Christ the Redeemer, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, is a must-see if you come to Rio de Janeiro. However, when planning a visit tourists are often in doubt as the best way to access the famous statue. Check how to get there and how to make the most of your visit.
Christ the Redeemer: open arms over Guanabara Bay
In 1962, Tom Jobim, one of the most famous Brazilian composers, presented us with the song Samba do Avião (Airplane Samba, in free translation). The song became a true anthem of exaltation to the beauties of Rio de Janeiro. In particular, it’s a tribute to the gigantic statue of Christ the Redeemer.
It couldn’t be different: the astonishing sculpture, located at the peak of Corcovado Mountain (Morro do Corcovado), is the highest point in the city. Needless to say, the statue is also the most emblematic city postcard.
Elected in the year 2007 as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and visited by thousands of people every year, Christ the Redeemer is one of the tourist attractions of a lifetime.
Christ the Redeemer: facts and figures
Christ the Redeemer is the largest art deco statue in the world. It’s also the fifth tallest statue of Christ in the world. Its 30 meter (98ft) height, excluding the 8 meter (26ft) pedestal, speaks for itself. In addition, the statue weighs 635 tonnes.
Built with reinforced concrete and soapstone, the statue needed nine years to be completed and it was officially inaugurated in 1931.
All the six million stone tiles which cover the statue were produced in Sweden. An interesting article published by BBC implies that workers who made the tiles frequently wrote messages on their backs. So, we can imagine that Christ the Redeemer may keep the secrets of countless wishes, promises and messages.
How to visit the Christ the Redeemer?
There are only two ways of accessing the Christ the Redeemer base: the Corcovado cog train or the official vans of the Paineiras-Corcovado Consortium.
If you opt for the Corcovado cog train, firstly you will have to head to Corcovado Station. It’s located at Cosme Velho St., in Botafogo (a neighborhood in the South Rio de Janeiro).
Then, your access to the statue will be direct: Corcovado Station – Christ the Redeemer’s base.
If you opt for the official vans, you will have to add a stop to your itinerary, since they only leave from Paineiras Visitors Center, which is located at Estrada das Paineiras.
You have to keep in mind that each type of access to Corcovado Mountain will give you a different experience. Both of them are valid and interesting, though.
Cog train access to Corcovado Mountain
In my opinion, the access to Christ the Redeemer by train is by far the coolest of all. One of the advantages of choosing the cog train is the possibility of making the way to the top through the Corcovado Railroad, the oldest in Brazil.
Travelling on a cog train is a walk through our imperial past. Pure Brazilian History! It’s quite fascinating to notice that the railroad, which was inaugurated in 1884 by emperor D. Pedro II, still serves as access to the base of Christ the Redeemer in the 21st century. But, don’t worry: the system has been updated since those days. Hahaha…
It’s also pretty interesting to learn that for many years, all the pieces used to build the statue were also transported uphill using the same railroad. So, it’s a unique experience!
Not to mention the Atlantic Forest scenery that can be seen during the 20-minute journey, as the statue is located 710 meters above sea level, right at the top of Corcovado Mountain.
I have to tell you, however, that many tourists see a disadvantage in accessing Christ the Redeemer by cog train, because the station is not located in a touristic area.
But it is pretty easy to reach Corcovado Train Station by public transportation and the region is quite safe during busy hours. In addition, the closest bus stop is just across the street.
Access to Corcovado Mountain by official vans
Paineiras-Corcovado Consortium vans are the only ones allowed to go to the top from the Visitors Center at Estrada das Paineiras.
If you prefer going to Paineiras Visitors Center on your own, you can choose among a guided tour, a taxi, Uber transportation, complementary vans or even on foot.
However, it’s important to mention that from this point onwards, you will inevitably have to take one of the official vans, since once there, only the official vans will be allowed to complete the trip.
One thing is certain: resist the temptation to go with your (rented) car, as there is no parking for visitors and leaving the car somewhere else along the road and completing the journey on foot is not the wisest/safest option. Trust me: this road can be quite dangerous, especially for those not familiarized with the different city routes.
Paineiras-Corcovado Consortium provides three departure points for Paineiras Visitors Center: Largo do Machado, near the entrance of the homonymous subway station, Lido Square in Copacabana and Shopping Città America, in Barra da Tijuca.
Corcovado Guided Tour
I took part in two guided tours to Corcovado, both offered by Rio Line, a tourist company based in Copacabana.
The first one was a four-hour tour, leaving from Atlântica Avenue and passing by some of Rio de Janeiro’s tourist attractions.
For this excursion, the trip to Paineiras Visitors Center was carried out by a Rio Line van and from there onwards we completed the journey aboard of one of the official vans.
The second visit was during a full-day tour, which also included a visit to the Sugar Loaf and to Maracanã Stadium.
During this trip, the access to Christ the Redeemer was done through the Corcovado cog train.
The obvious advantage of this kind of tour is the possibility of visiting several attractions in a single day, without any concerns whatsoever. The disadvantage can be the length of the tour (average 8-10 hours, including pick-up/drop-off at your hotel).
Honestly, I found the full-day tour was an excellent option for those who want to check all the major attractions of Rio de Janeiro in just one go. It will certainly save you a lot of time!
Christ the Redeemer Trail
Finally, it’s possible to access Christ the Redeemer by one and a half-hour walk through the Tijuca National Forest. Along the way, there are several lookouts to enjoy the city landscape.
Some local companies offer guided tours with daily departures. Unfortunately, I can’t share any experiences as I’ve never tried this particular type of tour. However, it seems to be a great option for those who like to enjoy nature and are into something more challenging. If it’s your case, I would recommend and early morning tour before it gets too hot.
Practical tips for visiting Christ the Redeemer
The word of order to make the most of your visit to Christ the Redeemer is good planning. It is true that, quite often, tourists don’t have much flexibility regarding the day or time of their visits. However, some attention to detail can certainly contribute to ensure a pleasant visit.
Check out the weather forecast
Christ the Redeemer stands at the highest point of the city. Therefore, on cloudy days, it may be overcast. And if you consider that the platform is a great lookout for Rio de Janeiro, the view of the city will be compromised.
If you buy your tickets in advance, they can’t be rescheduled. So, you will have no guarantees for the visibility from the top at the time of your visit.
On the other hand, if you decide to buy your tickets right at the moment to visit the statue, there are cameras which provide real-time images from the top. Moreover, you can also find real-time images on the official website. Finally, the employees often warn when visibility is too poor.
Finally, with the current technology of apps for weather forecast, the risk of a frustrated visit is greatly reduced.
Wear light and comfortable clothes
Rio de Janeiro has high temperatures almost all year long. It is not uncommon for the thermometers to reach 30oC (86oF) even in winter days. In the summer months, the temperatures can easily be over 40oC (104oF). So when you visit Christ the Redeemer or other outdoor attractions, be sure to wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Cap, sunglasses and sunscreen are also essential items.
Buy your ticket in advance
It is important to keep in mind that Christ the Redeemer is one of the main tourist attractions in Brazil. The daily number of visitors goes over five thousand in the high season.
If you are the type of person who likes to tick off the biggies, it’s better to buy your ticket to Christ the Redeemer in advance. Buying online guarantees that you won’t miss it! Plus, you will be certain of the day and specific time of your visit.
You can take your chances as it’s also possible to buy the ticket for the same or subsequent days, directly at Corcovado Train Station or at Paineiras Visitors Center.
Early tickets for Corcovado cog train can be purchased directly from the attraction’s official website. In the same way that it’s possible to guarantee online tickets for the official vans. In this case, you can also select the place of departure.
Tickets to visit Christ the Redeemer can also be purchased throughout Turista FullTime partners: Ticketbar and GetYourGuide. If you buy through one of the partners’ links, you will also be assisting the maintenance of the blog as it currently doesn’t have any sponsors. Purchasing with the partners is also a guarantee that you can always count on the tips of your blogger friend … ME 😊!
Arrive on time
When you buy your ticket for the Corcovado cog train online, you must arrive 30 minutes earlier your scheduled time to pick it up at the station ticket office.
Once you are there, reach for one of the two ticket booths that work exclusively for the pick-up of tickets. You don’t need to print the voucher you if don’t have the means. A simple screenshot on your cell phone will be enough for the attendant to find the data of your purchase.
However, you must have a document with photo for identification and you have to present the credit card that was used for the online purchase.
Queues for the cog trains are arranged 15 minutes before the scheduled time on your ticket and the trains leave on time. That’s why you need to arrive with plenty of time to organize everything and be up in line soon. It’s a ‘first come, first served’ basis for the best seats!
Golden tip: pick a backward seat for the best view of the city as the cog train goes up and down the hill.
Keep your ticket until the end of the visit
As there are several ways of accessing Christ the Redeemer, you must keep your ticket until the end of your visit. It will be used in the turnstiles, both in and out the base of the statue. Also, you will need the same ticket to go back with the same type of transport you used to get to the statue.
It’s not possible, for instance, to get to the statue by van and come back by train or vice versa. After the visit is finished, you will return to Paineiras Visitors Center. You can enjoy the place as long as you want. There is no limit of time to stay at the lookout. You can visit Christ the Redeemer at your own pace, unless you are taking part in a guided tour.
Christ the Redeemer: Accessibility and Infrastructure
The platform where the statue is located has a good infrastructure. As you go through the control of the tickets, you can choose between the two ways of accessing the statue: the lifts or the stairs (with 220 steps).
If you don’t have any physical impediment and you have enough time, climbing up or down the stairs is very interesting as it is another way of enjoying the landscape. Besides, there is always a queue to pick up the elevators – though you usually won’t have to wait too long.
Although there are lifts, I found the accessibility a bit flawed; since in the last stretch of access, there are only escalators.
During one of my visits, I saw a gentleman being carried down (with his wheelchair and everything) back to the first access. Despite the goodwill of the employee, and the help of his companion, I found the maneuver very risky.
For such a major tourist attraction, and for its international recognition, the access to the statue should be 100% risk-free, which clearly was not the case. Things may have been improved a little since then, but that was the experience I witnessed on that day.
The platform has also a small snack bar, a souvenir shop and restrooms. Furthermore, there is a terrace to enjoy the scenery while having a quick snack.
And last but not least, there is a small chapel at the base of Christ the Redeemer. The Our Lady of Apparition Chapel was inaugurated on Oct. 12th 2006 in order to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the statue.
The chapel is not always accessible. In fact, it is often closed. However, it’s possible to see its interior through a metal grid. If you want to live a religious experience during your visit, a mass is held every day at 11:00a.m.
Cost of the visit
Prices vary according to the type of transport, the time of year and the age of the visitor. It’s always a good idea to check the official websites for up-to-date information.
The access by the Corcovado cog train is the most expensive. Nevertheless, it’s the access that provides the best infrastructure and experience. The prices for official vans vary according to the meeting points. You can choose among Largo do Machado, Copacabana and Barra da Tijuca. And, finally, the access from the Paineiras Visitors Center is the cheapest of all. However, the trip up/from there will be on your own.
During the low season, there are the discounts for the tickets. In order organize your visit for the low season it is always good to check the attraction calendar. Of course, during the school holidays and school vacations, the full rate applies.
There is no cost reduction for students. Children up to 4 years of age are entitled to gratuity. Elderly (Brazilian or international residents) and children from 5 years old pay a reduced rate, as long as they present an official document with photo.
Rio de Janeiro and its many leisure options
And if you liked this post and want to know more about tourism in Rio de Janeiro, be assured that there are many other activities to enjoy in the Marvelous City. I have much more to tell you about this beautiful place, which I call home.