Rio Nightlife: Drink and Dance in This Legendary Party City

As might be expected of a city that is famous across the planet for its hedonistic, flamboyant carnival and its spectacular New Year's celebrations on the beach, Rio de Janeiro is no wallflower.

This is a place where party animals and exhibitionists will feel instantly at home - whether showcasing some samba steps in the nightclubs and street parties of downtown Lapa or charming the locals with their attempts at Portuguese at casual bars such as Santa Teresa's enduringly popular Bar do Mineiro.

While the summer season, especially the build up to carnival, is the time when Rio de Janeiro nightlife is at its liveliest, the city can be at its best when visited off-season. This is when the tourist crowds dispel, leaving more room on the dancefloor and making for what could arguably be described as a more authentically Brazilian experience.

However, nothing says 'I'm in Rio' more than slipping into a sparkling head dress and spangly swimwear (that goes for guys and gals alike) and dancing the samba along Ipanema beachfront - an experience that is all too likely a possibility when carnival fever takes hold, and those potent caipirinha cocktails take effect.

Whatever time of year you visit, and whatever your nightlife style, Rio de Janeiro will welcome you with open arms.



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...  Read More



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...  Read More



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...  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



Ranked among the best hotel bars 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....  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

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



For a night out among Rio's fashionable elite, make a beeline for Rua Dias Ferreira, at the heart of upmarket Leblon. This tree-lined street is lined with so many fashionable bars and upscale restaurants that it has become the go-to spot for...  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



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...  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.