Rio De Janeiro Has Amazing Hikes And Secluded Nearby Beaches

Rio de Janeiro is an incredible destination for those who enjoy nature and beautiful beaches. From breathtaking mountain peaks to picturesque coastlines, the city offers a variety of options when it comes to hiking and beach adventures.

The many trails winding through lush forests and dramatic cliffs make Rio one of Latin America’s most popular cities for hikers. Popular hikes like Dois Irmãos and Pedra da Gávea offer stunning views, often culminating in awe-inspiring vistas from atop some of the highest points in the area.

Regarding beaches, Rio de Janeiro has some of the best in South America – offering vast stretches of white sand even within city limits. Iconic spots like Copacabana or Ipanema boast miles of perfect shoreline, with countless nearby bars, restaurants, and activities. Whether you’re looking for a secluded place or a vibrant atmosphere, Rio’s beaches have something for everyone.

If you are traveling to Rio de Janeiro, consider four of these best beach and hiking day combos.

Idyllic Shot Of Pedra Da Gavea Against Sky During Sunrise

Looking for other fun things to do while there? Check out my other post:

SAFETY FIRST. HERE’S SOME GENERAL HIKING ADVICE

Research your destination ahead of time. Before you go, familiarize yourself with the terrain, weather conditions, and any potential risks.

Plan for the weather. Keep a rain jacket and warm layers handy in case of unexpected changes in temperature or precipitation.

Wear comfortable and sturdy shoes. We don’t want any stubbed toes!

Hydrate, hydrate. Drink plenty of water throughout the hike to stay properly hydrated. Bring extra water, just in case.

Bring a snack. Sometimes there are vendors along the way, but if you’re unsure, carry something to sustain you.

Mindfully enjoy the outdoors. Take time to stop and appreciate all that nature has to offer.

SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN & VERMELHA BEACH

Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar)

Sugarloaf Mountain is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rio de Janeiro. It is a granite peak that rises 396 meters (1,299 feet) above the city, and offers stunning views of the surrounding area

View of Sugarloaf mountain from hotel
A view of the Sugarloaf Mountain from my hotel.

If you decide to hike up to Sugarloaf Mountain, you will start at the base of Morro da Urca, a smaller peak connected to Sugarloaf Mountain by a narrow strip of land.

How To Get To Sugarloaf Mountain

From central Rio de Janeiro, this is the most accessible mountain. Depending on where you are, you can walk, hop on a bus or train, or take a quick Uber ride. 

There are three ways to get to the top of Urca Mountain:

1. Hiking Urca Mountain

The hike starts at the base of Morro da Urca and lasts about 30 minutes. You can do this alone. It is a popular trail, so there will be plenty of others there too.

This will take you to the top of the first mountaintop, but you must use a cable car to get to Sugarloaf Mountain. Before you begin hiking, purchase your cable car tickets from the base. 

2. Mountain Climbing Urca Mountain

For those looking for a more thrilling challenge, several mountain climbing tours will safely guide you up to the mountain. Have fun!

3. Cable Car All the Way!

Can’t be bothered with any of this? Can’t blame you. Purchase your cable car tickets for a round-trip scenic ride up the two mountains. There are plenty of drinks and restaurants waiting ahead.

Roundtrip tickets cost about 32 USD per person.

Once you reach the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, you will be rewarded with stunning views of Rio de Janeiro.

You can see the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, the Christ the Redeemer statue, and Guanabara Bay. It is a truly breathtaking sight. Keep in mind that lines are longer as sunset approaches. Factor in extra time if this is important to you.

Once you’ve taken in all the scenery and filled your tummies, head to the beach!

Praia Vermelha (Red Beach)

Vermelha Beach, also known as Red Beach, is a small beach in the Urca neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. The beach is protected by a headland, which provides calm waters and a safe swimming environment. The sand is coarse and reddish, which gives the beach its name.

Vermelha Beach is just a short walk from the Sugarloaf cable car station. The far left of the beach (if facing the ocean) starts the hiking trail up Urca mountain.

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Take in views of Sugarloaf from this beautiful beach.

TELEGRAPH MOUNTAIN & PRAIA BARRA DE GUARATIBA (PLUS A WILD BEACH TRAIL)

Pedra do Telégrafo

Pedra do Telégrafo is a rock formation located in the western zone of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is a popular tourist destination known for its stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains. The rock is about 354 meters (1,161 feet) high and can be reached by a steep hike. The hike is challenging, but the views from the top are well worth it.

View from top of Pedra Telegrafo or Telegraph Mountain

Pedra do Telegrafo was once used as a telegraph station, hence its name.

The station was built in the 19th century and was used to communicate with other parts of the city. The station is no longer used, but the rock remains a popular tourist destination.

The hike to Pedra do Telegrafo begins in the neighborhood of Guaratiba.

The hike is about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) long and takes about 40 minutes. The hike is steep and challenging, but the views from the top are well worth it.

Once you reach the top of Pedra do Telegrafo, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains. You can see the Christ the Redeemer statue, Sugarloaf Mountain, and Guanabara Bay.

The peak is also well known for a rock that gives the illusion that you are at the very edge of a cliff.

Because of this, there can be a very long wait to snap a pic. It gets even more crowded on the weekend. To avoid crowds, try to get there very early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Instagram-worthy photo on top of Telegraph Mountain
A real cliffhanger!

How To Get To Pedra do Telégrafo

  1. Hop in an Uber or taxi to Guaratiba, which is over an hour’s journey.
  2. Take the train to Guaratiba, which will take about 2 hours.
  3. Alternatively, you can hire a guide through TripAdvisor, who will handle everything, including breakfast, lunch, and many beach stops. This is the option I chose for the most relaxing, worry-free experience — click here to learn about Saffo’s amazing photo tour

The trail to Pedra do Telegrafo starts after the yellow Nossa Senhora das Dores church. Head up the nearby alley staircase and then follow the yellow arrows and signs.

Whatever you decide, the hike will certainly be enjoyable and moderate in intensity. The trails are well-marked and, it can be completed in about 40 minutes.

To cool off, head to the nearby beaches. Start in Praia da Barra de Guaratiba, and travel the wild beach trail to reach up to four other secluded beaches.

Praia da Barra de Guaratiba

Barra de Guaratiba beach itself is nice, but what makes the experience unforgettable is the walk to the wild beaches of Perigoso, Praia do Meio, Praia Funda e Praia do Inferno. 

It is the farthest beach from the city center, bordering Restinga de Marambaia. It is the main beach in the neighborhood, with several kiosks and a boardwalk, and seafood restaurants on the waterfront. It has a calm sea and clear waters. 

There is a parking space, kiosks on the edge, and bars. At the end of the beach, there is a bathroom with facilities for showering and changing. 

A warm sunny day at Guaratiba Beach
A warm sunny day at Guaratiba Beach

Still feeling active? Go on the wild beach trail

Beyond Barra de Guaratiba beach, there are smaller and more isolated beaches that are only accessible by foot. If you have time and you want to fit in some more activity, definitely check these four beaches out.

Praia do Perigroso

This beach is secluded as it is only accessible by foot or by boat. This is about 1.5 hour walk from Praia Barra de Guaratiba. You can also hire a taxi boat to get there quicker.

Aerial view of Praia do Perigroso​ in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
The name of the beach belies how calm and secluded it is.

Praia Funda

Even more secluded and a short walk from Perigroso. The destination is worth it, but the journey can be a bit daunting. At one part of the trail, you will need to use a rope to safely go down a couple steep hills.

Praia funda, Funda Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Praia do Meio

Walk even further and you reach this beach. The further you go, the quieter it is. For this reason, this place is ideal for overnight campers. However, this far out, there will be no vendors providing any food or drinks, so be well prepared.

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Praia do Inferno

This is the last stop on the wild beach trail. If you’ve managed to make it all this way – 

drag race ru paul

– you have gotten a great workout and deserve the beautiful scenic beach that awaits you.

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DOIS IRMÃOS MOUNTAIN & PRAIA DO VIDIGAL

Dois Irmãos Mountain

Dois Irmaos (Two Brothers) is located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and is an iconic mountain range with two distinct peaks, hence its name. Legend has it that two fighting brothers were turned into the two mountain peaks by their father, who wanted to provide them with an eternal reminder of their bond.

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You can see Vidigal favela embedded in the mountain. It’s beautiful seeing the community light up at night.

The twin peaks of Dois Irmaos can be seen all over Rio de Janeiro and is the typical backdrop of that stunning sunset photo taken at Ipanema Beach. It is 722 meters tall at its highest peak and looks intimidating from afar, but the hike is less steep and tricky than it seems. Reaching the summit will take about 40 minutes, and you will be rewarded with amazing views.

Ipanema beach at sunset with Dois Irmaos in the background.

To get to the start of the trail, you must go through the Vidigal favela.

As foreigners, we associate favelas with extreme danger, and I hope venturing through this community can change that narrative.

As with all parts of Rio, you want to remain vigilant about your belongings and keep your pockets zippered and your flashy objects tucked away. With that being said, I felt completely safe in this favela. In the early 2010s, Vidigal and other favelas underwent a “pacification process” that significantly reduced the crime once rampant in these communities.

Today you have a welcoming community that has become a popular spot for backpackers and others looking for an authentic, affordable stay in a community with impressive views of Rio’s city landscape.

How to Get To Dois Irmãos Mountain

  1. Take a bus or taxi/Uber to “Ponto de Moto Taxi e Kombi VDG” You can input this straight into Uber so there is no confusion. 

2. From the station, you have three options to reach the start of the trail, which is uphill and located across from “Campo do Vidigal”:

  • Hop on a moto-taxi for a thrilling 5-minute ride through the favela (1 USD)
  • Take the shuttle van, which arrives less frequently and costs slightly more (1.5USD)
  • Walk uphill to Campo Vidigal. This will take about 25 minutes and is an extra workout for those who want an active day.
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The view across from the Vidigal moto-taxi station.

3. Once at “Campo do Vidigal,” walk to the other end to reach Trilha Morro Dois Irmãos or Dois Irmãos trail. Be sure to save these in your Google Maps to orient yourself.

4. Your journey begins. I hope you enjoy the roughly 40 minutes of hiking to the top.

I consider myself fit, and this hike felt moderate in intensity.

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I brought only one small bottle of water and wished I had more. It took approximately 45 minutes to hike to the top.  

There were several viewpoints and places to stop on the way up. On warmer days, a vendor usually sells beverages at the halfway point.

You will have views of Rio, including Ipanema Beach, Arpoador, and Rocinha Favela, one of the largest favelas in Rio de Janeiro.

View from the top of Dois Irmaos, located in Vidigal Favela in Rio de Janeiro.
View from the top of Dois Irmaos

Once we finished taking in all the beautiful views, we decided to walk downhill through Vidigal.

 It was beautiful taking in the vibrant community of friendly people, restaurants, and bars. We caught glimpses of the city landscape between buildings as we walked down the winding path towards the moto-taxi station.

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Walking downhill through Vidigal Favela

Tranquility awaits just a short walk from Vidigal favela.

Praia do Vidigal

This beach is a perfect after-hike destination. It is just west of the populated Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, making it much more tranquil and secluded. Typically, its inhabitants include locals from Vidigal and guests from the bordering Sheraton hotel.

The entrance is easy to miss. Once you walk past the Sheraton, a staircase will take you down to the beach. Be careful! The guardrails are not as sturdy as I would have liked.

Once on the beach, you will note a few tents selling water, beer, and caipirinhas. Other vendors will offer kangas (their beach towel equivalent) and umbrellas if needed.

There is a large rock that juts out in the water. People like to climb up and dive into the water. Enjoy!

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Scenic Vidigal Beach with a mix of locals and nearby Sheraton guests.

PEDRA DA GAVEA MOUNTAIN & SAO CONRADO BEACH

Pedra da Gavea Mountain

This is the most challenging hike in this post. Located in the heart of Tijuca National Park, Pedra da Gávea is one of the most iconic and beautiful hikes in Rio de Janeiro. It’s considered an advanced hiking trail, stretching over 6.2 miles (10 km) with steep sections and some exposed areas.

The journey starts at the entrance of Tijuca National Park and moves towards the 842 meters (2,762 feet) peak of Pedra da Gávea – offering breathtaking views of nearby beaches such as Prainha, Grumari, and São Conrado along the way.

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Not to be taken lightly — this hike usually takes upwards from four to five hours due to its rugged terrain.

That being said – it’s well worth tackling! Atop Pedra da Gávea, you are rewarded with a majestic view of all the surrounding areas, including a stunning panoramic vista from Sugarloaf Mountain to Barra da Tijuca in one direction and Corcovado Peak in another direction. So if you want an unforgettable experience while visiting Rio de Janeiro, include Pedra da Gávea on your itinerary!

If you’re an avid hiker, you may feel comfortable navigating this trail alone. For everyone else, go with a guide!

Towards the very end of the hike, you will reach the Carrasqueira. It is a steep thirty-five-meter tall rock that you will need to climb up to get to the next part of the trail, and it is incredibly daunting. With a guide, you will be helped to the top and, on your return, will be given a rope to rappel your way back down safely. Those with enough experience climbing have gone without the guide and done fine. 

How To Get To Pedra da Gavea Mountain

Going Solo:

If you go independently, input this into Google Maps: Estr. Sorimã – Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22611-030, Brazil.

To get there, your best option will be hiring a rental car or an Uber ride. It’s about 33 minutes away from central Rio.

At this location, you will find a square for parking. Walk towards the end of the road and look for the start of the trail to the right of a green gate labeled 936.

Going with Guide:

If you go with a guide, they will generally pick you up from your central accommodation. It will take about 45 minutes to reach the start of the trail.

If you did this hike, you deserve some serious rest and relaxation.

Praia do São Conrado

São Conrado Beach is a beach in the southwest of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is one of the most popular beaches in the city and is known for its beautiful scenery, strong waves, and paragliding and hang-gliding opportunities.

The beach is between the Pedra da Gávea mountain and the Dois Irmãos mountains. It is about 12 kilometers long and is divided into two sections: Praia de São Conrado and Praia do Pepino. Praia de São Conrado is the larger of the two sections and is the more popular with swimmers and sunbathers. Praia do Pepino is smaller and more secluded and is popular with surfers.

The beach is known for its strong waves, making it a popular surfing spot. The waves are also ideal for paragliding and hang gliding. Several companies offer paragliding and hang-gliding lessons and tours from the beach.

São Conrado Beach is also famous for walking, jogging, and biking. A paved path runs along the beach, and several parks and gardens are in the area.

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View of São Conrado Beach from the top of Pedra da Gavea.

Fit And Fun In Rio De Janeiro? Four Best Hiking & Beach Combos

Malcolm
Writer & Blogger

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