Prior to the 19th century, Rio de Janeiro was surrounded by Atlantic rain forest. Today, all that remains is the 13-square-mile (33-square-kilometer) jungle known as Tijuca National Park. Studded with tropical trees knotted together by jungle vines, the world’s largest urban forest is home to ocelots, howler monkeys, more than 300 bird species, waterfalls, and one of Rio’s iconic landmarks, the Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) statue standing atop Corcovado Mountain.
Popular among hikers and nature lovers, this UNESCO World Heritage Site welcomes 3 million visitors each year. While many make a beeline for Corcovado, the park’s offerings extend well beyond the famous Christ the Redeemer statue. Options include hiking up Pico da Tijuca (Rio’s second-highest peak), exploring the forest by bike or Jeep tour, hang gliding from Pedra Bonita, rock climbing, and walking the well-marked trails to the caves and waterfalls that dot the Tijuca rain forest. Choose a guided small-group driving or hiking tour to fully experience the park.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The national park is a must-visit for adventure travelers and nature lovers in Rio de Janeiro.
- The park is free to enter, but Christ the Redeemer requires an admission ticket.
- Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for walking on uneven surfaces.
- Remember to bring water and insect repellant, especially if you plan to hike.
How to Get to Tijuca National Park
With no public transportation within the park, one of the most convenient ways to experience it is on a guided tour that includes hotel pickup and drop-off. Those who prefer to visit independently can arrive by car or catch a bus or taxi to the park entrance.
When to Get There
Tijuca National Park is open daily, with extended hours in summer. Hiking conditions are best during the summer dry season (November to February). June, July, and October experience the most rain, which can make hiking a challenge without proper gear.
What to See at Tijuca National Park
Taunay Waterfall is one of the park’s most popular sights, and just beyond it sits Mayrink Chapel with painted panels by Brazilian artist Candido Portinari. Dona Marta affords some of the best views on the way up Corcovado Mountain, while the Vista Chinesa (Chinese View) viewpoint honors the 19th-century Chinese immigrants who arrived to start tea plantations.