Rio de Janeiro: Christ the Redeemer
Visiting Cristo Redentor in Rio
Our first morning in Rio was a sunrise out of a fairytale. We had arrived the evening prior and the sun had set so early that we didn’t get a real chance to admire Rio’s famously stunning skyline. From our room we could see Copacabana beach across the street and hear the sound of people walking down the promenade, but didn’t have the sweeping view that we would get with the sunlight.
I woke up at the Windsor Miramar at around 6:30AM on our first morning, opened our blackout curtains, and saw this:
Bom dia, indeed, Rio! Truth be told, this ended up being the best sunrise we had all week but it was the most amazing welcome to Brazil’s famously picturesque city. The rest of the day brought haziness and the while the sun tried to break through, it couldn’t quite get there.
Our first order of business in Rio? Christ the Redeemer.
Scott’s parents would be meeting us later that day and they’d both been to Rio de Janeiro previously (in fact, they were the ones that got us turned on to it after their clear admiration for the city’s beauty). They wanted to join us at Sugarloaf but Christ the Redeemer was something they were happy to pass on as they’d seen it before. That being the case, we made that our first stop during the trip to get it in before their arrival. We’d purchased our tickets in advance online (about two weeks in advance) and printed out our documentation with bar code that was our proof of purchase. Bellies full from our hotel’s world-class buffet breakfast, we hopped into a cab and made our way to the tram’s take off point at Rua Cosme Velho (the cab was about R$25). For those looking for a more budget-friendly option, there seemed to be public transport available to reach the tram if the cost of a cab is out of the question. If you’re cabbing to Rua Cosme Velho, have the staff at your hotel tell the taxi driver your final destination if you don’t speak Portuguese. One thing that quickly became noticeable to us was that English wasn’t commonly spoken and Spanish didn’t work as a substitute (we tried, much to our embarrassment). Having hotel staff give your cab a quick directional note before you leave will be hugely helpful!
We purchased tickets for the 9AM tram which was the earliest time available online. When we arrived about thirty minutes prior to takeoff the line was already dozens of people deep. We ended up jumping on a tram at around 8:30AM, marking the earliest entry time. I’m not 100% sure on this but I noticed that there weren’t any 8:30AM tickets available online yet there was clearly a tram ready to depart at 8:30AM. If you want the earliest possible time and have purchased a 9AM ticket in advance, be sure to arrive around 8:15AM so you can get through and really be the first people up there. It makes a difference if you want to check out this World Wonder without a sea of people around you!
I will say that the online booking process was relatively painless and was helpful in the sense that it required us to choose a day and time in advance and add that to our schedule. The morning of, we got to the tram entrance with our documents/receipts in hand and were easily given real tickets and moved through. No questions or hassles.
The tram took between 20 and 25 minutes to make it to its terminal point at Cristo Redentor. We exited along with 100+ other people and headed straight up the steps to try to glimpse the statue and take in the view before everyone else began congregating. There are a number of stairs that you’ll climb to get to the top but there’s also an elevator to zip anyone up a fair bit closer if you’re up there early enough. There wasn’t anyone in line for the elevator when we arrived since we were first to the site, but I imagine that this situation changes dramatically as the morning progresses. You’ll enter facing the back of Christ the Redeemer and need to be relatively quick if you want a picture in front of him without a thousand people pushing you around. Everyone’s dying for their arms-wide-open Christ the Redeemer replica shot! Don’t be afraid to ask someone to snap a pic for you – you can always return the favor.
One of the best parts of being up there? This view.
Even on a hazy day we sensed the beauty of this landscape; rugged and green with a metropolis that seemed to have burst out of it. In some ways, this was more of a highlight than Christ the Redeemer itself (sacrilegious, I know).
Thoughts and Takeaways for Christ the Redeemer
Firstly, let’s talk about Christ the Redeemer itself. If you’ve visited before you may absolutely have a different view on this and that’s totally fine! I do not understand how Christ the Redeemer is a World Wonder.
There. I said it.
Seriously, how? I mean, it’s cool, yeah. So is the Statue of Liberty (which is actually bigger than this). Having seen Machu Picchu in 2013 and Petra in 2014, this was not even in the same realm of wow-factor at all. Iguassu Falls was far cooler and more amazing to me. Honestly, the views of Rio de Janeiro were more spectacular, as was the Sugarloaf experience. Add to that the fact that the viewing platform at Christ the Redeemer is just slammed with hordes of people? It didn’t really feel ‘special’. That being said, it’s a must for any traveler to the area, but I would say that expectation management is key.
If you’re planning a visit, go first thing in the morning. This was advice given to us, and it’s advice that I would give to others visiting the World Wonder. Book tickets for the earliest available time, arrive early, and be the first group up there. Even during our low season visit, it was clear that crowds quickly descend upon the site after opening so definitely do yourself a favor and go before you’re elbowing people out of the way for your shot.
Found out more about the Trem do Corcovado here, including pricing plus the purchasing portal.
Have you been to Christ the Redeemer? What did you think? Highlight or anticlimactic?