With two million visitors per year, Christ The Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro is one of the most popular tourist attractions in South America. Consider this your beginner's guide to visiting the famous statue.
Erected in 1931, Cristo Redentor (aka Christ the Redeemer) stands 125 feet tall on top of a 2,300-foot mountain in mesmerizing Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The statue is widely regarded as one of the new seven wonders of the world and probably the best perch to take in one of the most stunning cities on earth.
After the widespread hedonism of the Roaring Twenties, local officials felt the country needed a new symbol to strengthen its faith. With the help of Polish-French sculptor Paul Landowski, they erected this Art Deco masterpiece on top of the forested mountain of Corcovado. Although only half the height of The Statue of Liberty, Cristo Redentor overlooks the stunning Rio Bay with outstretched arms and absolutely soars.
Cristo Redentor is open to all guests. As of May 2022, fully vaccinated travelers can enter Brazil without a negative COVID test, but unvaccinated visitors age 13 and older must have a valid exemption listed here and show proof of a negative COVID test within 24 hours of arrival. Children 12 and under traveling with an adult may enter with proof of negative test within 24 hours of arrival. Here’s what you need to know before visiting this iconic statue.
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How to Get There
Arrive at Rio/Galeão International Airport (GIG) and hail an Uber for 30 minutes to the ticket office (Bilheteria Corcovado) at the base of the mountain. From there you can take a 20-minute train ride or walk a 2-3 hour hike up to the base of the statue. Alternatively, you can take an official van from one of several locations around the city, such as Copacabana beach, which ends up being cheaper and faster than both the train and hike (but probably not as scenic). Upon arrival at the base, you have to climb several flights of stairs before the statue finally appears.
How to Buy Tickets
If taking the train, it’s highly recommended you book in advance to avoid wait times that can last hours. Train tickets cost around $90 per person, which is noticeably more expensive than it was just 10 years ago, but genuinely still worth it. One-way vans cannot be purchased online and must be paid at whichever location you originated from for around $20 per person. Hiking to the summit will also cost you around $30 per person.
INSIDER TIPAlthough visiting Christ the Redeemer is a very safe activity, some have reported being robbed during the 2-3 hour hike as petty criminals are known to loiter there. The vast majority have reported positive hiking experiences, however. But like many parts of Rio at night, you should exercise extra caution.
How to Avoid the Crowds
Since its designation as one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” in 2007, traffic has steadily increased to over two million visitors per year. During the peak summer season, the statue and its medium-sized pedestal welcome 3,000-4,000 visitors per day. In the low season, daily numbers drop to 2,000. Weekends, however, are always crowded. Although there are noticeable crowds, Cristo Redentor isn’t as bad as The Roman Colosseum, The Taj Mahal, or Machu Picchu.
To avoid crowds, visit shortly after the statue opens at 8:00 a.m. or in the late afternoon when congestion begins to clear after 3:30 p.m. until closing at 7:00 p.m. For the lightest crowds, early morning is your best bet, but for better photographic lighting, late afternoon wins hands down. Since peak season is in the summer months of December, January, and February, you will enjoy lower prices and shorter queues the rest of the year, especially in September and October. Wherever you go, this is easily an activity that can be done independently without a guided tour.
How Best to Experience the Statue
Stand beneath the impressive, if not reverent, statue of Christ. Marvel at his gaze, open arms, and undeniable Brazilian styling. Then take in the 360-degree view of arguably the most surreal harbor on planet Earth. Off in the distance, you can see Sugarloaf Mountain, Maracana Stadium, the downtown district, and Copacabana beach, among others.
Although hollow, the interior is only accessible to engineers and maintenance workers. Visitors are welcome to enter the small chapel built into the base of the statue that first opened in 2006. The tiny chapel looks more like a converted living room, however, than a formal house of worship. In other words, this is a wholly outdoor experience, save for the restaurants and restrooms.
With the exception of hiking, it will take you roughly an hour to get from the airport or downtown hotel to the top of Cristo Redentor. From there you can enjoy the views for another hour or two, plus an hour for the return. So budget at least a half-day for your visit; maybe more if you plan to enjoy the cafe and take a lot of photos.
Where to Get the Best Photos
You’ll probably get much better views of the surrounding city than of the statue itself, but there are several photo opportunities worth shooting. There’s not a singular, postcard shot, however. Again, if you go during mid-afternoon, the sun will be right behind Christ, making it difficult to get a clear or well-exposed shot of him from his feet. You’ll also combat a lot of crowds at this time, so go for late afternoon, and you’re sure to capture several spell-binding shots.
Bathrooms and Accessibility
There are restrooms at both the base and summit restaurants. Services at the top are basic but there is a decent cafe with clean toilets. What’s more, long wait times are rare, so you won’t need to plan your potty breaks in advance. If you gotta go, doing so is easy.
In terms of accessibility, since 2003, Cristo Redentor has been partially wheelchair accessible. The base level, trains, and vans are fully accessible. To get to the upper level, you must take a panoramic elevator. To get to the foot of the statue, however, you must take an escalator that is only accessible to manual wheelchairs (no electrics). Staff are willing to help, but it would be risky, if not impossible, to go it alone. Bathrooms at the base of the mountain are fully accessible, but those at the summit require 17 steps to get to the handrail bathroom.
Where to Grab a Bite Nearby
There are two restaurants: one at the base of the mountain and one at the summit called Restaurante Corcovado. The latter sells better than average food with spectacular views and equally high prices. Lines can be long, so many people recommend packing some snacks and bottled water to enjoy the statue and views from wherever you find an opening.
Additional Travel Tips
Take the aerial tramway up to Sugarloaf Mountain for a whole new perspective of righteous Rio. Visit Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, both of which are world-class in their own right. Head to the botanical gardens and buy pasteis and coxinhas from street vendors in between a healthy portion of traditional beans and rice. And although in no way nearby, consider fanning out to some of Brazil’s other greatest hits, namely Iguazu Falls, The Amazon, and Brasilia.
For a recommended hotel, the Belmond Copacabana Palace is a top-rated option located in the middle of the namesake beach with average nightly rates of around $500. For a better value on the same beach with similar amenities, consider the Miramar Hotel by Windsor for around $180 per night. If you’re on a tight budget, check out the Ramada Encore by Wyndham in a swanky part of town for less than $55 per night.