Rio de Janeiro’s reputation for caipirinha-fueled hedonism and pulsing samba beats precedes it, and if you’re heading to Brazil’s fun-loving cultural capital, you’ve likely set aside at least one night to party. The city’s nightlife is concentrated around two main areas – the Zona Sul (South Zone) clubs and the legendary Lapa District – with an abundance of botequins (street bars), gafieiras (dancehalls) and nightclubs clustered around the Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabana neighborhoods, as well as along the waterfront of the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon.
Cariocas will find any excuse for a party, but the liveliest time of year is during the annual Carnival, when the entire city will be hosting parades, street parties and all-night club nights. Even if you can’t make it for the big event, you can still sample the Carnival spirit at a Plataforma Samba Show or, in the run up to Carnival, watch the Saturday night rehearsals held at Rio’s most famous samba schools.
Alternatively, take a Rio de Janeiro nightlife tour in Lapa and discover the city’s most bohemian district, where the many bars and clubs host some of the best local samba, baião, forró and gafieira bands. You’ll even get to learn how to make Brazil’s national cocktail, the caipirinha, made from cachaça, lime and sugar; tuck into local specialties like moqueca (fish stew) and watch a live music show at the legendary Rio Scenarium, one of Rio’s most atmospheric venues.