Epic Running Routes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Aerial view of the Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro
Aerial view of the Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro | © Alexandre Rotenberg / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Sarah Brown
16 September 2020

There is no shortage of runners in Rio de Janeiro as residents make the most of the stunning surroundings to get out and run. Rio offers perhaps some of the most stimulating running routes in the world with oceanic backdrops and rainforest trails. Get inspired to run with these epic running routes in the Brazilian city.

Copacabana

Natural Feature
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Running next to the Copacabana beach can feel surreal and revitalize energy that you didn’t even know you had. Start at the bottom by Copacabana Fort and run along the half-moon curved cycle path all the way to the tip of Leme before going back to get a full 8.11 kilometers. The best time to run in Copacabana is at sunrise for stunning golden-pink skies, cooler weather and less crowds, or just as it turns dark when most runners take to the shoreline and run across the sand. Just try to resist the temptation to stop off for a pina colada along the way.

Flamengo Park

Park
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Start at the entrance of the park next to Praia de Botafogo (Botafogo beach) and run all the way through the park. You will have Guanabara bay to your right with Sugarloaf Mountain in the skyline, and you will be surrounded by green open space that is peppered with palm trees and a chorus of green parakeets chirping in the background. The whole run is approximately 4.93 kilometers.

Lagoa

Natural Feature
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Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas ( Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon ), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Runner carioca lifestyle Christ the Redeemer
Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas ( Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon ), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Runner carioca lifestyle Christ the Redeemer | © BrazilPhotos / Alamy Stock Photo

Start at any point in Lagoa and run the circumference of the lake following the cycle path until you arrive back at your starting point. The run is 7.38 kilometers of stunning natural beauty, including the gently rippling lake, a peaked skyline replete with forests and exotic creatures such as capybaras. There are also several snack bars and stalls dotted along the route to grab a freshly squeezed fruit juice or a chilled coconut.

Leblon – Ipanema

Shopping Mall
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The path along Leblon to Ipanema overlooks the ocean with the Two Brother Peaks at one end and Arpoador Rock at the other. With less high-rise buildings than Copacabana and more rocky peaks, this path is arguably more charming in nature terms. Running from one tip to the other and back again will clock up approximately eight kilometers. Run from the Ipanema end to Leblon just at the point of sunset to watch the sun descending in the horizon, a spectacle so beautiful that you’ll forget you’re running.

The half marathon route

Forest, Shopping Mall
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In Rio’s winter time, the city plays host to the annual marathon that includes a six kilometer race and a half marathon, as well as the full 42 kilometer stretch. The half marathon of 21 kilometers takes runners from São Conrado to Leblon, along Ipanema to Copacabana, past Botafogo before finishing in Flamengo park. While it is a challenge, the views during the course will certainly make the run more pleasurable. This route is accessible any time of year.

Praia de Botafogo – Urca

Bookstore, Store
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Start at the far end of Praia de Botafogo and follow the curve all the way around the beach. This part of the route is a bit more built up with frequently congested traffic to the one side, yet the views over the bay of Sugarloaf Mountain are beautiful and distracting enough to take your mind off any noise pollution. Soon enough you will enter Urca, a quiet neighborhood with a low skyline and village-like charm, before finishing at Praia Vermelha, a gorgeous cove that is also the base of Sugarloaf Mountain. The run is about seven kilometers.

Tijuca Forest

Forest, Park
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Beautiful Tijuca Forest Mountains in Rio de Janeiro
Beautiful Tijuca Forest Mountains in Rio de Janeiro | © Donatas Dabravolskas / Alamy Stock Photo
This 4.4 kilometer route takes you straight into the heart of the Tijuca forest but is a route for more experienced runners. The climb up is steep and a test of stamina and endurance. Start at the entrance of Rua Pacheco de Leão in Jardim Botanico and begin the climb up along Estrada da Vista Chinesa. The surrounding trees take off the heat a bit and provide a tranquil setting. The final destination is Vista Chinesa, an oriental styled gazebo that overlooks a stunning view of Lagoa, the forest and Rio’s beaches.

The Christ the Redeemer Route

Forest, Park
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This 16 kilometer route is one of the most challenging, not just for its distance but for a series of climbs and hard terrain, yet is worth the effort. The route begins at Alto da Boa Vista, where runners follow the Estrada Redentor, taking them along a road that winds through the dense forest. The last stretch follows the Estrada Corcovado, the road up to the Christ the Redeemer which is asphalt and steep, yet successful runners are rewarded with 360-degree panoramic views at the top.
These recommendations were updated on September 16, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.