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From Chic to Chill: The Best Bars in Rio de Janeiro



Rio de Janeiro bars range from super-chic posing palaces to uber-rustic hole in the wall drinking dens, and where you choose to drink in Rio will in some part be determined by your budget - you´ll need some serious spending money and some seriously stylish clothes if you intend to sip a caipirinha at some of the exclusive spots in the picturesque Zona Sul (South Zone). If your budget is more modest, the lively bars of Copacabana,  Lapa and Santa Teresa offer fun times without alarming price tags.

Our number one pick of Rio de Janeiro´s abundant watering holes, Bar do Gomez in Santa Teresa, is a great place to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon, while Bip Bip in Copacabana should be the first port of call for music lovers keen to hear seriously good jam sessions in a very informal atmosphere.

A very dressy crowd heads to Pergula, the poolside bar at the enduringly glamorous Copacabana Palace, and this is a wonderfully romantic spot for a special occasion.

For drinks with a unbeatable view, it´s hard to beat the sunset vista from Azul Marinho in Arpoador (the point at which Ipanema and Copacabana meet) although the beach kiosks of Ipanema and Copacabana have plenty of wow factor too.


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Ranked the best hotel bar in the world by style bible Wallpaper, this hip hangout at the upmarket Fasano Rio hotel is open to non-guests - but be prepared to book well in advance and pay steep prices for your immaculately-prepared drinks.The bar mixes British punk attitude with Italian flair, and sees vintage album art hung on the walls, and luxurious leather armchairs for lounging in. The regular clientele here includes models, actors and footballers, and with A-listers such as Madonna and supermodel Gisele popping in occasionally, you'll need to pull out all the wardrobe stops if you want to fit in.

Recommended for Bars because: This ultra-chic hangout is the preferred drinking den of A list visitors to Rio.

Lucy's expert tip: Dress to seriously impress if you want to get past the doorstaff here.

Read more about Baretto-Londra →


Urca, the tranquil neighborhood that is home to Sugar Loaf mountain, warrants a longer visit than many tourists permit for in their itineraries, and there are few better spots in the city to linger over a beer and a bite to eat than this wonderfully relaxed bar-restaurant. Attracting a mix of locals. famous faces and tourists, the simple hole in the wall spot stands out for its stunning harbor-side location - after making your order at the bar, you can eat it propped up outside, taking in a view of the Christ statue as you watch fishing boats bob up and down on the calm waters. Forget any culinary pretensions and, indeed, calorie-counting, and enjoy local dishes such as fried polenta with shrimp, and towering stacks of fried potato or aipim (cassava).

Read more about Bar e Restaurante URCA →




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 come here for impromptu jam sessions, much to the patrons' delight. 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. Drinks are limited to self-served beers from the fridge, but the quality of the music makes this well worth a visit.

Recommended for Bars because: This tiny bar is the setting for top quality live music.

Lucy's expert tip: Dress down, rather than dress to impress, if you want to fit in with the locals at this neighborhood bar.

Read more about Bip Bip →


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Academia da Cachaca
Photo courtesy of Daniel Bonatto/Flickr


Brazil's famously potent national drink, cachaca, is celebrated in all its myriad forms at this lively little bar that has become a Leblon nightlife institution. The national firewater may have a reputation for being as harsh on the palate as it is on the head the following day, but Academia da Cachaca proves that the best cachacas are genuinely delicious tipples. There are some 80 versions on offer here, including barrel-aged and artisan versions, which can be enjoyed by themselves or mixed into dangerously tasty cocktails. There's a small shop here, selling bottles of cachaca as well as caipirinha-making kits.

Recommended for Bars because: This is the best spot in the city to sample Brazil's national spirit at its best.

Lucy's expert tip: The range of bar snacks here is impressive, and ordering a few nibbles will help soak up some of the booze.

Read more about Academia da Cachaca →




Portella occupies a prime spot right at the heart of the party action. Live samba music fills the air here, while the windows that open onto the neighborhood´s main nightlife strip allow for plenty of people-watching as you sip an aged cachaca and nibble on typical Brazilian bar snacks such as delicious little filled pastries served with a tangy tomato sauce. The cocktail list is particularly tempting, and helps add to the party atmosphere here. Portella is actually an off-shoot of a Sao Paulo bar od the same name, but the Santa Teresa branch fits perfectly with the local boheman vibe.

Recommended for Bars because: Portella bar is a lively addition to Santa Teresas nightlife scene.

Lucy's expert tip: Order a selection of bar snacks for tapas-style dining among friends

Read more about Portella →


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 menu takes in electro-heavy club nights, more gentile jazz-fests and live samba sessions, and downstairs dancefloors are packed well into the small hours almost every night of the week. A mezzanine balcony provides ample space for sipping drinks and chatting - should you be able to make yourself heard over the pumping music. Alongside an extensive cocktail list, some tempting finger food. Groups of friends may want to opt for the mixed platter, which includes tasty finger foods such as rosemary and garlic breadsticks, focaccia, sundried tomato paste and little oven-baked pastries.

Read more about Leviano Bar →


In a neighborhood where many bars are formal and a little stuffy, Jobi is a breath of fresh air. The early-opening, late-closing Leblon institution is a fine example of the Rio boteco - botecos being informal bars serving food and good company to a relaxed crowd. Locals and out-of-towners alike flock here for perfectly-kept draught beers, well-mixed cocktails and an extensive range of bar snacks that includes moreish versions of local staples such as bolinhos de bacalhau(fried cod and potato balls). The bar opens late and closes early, so you???re sure to be able to fit in a visit - whether it be for an early morning coffee, early evening food and drinks, or an end-of-the-night cocktail.

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With a prime location on the main drinking and dining strip in leafy, artsy Santa Teresa, Bar do Mineiro is the focal point for the neighborhood's famously lively social scene. As the name suggests, the menu bears the culinary influences of the owner, a 'Mineiro' (native of Minas Gerais) who over the years has built up a loyal fanbase drawn to his hearty plates of meaty dishes. For a lighter snack, the portions of 'pasteis' (small, deepfried pastries filled with cheese, meat, beans or shrimp) are widely considered to be among the best in the city. But it's the lively atmosphere that is the real draw here, with locals and visitors gathering here to eat, drink and chat well into the night.

Read more about Bar do Mineiro →


This Santa Teresa bar-restaurant was opened by a family of Spanish settlers in Brazil in 1919, when it doubled as a grocery store. The official name, Armazem Sao Thiago references this, but for decades this most inviting of watering holes has been affectionately known as Bar do Gomez in honor of the affable owner. Visually, little has changed here over the years, and it maintains a historic charm that makes it one of the best-loved botecos (bar-restaurants) in Rio. Along with an extensive list of bar snacks and nibbles, there are some good sandwiches and main meals on offer - including hearty plates of grilled meat with salad, rice, beans and fries. Wash it down with a cold draught beer or one of the 60 types of cachaca on offer.

Read more about Bar do Gomez (Armazem Sao Thiago) →




Somewhat glitzier than your average Santa Teresa hangout, Explorer bar harbours one end of the famous Largo do Guimaraes square, but has a terrace with views overlooking the steep cobbled streets of this picturesque neighborhood. The drinks, like the food menu, aim to reflect the flavors of the world, with good quality imported gins and tequilas as well as the obligatory sugar cane rum for caipirinhas. Food is colorful and inventive - diners can enjoy traditional Brazilian pasteis or Middle Eastern mezze, among the many options, and the plates are good for tapas-style sharing between friends. Regular live music performances keep things lively, and the light-strewn terrace is simply a lovely place to be on a balmy Rio night.

Recommended for Bars because: Explorer Bar is a relative newcomer on Santa Teresa's drinking and dining scene but has quickly become a favorite hangout for locals and visitors alike.

Lucy's expert tip: Like many bars and restaurants in Santa Teresa, this place is closed on Mondays

Read more about Explorer Bar →


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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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