24 Hours in Rio de Janeiro: Corcovado and Christ the Redeemer

One can’t visit the country of Brazil without going to see the enormous statue of Jesus on top of Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro. It’s like going to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower or to Giza without seeing the Pyramids.

Perched at the top of one of the tallest peaks in Rio, Christ the Redeemer spreads his massive arms and welcomes the sinful populus into his bosom. It’s an awe inspiring site, and even better up close.

There are several ways to reach Corcovado from the beach towns of Rio de Janeiro. The fastest way is to hail a cab from the street and make your way directly to the base of the mountain — it’s a 20 minute ride that should cost about $10. The more adventurous (or frugal) can take one of several buses. Anything that says “Corcovado” on the windshield will get you there, but it’s fastest to take bus 170 from the city. That bus will drive you clockwise around the inland lake at the heart of Rio and then through Corcovado mountain, after which you can get off when you see the tram (or when the other tourists disembark.) Taking the bus will cost about $1.25 and should take 45 minutes or so.
Once you make it to the foot of the mountain, a $20 tram will take you close to the summit. Departing every 30 minutes, it’s a twenty minute ride up a steep slope to the summit station, the last 10% of which offers some outstanding views. Make sure to sit on the right side of the tram on the way up for the best photos.

It’s another brief elevator ride to the base of the statue once you exit the train, the climax of which is a commanding view of the back of Christ the Redeemer. Much of the surrounding area has been developed for tourists, and those in that frame of mind can grab a meal, wooden replica or trinket here. Most, however, make the quick walk around the perimeter of the statue toward the viewing platform, where one can find both an excellent view of Rio de Janeiro and of the massive, stone statue.

From the summit, visitors can take either a car or the train back to the foot of the mountain, after which another bus or cab can be taken back to the coast. Try to schedule at least 3.5 – 4 hours for the entire affair from front door to front door.