Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain)

The western hemisphere’s most famous monolith rises almost sheer from the dark sea to just under 400m, towering over Botafogo beach and separating Guanabara Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. The views from the top to surrounding beaches, over Copacabana, Ipanema and the mountains and forests of Corcovado and Tijuca, are unforgettable. The cable car runs to the top where there are extensive paths, plentiful shade and snack bars. Come early for the clearest air, best views and smallest crowds. You’ll see plenty of wildlife at dawn, especially marmosets and tanagers, along with a few intrepid climbers scaling the granite. The best months for climbing are Apr-Aug. A choice of footpaths leads to the top, including Praia Vermelha, the beach to the south of the rock, and the paved walking track, Pista Cláudio Coutinho. Cable car: Every 30 mins, daily 8am-7.50pm. R$62 return, under 6s free, child 6-12 R$31.