Rio de Janeiro is famous the world over for the dramatic beauty of its natural landscape – the city winds its way around jagged mountains, dense Atlantic rainforest, crashing waves and a seemingly-endless curve of white sand beach. Mother nature has truly pulled out all the stops here, and she gives it one last dash of tropical panache with the city’s sunsets. When the sun dips over the horizon on a clear day it paints the sky pink and orange and bathes the waters in fiery gold, making for a dazzling display.
There are several key points in the city that allow visitors to catch the sunset display at its magnificent best – just add a caipirinha cocktail to get the senses truly tingling. Here are some of the best spots to catch Rio sunsets at their dazzling best.
Sugar Loaf mountain
Rising some 400 meters out of the Atlantic ocean, Pao de Acucar, or Sugar Loaf, offers stunning sunset views from its peak. Visitors make the dizzying ascent by cable car, which stops first at the smaller Morro da Urca, allowing for a photo-snapping and breath-catching before heading to the top of Sugar Loaf itself. Steady yourself with a caipirinha from one of the mountain-top bars, take in sweeping vistas over Guanabara Bay, Corcovado Mountain and the Christ Statue, and watch as nocturnal city twinkles into life below you.
Proof, if any were needed, that many of the finest things in Rio come for free. The point at which Ipanema and Copacabana beaches meet – known as Arpoador – sees a giant rock jut right out into the ocean, allowing for stunning views in all directions as the sun dips over the water’s edge. This is a favorite spot for romantic locals to appreciate the sunset with a date.
Pedra da Gavea (Gavea Rock)
Visitors energetic enough to tackle an uphill hike along rough jungle trails are rewarded with jaw-dropping views over this most staggeringly beautiful of cities. The mountains, bays and beaches spread out below this lofty vantage point, and when the sun begins to drop, it makes for an awesome spectacle.
Praia do Pontal (Pontal Beach)
While Ipanema and Copacabana are without doubt the most famous beaches in Rio, some f the most beautiful spots can be found well away from the tourist trail. A case in point is Praia do Pontal – a gloriously isolated beach to the west of Barra da Tijuca which feels a world away from the vendors and tourists packing the sands at Copacabana. Book a private tour out here for an alternative beach-hopping day that also takes in nearby Prainha and Grumari, before catching the sunset at Praia do Pontal.
Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas
Rio’s vast, mountain-flanked city lake is a wonderfully romantic place to catch the sunset. Set to host rowing events during the Rio2016 Olympics, Lagoa, as it is commonly known, is ringed by a 7.5 kilometer walking/running/cycling trail, although romantic types may prefer just to stop at one of the many bars and restaurants here to sip a drink as the sun drops behind the mountain and sets the water aglow. As a local, my tip is to admire the sunset from the spot known as Curva do Colombo, which offers great views.
Fabio Mendonça is a Founder of Rio Cultural Secrets.