Mingling at midnight: the buzzy nightlife of Rio de Janeiro

In between great coastal lines and the incredibly high buildings that mark the cityscape, the local people, called Cariocas, do only start the best part of the day when it gets dark. Once you’ve arrived and settled in to your hotel, get out and explore this city that almost never sleeps!

From cheery restaurants and vibrant neighborhoods to samba clubs and favela parties: here are 17 spots in Rio de Janeiro that’ll make your night out unforgettable.

1. Jobi

1-Jobi-rio-de-janeiro-nightlife

Opened in 1956 and placed just two blocks from the beach, Jobi is quite the institution in Leblon. At a glance there isn’t much to set this bar apart from plenty of others around the area, and yet for some mysterious reason, this is the one that has people spilling out onto the street almost every night of the week. Jobi just has that something. Keep the ‘chope’ – draft beer – flowing, order the delicious ‘rabada com agrião’ (tender oxtail stew with watercress), and enjoy a genuine night out with the locals.

Where: Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva, 1166
Tel: +55 21 2274 0547
Nearest station: Bus: 2017, 2015, 402

2. Pedra do Sal

3-PedraDoSal-what-to-do-in-rio-de-janeiro

Monday nights at Pedra do Sal are unmissable if you’re interested in local music and culture. Push your way through the heaving crowds until you find a place up on the rock that overlooks the live samba performance in the little square. Pedra do Sal translates to ‘rock of salt’, and steps have been hewn into the huge rock which dominates the square, while street art on the walls depicts the struggles that Rio’s Afro-Brazilian community have faced over the years.

Here, history and culture are literally carved into the floor and walls. Rub shoulders with the friendly locals – and soak up the history and atmosphere of one of Rio’s most important musical traditions.

Where: Largo da Prainha
Tel: n/a
Nearest station: Presidente Vargas

3. Baixo Gávea

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The Baixo Gávea (pronounced ‘BUY-show GA-veeya’) neighborhood is lined with bars and restaurants that get full to bursting with the young student crowd. If you land yourself here on a game night, where one of Rio’s big football teams are playing, it seems like half the stadium shows up after the game. Join the busy crowds buying cheap beers and ‘caipirinhas’ from bars among opportunistic street vendors. This is a genuine Carioca night out, so grab yourself a drink, hang out for a while and before long you’ll be chatting away with new friends.

If your legs need a rest, push your way through the crowds to reach Pe’ahi for sushi and a seat.

Where: Praça Santos Dumont
Tel: n/a
Nearest station: Bus: 570, 162, 124

4. Comuna

6-Comuna-rio-night-club

Who says you have to specialize to excel? Comuna does a little of everything and does a great job on all of them! This large, warehouse-like space in the neighborhood of Botafogo features an exhibition space, a fashion store, an art gallery, a space for cultural events, and a night club. And it all goes together like a charm. Comuna has an artistic, creative vibe that never gets pretentious. The bar serves up creative and well-made cocktails, and the small kitchen is making a name for itself with its amazing gourmet burgers.

The club space on the second floor hosts a number of diverse events, from performance art to techno nights – check the website to see what’s going on when you’re around.

Where: Rua Sorocaba, 585
Tel: +55 21 3029 0789
Nearest station: Botafogo

5. Circo Voador

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A night out at Circo Voador is an experience of the very beating heart of the Lapa neighborhood. Opening back in 1982, this is one of Rio’s most important live music venues, playing host to all the Brazilian legends as well as big name touring bands and Brazilian funk night, ‘Eu amo Baile Funk’. With a capacity of just 2,500 people you’ll find this a surprisingly intimate venue, but don’t think the atmosphere is subdued. The Rio crowd is loud, enthusiastic and knows how to have fun, so push your way to the front and jump around!

Afterwards cool off in the spacious seating area located next to the outside bars.

Where: Rua dos Arcos
Tel: +55 21 2533 0354
Nearest station: Cinelândia

6. O Plebeu

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On busy evenings in the neighborhood of Botafogo, you can judge a bar’s popularity by the size of the crowd spilling out onto the streets. By this measure, O Plebeu is doing very well. Situated in a large yellow townhouse on a busy crossroad, this spacious two-story bar attracts groups who want to drink cold beers and socialize. For beer connoisseurs there is a large list of imported beers to choose from, for everyone else one of the standard Brazilian beer bottles in large ice buckets is a deal that just can’t go wrong.

The food is simple and satisfying – try the fish ‘goujons’ or juicy ‘picanha steak’. This is a top bar for watching football with the locals.

Where: Rua Capitão Salomão, 50
Tel: +55 21 2286 0699
Nearest station: Botafogo

7. Cobal do Humaíta

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By day this is a mild-mannered food market with restaurants opening for workers from nearby offices. By night Cobal comes alive and transforms into a lively nightlife spot. Overlooked by the Christ the Redeemer statue, the bars and restaurants in this covered market put out chairs and tables in the open air. On warm evenings it quickly fills with lively crowds drinking, having fun and enjoying somewhat rowdy meals while waiters hurry this way and that.

There are plenty of options here for those with an appetite – try Manekineko for mid-range sushi, Tex-Mex at Rota 66, or stick to ice-cold chopes – draft beer – at Espírito do Chopp.

Where: Rua Voluntários da Pátria, 446
Tel: +55 21 2537 0186
Nearest station: Bus: 157, 574, 162

8. Trapiche Gamboa

Trapiche-rio-de-janeiro-nightlife

The energy and history of samba wash over you as you enter the grand hall of Trapiche Gamboa. Edge past the couples expertly dipping and twisting to the live music and make your way to the long bar to sip potent ‘caipirinhas’, Brazil’s national cocktail. If you prefer to observe from afar, grab a table on one of the two mezzanine levels and indulge in wonderfully rich comfort food classics such as ‘escondidinho’ – creamy baked manioc with shrimps, and ‘bolinhos de bacalhau’ – cod fish fritters. A firm favorite with the local samba crowd, this club will give you an exciting taste of authentic Carioca dance and music.

Where: Rua Sacadura Cabral, 155
Tel: +55 21 2516 0868
Nearest station: Uruguaiana

9. Baile de Charme Viaduto de Madureira

RIO_Baile-de-charme-viaduto-de-Madureira rio night club

If you want to experience what urban Brazilian kids are listening to today, you’ll need to head north to the Baile de Charme in Madureira. Starting at around midnight every Saturday, this dance event specializes in what Brazilians call ‘Black Music’: hip-hop, soul and R&B. The setting is unconventional – it’s held outdoors, underneath a high concrete overpass. While it’s not exactly an elegant location, it suits this night of gritty, urban music very well. As DJs and live acts perform to the crowd, check out the groups working their synchronized dance moves. Overall this makes the perfect celebration of the hearty rhythm of Brazilian youth.

Where: Viaduto Prefeito Negrão de Lima
Tel: +55 21 7895 9862
Nearest station: Madureira

10. Barra Music

Barra Music rio de janeiro nightlife

Barra Music is big. Really big. In fact, when clubs get this big, they get labelled ‘venues’ instead. This venue has 20 bars, a capacity of 6,600 people and parking for 1,000 cars. No wonder it has been called the Maracanã of nightclubs. The main arena features a huge 98-foot stage and massive dancefloor which regularly attracts national and international stars, along with huge crowds of adoring fans. Saturday nights are Barra Music’s party night simply called ‘Festa’ – expect amazing stage shows, high production values, smoke machines, lasers and huge crowds, mostly between the ages of 18-25. Party on.

Where: Avenida Ayrton Senna, 5850
Tel: +55 21 3303 1000
Nearest station: Bus: 465, 692

11. Boate 021

Boate 021 nightlife in rio de janeiro

This bar and nightclub is one of THE places to see and be seen for the West Zone’s young, affluent crowd. A favorite haunt of footballers and other celebrities, the bar fills up quickly on weekends with young revelers intent on having some fun. Moving from the bar to the dancefloor, a night at this club often involves live samba on Wednesdays, ‘sertenejo’ (Brazilian country music) on Thursdays, as well as DJs playing funk and hip-hop. Check listings for details. On Sundays, the club serves ‘feijoada’, a traditional Brazilian bean stew, along with half-price drinks between 16.30 and 19.00.

Where: Avenida Armando Lombardi, 583
Tel: +55 21 2491 8587
Nearest station: Bus: 957, 332

12. Teatro Odisséia

Teatro-Odisseia clubs in rio de janeiro

Back when Lapa was still a dangerous and disreputable neighborhood with dirty streets and decaying bars, Teatro Odisséia was one of the first places to open its doors and show belief that this could be Rio’s hottest spot for night life. A decade later, Teatro Odisséia is one of the main venues in Lapa. Located in a three-story house that dates back to the 19th century, this nightclub attracts the young alternative crowd who are up for … well, literally anything. Expect wild parties, sweaty crowds, no holds barred live performances and club nights featuring indie, rock and electronic music, as well as occasional samba and MPB, Brazilian Popular Music.

Where: Avenida Mem de Sá, 66
Tel: +55 21 2226 9691
Nearest station: Cinelândia

13. La Paz

La-Paz rio night club

With its stark concrete walls and harsh metalwork features, La Paz will transport you back to the British clubs that pioneered house music in the early 1990s. From the owners of legendary club Fosfobox in Copacabana, La Paz attracts a young crowd who enjoy staying up late and partying hard. Distributed over three stories, there are two dance floors that get hot and crowded, plus a terrace for those who have habits to attend to. Music styles here vary between rock, pop, hip-hop and electronic, depending on the visiting DJ. On Sundays, the pace changes radically when La Paz hosts a fun and sweaty night of forró, a sensual Brazilian dance.

Where: Rua do Rezende, 82
Tel: +55 21 2509 2403
Nearest station: Cinelândia

14. Quadra do Santa Marta

Quadra-do-Santa-Marta clubs in rio de janeiro

Do you like your cultural experiences served up with a generous dose of reality? Rio’s bustling hotspots host plenty of performances watched by more tourists than locals, but if you prefer to rub shoulders with the locals then make your way to the neighborhood of Botafogo. At the base of Santa Marta, one of Rio’s safest and most colorful favelas – slums – Quadra do Santa Marta is a huge covered venue that draws a young crowd intent on dancing the weekend away. With colorful graffiti on the walls and an informal dress code, this club venue is one for people who want to experience the REAL Rio nightlife. Musical styles include Brazilian funk, pagode and samba – check the website for listings.

Where: Rua Jupira, 72
Tel: +55 21 7832 2698
Nearest station: Botafogo

15. Carioca da Gema

Carioca-Da-Gema rio de janeiro nightlife

Why wait till the weekend? Put your dancing shoes on, this festive club in Lapa is a dependable night out, seven days a week. Here, bands play samba and choro, the popular Brazilian instrumental music, to a very lively crowd, mostly above the age of 30. The exposed brick walls and the small stage give this place a cozy feel, though ‘cozy’ turns to ‘crowded’ on busy weekend nights. This is definitely a place for those who love to dance, but there is also an airy balcony for anyone who wants to take things a little easier. If you get hungry or fancy a change of pace, the first floor offers a bar and pizzeria.

Where: Avenida Mem de Sá, 79
Tel: +55 21 2221 0043
Nearest station: Cinelândia

16. 00

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A club and restaurant in a planetarium? Sure, why not! 00 is a modern and sophisticated venue in upmarket neighborhood Gávea. With funky lighting, a super-cool concrete bar and enough designer furniture to seat a small army, 00 is best tackled on a day where you feel painfully trendy. The restaurant has excellent food on offer, while the club serves up house, hip-hop, and drum and bass. On Tuesday nights travelers from hostels across the city gather for samba night ‘Bem Brazil’, with free ‘caipirinhas’ between 22:00 and midnight. Sunday is a popular gay night with DJs playing house. Expect a sophisticated, well dressed crowd. Wearing your fanciest gear should leave you feeling right at home. Bring ID.

Where: Avenida Padre Leonel Franca, 240
Tel: +55 21 2540 8042
Nearest station: Bus: 402, 432, 161

17. Clube dos Democráticos

Clube-dos-Democráticos rio de janeiro nightlife

A dance club opened by a group of bohemian shop owners who won the lottery? Only in Rio! This is a venue for locals who love to dance in pairs, so put on your dancing shoes and leave your inhibitions at home. This is one of the places you can return to again and again and find it looking just like it did in the old days. The one large, open dance hall ships you right back to the start of the 19th century. You might think it could benefit from a bit of renovation, but for many this is part of the charm. If you’re not an expert dancer, you’ll find seating at one end of the hall, from where you can observe from a safe distance. Consider yourself warned: If you hover near the dance floor, you may receive an impromptu dance lesson.

Where: Rua Riachuelo, 91
Tel: +55 21 2252 1324
Nearest station: Cinelândia

Need a place to sleep for the few hours in between all the night activities? Have a look at these great hostels in Rio or the most friendly guesthouses. Then check out our Rio inspiration site, containing all the best restaurants, bars, museums and more to help you plan your trip!