Although a helicopter ride above the city would be nice, there are many accessible views of Rio de Janeiro on foot. The city on the east coast of Brazil can be seen and admired from above, from several places.
Rio de Janeiro is blessed with spectacular relief, scattered mountain peaks, long white beaches, and lush vegetation. They call it Cidade Maravilhosa or the Wonderful City for a reason.
The Brazilian metropolis is so generous in terms of natural elements that I decided to dedicate an entire article to the best observation points in Rio de Janeiro. Admiring the city from above is one of the most romantic things to do in Rio.
Some are very well known and accessible to tourists. Every place on the list of best viewpoints in Rio de Janeiro is suitable to anyone, regardless of their physical condition.
PIN IT FOR LATER
Where to stay in Rio de Janeiro
There are plenty of great hotels in Rio de Janeiro, some with amazing views of the city or the most famous beaches, and others with a great design. Given that I have been to Rio twice and spent a month in this beautiful city, I can say that the view matters a lot.
Anyone would love to wake up in the morning to the sound of the waves in Copacabana or Ipanema or go out on the terrace and look directly at the statue of Jesus on Mount Corcovado when they visit Rio de Janeiro. It’s a unique experience that will remain in your memory for a long time, so my recommendations for accommodation in Rio de Janeiro include hotels with beautiful views, where I stayed and felt terrific.
- Pestana Rio Atlantica: in Copacabana, on the beach, wow view, spacious rooms, rich breakfast, excellent location, rooftop bar, rooftop pool
- Arena Copacabana: in Copacabana, on the beach, rooftop pool, beautiful beach view, very good breakfast, good location
- Santa Vista Boutique Hotel: in Santa Teresa, top view over the whole city, very large rooms, jacuzzi in some rooms, swimming pool
What I use every time I travel:
- To book hotels: Booking.com
- To book tours: GetYourGuide.com
sitting on Pedra Bonita | 10 Accessible views of Rio de Janeiro
10 Accessible Views of Rio de Janeiro
1. Mirante do Leblon
Mirante do Leblon is located at the end of Leblon beach, next to Posto 12. Although it’s not one of the non touristy things to do in Rio de Janeiro, being very well known, it’s one of the best places to see Rio from above.
You can have a beautiful view of Leblon and Ipanema beaches, surrounded by palm leaves and a few pink oleanders. It’s effortless to reach Mirante Do Leblon, especially if you are staying in a hotel on one of the famous beaches in the city.
If you choose the subway, you have to get off at Antero de Quental station, many buses come here, and the Uber rides are pretty cheap in Rio. Of course, walking remains an option, especially if your hotel is nearby.
Climb the 447 Memorial or Mirante Air France for an even higher view. The memorial was dedicated to the victims of Flight 447 with Air France in 2009. 228 people lost their lives; the plane crashed in the Atlantic Ocean. There is a monument to the sad event.
Address: R. Aperana for Mirante Air France and Av. Niemeyer for Mirante do Leblon
Intensity: very low
2. Dois Irmãos
The two mountain peaks that you can see from Ipanema beach are called Dois Irmãos. Translated from Portuguese, it means two brothers. This name was obviously chosen because there are practically two peaks at the base of the same rock, like two brothers from the same mother.
Dois Irmãos has a height of 533 meters, which means they are taller than Sugarloaf Mountain but shorter than Mount Corcovado. I wanted to climb these mountains since I visited Rio for the first time, but I didn’t think it was such an accessible route. I managed to do it this year, and I can confirm that it is a suitable hike for almost anyone.
Dois Irmãos, as seen from Ipanema Beach | Best views in Rio de Janeiro
How to get to Dois Irmãos:
First, you have to get to Praça Do Vidigal, a kind of intersection or the beginning of the Vidigal favela. You can get an Uber, especially since the prices for Uber in Rio are pretty low. Then, from Praça Do Vidigal, you will have to take a scooter that will drive you through the whole favela, from south to north, and take you to the starting point towards the hiking trail. There are many scooters in Praça Do Vidigal waiting for clients.
The drive with the scooter lasts about 10 minutes, for a distance of 1.5 km. The price for the scooter ride differs depending on the negotiations. It cost us 20 Brazilian reais (4 USD) per person. The final destination is a football field near the entrance to the hiking trail of Dois Iramaos, one of the best views in Rio de Janeiro.
The trail is of medium intensity and can be covered in about an hour and a half, depending on your physical condition. It doesn’t necessarily require climbing; it’s more of a strain on the muscles, given that the terrain is sloping and rugged in places. But for that, you can use trees and vines.
On the way back, you can retake a scooter or cross the favela on foot, as we did. Don’ do this if you feel unprepared or uncomfortable, although it’s one of the unique things to do in Rio de Janeiro.
On the way to the top, you will have some of the best observation points in Rio de Janeiro. You will be able to admire the largest favela in South America and the second-largest in the world, favela Rocinha.
As for the view from the top, I’d better let the pictures speak. It’s insane !!! Unfortunately, we didn’t have the clearest day, so the whole landscape was covered with clouds after only a few minutes. In vain, we waited, together with dozens of other people coming and leaving. We weren’t able to see Rio again from here.
- Cost: There were some guys at the gate who asked us for 5 Brazilian reals per person, although there is no official entrance ticket for this route
- Address: Praça Do Vidigal CU Uber, then Trilha Dois Irmãos near Campo do Vidigal, followed by a one-hour drive through the woods
- Intensity: medium to high
3. Mirante Dona Marta | 10 Accessible Views in Rio de Janeiro
The view at Mirante Dona Marta is quite similar to the place where Christ the Redeemer is, only at half the height. Mirante Dona Marta is 360 meters high, while Corcovado Mountain is 710 meters high.
You can reach Mirante Dona Marta by car or on a guided tour. The distance from Botafogo to here is about 10-15 minutes, depending on traffic. It’s one of the most easily accessible viewpoints in Rio de Janeiro. It doesn’t involve special physical effort, only a very short walk from the parking lot to the observation point.
There’s also a heliport in the opposite direction of the observation point. You can see the statue of Jesus and some of the southern parts of the city: Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer, Maracanã, Guanabara Bay, and others.
If you want to avoid the crowds, try to get there as early as possible in the morning. At Mirante Dona Marta, there are also some pretty scared but very cute monkeys.
- Cost: no entrance, but we paid 2 Brazilian reais for parking
- Address: Mirante Dona Marta on Google Maps
- Intensity: very low
4. Morro da Urca
Morro da Urca is the little brother of Sugarloaf Mountain. It’s 220 meters high, and at the top, you will find a well-appointed space with restaurants, cafes, and several shops. Basically, an excellent stop from which to look at the city’s beauty.
To climb to the top of this mountain, you have two options. Either you choose to walk, follow a hiking trail through the forest for about an hour, or choose the easiest option, the cable car.
The walking route starts from Vermelha Beach and continues on Cláudio Coutinho Track until you reach a sign. From there, just climb through the forest to the top of Mount Morro da Urca. It’s a relatively easy route but steep in places. So, you probably have to take a lot of breaks, and you have to have water with you.
What can you see from here? Favela Santa Marta, Christ the Redeemer statue, Guanabara Bay, Santos Dumont airport, Vermelha beach, Botafogo neighborhood.
- Cost: The price for a round trip to Pão de Açúcar or Sugarloaf Mountain by cable car is 120 Brazilian reals. If you walk up to Morro da Urca and then take the cable car, you must pay 40 reais per person. If you walk, you don’t have to pay anything
- Address: Cláudio Coutinho Track, next to General Tibúrcio Square
- Intensity: medium with walking
5. Sugarloaf Mountain
As I said in the previous point, Sugarloaf Mountain is the older brother of Morro da Urca, 396 meters high. Both of them offer the best views in Rio de Janeiro.
Like Morro da Urca, Mount Sugarloaf also can be climbed, but it’s much more difficult. It is indeed an escalation for which you need professional equipment. So I don’t recommend this option.
The name Sugar Loaf has its origins in resemblance to the form in which refined sugar was sold in the 19th century. However, the color has nothing to do since it’s a very dark mountain. Like all the mountain peaks in Rio, it’s also a monolithic granite, so it is dark gray, almost black, and looks great in combination with the green of the lush vegetation, so present in Rio.
The view of Sugarloaf Mountain is one of my favorites, as it stretches far and wide. From here, you can see everything on your Rio de Janeiro bucket list: Copacabana beach, Ipanema, Botafogo, Vermelha, Mount Corcovado, and the statue Cristo Redentor, Morro Dois Iramaos, Pedra do Gavea, the city center, and especially the Gulf of Guanabara.
The first cable cars to Sugarloaf were launched in 1912 but were later replaced by newer and more modern ones. Another important event took place 100 years later. Mount Sugarloaf became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012.
The cable cars start from the base of Morro da Babilônia, go up to Morro da Urca and then to Sugarloaf Mountain. Basically, a round trip has four sections and costs 120 Brazilian reals.
- Cost: no entrance, but a round trip by cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain is 120 Brazilian reals
- Address: Cláudio Coutinho Track, next to General Tibúrcio Square
- Intensity: very low, with the cable car. High-intensity climbing
6. Favela Santa Marta | 10 Easy Accessible Views of Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro has a lot of favelas, most of them perched on top of the mountains in the city. For this reason, they are some of the best places to see Rio de Janeiro from above.
Among the most visited and popular favelas in Rio are: Rocinha, Vidigal, Santa Marta, Pavão-Pavãozinho. Rocinha is the largest favela in Latin America and the second-largest in the world. But it’s also quite dangerous, so my recommendation is to go on a guided tour in Santa Marta.
Santa Marta is one of the safest and most pacifist favelas in the city and has a position that puts it at the top of places with a beautiful view in Rio. Although it is built on a slope with a relatively large angle of inclination, you can climb to the top of the favela with a cable car.
Favela Santa Marta became famous, especially after Michael Jackson’s 1996 visit. The pop king shot in Santa Marta the video for the song “They Don’t Care About Us.”
I visited the Santa Marta favela on a guided tour. Juliana, our guide, introduced us to several aspects of social life here and walked us through the winding streets of the favela, from which we could observe what the houses and the daily life of the inhabitants look like.
One of the main points here is the statue of Michael Jackson, located on a terrace overlooking the entire community and several places in Rio.
Cost: free entrance, but for the guided tour of the favela I paid 150 lei / person
If I were to define Arpoador, I’d say it’s the perfect place to watch the sunset in Rio de Janeiro. It’s practically a small peninsula, located between Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. The area is becoming quite crowded, as many young people gather here to socialize and to enjoy the best views in Rio de Janeiro.
It’s not a specific viewpoint, but there are several steps, paths, and large stones from which you can admire the landscape. Also, in the Arpoador area, there is a lot of surfing, the waves here being perfect for this sport.
- Cost: free of charge
- Address: Av. Francisco Bhering – Ipanema, next to Posto 7
- Intensity: low
8. Christ the Redeemer
Probably the most famous viewpoints in Rio de Janeiro of those presented in this article and certainly the highest. Yes, I’m talking about the panorama from Mount Corcovado. The mountain is 710 meters high, and the statue of Jesus the Savior, 38 meters high, has been here since 1931.
In general, the area is covered with clouds since it is located at a reasonably high altitude. So, it’s best to be patient and wait until the clouds dissipate to enjoy the clear panorama of the city. On a good day, you can see far away. You can even admire Maracaña Stadium from here.
Also, from Mount Corcovado, you can see the Botafogo neighborhood, Sugarloaf Mountain, Guanabara Bay, and even a few peaks of the neighboring town, Niteroi. You can reach Cristo Redentor either with the cable car or hiking, crossing the Tijuca National Park.
- Cost: the cable car/ tram costs 83.5 Brazilian reals or 105.5, depending on the season
- Address: you can take the tram from Rua Cosme Velho, 513 – Santa Teresa
- Intensity: medium to high, if you choose hiking; easy, if you choose to get here by tram
9. Pedra Bonita | 10 Views of Rio de Janeiro
Pedra Bonita is my favorite from the list of accessible views of Rio de Janeiro. Still, it’s also very crowded precisely because the ratio between effort and reward is excellent.
It’s basically a very large rock that you reach after crossing the jungle. Once you get out of the shade of the trees and come to the sunlight and see all the vast landscape, you can’t help but be overwhelmed by emotions. The place will leave you speechless.
Padra do Gavea is in the immediate vicinity, so you can admire it from here if you don’t dare to climb it.
From Pedra Bonita, you can see a new perspective of Rio de Janeiro, all the way to Recreio Dos Bandeiros and Pedra do Pontal in the south, and to Sugarloaf and even a piece of Niteroi in the north. It’s just fabulous!
Also from here you can see Morro dois Iramaos and Favela Rocinha, the largest favela in Latin America. The bravest people, especially those looking for adrenaline, choose to paraglide at Pedra Bonita. You will surely see them venture among the mountain peaks in the area.
- Cost: none
- Address: you can drive to the point marked on Google Maps as Trilha da Pedra Bonita
- Intensity: light-medium
10. Pedra do Telegrafo (Telegraph Stone)
Pedra do Telegrafo, with a height of 354 meters, is located more than an hour away from the city center, but it is worth getting here, especially since there are some beautiful beaches.
This place quickly became known thanks to Instagram. Many young people posed here in the most “dangerous” positions with the stone that seemed to float. In reality, it’s well supported on the rocks, but who knows for how long.
To get to Telegrafo Stone, you have to cross the jungle from Barra de Guaratiba. Although the road takes about an hour and is quite tricky, with sloping sections, humidity and heat, it’s well worth the effort. Pedra do Telegrafo is one of the best observation points in Rio de Janeiro.
The pictures speak for themselves; the panorama is a dream, with the city in the distance and a few beaches hard to reach near the deep blue water of the Atlantic Ocean.
You should expect to stand in line, no matter what time you arrive here. The lookout points in Rio have become more and more popular with the spread of pictures on social networks, so everyone is interested in discovering the easily accessible viewpoints in Rio de Janeiro.
- Cost: free, but you have to rent a car or take an Uber to get here. You can also get there by bus, but there is no direct bus; for this reason, I recommend one of the first two options
- Address: Barra de Guaratiba, Point do Telegrafo
- Intensity: medium
Other viewpoints in Rio de Janeiro
In addition to the 10 accessible views of Rio de Janeiro already presented in the article, there are others that I haven’t yet reached. Some of them are not even on my bucket list because it’s pretty dangerous to try to conquer them, while others will undoubtedly be seen on other occasions.
These are the other best viewpoints in Rio de Janeiro:
- Pedra do Gavea
- Vista Chinesa
- Mirante do Pasmado
- Mirante Do Joa
- Pedra do Pontal
- Mirante do Caete
What you need to know before visiting these viewpoints in Rio de Janeiro:
- It is essential to take all precautions. Don’t forget sunscreen, water, the right equipment, and some snacks if you get hungry.
- Adopt a peaceful attitude, especially if you have to cross more tense places, such as a favela.
- If you’re asking what not to do in Rio de Janeiro, well… Don’t risk your life for the perfect picture!
- Try to go during the week as early as possible. Avoid weekends, national or local holidays.
- Download an offline map in case you don’t have internet access
- Don’t walk around holding valuable belongings
- Don’t leave trash behind. I noticed that these places are clean, and people don’t leave their garbage. Do the same, please
Rio de janeiro