Urban Forests in Rio de Janeiro

Several short hikes and walks close to the Beaches!

There are more urban forests in Rio de Janeiro than in any other city in Brazil and probably more than any other large city in the world. These forests offer the visitor and locals a brief respite from the heat and crowded city life.



Some of these urban forests were preserved or created by the Portuguese Brazilian Emperors or have more recently been saved and re-forested. The Tijuca Rain Forest, in particular, was reforested in the mid 19th century to preserve Rio de Janeiro's rainfall and fresh water supply.

There are several parks and forest trails very close to the tourist areas of Ipanema and Copacabana Beach, with some being just a short walking distance from these neighborhoods. The forests, trails, and parks which we recommend are considered to be safe and great places to take photos. Remember to visit our Photo Tips and Staying Safe in Rio pages.

Below, we list our favorite Rio de Janeiro urban forests, trails, and parks. We've created in depth pages for each one that include tips and photos.

The Botanical Gardens (Jardim Botanico)

Botanical Gardens (Jardim Botanico)

The Jardim Botanico (Botanical Gardens) was created by the Prince Regent Dom Joao in 1808 after the Portuguese royal family fled Europe from the advance of Napoleon's troops.

These extensive tropical gardens cover more than 1/2 square mile and include thousands of varieties of tropical plants and trees.

This Rio de Janeiro sight is also famous for the majestic Royal Palms that line the main avenue, the Orchid house, the Japanese gardens, and the Amazon section.

Jardim Botanico is a short taxi or bus ride from Ipanema or Copacabana so don't miss out on this wonderful half day excursion!

Go to the Jardim Botanico page



Tijuca Forest (Floresta da Tijuca)

Tijuca Forest photo courtesy of DC Capella Creative Commons License

A short distance by taxi or tour van you will find the Tijuca Forest which is part of a larger national park. The Tijuca is all than remains in the Rio area of the "Mata Atlantica" (Atlantic coastal rain forest).

Any visit to Brazil should include a guided Rio de Janeiro sightseeing trip to the Tijuca Forest. Whether you stop at the main sights by tour van, or take an all day hiking tour, you will have a very memorable outdoor experience.


Go to our Tijuca Forest page


Morro do Leme (Leme Mountain & Fort)

Morro do Leme

Morro do Leme is a fantastic urban forest and mountain trail located at the end of Leme and Copacabana Beach.

Enter this protected ecological area and walk up the winding cobble stone road through the forest up to the old Forte do Leme. You are afforded unobstructed views of Sugar Loaf and all of Copacabana Beach.

Along the way and at the top, you will find families of small monkeys in the trees. The old fort has some Krupp Howitzer cannons similar to those found at Forte de Copacabana.

This is a very safe, military area and is open to the public only on Saturdays and Sundays. If you are staying in Copacabana, spend a couple hours in this wonderful mountain forest.

Go to our Morro do Leme page


Parque da Catacumba (Catacumba Park)

Parque da Catacumba

Parque da Catacumba was a hillside favela (slum) until 20 years ago or so when the inhabitants were relocated and this beautiful sculpture park and nature trail was created.

It's a short walk to this urban forest from the Ipanema Beach neighborhood.

Once there, you will find small statues placed throughout the deep, green tropical forest, winding walking paths and trails that take you up the side of Morro do Cabrito. Hike until you emerge at the summit and find gorgeous views of Lagoa, Ipanema, Dois Irmaos, Pedra da Gavea, and Christ the Redeemer Statue standing atop Corcovado Mountain.

Visit our Parque da Catacumba page






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