Best Nightclubs in Rio de Janeiro: Get Ready for Some Serious Booty-Shakin'

Rio de Janeiro is a city that knows how to party. From the hedonistic revelry of Carnival to the city's massive New Year's celebrations, Rio loves nothing better than to let its hair down. It is hardly surprising then, that Rio de Janeiro nightclubs are both abundant and lively. What can come as a surprise to visitors, however, is the fact that the city's famous party spirit can actually be a little difficult to uncover.

Take a nocturnal walk through the touristic Zona Sul - the scenic South Zone that takes in such famous destinations as Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon - and one could easily come to the conclusion thatsur nighlife in the city amounts to little more than either strip joints and over-priced pizza restaurants (Copacabana) or ludicriously-priced posing palaces modelling themselves on Western night clubs (Ipanema and Leblon). Scratch the surface, however, and you'll find locals shaking those booties with great abandon in all manner of locations.

Any partier's first stop in Rio de Janeiro should be Lapa, the down town party district that has recently undergone a massive transformation from seedy nocturnal hangout to every clubber's destination of choice. From sultry samba to Bass-heavy hip hop, tinny favela funk to sultry bossa nova, you can heat it played loud - and often live - in Lapa.

Elsewhere in the city, there is smart clubbing and dining in the unlikely setting of a planetarium at Gavea institution 00 (Zero Zero), serious posing taking place on the dance floor at Nuth Lounge in Barra da Tijuca, and hipster happenings at Casa da Matriz, in Botafogo. 

Right at 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 dancefloor. The musical action takes place...  Read More

The name translates as 'little bar', but this lively Lapa hangout packs a lot into its less than palatial layout. The small plates and bar snacks are famous, and make tasty companions to something from the extensive drinks list. Regular events...  Read More

Much more than a concert venue, this multi-functional spot in the heart of Lapa hosts hip local bands and international visitors, as well as holding some of the most popular regular club nights in the city. In addition, dance and percussion...  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

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, via punk, funk and soul, and the...  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, and...  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

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

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


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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