A lavish Italian villa, hidden caves, miles of trails and views to the statue Christ the Redeemer await at this park at the base of Rio’s Corcovado Mountain.
Spread over 129 acres (52 hectares) of rainforest at the base of Corcovado is Parque Henrique Lage. It features miles of intersecting trails, an antique palazzo and a trail leading up to Corcovado’s peak. Tour the park overlooked by Rio’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, then hike up to the statue to look over the park and the surrounding city.
Start your visit to the park by touring the Italian villa at its front. The villa was created in 1922 by the park’s namesake, Brazilian businessman Henrique Lage. Today, the building serves as the Parque Lage School of Visual Arts (Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage), and it is open to visitors. Walk through the halls and see art students working on paintings and drawings. Go to the balcony over the villa’s central pool and look up into the hills for an incredible view of Corcovado and Christ the Redeemer.
Wander into the surrounding garden. Dotted with ponds and crisscrossed with paths, this pleasantly shaded area provides a peaceful place to walk. Find the artificial caves carved into the surrounding hills, some of which feature aquariums. Children will love looking into each of the 12 tanks around the area to see a variety of fish found in Brazilian lakes and rivers.
Experienced hikers can climb the trail leading through the rainforest behind Parque Henrique Lage. The trail runs through the hills and will eventually bring you to the summit of Corcovado. Be sure to travel in a large group, as some tourists have been robbed while hiking this trail.
After visiting the park, head to the nearby Botanical Gardens (Jardim Botânico). These gardens, covering 338 acres (137 hectares), highlight indigenous species, as well as plants from around the world. There is a fee for admission.
Parque Henrique Lage is located on the northern side of Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, which lies just north of Ipanema Beach. Reach it via bus or car. Parking is available for a fee at the park and on the surrounding streets. The park is open daily from morning until early evening and can be accessed for free.