São Paulo

São Paulo's nightlife options are seemingly endless, so knowing where to go is key. The chic and wealthy head for establishments, most of which serve food, in the Vila Olímpia, Jardins, and Itaim neighborhoods. The Pinheiros and Vila Madalena neighborhoods have a large concentration of youthful clubs and bars, and many trendy clubs have opened in Barra Funda. Jardins and Centro have many gay and lesbian spots, with the area around Rua Augusta catering to hipsters.

Most clubs open at 9 pm, but people tend to arrive late (around midnight) and dance until 5 or 6 am. Still, you should arrive early to be at the front of the lines. Don't worry if the dance floor appears empty at 11 pm; things will start to sizzle an hour or so later.

Clubbing can get expensive. Most clubs charge at least R$20 at the door (sometimes women are allowed in for free), and the most popular and upscale places charge as much as R$300 just for entry. At the hottest clubs, expect to wait in line for a bit, especially if you head out late. Expect to wait in line on the way out again, too—the system is usually that you charge your drinks on an electronic tab, presenting the card and paying upon leaving. It can mean long queues: smart clubbers think ahead and pay up in good time.

A word about happy hour: Unlike in some countries, where the term refers to those few early-evening hours when drinks are cheaper, happy hour (pronounced and written in English) in Brazil simply means the time just after the work day ends, around 6 pm, when you might head to a bar for a drink with friends or colleagues. Despite the lack of discounted cocktails, paulistanos love to use the term, and many bars are judged purely on their suitability as a happy hour venue.

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  • 1. Madeleine

    Vila Madalena | Live Music

    The riffs heard at Madeleine place it in an exclusive stratum of São Paulo music clubs, but it's the mix of music, food, drinks, and atmosphere...Read More

  • 2. Veloso

    Vila Mariana | Bars/Pubs

    Tables here are as disputed as a parking spot in front of a downtown apartment. An intimate corner bar on a quiet cobblestone plaza, Veloso...Read More

  • 3. A Lanterna

    Vila Madalena | Dance Clubs

    Because this venue is a restaurant, a bar, and a nightclub, you can go early for dinner and stay late for dancing. Actors, dancers, and musicians...Read More

  • 4. Alberta #3

    Centro | Dance Clubs

    A linchpin of the nightlife revival pulling hipsters back to Centro, this club across from the Novotel Jaraguá caters to crowds from happy hour...Read More

  • 5. All of Jazz

    Vila Olímpia | Live Music

    People come here to listen quietly to good jazz and bossa nova in an intimate environment—there's even a CD store upstairs with more than 3...Read More

  • 6. Astor

    Vila Madalena | Bars/Pubs

    The 1960s and 1970s bohemian-chic decor here sends you back in time. The quality draft beer and tasty snacks and meals mean that Astor is always...Read More

  • 7. Balcão

    Jardim Paulista | Bars/Pubs

    Balcão means "bar" in Portuguese, and this artsy place has a long, curving one. If you'd like a little food to accompany your drinks and conversation...Read More

  • 8. Bar Brahma

    Centro | Bars/Pubs

    First opened in 1948, Bar Brahma used to be the meeting place of artists, intellectuals, and politicians. The decor is a time warp to the mid...Read More

  • 9. Bar Do Arnesto

    Vila Olímpia | Bars/Pubs

    More than 500 types of the rumlike liquor cachaça—the main ingredient in caipirinhas, Brazil's national cocktail—line a huge wall at this traditional...Read More

  • 10. Blue Space

    Barra Funda | Dance Clubs

    In a huge colonial blue house in an old industrial neighborhood, Blue Space is one of the largest gay nightclubs in São Paulo. Every Saturday...Read More

  • 11. Bourbon Street

    Moema | Live Music

    With a name right out of New Orleans, it's no wonder that Bourbon Street is where the best jazz and blues bands, Brazilian and international...Read More

  • 12. Bubu Lounge Disco

    Pinheiros | Dance Clubs

    Disco balls dangle over the dance floor at gay Bubu, where shirtless is the new fully clothed. Drag performers strut their stuff at Sunday matinees...Read More

  • 13. Café Piu Piu

    Bela Vista/Bixiga | Live Music

    The café is best-known for its live-rock nights—Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. On other nights, it hosts groups that play rock jazz, blues...Read More

  • 14. Canto da Ema

    Pinheiros | Dance Clubs

    At what's widely considered the best place in town to dance forró (music/dance from Brazil's Northeast), you'll find people of different ages...Read More

  • 15. Carioca Club

    Pinheiros | Live Music

    A carioca is a person from Rio de Janeiro, and Carioca Club has the decor of old-style Rio clubs. Its large dance floor attracts an eclectic...Read More

  • 16. Casa 92

    Pinheiros | Dance Clubs

    Giving new meaning to the concept house party, Casa 92 was fashioned out of a converted domicile. The living room has been fitted with disco...Read More

  • 17. Cine Joia

    Centro | Dance Clubs

    Cine Joia takes the form of a resurrected vintage cinema, minus the seating but with the added attraction of a top-notch video-mapping system...Read More

  • 18. D.Edge

    Barra Funda | Dance Clubs

    Electronic music is the main attraction at this popular club with a Death Star–meets–Studio 54 appeal. As many as nine DJs, often including...Read More

  • 19. Drosophyla

    Consolação | Bars/Pubs

    Your creepy aunt's house filled with bizarre keepsakes meets quaint garden bar at Drosophyla. Young professionals and midlife free spirits assemble...Read More

  • 20. Empanadas

    Vila Madalena | Bars/Pubs

    Most patrons stop at Empanadas for a beer en route to another Vila Madalena bar. It's a good place to "warm up" for an evening out with a quick...Read More

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