Prior to visiting Rio de Janeiro, I was told by numerous people to visit the famous Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain).
“You must visit,” they said.
“It has the best views in Rio de Janeiro,” they said.
I must admit that while I did find the views from atop Pão de Açúcar to be stunning, I felt that they paled in comparison to those seen from the top of the lesser-traversed Morro Dois Irmãos mountain.
What is Dois Irmãos?
Dois Irmãos, meaning ‘Two Brothers’ is a set of mountains that are the famous backdrop of many pictures that people take when they visit the city.
Unfortunately, not as many people opt to visit these mountains as Pão de Açúcar because of its location above the Vidigal Favela. Most people opt to take a picture with the mountains in the background of their photographs at Leblon and Ipanema beaches.
Dois Irmãos vs. Pão de Açúcar
Dois Irmãos is a set of two mountains and the stunning views of Rio de Janeiro can be had from the taller of the two mountains overlooking Praia do Leblon (Leblon Beach).
When visiting Rio and deciding whether to visit Pão de Açúcar or Morro Dois Irmãos, there are several things to consider.
Making the case for Dois Irmãos
- THE VIEWS – In my opinion, the view of Rio de Janeiro is much better at Dois Irmãos than at Pão de Açúcar, you can clearly see all three of Rio’s most popular beaches: Ipanema, Leblon, and Copacabana in addition to the surrounding ocean
- THE COST – Visiting Dois Irmãos is FREE – there is no fee to get to the top while visiting Pão de Açúcar will set you back at least R$ 104 (as of 2019).
- LESS CROWDED – Many people visit Pão de Açúcar, you will not experience the same overcrowding
Making the case for Pão de Açúcar
- THE JOURNEY – Getting to the top of Pão de Açúcar is much easier than getting to the top of Dois Irmãos – you do not have to climb to the top (unless you want to), you can simply catch a cable car to the top of the mountain
- THE VIEWS – While Dois Irmãos boasts spectacular city and ocean views, at Pão de Açúcarm you have a head-on view of the beautiful Christ the Redeemer statue.
If you have a few days in Rio, it is definitely worth it to visit both places and compare for yourself, but if you have to choose just one, I would personally recommend going with Dois Irmãos.
Getting to Dois Irmãos & Tips
Getting to Dois Irmãos is quite easy.
First, you will need to go to Vidigal Favela. You can either take a taxi there or take a city bus to Avenida Niemeyer próximo ao 174-202. Alternatively, you can take a bus to Leblon beach and walk about 15 minutes west to the entrance of the favela.
Next, you need to make your way to the top of the Vidigal Favela. The easiest way to do this is to hop on the back of a motorbike-taxi or jump into a combi van [minibus], both of which can be found near the entrance of the favela. If you are feeling extremely adventurous and energetic, you could opt to walk to the top by walking through the streets; this way is much longer and much more tiring, however, it can be done.
Once you have reached the top of Vidgial, ask locals for Dois Irmãos, and they will point you in the right direction. There are currently two directions that they will point you in, one being through the soccer field, and the other being up a random wall behind a row of houses (although locals have been getting annoyed with people climbing that wall, so you most likely will be directed to the former).
Once you have either passed through the soccer field or climbed the wall you will come upon a trail, and that trail will lead you straight to the top of the higher mountain.
When climbing the mountain, you should wear a good pair of shoes with grip. If you opt to wear flip flops, sandals, or running sneakers your climb might be very difficult). Additionally, you should bring at least two bottles of water with you. The climb up is very steep in some parts and there is a great chance that you will do a little bit of sliding, so be prepared to get your clothes a little dirty. Another tip is to avoid climbing in the rain, as it will be very dangerous.
The entire hike from the top of Vidigal to the top of Dois Irmãos can take anywhere between 30 and one hour.
Once you ascend to the top of the highest mountain, the view will literally take your breath away. From the top, you have an amazing view of Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana, Lagoa, Christ the Redeemer (in the distance), the Atlantic Ocean, and Guanabara Bay. Pictures simply cannot do this view justice, it is something that must be seen in person.
Have you ever visited Rio de Janeiro before? Have you been to Dois Irmãos?