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As amazing all the sights are, many people come just to party in Rio de Janeiro. It's absolutely jam-packed full of bars, ranging in price and quality. Here we give you some information about what to look out for, break down some different options and of course, some top tips for your travels! The nightlife in Rio can be great, but it helps if you know where you're going! You'll also find recommended bars & restaurants in the section of each neighbourhood.
Rio moves to the soundtrack of Samba. Live music is found all around the city, though if you're looking for the heart of it all, you'll probably find it in the bohemian neighborhood of Lapa. Drawing music-lovers from far and wide, all week long the vibrant sound of Samba can be heard from the old fashioned dance halls and new trendier bars alike. Some of Rio's top samba groups, playing to crowds that often pack the dance floor, can be found playing in Lapa. Music if the lifeblood of Rio and as well as Samba it's also a showcase for jazz, bossa nova, Música Popular Brasileira (MPB), rock, hip-hop and more. Brazil's many regional styles – forró (traditional, close together, Brazilian music from the northeast with many varying styles), chorinho (romantic, intimate samba) and pagode (relaxed and rhythmic samba) – are also a part of the music scene. On Sundays when the road parallel with the beaches along Copacabana and Ipanema are closed, you'll usually find live music next to the beach bar kiosks as well.
Why not head to one of the many Samba clubs and let the irresistible urge to dance to the beats take over!
There are practically endless great places in Rio for live music, a night out or a relaxed beer. Here we pick some of our favourites...
Rio is synonymous with samba, and the city's historical downtown district of Lapa should be the first port of call for anybody looking to hear the real thing played live. Before Rio Scenarium was a bar/club it was a storage space for antiques and film props, the kooky factor is ramped up to 11 thanks to the fact that this vast venue for samba shows is also , so fascinating costumes, masks and other historical artifacts form the backdrop to the dancing, eating and drinking. Even if you have two left feet it is worth a visit here just to see the highy skilled locals show how samba dancing should be done, and there's a restaurant serving sit-down meals for those who just want to take in the show.
Lots of people say this is one of the best samba clubs in Rio. Always lots of people dancing, enjoying the Samba vibe and embracing the caipirinhas. Samba lovers of all ages flock to this downtown dance house. The club is housed in a tall and handsome colonial building, with a balcony overlooking the crowded streets of Lapa - perfect for people-watching and catching a breath of fresh air before you carry on strutting your best dance moves. If you don't feel confident to take to the floor yourself, just admire the locals' skill and sip on a caipirinha until the Dutch courage kicks in. It is largely assumed that foreigners can't dance, so nobody will judge too harshly. Great atmosphere and reasonable prices.
Right next to the famous arches of Lapa, Circo Voador is a large venue that regularly hosts concerts. But this multi-functional spot also hosts hip local bands and international visitors, as well as holding some of the most popular regular club nights in the city. Frequented by a young, largely middle-class crowd. Prices are lower than some larger music arenas in Rio, making this an affordable place to catch big Brazilian names.
It doesn't like like much from the outside but this hole in the wall bar in Copacabana is one of the top spots in Rio to hear live music. The location on a Copacabana backstreet attracts some of the most skilled musicians in town, who come here for impromptu jam sessions. Laid back and relaxed, this is not the spot for a glamorous night out, but for some quality samba, forro or pagode in intimate surrounds, bip bip is the place. No bar just two fridges stocked with beer and wine then you pay for what you have drunk, but the quality of the music makes this well worth a visit.
If you are looking for a place to dance Forró (northeastern music), you must visit Democráticos at least once. Not the most glamorous of places - it's over 100 years old and more like a loud empty space, it's traditional and it's all about the dancing, usually attracting a crowd of Brazilian under 30's.
large outdoor café/bar right under the arches of Lapa, with brilliant live salsa on Thursday nights
Authentic classic Samba bar- simple and sweet….music, dancing, cachaça
An intimate music venue for 30 years hosting Basa Nova musicians
A buzzing, trendy place for a night out.
Ok so it's not a bar but it's full of them here. All around the famous arches of Lapa is the heartbeat of the Rio party scene. From street parties, to live music and pumping clubs. This is the place to go for a big night out in Rio de Janeiro.
Bar Urca is a top weekend hangout for a few chilled drinks. Situated on the banks of Guanabara Bay it has a nice restaurant above but the main attraction is the postcards perfect views over the bay. This is what a typical Brazilian bar looks like, it is laid back, you hang around with a bottle in your hand or sit out on the sidewalk or on the wall taking in the view. The nibbles are delicious and also very Brazilian. The customers are a mix of neighborhood residents, visitors or Brazilian and foreign tourists.
With its seafood and fish always fresh and dishes like shrimp bobo, Portuguese stew, a whole line of cod and snacks such as pastries, pies, seafood broth and beans and fried sardines, Bar and Urca Restaurant is a reference of Rio's gastronomy.
A heavyweight of the Rio de Janeiro party scene, a great bar especially for tourists looking to mix with some locals. Empório has 2 floors and a DJ plays a wide range of music, mainly rock and roll. Crowds of people stand outside the of the bar on the street, it's got to be one of the easiest places to meet different types of people. Locals & tourists and people of all classes mix here and chat and dance the night away. It doesn't usually start to get busy until at least midnight but goes on through the night. At busy times of the year the crowds of people spill into the road and over to the bar opposite.
A neighborhood square flanked by various bars and restaurants, you can eat, drink and chat until the small hours.
Obligatory stopping point before enjoying the evening. Not necessarily a bar, but a group of bars and restaurants - our favourite being Joaquina. Always a buzzing and vibrant place to be, the Cobal offers a selection of bars serving some great local food, a real social hang out. The area around the back has a big outside seating area, normally full of people enjoying cold jugs of beer. You'll also find Mexican, American and Japanese restaurants here.
For a city the size of Rio, it has surprisingly few clubs to choose from. But once you start digging, you'll find the Rio de Janeiro nightlife isn't all too bad. Here is a selection of some of our favourites:
Brazilians like to combine drinking with dining, and this upscale nightspot, located inside Gavea's famous planetarium, no less takes both activities extremely seriously. There's a formal dining room as well as a lounge and a dance floor, and a mezzanine level for those who prefer to nibble on sushi and other sophisticated finger foods while watching the beautiful people glide around the dance floor. While the crowd is refreshingly wide in age range, from students to older couples, it is almost exclusively upper middle class. Dress is smart by Brazilian standards - n0 shorts or flip flops- and prices are far from cheap.
In the heart of Copacabana, next to Siqueira Campos metro station, Fosfobox attracts hipsters and musically-minded types of all social demographics to shake their collective stuff on the sticky dance floor. The musical action takes place downstairs, where DJs play a mix of underground electronica, vintage rock and roll, hip hop and a dash of pop, with the occasional samba, live music or forro-based night keeping the musical menu eclectic. Things get cramped and hectic on the dance floor after around 1am, but the upstairs bar and balcony provide a chance to sip a cocktail and chat, away from the pumping basslines.
if you like your nightlife with an alternative, leftfield edge, Casa da Matriz should be your first port of call. DJs spin an eclectic mix of tunes that takes in everything from 1960s Tropicalia to 1990s hip hop, punk, funk and soul, and the place throngs with students and other hip young things at weekends.
Running the whole way along the popular beach fronts, the kiosks are wonderful places to sip a caipirinha or have a refreshing beer against one of the most stunning backdrops imaginable. With some of them open 24 hours a day, you'll always be able to find a reason for a drink at one of these. Sit and watch the sunset, have a quiet couple before heading out, or finish the night off in style with a late night (or early morning!) tipple as the sun comes up. Most of them sell food as well, ranging from pastels to dishes of fish food.
The kiosks along the Copacabana and Leme beach front were renovated a few years back, they are much more modern and even have toilets underground! (But you do have to pay for them - under 2R.) Along Ipanema and Leblon the kiosks are more basic and the only toilets you'll find are a the life guard points. (Postos)
Surely no backpacker visiting to Marvellous city should miss out on a boat party? Go into most of the popular hostels in Rio and they'll have a poster up detailing the different parties they organise around the city each night. There's a great boat party around once a week as well, it's good value for money and they play pumping international music. Speak to the receptionist where you stay and they should be able to give you all the details. Don't miss out!
Caipirinhas are Brazil's national cocktails. No trip to Rio is complete without drinking a Caipirinha! The classic caipirinha is made from cachaça (sugar cane), sugar and lime - with plenty of ice. Prepared by smashing the fruit and sugar together, then adding the liquor, it'll definitely kick start your night! Nowadays there are many variations of the drink, you can get it with vodka instead of cachaça - a caipivodka - and also interchange the fruit with a large selection - from cashew nuts to pineapple! A refreshing drink in the hot weather, you can also ask for less sugar for a stronger taste and also to save your teeth! :)
The standard beers you'll see everywhere in Rio are Antartica, Brahma and Skol, however they're not the strongest beers and many tourists tend to complain about them. Here we think that Bohemia & Cerpa are better, higher quality beers to try. Also if you see one, maybe more likely in the supermarket, grab a Therezópolis Gold. They're great beers produced in nearby Teresópolis.
Pastels are the classic bar food snack in Rio. A popular deep-fried finger food, you can choose from various cheeses, meats or fish inside the fried pastry. A tasty little snack that you'll find all over the city. For a great article on the history of the pastel and where to get the best ones in Rio check out this by Culinarybackstreets.com
If it's a bit of home you're after or a place to watch sports from home, it'll be a pub you're looking for. Pub food, international music and usually with a healthy smattering of tourists, one of these could definitely cure the home sickness! Although not always as busy as you might expect for the big games, it's still worth checking out one of these:
SHENANIGAN'S IRISH PUB -
Address: Rua Visconde de Pirajá, 112 A - Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 22410-000
Nearby the metro station General Osorio, with big pub/bar style food, reasonably cheap prices, happy hour promotions check their site for more details. They show a range of sports, such as Premier League football, NFL, UFC and more!
LORD JIMS PUB -
Address: R. Paul Redfern, 44 - Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 22410-080
The opposite side of Ipanema than Shenanigan's - in line with posto 10 and next to the popular Che Legarto Hostel, another good place to head to watch sports. Also with happy hour promotions and showing a range of sports. Check out their site for more details
LAPA IRISH PUB -
Address: R. Evaristo da Veiga, 147 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-040
A lively bar, especially at night time on the weekends, normally with live bands. From experience it doesn't seem to be the best place to watch sports. Check out their Facebook page for more details
If you're having drinks with anyone, "Saude" (Pronounced: Sa-oo-gee) or "Brinde" (Pronounced: Brin-ge) is what to say when doing a cheers!
Traditional style bars - botecos in Portuguese - are never too far away, usually unchanged in years - sometimes decades - small but crowded and full of heated discussion, loud conversation and laughter. The Brazilian way - O jeitinho Brasileiro - is to buy one big bottle of beer and share it into small cups. Another option is to order a "chope", a draught beer, varying in size and usually with a large head on top.