This mixture of high and low leads to endless opportunities for jaw-dropping views: one of our favorite things about Rio. Because as beautiful as it is, the views make sure you never, ever forget it. Around every corner and up every climb is a new perspective.
Whatever image comes to mind when you hear “Rio de Janeiro”, it’s always a stunning one. Everyone raves about the beaches, but the beauty of the city’s landscape goes way beyond that. From afar and above, you can see the dramatic skyline created by the jagged mountains, the juxtaposition of the rainforest winding throughout the city and up to the sea, and the one-of-a-kind layout that comes from a city settling into such a unique natural habitat.
Here are the ones that always remind us of why Rio really is “The Marvelous City”:
Dois Irmaos hike
For the best view over the main tourist areas such as Leblon, Ipanema and Lagoa (with the least amount of hiking), don’t miss the Two Brothers Trail. Go on a clear day, and enjoy sitting atop one landmark (the mountain that towers over Ipanema) and staring out at the rest. The photos look like you’re sitting on top of the city. (This one passes through the Vidigal favela).
Pedro Bonita hike
For those wanting to see in all the same directions as Pedro de Gavea, but not wanting to spend 6 hours hiking, this is for you. The views are in almost every direction and will make you feel tiny.
Vista Chinesa hike
Definitely more of a local haunt, the Vista Chinesa is far off the beaten path in the middle of the Tijuca Forest. The little Chinese-style gazebo requires taking a long road to, but is worth the walk/bike/drive (especially once you’ve already done the other viewpoints).
Pedro de Gavea hike
This is Rio’s most challenging hike, with the most rewarding views. From atop the world’s largest monolith, you’re practically looking down from the heavens. You can see all over Zona Sul, the Tijuca Forest, and the entirety of Barra da Tijuca. It’s a bird’s eye view that will give you a whole new perspective on the city.
For details on how to get to these hikes and more photos, click here.
From any point around the Lagoa, you can look out over the giant mass of water nestled between the mountains and buildings. Bike or walk around it, but make sure to stop and sit on a dock or at a lakeside restaurant for a drink to take it all in.
Comtemporary Art Museum Niteroi
The Contemporary Art Museum across the bay in Niteroi is just another example of how there are a million views from different angles. The MAC, a unique building designed by Oscar Niemeyer, sits over the water with views of Niteroi’s beaches and back at all of Rio: Sugarloaf and Christ included.
Our favorite and a must-see for whenever you visit Ipanema, Arpoador is the giant rock that separates it from Copacabana. Locals say it has to be meant for admiring the beauty of Ipanema, because it jetties out into the water and offers the perfect view. Go for sunset!
The neighborhood surrounding the Sugarloaf mountain is Urca, which wraps around the bay from Botafogo. With a string of bars and restaurants right on the water (Bar do Urca is the most famous), crowds come at sunset and sit on the sea wall to watch the light fade over the water the city behind it.
Christ the Redeemer
The true classic, the view from Christ the Redeemer gives you panoramic views over every inch of the city. Once you see Rio from here, the erratic layout suddenly makes sense. While the crowds (and cost) are a downside, seeing this Wonder of the World is still definitely worth checking off your bucket list.
The second most popular tourist attraction, the view from the Sugarloaf is opposite from the Christ. Being lower, you get to see the beautiful varied skyline formed by the mountains, and you can see the Christ right in front of you. One of our personal favorites.
For real perspective that goes beyond the lookouts, open your eyes to how half of Rio’s population lives. As everyone says, the poorest parts of Rio have the most incredible views.
As the locals say, “On the eighth day, God created Rio.”
If you LOVED this post and want to see MORE like it, GO like our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or join our latest adventures on Instagram. Muito obrigado!
Mirante Dona Marta
This is just above the favela, and not actually in it. For those wanting to avoid the crowds and cost of the Christ, this is almost the exact same view (just a bit lower). You will need to drive or take a taxi, but it still beats the price and every photo is postcard-worthy.
Mirante da Paz
At the start of the Cantagalo favela, you’re in between Copacabana and Ipanema, but in a whole other world entirely. The city built a panoramic elevator for residents, and when you arrive at the top you’ll find a gazebo with the same views. Some people don’t like how it’s usually deserted, but if you’ve been in Rio a while and want a new view then you’ll definitely appreciate it.
For details on visiting favelas and how to get there, click here.
Let us deliver our adventures, travel hacks and stories directly to your inbox. Newsletter anyone?
Read more about Brazil: