Pão de Açucar, or Sugarloaf Mountain, is a massive rock formation that resembles a traditional refined loaf of sugar. I had never heard of Sugarloaf Mountain before arriving into Rio but it immediately caught my eye through the window of my Uber as I was headed to my hostel after a 9 hour flight from JFK. The view at the top is breathtaking and the journey getting there is just as much as an adventure!
The morning is a great time to start because it can get very hot especially in their summer months (December-March). Check the weather beforehand, you will be very disappointed arriving at the top only to see that clouds have made their home over the city. I was there in January and had a lot of sun and very clear skies.
Sugarloaf Mountain can only be accessed by mountain climbing or cable car but there are two different routes you can take via cable car.
You can take a cable car from the base near the beach, Praia Vermelha. This will take you to the top of Morro de Urca, a smaller mountain before arriving at Sugarloaf Mountain. The top of Morro de Urca offers food, drinks, and panoramic views, so you can take your time and relax before catching the second cable car.
Ticket pricing for both cable cars:
Adults- R76 or about 14 USD
Students with student ID and ages 6 to 21 years old- R38 or about 7 USD
Children under 6 years old- free
The ticket office is open from 8:00-19:50
Cable cars run every 20 minutes and the last car down from the top of Sugarloaf is at 20:40 and at 21:00 from Morro de Urca.
Hiking Morro de Urca
If you are looking to save a bit of money or want to enjoy a beautiful hike through Rio's lush forest, you can hike up the first hill, Morro de Urca. I opted for this route as I love hiking! You can access the starting point from Praia Vermelha. When you arrive at the beach, turn left and you will pass the large car park and a smaller building will be on your right. You will then find a sign directing you to the start of the hike. It will start as a large paved pathway and after you walk down for a couple minutes, there will be an opening to your left. There will be a sign that says Morro de Urca, follow that trail. Its a popular area so the trail is hard to miss. The hike is relatively easy with a few steeper parts. It is mostly covered so you won't have to worry about over exposing yourself to the sun. I even spotted a few tiny monkeys on my way!
Once you arrive at the top, you will have to take the second cable car to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.
Ticket pricing for second cable car:
Adults- R40 or about 7.50 USD
Students with student ID and ages 6 to 21 years old- R20 or about 4 USD