Next time you see a picture of Rio’s famous Christ the Redeemer Statue, look at the background and notice the massive, freestanding rocks protruding from the Atlantic Ocean. These two mountains, 722-foot Morro da Urca and 1,299-foot Pão de Açúcar, are together commonly referred to as “Sugarloaf Mountain,” and they offer one of the best cable-car trips in the world.
At this location the original cable car line was built in 1912. Thankfully for passengers today, the cableway was rebuilt in 2008. In the Portuguese language of Brazil, a cable car is a “bondinho,” or more formally called a “teleférico.” Each bondinho at Sugarloaf Mountain holds up to 65 passengers, is nearly all glass at eye level for viewing, and departs for the summit or descent every 20 minutes.
To reach the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain, two separate bondinho trips each way are required. From sea level, you board the first bondinho from the ground station at the base of the Babilônia Hill and head to the top of Morro da Urca. The 360-degree views from the cable car along this first ride are already spectacular, so the anticipation builds as you rise, knowing there is still more height to gain and more expansive views to be seen. On the second bondinho ride from Morro da Urca to Pão de Açúcar, many of Rio’s most famous attractions come into view: the Christ the Redeemer Statue, Copacabana, Ipanema, the Urca Peninsula and even the iconic Niemeyer Museum in Niteroi.
This exceptional destination is all accessible for around $20 for adults and $8 for those under 21 years old. At the top of both mountains you will find souvenir shops, snack bars, bird watching, and the occasional monkey running wild. Tickets can be purchased on site or in advance at: http://www.bondinho.com.br/