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Where to Find the Best Nightlife in Rio de Janeiro

The crowd during a live performance at Circo Voador
The crowd during a live performance at Circo Voador | © veio escroto / Flickr
Rio de Janeiro has a reputation for unrivaled nightlife, yet finding it is not as easy as it seems. From underground samba shows to multi-floor nightclubs, Rio has it all – you just need to know where to look. Here’s your complete guide to the best nightlife in Rio de Janeiro, including the best places to go in each neighborhood and where to search on social media for upcoming events across the city.

Where to find nightlife on social media

Finding the best events in Rio de Janeiro can be tricky as they’re not well advertised. The best places to find great nightlife options and spontaneous events is through Facebook. BLESS organizes some of Rio’s best and most dynamic parties that take place throughout the city in different venues including Centro and at the top of Vidigal favela with music varying between reggae, hip-hop, funk, trap, and many other genres. To see all of their events, check out the BLESS Facebook page for weekly updates.

Nightlife in Rio de Janeiro can be unforgettable if you know where to go © Filipe Cordon / Flickr

Similar to BLESS, Encontro dos Bailes organizes several underground and popular events each month and often collaborates with BLESS to create some of the most exciting parties in Rio. A full listing of past and upcoming events can be found on the Encontro dos Bailes Facebook page. Gandaia also works alongside BLESS and Encontro dos Bailes, as well as producing their own parties with a similar vibe. To see their full list of events, check their events section on the Gandaia Facebook page.

The Rio Times is a local newspaper published in English and produces a daily Nightlife Guide of the city’s best events for that day. Check out the Rio Times Facebook page to see what’s going on throughout the city every day. For outdoor samba parties, check out the Samba da Urca page that regularly organizes events throughout Urca, especially by the Praia Vermelha beach. A popular event in Rio de Janeiro is the outdoor food truck and homemade beer festivals. You can find the best ones throughout the city here. If you love jazz, then check out the Jazz na Rua page and the Jazz Ahead page for regular updates of jazz events across Rio.

Lapa

Lapa is known to be the nightlife center of Rio de Janeiro and is full of bars, pubs, and nightclubs. It attracts a young crowd and is popular with students thanks to the promotional offers at the clubs, yet the bars reel in a mix of people of all ages and backgrounds. It’s a tourist hotspot and while it is worth checking out, bear in mind it’s not the only place in Rio for partying, as other areas can offer a more local experience. If you want to check it out, take a look at our guides to the best bars, the best samba clubs, and the best nightclubs. For live shows, often featuring the most exciting and upcoming Brazilian music acts, check out Circo Voador and Fundição Progresso. Their Facebook pages are updated daily with upcoming shows which take place throughout the week and on the weekends.

The crowd during a live performance at Circo Voador © veio escroto / Flickr

Centro

Centro often gets overlooked for nightlife, yet this area has among the best outdoor and local parties in town. Every weekend, live bands and several drinks and food stalls set up by the Lapa Arches for an informal outdoor gathering that continues until dawn. For outdoor parties with live samba, Latin beats, and underground events, the best places to go on the weekends are Praca XV (Instituto Cultural Ruinas), Arco de Teles, and Rua do Ouvidor. Their Facebook pages are regularly updated with events. For a weekday party, go to Pedra do Sal on a Monday or Friday night for live samba and jazz in the backstreets of the city center in an area known as the ‘birthplace of samba.’ For the best gay club in Rio, head to The Week, which has electronic music and incredible DJs playing until after dawn.

Santa Teresa

Known for being the bohemian neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, Santa Teresa has plenty of informal and fun nightlife options. For traditional Brazilian bars with good caipirinhas and classic local bar snacks, head to Bar do Mineiro and Armazém São Thiago. Bar dos Descasados inside the Hotel Santa Teresa sets the scene for a night of luxury drinking in a discrete and elegant setting. For cocktails in an artsy, chic environment, Mama Shelter and the Explorer Bar are the best options. Parque Ruinas has several options for cultural events, and Mercado das Pulgas has live samba almost weekend until the early hours of the morning.

Mercado das Pulgas often hosts samba parties on the weekend © Circuito Fora do Eixo / Flickr

Copacabana

One of Rio de Janeiro’s most famous neighborhoods thanks to its iconic beach, this tourist hotspot has dozens of bars to choose from. It’s not as rowdy as Lapa and there are few all-night options in Copacabana, yet for drinking and socializing, it’s a good place to start. Check out our picks of the best bars in Copacabana and the best rooftops for a late night drink. For clubs, the TV bar is an LGBT club which plays classic pop music and sometimes has drag queen acts; New Mariuzinn Copacabana is a popular club among students and often has themed nights including Glow Parties with glow sticks and reflective face paints; and Fosfobox Bar Club is a great spot which attracts an alternative crowd and plays a mix of music, including electronic beats.

Botafogo

When it comes to cool bars with quirky themes, Botafogo has it down to a tee. Over the last couple of years, Botafogo has transformed into one of the best nightlife options in Rio de Janeiro with underground bars and a couple of all-night clubs including indie vibe Casa da Matriz and rock bar Bar Bukowski. Check out our guide to the best bars in Botafogo and the complete guide to nightlife in Botafogo.

A night out in the Jungle Garden Pub in Botafogo © Jungle Garden Pub

Barra da Tijuca

Sitting just on the outskirts of the popular South Zone of Rio de Janeiro, Barra da Tijuca is less visited yet offers a selection of animated places and all-night clubs, as well as some great bars. The best nightclubs with a large dance space, great music, and an opportunity to get glammed up include Boate All In, Zax Club, and Vitrinni Lounge Bar.

Ipanema, Leblon, Gavea, and Jardim Botanico

These four neighborhoods are known for their upscale and animated bars, some with events that continue until the early hours of the morning. Ipanema and Leblon don’t have large nightclubs, but they do have plenty of late night bars. Check out our pick of the best bars in Ipanema and the best bars in Leblon which are great places to enjoy late night drinks and a cool atmosphere for socializing. The most famous nightlife spot in Gavea is the Praca Santos Dumont square, known locally as Baixo Gavea. The square is surrounded by bars and when they get too full, people buy beers from the street vendors and gather together outside. It’s a popular informal hangout spot for both foreigners and locals, and gets busy every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. Jardim Botanico offers a selection of trendy and sophisticated bars for a chic night out. You can find the best bars in Jardim Botanico here.