Lonely Planet review
Seen from the peak of Pão de Açúcar, Rio is undoubtedly the most beautiful city in the world. There are many good times to make the ascent, but sunset on a clear day is the most rewarding.
A visit to Pão de Açúcar is a must, but if you can, avoid it from about 10am to 11am and 2pm to 3pm, when most tourist buses arrive. Avoid cloudy days as well. Two cable cars connect to the summit, 396m above Rio. The first ascends 220m to Morro da Urca . From here, you can see Baía de Guanabara and the winding coastline; on the ocean side of the mountain is Praia Vermelha. Morro da Urca has its own restaurant, souvenir shops, a playground, an outdoor theater and a helipad (helicopter tours are possible).
The second cable car goes up to Pão de Açúcar. At the top, the city unfolds beneath you, with Corcovado mountain and Cristo Redentor off to the west, and Copacabana Beach to the south. If the breathtaking heights unsteady you, a drink stand serves caipirinhas or cerveja (beer). The two-stage cable cars depart every 30 minutes.
Those who’d rather take the long way to the summit should sign up with one of the granite-hugging climbing tours offered by various outfits in Rio.