10 Best Nightlife Spots for Music-Lovers in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is a city that lives and breathes live music, and you don't even need to love samba to have a good time here. While this sultry musical style does indeed provide the musical backdrop to many nights out in the city, there is ample opportunity to strut your stuff to electronica and hip hop, nod your head in appreciation at experimental jazz nights, or try your hand at mastering some forro moves. 

Being able to dance is not a prerequisite at Rio's live music, and top samba spots such as Carioca da Gema and Rio Scenarium are worth a visit for the sheer spectacle of seeing fleet-footed locals shake their impressive stuff, and after a couple of caipirinhas you may well have built up the courage to join them on the dancefloor. 

For a diverse, hipster-friendly mix of indie, rock, jazz, hip hop and MPB (classic Brazilian pop), Studio RJ is the place. Bonus points for its location in front of the beach at Arpoadaor - the point at which Ipanema and Copacabana beaches meet. 

For a sophisticated, but not stuffy, live music session, Zero Zero in Gavea comes up trumps, while the weekend street parties in Lapa regularly see impromptu performances from local groups.  

Largo do Guimaraes
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson

This picturesque public square at the heart of Santa Teresa is the social heart of the bohemian neighborhood, and the setting for many a lively street party. The square itself if flanked by bars and restaurants, and this is the best place to...  Read More

Located in the historic heart of Lapa, this reformed colonial mansion home has received a colorful makeover with illuminated artworks on the brick walls, vibrantly-colored cocktails and an equally bright and breezy playlist. An eclectic musical...  Read More

Bar do Bonde
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson

Take just a slight detour from Santa Teresa´s main tourist trail and you´ll be one of the few out-of-towners to find one of the neighborhood´s best bar-restaurants. Located just a few minutes´ walk (follow the tram line uphill from the main...  Read More

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 dancefloor,...  Read More

if you like your nightlife with an alternative, leftfield edge, Casa da Matriz should be your first port of call when looking for a night out in Rio. DJs at Casa Matriz spin an eclectic mix of tunes that takes in everything from 1960s Tropicalia...  Read More

Samba lovers of all ages flock to this downtown dance house, where the fleet of foot and supple of rump shimmy and shake around the dance floor. The club is housed in a tall and handsome colonial building, with a balcony overlooking the...  Read More

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. At Rio Scenarium, the kooky factor is ramped up to 11 thanks to the...  Read More

Clube dos Democraticos
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson

An eye-catching - if somewhat weather-beaten - art deco building is the setting for some of the longest-standing samba parties in Rio at this much-loved venue. Clube dos Democraticos was founded over a century ago as a carnival society uniting...  Read More

Along with the beaches, the Christ statue and Sugar Loaf mountain, another postcard-perfect image of Rio are the mammoth white arches that stand in city's historic center. At night, revelers gather below the arches as a huge street party...  Read More

It might not look like much, but this unassuming 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 manages to attract some of the most skilled musicians in town, who...  Read More


Meet Lucy Bryson

Lucy is a British freelance writer living in Rio de Janeiro since 2007. While there are some things she misses about her home country, the lure of year-round sunshine has proved too powerful to resist.

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