Spectacular Sugarloaf Mountain!
Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is one of two sights that every visitor to Brazil should see. Known in Portuguese as Pão de Açúcar (pow-jee-aah-sue-car), this huge cone shaped rock made of granite gneiss looms 1300 feet (395 meters) above the water. On a clear day, you will have stunning views of the shoreline from Copacabana to Ipanema, across Guanabara Bay to Niteroi, the city, and inland to the tropical forested mountains.
Sugarloaf received its name in the 17th century, due to its resemblance to the cone shaped blocks of unrefined sugar that were prepared for shipment from Brazil to Portugal. Below this mountain, stands the smaller 720 foot Morro da Urca (Urca Mountain), with its flat top, and resembles a whale for which it was named.
You reach the summit by taking a 2 stage cable car that leaves from Praia Vermelha every 15 minutes or so and makes its first
stop at Morro da Urca. Urca affords nice views of the coast and has been outfitted with outdoor bars, a restaurant, and an amphitheater. There is a nice paved nature trail that is worth walking, to see the tropical vegetation, birds, and the occasional monkey. Urca also holds very popular summer concert series, which start late in the evening usually on weekends. Some first rate bands play there, and the party continues until
dawn, well after the band has left the stage.
The second stage, larger cable car departs every 30 minutes from Urca and takes you to Sugar Loaf. From here, you will have the most fantastic views of Rio, second only to those from Christ the Redeemer Statue atop Corcovado Mountain. You can walk to several different levels for a variety of scenic vantage points. There are small Kiosks that serve soft drinks, ice cream, and other snacks.
Looking towards Praia Vermelha you will see 700 ft Morro do Leme which stands at the upper end of Copacabana Beach. On another afternoon take the nature hike up to the 18th century fort and enjoy more panoramic views of Rio de Janeiro.
Make sure that you visit on a bright sunny day, to enjoy the best views. Weekdays are less crowded than weekends, and it's better visited in the early morning or late afternoon.
The only reason to book a tour to Sugarloaf, is if you are combining it with a trip to Christ The Redeemer on the same day. Otherwise take a taxi or board any bus in Copacabana or Ipanema that has the sign "Urca" on the front.
You can show up at the station and buy tickets at the booth, get in line and board the next available cable car. If it's a busy time, you may have to wait in line for quite awhile. It's best to arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon, before or after the tour groups arrive.
As of July 2013 in preparation for World Youth Day, tickets may be purchased on-line at the IngressoRapido website. You must choose a time and date and you must be at the station within 15 minutes of the appointed time or you may lose your spot! As Brazil prepares for the 2014 World Cup, the
Rio 2016 Summer Olympics and other events, the on-line ticket sales may continue.
For time schedule and ticket pricing information, visit the official site of the Sugarloaf cable car (bondinho).
Insider's Tip - Before or after ascending and descending these 2 mountains, take a short diversion to Praia Vermelha (Red Beach) and the 1 mile paved nature trail "Pista Claudio Coutinho", which winds around the base of Morro da Urca. The beach and trail are located just to the left of the base cable car station. Remember to bring a banana to feed the small monkeys! Please see our Praia Vermelha Page which includes information about the wonderful safe nature trail.
Enjoy the Photos!
Urca cable cars - photo taken from the tranquil Urca neighborhood
Copacabana Beach as seen from Sugarloaf
View of Botafogo Bay at night from Morro da Urca
Bebel Gilberto poster from 2007 concert at Morro da Urca
Pão de Açúcar at night as seen from Urca
The Urca neighborhood at night as seen from Sugarloaf
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