Rio de Janeiro's Liveliest Nightlife in the Downtown Party District

Lucy Bryson

By , Local Expert, Rio de Janeiro
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Partiers looking to discover the hedonistic heart of Rio de Janeiro won't find it by the beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. For the true taste of nightlife in Rio, there's only one neighborhood to head for, and that's Lapa. Located at the historic center of Rio's downtown, this party district has long been synonymous with alcohol-fueled excess, and until recently had become something of a hotbed for crime and a somewhat seedy nocturnal scene. Today, many of the crumbling mansions have been given a lick of paint and transformed into hip bars and lively nightclubs, as part of an ongoing gentrification effort that has...  Read more »

  • 1

    Circo Voador

    There's always a great vibe at this unique music venue

    Local Expert Tip: "If you're here for a weekend gig, the always-lively Lapa street party makes the perfect place for a post-show drink. "

  • 2

    Clube dos Democraticos

    Clube dos Democraticos is one of the best-loved live music venues in Rio.

    Local Expert Tip: "Can't dance, won't dance? Just sip a caipirinha and sit back and admire the dancers' skills as they whirl their partners around the floor. "

  • 3


    A recent addition to Lapa's nightlife scene, Leviano's eclectic musical menu attracts all kinds of clubbers and music lovers.

    Local Expert Tip: "Those who aren't up for clubbing can head here in the early evening for drinks on the sidewalk patio - ideal for people watching."

  • 4


    This is one of the funkiest bars in Rio's historic center.

    Local Expert Tip: "The samba and feijoada event makes for the perfect end to a Saturday spent browsing the annual Feira do Rio Antigo, a lively street fair held in Rio's historic center on the first Saturday of each month. "

  • 5

    Arcos da Lapa

    Lapa's whitewashed arches are the backdrop for the liveliest street party in the city.

    Local Expert Tip: "Keep valuables hidden and don't bring cameras here at night - while safety has improved in recent years, Lapa's street party continues to attract petty thieves."

  • 6

    Rio Scenarium

    The quality samba, lively atmosphere and unique decor make this an unmissable nightlife experience.

    Local Expert Tip: "Too shy to take to the dancefloor? Sip a caipirinha or two and feel those inhibitions slip away."

  • 7

    Escadaria Selaron

    The colorful stairs are a unique place to hangout and chat over a caipirinha.

    Local Expert Tip: "This is a lively place to enjoy a caipirinha on weekend evenings, but be sure to go with a local as the surrounding area is a little seedy."

  • 8


    Febarj should be top of the nightlife list for any hip-hop fans visiting Rio.

    Local Expert Tip: "Arrive before midnight for free entry and the best hip hop - the DJ throws in quite a lot of North American R'n'B after around 1am."

  • 9

    Carioca da Gema

    Carioca da Gema is one of Rio's best samba clubs, and attracts a good mix of locals and visitors.

    Local Expert Tip: "Carioca da Gema also run a very good pizzeria right next door - perfect for refuelling as the evening wears on."

  • 10

    Carnival in Rio

    Lapa hosts some of the biggest and best carnival blocos (street parties) in the city, including the legendary

    Local Expert Tip: "Carnival in Rio turns the streets of the city into one giant open air dance club thanks to the thousands of blocos - street parties - that take place."



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