Great Runs in Rio De Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is one of the most visited cities in the Southern Hemisphere. The “marvelous city” (cidade maravilhosa) is home to beautiful beaches such as Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon, the Christ The Redeemer statue atop Corcovado Mountain, and Sugarloaf Mountain. Other travelers find themselves in Rio for major events including the 2014 World Cup, 2016 Olympics (both at the Maracanã Stadium), and the annual Carnaval celebration.
The spectacular geography and warm climate make Rio one of the world’s unique running cities. Running highlights include various beach runs, a lagoon loop run with views of the Christ The Redeemer statue, and a route through the quaint neighborhood of Urca and a run up the cobblestone hills of Santa Teresa.
We have also provided a guide to the major Olympics venues. A spectacular new 2.5 mile elevated bike path, the Tim Maia Ciclovia, has been built connecting alongside the coastal expressway between two of the main Olympic centers: the south zone in Lebron, which will stage the rowing and triathlon, and the main Olympic Park in Barra de Tijuca. Unfortunately, a huge wave tore down a section of the path in April 2016. Hopes are it will be repaired in time for the Olympics.
Note: Crime is unfortunately a major issue in Rio. We recommend seeking advice and talking to your hotel in order to learn the right precautions and areas to avoid. Leave the valuables at your hotels and take a partner with you.
In Rio de Janeiro, buses are the main form of public transportation. Nearly 440 municipal bus lines run frequently and serve over four million passengers every day. The system is relatively safe by day but less so at night. Additionally, there are two Metro lines in Rio. The two lines serve the city seven days a week. The first line runs from General Osório in Ipanema to Uruguai Station in Tijuca. The second line runs from Botafogo, sharing ten stations with the first line, terminating at Pavuna in northern Rio. The Metro runs services from 05:00 am to 12:00 midnight, Monday to Saturday, and from 07:00 am to 11:00 pm Sundays and public holidays. Map of Public Transport
Rio’s climate is warm to hot and humid. Temperatures don’t vary much throughout the year. Winter high temps average around 80F (26C) and summer closed to 90F. Nights stay warm and humid, with temps rarely dropping below 60F. There can be periods of heavy rain, especially from December to March. Due to Rio’s location near the equator, day length is relatively consistent throughout the year. Be careful of the heat and humidity, especially at the height of the day.
- Architecture Loop
4.5 mile loop Start: The Municipal Theatre MAP
This varied and hilly art and architecture tour includes some of Rio’s most interesting sites and neighborhoods. If you have never seen the sites of Rio, this is the run for you!
Begin at the Municipal Theatre and continue to tour around the Museum of Fine Art and the National Library (all architectural must-sees). Take a right onto R. Santa Luzia and head to the Escadaria Selarón. Escadaria Selarón, also known as the ‘Selaron Steps’, is a set of world-famous mosaic steps by Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón. Next, climb your way through the Santa Teresa neighborhood. Perched on a hill overlooking the city’s harbor, the Santa Teresa neighborhood invites visitors to step back in time and experience the faded elegance of Rio’s 19th-century plantation mansions and cobblestone streets. Wander back down the hill on R. Monte Alegre, until you reach R. Frei Caneca. Take a right. Head to the Carioca Aqueduct to view the Arcos da Lapa, or Lapa Arches (shown above). Next, follow the path around the distinctive Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro (Metropolian Cathedral). It is highly recommended that you take a break and step inside to witness the otherworldly beauty of the Cathedral. Finally, use Av. República do Chile to loop around to the start.
Rio is unique among world cities in the opportunities for spectacular beach running. It is possible to run some 20 miles along beach side promenades from Flamengo Beach to Barra, with a few road connections. We’ve broken our Rio beach runs into four distinct running opportunities: Flamengo, Copacabana to Leme, Ipanema to Leblon, and Barra. Most of the running is on dedicated boardwalks and multi-use paths. It’s also possible to run on the beach, depending on tides, crowds, and surface conditions. If running on the beach, take extra precaution.
Flamengo 4.7 mile Route. Start: Museum of Modern Art MAP
The Flamengo beach and park stretching along its length is one of the great urban beach runs. Start in Zona Norte at the Museum of Modern Art. Pass the Memorial of World War II with the tomb of the lost soldier then you will reach Marina da Glória. Follow the marked path around the cove of the Bay and between the trees. Once you reach the Monument to Estacio de Sa, you should turn around. In order to vary your return route, take a right (towards the sea) to the Calçadão da Praia do Flamengo.
Flamengo beach is near the Rio airport and there are many hotel options in the area.
- Copacabana to Leme 2.5 miles one-way MAP
From Leme to the Fort of Copacabana, there’s perfect running along a beachfront path. Enjoy the ocean views on one side and the observe the comings and goings of various international hotels along the other. The route can be joined at any point depending on where you are staying. There is a dedicated, paved path that 2.5 miles one way. On Sundays, the road that runs along Copacabana and Ipanama Beach is closed to make more room recreation.
- Ipanema to Leblon 2.3 miles one-way MAP
Among the great beach runs in Rio, Ipanema is arguably the most popular. This route follows the beach made famous in the bossa nova song “The Girl from Ipanema” in the 1960s. A long, arcing expanse of soft white sand and rolling waves, Ipanema routinely reaches the top of the “Best Beaches in the World” lists year after year. While you run, enjoy a constant sea breeze and breathtaking views of the Atlantic and Morro Dois Irmãos (Hill Brothers). This route is highly recommended during sunset and on Sundays when one of the traffic lanes closes. There is a dedicated bike lane, and a wide sidewalk for running. Or, run on the beach! After your run, have a beer in Garota the Ipanema, the bar where Tom Jobim was inspired to write the song “Girl from Ipanema.”
- Barra 11.8 miles one-way MAP
Yet another path along a beautiful beach is located in Barra. Barra is the newest area in the city, with modern architecture and lots of space. If you’re looking to run a long distance, this route is your best option. Almost 12 miles long, this path offers runners views of the ocean on one side and views of lagoons and the mountains on the other.
Lagoa (Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon)
4.6 mile loop. MAP
This path surrounding the Lagoa, or lagoon, is a local favorite. It features views of the statue of Christ the Redeemer at the top of the Corcovado mountain, as well as closer hills such as the Morro do Cantagalo, Morros dos Cabritos and the nearby National Park of Tijuca. The path is geared to runners, with distances marked every eighth a mile and booths selling fresh coconut juice (one of nature’s best electrolytes). Although one might be tempted to cool off in the lagoon after a run, unfortunately the lagoon is too polluted for swimming. A better post-run option is to enjoy the open-air cafés and restaurants (with stunning views of the lagoon and the beaches beyond) along the lagoon shore.
Urca Neighborhood Run
2.4 mile neighborhood loop. Start: bus stop Avenida Pasteur próximo ao 458 MAP
Urca is one of Rio’s quietest neighborhoods and home to Sugarloaf mountain. This route features some beautiful old buildings and views of Guanabara Bay, skirting the base of Sugarloaf Mountain. Begin at the bus stop Avenida Pasteur próximo ao 458 (Bus Route 107 and 581), and turn left onto Ramon Franco Street. When Ramon Franco St. ends, bear right onto R. Mal Cantuária and follow this to R. Cândido Gafree. This will lead you to the end where you’ll find Bar Urca (known for its beer and fried delights). If you’re tired, this is the place to take a rest! Head back to where you came from along the water on Av. João Luís Alves.
Morro da Urca
3.2 miles out-and-back. Start: Bus Stop Avenida Pasteur próximo ao 458 MAP
If you would rather enjoy the natural beauty Urca has to offer, opt for the Cláudio Coutinho track around the base of Morro da Urca. This route is flat, marked-out and easy to find. It offers panoramic views of the ocean and Praia Vermelha (Red Beach). Along this path, you are more than likely to encounter some of Brazil’s cutest residents (marmosets) running along the railing and jumping through the treetops. Morro da Urca, sits in the shadow of big brother and Rio de Janeiro icon, Sugar Loaf Mountain. The cable car up to Sugar Loaf begins from Praia Vermelha, so if you’re interested in getting a better view from the top ride the cable car up after your run!
Venues for the events are clustered around four areas: Barra, Copacabana, Maracanã and Deodoro. The opening ceremony will be held at Maracanã Stadium (legendary home of Brazilian soccer). The biggest concentration of events will be in Barra. A map of all the Olympic venues can be found here. If you want to explore the venues during one of your runs, see the Olympic highlights below.
Olympic Stadium and Park Run
4.2 miles. Start: São Cristóvão or Maracana subway station. MAP
There is a 1.1 mile path around the Maracara Stadium complex. Joined by a small pedestrian path crossing a busy roadway is a park and green area, site of the Brazil Military Museum, the National Museum of Brazil, Zoological Park, and Templo de Apolo monument.
Tim Maia Ciclovia
2.5 mile one-way elevated bike path, Start: Leblon in East or Barra de Tijuca in West. MAP
The Tim Maia ciclovia (bike path) is part of the city’s efforts to improve transport links before the 2016 Games. It runs alongside the coastal expressway between two of the main Olympic centers: the south zone, which will stage the rowing and triathlon, and the main Olympic Park in Barra de Tijuca. This 2.5 mile elevated bike path winds along the rocky coast, offering panoramic views, making for a great run.
** NOTE: As of April 21st this bike path is closed. It collapsed due to a huge wave which swept away a 160 foott stretch of the bike path. Mayor Eduardo Paes has pledged to rebuild in time for the Olympics. Check local news to get an update on the status of the rebuild before you plan on this route.s
- Sambódromo: The traditional stage for samba school parades during carnival, the Sambódromo opens its doors to archery and the marathon for the Rio 2016 Games. Modify the Architecture Loop to check out this site.
- The Marina da Glória: The base for the sailing competitions taking place in the waters of Guanabara Bay.
Copacabana to Leme
- Beach Volleyball Arena: The arena has a centre court for the games, five training courts and two warm up courts. Located on Leme Beach
- Fort Copacabana: The starting point for some open air competitions, including the road cycling, marathon swimming and triathlon events. Sit at southern end of Copacabana Beach.
- Pontal: The temporary facility located on the Barra coast is the starting and finishing line for the road cycling time trials and race walking (athletics) competitions.
- Olympic Golf Course: Built for Rio 2016, where golf returns to the Games after more than a century away, the 18-hole course was landscaped using local, native vegetation as part of an environmental recovery project. The course opens to the public after the event.
- Lagoa Stadium: The Stadium stages the rowing and canoe sprint events.
Rio is divided into Zona Norte (north zone), Zona Sul (south zone), Centro (center), and suburbs. Most of the hotels are located in Zona Sul. This area is known for the beaches and is focused on tourism. The majority of running routes are accessible from this area. However, Centro also has a plethora of hotels. The center of the city is a must, for its historical importance. Walking around Centro. you will experience a great mixture of old and new architecture, and see beautiful churches. The most important museums in the city are here. The Flamengo, and Centro — Lapa — Santa Teresa routes begin from this part of town.
Running Stores and Group Runs
Run Shop Leblon. Run specific store
Nike Running Store Ipanema. Hosts group runs (sign up online).
Asics Barra da Tijuca.
Satiko Sports Barra da Tijuca. Specialized in shoes for every sport.
Centauro Multiple Locations. Large Sports Store
Kadinho Sports Running Barra da Tijuca.
Deny Sport Barra da Tijuca. Sporting goods store
Some of the major events are:
Rio Marathon May. Marathon, Half Marathon and 6km Family Run.
Run the Night 10K November. A 10K (also 5K) with a playful environment including music, entertainment and many friends. It is the event for you to enjoy the Saturday night in a different way!
Race Venus October. Offers 5K, 10K and 15K. Venus is the biggest race for women in Brazil and one of the world’s large