About Hiking in Rio de Janeiro

 

The question that’s on everyone’s mind: Is Rio de Janeiro safe? Yes, Rio is safe, if you’re mindful – just like in any other big cosmopolitan city. To put things in perspective, I got robbed after 2 weeks in Bali and after 3 weeks in Paris and didn’t get robbed in 6+ months in Rio. In my opinion, Brazil gets a lot more bad press than anything else. You might be confronted to some petty crimes like pickpocketing or perhaps robberies at gun point or with a knife. But if you give up your cellphone and cash without resisting, your life will not be at risk. That’s not to say that the country isn’t going through some tough times right now. To be clear, there are shootings across Rio but they happen in favelas. Since to get to some of the best viewpoints, you have to go through a favela, here are some Key Safety Tips to make sure you have a worry and drama free experience:

  • Check the app “Fogo Cruzado” to see if there have been shootings in the last few days in the area you plan to hike. Also ask locals if they know of any recent conflicts
  • Go with local Cariocas who know the city and trails
  • Always have R$50 in cash on you to give it up if necessary, also it’s not a bad idea in case you need to buy some water
  • If you plan to hike early to watch the sunrise or to leave late after the sunset, bring a flashlight with you (other than your phone ideally) and perhaps pepper spray and male friends, just to be on the safe side.
Hiking is part of the Carioca lifestyle, they love to exercice and be out in nature. You shouldn’t let the bad rep of the city deter you from going to these magical places.
What about guided tours? I don’t recommend them, I don’t think you should spend your money on something you can easily do yourself. All the hikes mentioned are safe, easy accessible, and well traced. Perhaps, the only exception might be the hike to Pedra da Gavéa if you’re uncomfortable climbing on your own (although I’m not sure how much the guide can really assist you).
When is the best time to hike? For me, that’s when I have the place to myself at sunrise or at sunset to see the view by day and night.
Side note:
– The length of the hikes doesn’t include the time you spend hanging out at the viewpoint, to each their own.
– I haven’t done all of the hikes listed but they were all on my bucket list. I will let you know if it’s a trail I have not hiked.
– A heart = a favorite!

1. Pedra Bonita ❤

  • Length: 30 min up, & 20 min down
  • Level: 1/5, it’s short, easy and mostly flat
  • How to get there: take the metro to São Conrado. Take a Cabify, Uber or taxi to “Estacionamento de Pedra Bonita” (10min ride for R$12-16 or $3USD). The walk from the metro station to the start of the hike is not worth it, it’s along a road with cars, long, uphill and without any views
  • View: Rio de Janeiro & Barra de Tijuca
  • Tips:
    • When you reach the top, there is a lot of space to lay down and hang out. You could bring a picnic to watch the sunset or go early to watch the sunrise.
    • Great to bring your dogs as it’s easy and there’s lots of space to roam around

2. Dois Irmãos ❤

  • Length: 45 min climbing + 10 min for photos, 30 min down + 25 min down to discover Vidigal Favela
  • Level: 3/5, it’s mostly uphill but not too long
  • How to get there:
    • 1. Go to the bottom of Vidigal by cabify, taxi, uber or bus (it’s okay if you don’t know exactly where, your driver will know, there’s only one place to go so he/she can’t get it wrong. It’s by the blue stairs plaza)
    • 2. Take a taxi moto and ask for the “Trilha dos dois irmãos” (R$3-5 one way). The moto taxi will drop you off in front of a running track & basketball court
    • 3.Cross the running track & basketball court (if you go early in the morning, there might be a gate with a lock, go through it
    • 4. Turn left after the running track, you’ll see the trail
  • View: Rio de Janeiro (Zona Sul), favela Rocinha, Praia de São Conrado
  • Tips:
    • Take an alternative route to go down and discover the favela and its viewpoints. Turn left right after the tent shade structure (sometimes it’s not there, but there is a tree with some letters encrypted in it) and go down through the favela Vidigal. You’ll walk along the back on some houses, then go down the stairs, keep going straight down past the police station (which is a container) to Bar da Laje or Bar Arvrao or Bar Alto Vidigal (they’re all next to each other).Take the stairs down to the bottom of Vidigal from Bar Alto Vidigal. Take a uber back home!
    • Enjoy the view at Bar da Lake with drink and snacks. Keep going down along the side of Bar da Laje and follow the stairs to the blue plaza.
    • Check the app “Fogo Cruzado” to see if there have been shootings in the last few days recently in Vidigal. If not, you’re good to go. If so, wait until things calm down. You can also ask the police at the bottom of the favela posted at the plaza if things are calm or it’s dangerous at the moment.
    • Make sure to bring cash for the moto taxi.

3. Pedra do Telégrafo ❤

  • Length: 45 min hiking up + 15 min photos + 60 min wait minimum to take photos at the top on the rock (there were25 people in front of us and we waited 1h30min)
  • Level: 2/5, it’s mostly uphill but not too steep or long
  • How to get there: 1hr drive from Zona Sul or 40 min drive from Barra de Tijuca. To minimize costs, you can take the metro south to the station and then get a Cabify, Uber or taxi from there.
  • View: coast north and south with lots of ocean, sand and forest
  • Tips:
    • There are 200k visitors per year at the Pedra do Telégrafo, there can be up to a 4hr wait line to take a photo. So, it’s best to go in the winter season (July-August) between Monday and Thursday early in the morning or on a day where it’s predicted to rain (go a few hours before the predicted rain hours) as it deters a lot of people to go.
    • You can take professional photos at the top: 1 photo for $R5 and 3 photos for $R10 or montage for $R20. You can check out the photos here: https://trilhandoguaratiba.com.br
    • Other beaches and viewpoints worth checking out while you’re there: Praia do Meio (you can camp here), Praia do Perigoso, and Vista da Tartaruga

4. Floresta da Tijuca

  • Length: 30 min to 6 hrs depending on which trail you choose
  • Level: 1 to 5/5 depending on which trail you choose
  • How to get there: Take a Cabify, taxi or Uber from your place to the start of your hike (again that depends on which trail you chose to do). The forest is easily accessible by car.
  • View:  Rio de Janeiro
  • Tips: The Floresta de Tijuca has an infinite amount of trails. Here are some of the most renowned viewpoints and best trails
    • Vista Chinesa or “Chinese Viewpoint” (This viewpoint can be reached by car, bike or foot)
    • Mesa do Imperador (This viewpoint can be reached by car, bike or foot)
      • Pico de Tijuca (“Peak of Tijuca”) is a breathtaking viewpoint that you can only reach by foot. Make sure to check out Tjuca Mirim viewpoint on the way. I started the hike from Alto de Boa Vista, it was an advanced level as it was rather steep for most of the way and around 5 hours to go up and back down. It’s absolutely worth the workout!
      • Pedra de Tijuca

5. Morro da Urca to Pão de Açúcar

  • Length: 45 min (30min up & 15min down)
  • Level: 1/2, a bit steep but short
  • How to get there: Take a Cabify, taxi or Uber to roundabout at Praça General Tibúrcio close to the Praia Vermelha
  • View: Rio de Janeiro
  • Tips:
    • To get to the Pão de Açúcar, there are 2 gondolas you need to take, the first to Morro da Urca, the second to Pão de Açúcar. You can hike to Morro da Urca but not to Pão de Açúcar. To be clear, the trail is only to Morro da Urca and from there you can take a Gondola to Pão de Açúcar.
    • The viewpoint is a must see! This hike makes for a quick cardio workout but the trial is not beautiful as there’s not much of a a view until you get to Morro da Urca or Pão de Açúcar. Avoid going on weekend, it’s very crowded as it’s an easy, central and accessible hike.
    • Go is 1 hour before the sunset to see the city by day and by night.
    • There are some amazing parties on the Morro da Urca. Keep an eye out for them on Facebook events or ask local cariocas!

6. Cristo Redentor ❤

  • View: Rio de Janeiro
  • Tips:
    • A must see! Go there but do not hike this trail. You will most likely get mugged because it is so touristic. There are much more beautiful and tranquil hikes in the Floresta de Tijuca. Instead, take a taxi, Cabify or Uber up or take the Trem do Corcovado from the Rua Come Velho. Go to the bilheteria or ticket office and then take the free van or hike up to the Christ The Redeemer.
    • Go is 1 hour before the sunset to see the city by day and by night. Bring a book in case you feel like sitting down and enjoy the view.

6. Costão in Niterói ❤

  • Length: 55 min (35 min up & 20 min down)
  • Level: 2/5 (The climb up is easy but going down is a little more tricky)
  • How to get there: 1hr drive from Zona Sul or 40 min drive from Barra de Tijuca. To minimize costs, you can take the metro south to the station and then get a Cabify, Uber or taxi from there.
  • View: Rio de Janeiro at a distance including the Pão de Açucar. It’s the perfect place to go to say goodbye to this Cidade Maravilhosa.
  • Tips:
    • A must see! It’s perhaps my favorite viewpoint in Rio De Janeiro. It’s not known among tourists, you’ll only find locals there.
    • Make sure to go down before the sun sets if you don’t want to get lost and spend a night in the tropical forest like I did. It’s a beautiful sight but it gets dark quickly and there are not any indications as to which way is the right way down and you can’t see the exit as the angle is too steep.
    • You can do this climb in barefoot and a bikini, it’s really simple and the rock is easy to grip.

6. Vista do Parque da Cidade in Niterói

  • View: Rio de Janeiro at a distance including the Pão de Açucar. It’s the perfect place to go to say goodbye to this Cidade Maravilhosa.
  • Tips:
    • Cars can go to the top so I would suggest doing that, otherwise you’ll be walking on a cement road, in the forest with no views, and cars passing by.
    • You can go there after Costão. Take a taxi, Cabify or Uber from Costão to Vista do Parque da Cidade. Here’s a detailed itinerary of how to make the most of your time in Niterói.
    • You can paraglide from up there!

The rest of the list are viewpoints and trails on my bucket list I didn’t have time to hike.

9. Pedra da Gávea

Known to be difficult as there’s a steep part to climb where you need to be careful.

10. Pedra da Pontal

In Barra de Tijuca with a view of the long white sand beach and ocean, perfect for a sunset after a day at the beach in Barra!

11. Preda do Elefante

Close to Christ the Redeemer.

12. Morro da Babilônia

13. Parque da Catacumba

Close to Christ the Redeemer. It’s by the Lagoa (or Lagoon). There are two hikes and viewpoints about 20 min each to go up: mirante do Urubu & Mirante da Sacopã. There’s a view of the Lagoon, Ipanema and Leblon.

14. Morro dos Cabritos

It’s between Copacabana and Lagoa, there’s a trail that goes to the Mirante da Sacopã.

To recap, I would absolutely go to Pedra Bonita, Dois Irmãos, Cristo Redentor and Costão in Niterói. If you don’t have much time and want custom recommendations on which viewpoints and trails to do during your stay in Rio de Janeiro, just ask me here.

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