A Study Abroad Student's Guide to Rio de Janeiro Nightlife


South America

Almost four months into my semester abroad, I have to say the work hard play hard ratio has been a little off. One great thing about this city (but not so great if you’re trying to work or study here) is that there’s always something going on. After you watch Damon’s Before the Club Routine, you’ll be ready to hit the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Organized by areas of the city, here’s an introduction to a few spots you can’t miss.

It's about to be liiiit. General Tips

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    How will you know where to go? Most parties at clubs, bars, and even in the streets have Facebook events. The events section is a great way to find out about anything happening around the city.

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    Outside of Carnival, the metro closes at midnight, so Uber will be your best friend. It’s relatively cheap here, especially if you’re splitting the ride with friends. You can pay with a card or in cash.

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    Fancy cocktails can be nice, but the best caipirinhas are usually those sold on the street for between 5 and 15 Brazilian Reais, or $2-5 USD. They are traditionally made with lime, but you can also try Brazil’s national cocktail with fruits like passion fruit and pineapple.

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    Safety first! Be aware of your surroundings and stick with your friends. You may want to use a fanny pack or money belt instead of a purse. Now let’s get to the good part…


First and foremost: Lapa! Recognizable by the white arches that mark the entrance into the neighborhood, Lapa is probably the biggest nightlife hub. Pictured above is my night out with Faizan, Zaynah, and Hadi. The streets are lined with clubs, bars, and people socializing and drinking outside. Every Wednesday Pub Kriok hosts a Latin Night where you can go dancing to reggaeton, bachata, and pop music. At Botequim Vaca Atolada you can enjoy drinks and food while dancing to authentic live samba. Teatro Odisséia is a two-story nightclub hosting DJs and various types of live music. If you head to the arches Thursday through Saturday night and just walk around, you’re sure to find something fun to do!


Urca is a nice part of the city with a bunch of waterfront bars. If you’re looking to do something a little different, head to Flutuante Rio, a restaurant and bar that’s actually out in the middle of the water. It’s a nice place to grab drinks and listen to music or to see the views in the daytime. However, it is a bit more expensive than average.

Pedra do Sal

Pedra do Sal in the city center is a must! It’s a plaza in an area also known as Pequena África that hosts Friday and Monday night parties. Earlier in the night, they have samba, and later they play Brazilian funk and American hip hop. Pedra do Sal is definitely one of the best ways to get a taste of Rio nightlife.


Vidigal is one of the larger and “nicer” favelas in the city. At the top is a trendy (and expensive) place called Bar da Laje (*cough cough* gentrification). The cover charge to get in is $BR 50. Once you get to the entrance of the favela you’ll either take a mototaxi or a van to the top. The highlight is probably the amazing view. Vidigal is beautiful, and I definitely felt safe, but it can be a bit of a strange dynamic if you’re going into the favela just to party. If you choose to go, do try to support the local community by buying snacks or drinks at one of the street stands. You might also pass through in the daytime on your way to go hiking.


For more chill vibes, check out Botafogo, a neighborhood near Copacabana. Comuna is a more alternative bar, restaurant, and art space. It’s a great place to hang out, drink, and listen to music in a relaxed environment. If you head to this spot you’ll find a street with a number of other bars and people socializing outside.

This is just a start! There are definitely so many more neighborhoods and amazing spots that’ll make for an exciting night, so have fun exploring.

Where’s the best place to go out in your city?

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