Within walking distance of famed social mecca Copacabana, you'll find yourself on the doorstep of the largest urban park in the world: Tijuca Forest. A replanted rainforest, Tijuca is home to a fantastic assortment of attractions, including caves, waterfalls, a 19th century chapel, and the incredible Corcovado Mountain (710 meters/2,329 feet), upon which is perched one of the great wonders of the modern world, Christ the Redeemer.Many will pass through the sweltering Tijuca rainforest to experience the paths nearest Corcovado and the more active and adventurous attempt the four hour trek to the top. Others will pay good money for Jeep tours that catch all of the park highlights, but it'll be much cheaper to get a cab through the gates to the tourist center, where you can set out on any number of hikes. There are a lot of paths worth taking through the monkey-swinging, waterfall-gurgling jungle, but we suggest working your way to the two best viewpoints (excluding Corcovado) in the park. Vista Chinesa may be best accessed via a tough 4 km bike ride or walk from the botanic gardens at the south of the park, but you may take a waterfall dip about halfway up to quite possibly the best view of zona sul in the city. It does get potentially dangerous here after nightfall, so don't stick around. The other viewpoint is from the 1022 meter (3353 foot) Pico da Tijuca, which is reached by a short and manageable trek from Bom Retiro within the park.
If you're looking for a greater challenge, the daunting Pedra da Gávea is your Moriarty (Sherlock fans, anyone?). Just under three hours to ascend, this steep climb even includes about 15 meters of legitimate rock climbing to reach the summit. If you're decently fit and can handle heights, you'll not need a tour guide to tackle this heart-stopping hike and subsequent view.