Sugarloaf Mountain (Rio Day 7)

We ended our day long private tour of Rio by our guide dropping us off at the famous Sugarloaf Mountain. We had read horror stories of long lines to both buy tickets and wait in line for the cable car, so we pre-bought tickets online prior to coming to Rio. When we walked up and were able to bypass an incredibly long line, we were glad to already have our tickets in hand. Now do you have to pre-buy tickets? On a normal day, probably not. But the lines can get really long there during peak season, especially around sunset.

Sugarloaf Mountain (or Pao de Acucar) sits at the mouth of Guanabara Bay. Sugarloaf is the taller of two summits and is reached via two cable cars. The first cable car travels from sea level to Urca Hill (or Morro da Urca) while the second cable car than travels to the peak of Sugarloaf itself. You can actually hike up Urca Hill from the Red Beach if you feel up for the challenge. Supposedly it’s not all that difficult, though it is steep in some spots and is a 1.6km trail one way. On Urca Hill, there is a small cafe and other facilities to relax and take in the outstanding view over the surrounding bay and ocean and with a view of Sugarloaf also.

View from Urca Hill View from Urca Hill View from Urca Hill View from Urca Hill View from Urca Hill View from Urca Hill View from Urca Hill

After wandering around Urca Hill for a bit, we took the second cable car to Sugarloaf itself. The views from Sugarloaf are a bit different from the lower peak and the view over the beaches are fabulous. The afternoon light and sunset were gorgeous, even if the clouds did roll in just as the sun started to sink. There is also a place to grab a drink on top of Sugarloaf also. Grab a caipirinha and watch the sunset from the best place in the city. It is incredibly windy up on top (at least the day we were there), so make sure to have a light jacket or cardigan you can throw on, especially in the cooler months. Sugarloaf Mountain received it’s name because it resembled the piles of unrefined sugar heading from Brazil to Portugal in the 17th century.

Cable Car

View from Sugarloaf Sugarloaf View from Sugarloaf View from Sugarloaf

View from Sugarloaf View from Sugarloaf Sunset from Sugarloaf Drinks with a view

Sunset from Sugarloaf Sunset from Sugarloaf Sunset from Sugarloaf Sunset from Sugarloaf

Sunset from Sugarloaf Sunset from Sugarloaf Sunset from Sugarloaf

Sugarloaf Mountain is open from 8am-9pm, but will stop selling lift tickets at 7:30pm. The cable cars depart approximately every 20 minutes or when the car is full (holds a max of 65 people). Leave plenty of time before sunset to reach the top of Sugarloaf as well. We arrived probably 2 hours prior to sunset and we felt it was perfect as it does take a bit to reach the top with waiting in lines for the two cable cars.

Sunset from Sugarloaf View from Sugarloaf

Travel Tip: While we didn’t have time to visit, there is a small beach situated right around the bay called Praia Vermhela (or Red Beach). Our guide, Bernard, said it is his favorite beach to visit in the city because it’s not as busy as the more famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.

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