Rio de Janeiro

It's sometimes said that cariocas would rather expend their energy on the beach and that nighttime is strictly for recharging their batteries and de-sanding their swimsuits, but witnessing the masses swarming into Lapa at 10 pm on a Friday night make this a tricky argument to endorse. New nightclubs and bars continue to sprout up with remarkable regularity, and there are cutting-edge underground rhythms and musical styles competing with samba, chorro, and Brazilian pop (MPB) for the locals' hearts.

A much-loved local pastime is drinking a well-chilled chopp (draft beer) and enjoying the lively atmosphere of a genuine Rio botequim (bar). Every neighborhood has its share of upmarket options (branches of Belmonte and Devassa are dotted around town), but no less enjoyable are the huge number of hole-in-the-wall spots offering ice-cold bottles of cerveja (beer) and the chance to chat with down-to-earth regulars.

Live music is nighttime Rio's raison d'être, with street corners regularly playing host to impromptu renditions. During Carnival the entire city can feel like one giant playground. The electronic-music scene is also very much alive, and the underground popularity of funk (the city's own X-rated genre, not to be confused with the James Brown version) is slowly seeping into the mainstream, down from the huge bailes or open-air parties held weekly in the city's favelas. In addition to samba and MPB, hip-hop, electronica, and rock can be heard in clubs around the city.

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  • 1. Academia da Cachaça

    Leblon | Bars/Pubs

    Not merely the place in Rio to try caipirinhas (made here with a variety of tropical fruits), Academia da Cachaça is a veritable temple to...Read More

  • 2. Bar do Gomez

    Santa Teresa | Bars/Pubs

    Officially Armazem São Thiago, this neighborhood institution is universally referred to by its nickname, Bar do Gomez, in honor of the late...Read More

  • 3. Bip Bip

    Copacabana | Bars/Pubs

    Here the roda de samba —where musicians sit and play instruments around a central table (in fact the only table in this tiny bar)—is legendary...Read More

  • 4. Carioca da Gema

    Lapa | Live Music

    A favorite among local sambistas (samba musicians) and a great spot to listen to live samba in a comfortable environment, Carioca da Gema...Read More

  • 5. Circo Voador

    Lapa | Live Music

    A great venue in an excellent location right by the Lapa arches, Circo Voador hosts club nights during the week, but it's the varied live shows...Read More

  • 6. Nosso

    Ipanema | Bars/Pubs

    This happening hang-out is set on one of Ipanema's prettiest squares. Spread over three floors, it combines a rum bar with a rooftop terrace...Read More

  • 7. Pedra do Sal

    São Cristóvão | Gathering Places

    For one of the most authentic samba experiences in town, head to Monday night's live roda de samba in Pedra do Sal. Located in a residential...Read More

  • 8. Rio Scenarium

    Lapa | Live Music

    Despite the hordes of samba-seeking tourists, Rio Scenarium somehow manages to retain its authenticity and magic. This is partly due to the...Read More

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  • 9. Assis Garrafaria

    Cosme Velho | Wine Bars

    Just a few minutes’ stroll from the station for the funicular railway that whisks tourists up to the Christ statue, this welcoming bar prides...Read More

  • 10. Bar do Mineiro

    Santa Teresa | Bars/Pubs

    The liveliest of Santa Teresa's many drinking dens and the hub of much social activity, this enduringly popular boteco anchors one end of...Read More

  • 11. Bracarense

    Leblon | Bars/Pubs

    A trip to Bracarense after a hard day on the beach is what Rio is all about. Crowds spill onto the streets while parked cars double as chairs...Read More

  • 12. Casa da Matriz

    Botafogo | Live Music

    With its multiroom layout, old-school arcade games, and small junk shop, this shabby-chic venue has the look and feel of a house party. The...Read More

  • 13. Casa Rosa

    Laranjeiras | Live Music

    A former brothel in a bright-pink mansion on the Laranjeiras hillside is now a hipster hot spot for live music and dancing. A young, casual...Read More

  • 14. Cobal do Humaitá

    Humaitá | Bars/Pubs

    Occupying a vast outdoor space under the gaze of Christ the Redeemer, this collection of bars, restaurant, and shops throngs with people after...Read More

  • 15. Fosfobox

    Copacabana | Live Music

    For the serious dance-music enthusiast, Fosfobox, in the heart of Copacabana, plays the best underground tunes, as well as rock and pop. Dancers...Read More

  • 16. Garota de Ipanema

    Ipanema | Bars/Pubs

    This is the original Garota (there are branches all over the city), where Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes penned the timeless song "The Girl...Read More

  • 17. Jobi Bar

    Leblon | Bars/Pubs

    Authentically carioca and a fine place to experience Rio spirit, the bar at down-to-earth Jobi stays open on weekends until the last customer...Read More

  • 18. Mangue Seco Cachaçaria

    Lapa | Bars/Pubs

    Specializing in some of Brazil's finest institutions—strong and fine-tasting cachaças (Brazilian rum), mouthwatering moquecas (stews), and...Read More

  • 19. 00 (Zero Zero)

    Gávea | Live Music

    Alongside the Gávea Planetarium, 00 is at once a buzzing nightclub, chic sushi restaurant, and open-air bar. Music at this enduringly popular...Read More

  • 20. Armazem Devassa

    Ipanema | Bars/Pubs

    Another cross-city bar chain, Devassa—the original and arguably the best branch—is notable for its house-brand beers, including delicious pale...Read More

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