janeiro 8


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.

Monkey

Monkey hanging out at the top of Morro do Leme

Before you set out on your hiking adventure, remember to bring a water bottle, apply sunscreen, and wear sneakers or hiking shoes.

Pedra Bonita

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.

Why?

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.

Pedra Bonita Rio de Janeiro

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.

Pedra Bonita Rio de Janeiro

View from Pedra Bonita of Rio de Janeiro

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.

View from Morro do Leme

Ciew of Copacabana from Morro do Leme

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.

Morro da Urca peak

A peek of the sea on the way up Morro da Urca

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.

Morro da Urca View

View from the top of Morro da Urca

Did you have any idea that you could hike in Rio? Which hike would you most like to tackle?


About Stephanie Kempker

Steph is a freelance writer, travel blogger, volunteer, and serial expat living in Mexico City (prior: Bangkok and Rio de Janeiro). She is addicted to slow travel, cultural insights, and fresh veggie eats.

8 thoughts on “The best hikes in Rio de Janeiro

  • Claus Gurumeta

    Thank you for sharing!! Brazil is not on the plans coming up, even though it is high on my bucket list, but this article makes me want to go, especially as I love hiking.

    The views from Morro de Leme look amazing, surprised to hear it’s not a highly-visited trail!

    • Stephanie Kempker Post author

      The views are amazing! When I took the photos for this article, I was the only one at the summit. Definitely a hidden gem, and the trail is actually paved (as it is technically part of the fort), so not difficult at all.

      Rio is rumored to have the largest urban forest in the world, so you should definitely take advantage when you come here 🙂 The forest is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city without ever needing to leave!

  • Arianwen

    I spent about a month in Rio. I loved it! The only time I wasn’t happy was after someone tried to mug me in the street in the middle of the afternoon as I walked through Lapa. This made me less inclined to walk places, which is a shame because I think walking is the best way to explore a new city, especially one as beautiful as Rio.

    • Stephanie Kempker Post author

      I’m so sorry to hear that! How scary!
      Yes, I actually avoid Lapa and Santa Teresa in general (which is a shame), but sometimes necessary for safety.
      I also love to walk! I live and hang out mainly in Zona Sul, Leme and Ipanema, and haven’t run across any thieves in a year (cross my fingers). Recently, with the increase in thefts (including violent), the police have increased the force on the streets along the beaches to match in “Operation Summer”, so hopefully safety improves.

  • Alex Costa

    The pictures are really amazing and Rio de Janeiro offers this kind of opportunity to the tourists have a good time in our land.

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