Glide along the city of Rio de Janeiro aboard one of the cable cars from Sugar Loaf Mountain. Pao de Acucar (or Sugar Loaf Mountain) is one of the popular attractions to be found in Rio de Janiero. Through the years, it has served as an important landmark, guiding the first Portuguese safely into Guanabara Bay. Even now, it beckons, inviting visitors to climb the top and enjoy the exhilarating mountain air, as well as the spectacular vistas of surrounding mountains and the cityscapes below.

With a height of 396 meters above sea level, it affords some of the most gorgeous views of Rio de Janeiro. It is actually composed of quartz and granite. Sugar Loaf Mountain rises straight from the edge of the water.

It has since been visited by millions of tourists who were attracted to its unique shape. The mountain's shape reminds one of a sugar loaf. In Brazil, during the height of the sugar industry, sugar was packed into loaves shaped like bread. Hence, the name. However, some believe that the name is actually from the Tupi-Guarani words for 'high hill' (Pau-nh-acuqua).

The best way to go to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain is via the cable cars. These leave every 30 minutes and can carry as much as 75 passengers. When going up to Sugar Loaf Mountain, the glass-paneled cable cars actually have two stages, all totaling 1,400 meters. The car first brings you to Urca Hill, up 215 meters where you can see gorgeous views of Niteror Bridge, Corcovado Mountain and Guanabara Bay. You can also buy your souvenirs and snacks at this stop, while you are waiting for the next ride to the top. The second cable car will bring you up to the top, which is another 395 meters. The Cable Cars first offered their services in 1912, so you also get to experience history. Engineer Augusto Ferreira Ramos was instrumental for the introduction of this important tourist amenity.

The best time for you to make your way up to the top is during the late afternoon, so that you can catch the stunning sunset. It is undoubtedly unforgettable.

For the adventurous, there is another option in getting to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain. For those who want to reach the peak on foot, there are hiking trails that can prove to be a challenge to the avid climber. Along with nearby mountains – Urca and Babilonia, there are over 250 routes you can choose from. As for Sugar Loaf Mountain, you can hike up Stop Chimney (which is an easy climb with 7 pitches) and Ibis (which usually is a two-day climb where climbers can sleep on the ledges after the first day's climb). Aside from this, you can climb through Lagartao (which features a combination of traditional and bolted climbing) and Italianos (which is a well-protected face climb).

A word to the wise: Be sure to buy your ticket for the cable car on the way down. This provides you with an option of riding on your way down. This is important to take note of since you cannot buy tickets when you are at the top.