Rio de Janeiro is often considered to be one of the most alluring cities in the world. With golden sand beaches, lush rainforest and towering cliffs, the exceptional beauty of the cityscape certainly warrants the reputation that precedes it. But what many travelers do not realize is that Rio de Janeiro is much more than pretty beaches and iconic Carnival. In fact, the numerous lofty green mountains that shoot up in and around the city make Rio de Janeiro one of the top urban hiking destinations in the world. So don your hiking boots and get ready for an adventure! Here are our four favorite hikes in Rio de Janeiro, ideal for family wellness travel.
For one of the most spectacular views in all of Rio de Janeiro, do not miss a hike up the short, but steep Dos Irmãos (Two Brothers) Cliff. From here, you will have the opportunity to take in 360-degree views of Rio that include such iconic attractions as Praia Ipanema, Pedra da Gavea and the Lagoa.
Access to the Dos Irmãos Trailhead is at the top of Vidigal, a pacified favela just past the chic and trendy neighborhood of Leblon. Attracting the likes of celebrities such as David Beckham, Vidigal is a safe area to explore, and the locals are accustomed to greeting and directing hikers to the Dos Irmãos access point. If you prefer to have a local guide you, then a travel professional can source excellent tours that take small groups on the trail and provide insight to the fascinating history of Vidigal along the way.
While you are hiking, keep your eyes peeled for resident marmosets (pictured above left)—these cheeky monkeys are characterized by the tufts of fur behind their ears and make for fabulous family photo ops.
Estimated Time: 1 1/2 – 2 Hours, Round Trip
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Pedra da Gavea
Tijuca National Park is the world’s largest urban forest and a must-visit on any trip to Rio de Janeiro. The lush rainforest covers 8,300 acres while remaining easily accessible from central Rio. While there are countless trails throughout Tijuca, the memorable hike up Pedra da Gavea is always a fan favorite.
It is worth mentioning that Pedra da Gavea is not an easy hike—the trail is near vertical, and hikers must occasionally use foot pegs and metal chains to help them scramble up particularly steep sections. Hence, it is not suitable for young children. However, if your family with older children are up for the challenge, you will be greatly rewarded for your effort with a birds eye view of Rio de Janeiro and surrounding cerulean waters.
The trail up Pedra da Gavea is safe and well-marked by yellow arrows. On the weekend, it is a popular attraction for Brazilian families and tourists alike, which can lead to slow wait times on the trail. To avoid the queue, arrive early or plan your hiking adventure for a weekday.
Estimated Time: 5 Hours, Round Trip
Morro de Urca and Sugarloaf Mountain
Morro de Urca and Sugarloaf Mountain are located in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, providing a unique vista of the cityscape and coastline. The mountains are a popular stop on most traveler’s itinerary due to the glass gondolas that connect the two peaks and effortlessly shuttle travelers from point to point.
But what most travelers do not realize is that it is possible to experience Morro de Urca and Sugarloaf Mountain by combining a gorgeous hike with the iconic gondola ride. Access to the start of the trail is located at Praia Vermelha, just past a sign called Pista Claudia Coutinho. From here, it is a leisurely 40 minutes along a rocky, man-made path. Your family will have the opportunity to spot monkeys and birds along the way while also enjoying views of Botafogo Bay.
Once at the top of Morro de Urca, it is easy to buy tickets for the gondola and continue your family adventure to Sugarloaf Mountain.
Estimated Time: 40 Minutes, One Way
Corcovado and Christ The Redeemer
There are few landmarks as globally recognized as Christ the Redeemer. Watching over the city of Rio de Janeiro with open arms, the iconic symbol never ceases to awe and amaze. There is a frequent tram that shuttles visitors to the statue (after a lengthy wait), but it is also possible to hike to the top and then take a tram, shuttle or taxi back down again.
Christ The Redeemer is perched upon the summit of Corcovado Mountain. Located within the Tijuca National Park, hikers will have the opportunity to sight toucans, monkeys and other creatures and critters that call the park home.
You will find the trailhead to Corcovado at Parque Lago. From here, it is walking along a well-marked, rocky path. Unfortunately, it is impossible to hike all the way to the Redeemer, but the trail will take your family to the highway, just five minutes away. From here make sure you have your entrance tickets and then flag down one of the passing shuttles to take you to the entry of Christ the Redeemer.
Estimated Time: 1 1/2 – 2 Hours, One Way
If you are looking for the utmost in family wellness travel, you absolutely cannot go wrong with a visit to Rio de Janeiro.
Which hike in Rio de Janeiro do you think your family would enjoy the most?