Lapa is the place to go for a big night out in Rio. For any party-goer or music lover, no trip to Rio is complete without a night out in Lapa. Located at the foot of the spectacular aqueduct - frequently called Arcos da Lapa (Lapa Arches) - that the tram once travelled across to connect Centro with Santa Teresa. You will see many a postcard baring the famous Arches.
Since the early 1950s, Lapa has been known for its lively cultural life, situating many restaurants and bars where Brazilian artists and intellectuals used to meet. It was, and still is, famous for its many restaurants, bars and clubs where the various forms of Brazilian music can be appreciated, like the Asa Branca bar and the Fundição Progresso. The Sala Cecília Meirelles, an important venue for chamber music, is also located in Lapa.
The culture of Lapa is exciting. It has played host to several intellectuals, artists politicians and especially the citizens of Rio, who gather together to celebrate the samba, forró, MPB, electronic music, rock and much more. Mem de Sá, Rua do Riachuelo Street and Lavradio are the major streets in this neighborhood. The Sala Cecilia Meireles is considered to be the best concert of chamber music in Rio so do try to catch it. If you want to see some more examples of old architecture in Rio then the Public Promenade, the National School of Music and the Church of Our Lady of Lapa do Desterro are perfect choices.
Fall and Rise It continued to be a center for music but when the title “capital” went to Brasilia in 1960 the central neighbourhoods Gamboa, Centro, Catete and Lapa started to decline. The streets became notoriously unsafe and in the 1990’s there were only a few waterholes with live music that still kept the music tradition alive. Then came the change: The popularity of live music grew to big proportions and there all of a sudden the area was on the rise. Today you can see how many old houses are renovated, bars and music clubs open; it again become a place were people in Rio go to have fun.
In the early history of Rio de Janeiro, the center of the city was surround by swamps with water of bad quality, fresh water had to be manually carried from streams located relatively far away. With this in mind, plans were made as far back as 1602 to build a system of canals to bring water from the source of the Carioca river - located on Santa Teresa Hill. However construction attempts were hampered due to technical and financial difficulties and it wasn't until 1723, under the rule of governer Aires ds Saldanha, that the first aqueduct was finished. Clean water flowed directly to a decorative Baroque fountain in Santo Antônio Square, to the relief of the people of Rio de Janeiro.
By 1744 the aqueduct was already in bad shape. Another new governor ordered the building of a new, larger structure. The responsibilites were handed to Portuguese military engineer José Fernandes Pinto Alpoim, who, inspired by similar structures in Portugal, set about engineering the Arches we know today. The aqueduct was inaugurated in 1750.
The section of the aqueduct in Lapa is it's most impressive feature, spanning 270 metres and consisting of two storeys of monumental arches - 42 in total - with a maximum height of 17.6 metres.
You can see Lapa in the North East of the map. We recommend to either get a taxi or you can take the metro to Cinelândia station. Buses are also available but please note we strongly advise not to get a bus home from Lapa late in the evening. It can be full of dodgy characters and people have been known to get robbed on buses - be safe, just get a taxi home.
The famous Lapa steps was started in 1990 by a Chilean artist by the name of Selarón. He had been artfully tiling the stairway connecting Lapa with Santa Teresa until he was tragically murdered a few years ago. It's best to go in the daytime to take pictures as at night it can be more dangerous. Besides... you'll see them better at night!
The pyramid shaped Metropolitan Cathedral is definitely worth visiting. Built between 1964 to 1979, the cathedral stands 80 meters high and can house around 20,000 people. The Sacred Art Museum and the Bank of Providence are also located here.
The theater situated at Largo da Lapa 47 is a historical landmark of Rio. Sala Cecilia Meireles was built in memory of Cecilia Meireles, a Brazilian poet and journalist. You can catch live performances by well known and budding artists and performers since it has established itself as one of the most important venues for chamber music in the city. The beautiful architecture of the auditorium sets the tone for every chamber music performance that it hosts. It's considered to be one of the best venues in terms of acoustics in the city. The theatre is named in honor of Brazilian author Cecília Meireles.
On nights out in Lapa we tend to start with some drinks on the street and then have a walk around the busy bar area near the Arches and find a lively looking bar. Just keep an eye on your things if you're doing this, pickpocketing is rife here.
One of the most famous bars in all of Rio, this fascinating place has three floors, filled with antiques and film props and is the go-to place for a night filled with live Samba. Get ready for lots of dancing, eating and drinking. Even if dancing isn't your thing, you can enjoy watching the highly skilled locals show how samba dancing should be done. Balconies overlook the stage on the 1st floor and the restaurant upstairs serves some very reasonable quality meals. You normally have to pay upwards from 20R to enter but it's worth it for a special night in this classy place, open till late.
For some late night food and drinks after some hard partying, and a bit of authentic portuguese food, look no further than Cosmopolita. This restaurant offers plenty of outdoor seating so that you can enjoy the atmosphere along with your meal. The popular cocktail menu is full of outrageous combinations, let yourself go wild!
If you go to Rio you have to try the nightlife. Even though there are numerous nightclubs and bars around town, it is the live scene in Lapa that is unique and what most tourists will remember from Rio. Go to Live Music in Rio de Janeiro to find out more about the best clubs here. Sunday until Wednesday the options are fewer but the other nights you have many options.
Nightlife in Lapa is colorful, varied and as vibrant as ever. Rio Scenarium is the most popular bar in Lapa and even in Rio. The bar is particularly popular with tourists and plays great Brazilian music. The spacious venue is spread over three floors. The bar is so popular that you can’t let go of your table for too long in order to dance otherwise you might lose it to other eager customers. It is better to make a reservation or else you might end up waiting in line for most of the night. Belmonte, Taberna, Buteko juca and Arco Iris are other popular bars in this area. Carioca da Gema is a popular eating spot and bar frequented by the locals so you are guaranteed to get good, authentic carioca cuisine, so be sure to drop in.
Asa Branca is among the most popular nightclubs. The club specializes in forro music where many famous artists have performed. Carioca da Gema specializes in samba music. Lapa 40 plays samba, choro and gaff music. Progress and Casting Flying Circus, are two clubs that cater to modern tastes with electronic music and rock concerts.
Lapa isn't the best neighbourhood, but with the great party scene, cheap street drinking and buzzing atmosphere, brings a large amount of tourists ready to party the night away. If you're going to get pickpocketed in Rio, this is the most likely destination. We strongly advise you don't take many valuables with you. Do not leave your phone sticking out your back pocket and please don't take things like your passport with you! Especially if you plan to stay partying on the streets as many people do
Lots of places in Lapa charge a fee to enter. If you want a cheap night in Lapa there are plenty of street vendors selling very cheap caipirinhas and snacks!