Fodor's Expert Review Pão de Açúcar
The indigenous Tupi people originally called the soaring 396-meter (1,300-foot) granite block at the mouth of Baía de Guanabara pau-nh-acugua (high, pointed peak). To the Portuguese the phrase seemed similar to pão de açúcar, itself fitting because the rock's shape reminded them of the conical loaves in which refined sugar was sold. Italian-made bubble cars holding 75 passengers each move up the mountain in two stages. The first stop is at Morro da Urca, a smaller, 212-meter (705-foot) mountain; the second is at the summit of Pão de Açúcar itself. The trip to each level takes three minutes. In high season long lines form for the cable car; the rest of the year the wait is seldom more than 30 minutes. Consider visiting Pão de Açúcar before climbing the considerably higher Corcovado---as breathaking as the view is, it may seem anticlimactic if experienced second.