But although this is one of Rio's prettiest and most tranquil neighborhoods, most visitors to Urca pause here just long enough to take the famous cable car ride up to the mountain's peak, before heading on to the next big draw attraction.
Anyone who does take the time to explore the neighborhood, however, will be well rewarded.
A stroll between Urca's beaches takes in lovely views — Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson
As well as bohemian bars, rugged walking trails and gorgeous views, the neighborhood is home to two of Rio's best beaches for families: Praia da Urca ("Urca Beach") and Praia Vermelha (literally "Red Beach," named for its coarse sand that is darker than elsewhere in the city).
Praia Vermelha sits right in the shadow of Sugarloaf itself, in a curved bay with waters that are calm enough for swimming, although they are not always clean enough to enter. (Watch what the locals do before taking a paddle.) It's known as one of the safest spots in the city for sunbathing.
A military base right next to the beach keeps crime levels at a minimum, and the beach is largely free of the persistent vendors that hawk their wares along the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema.
Should you wish to buy an ice-cold coconut water or an ice cream, however, you'll easily find somebody on hand to sell you one.
A quick stroll from here takes you past a bay – where bobbing fishing boats are framed by a mountainous backdrop that takes in a perfect view of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado mountain – to Urca Beach.
Here, small children dip in and out of the shallow, warm and totally calm water, while their parents relax on the sands nearby. Again, crime is at a minimum here, which makes for a more relaxing beachgoing experience than at other, more touristy spots in the city.
Urca Beach is the best beach in the city of Rio for swimming with young children — Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson
Vendors are on hand to sell water guns and beach balls, while the nearby bars are family-friendly, relaxing spots for a drink and a bite to eat after an afternoon's splashing, Bar e Restaurante Urca and Garota da Urca being the most popular spots.
Plan to spend an entire day in this lovely neighborhood, leaving the ride up to the top of Sugarloaf until late in the afternoon. The views from the mountain top at sundown will take away any breath that remains after the dizzying ascent.