The Lapa Rio Nightlife Guide: Party Like a Local

By Camila Perez on Jan 03, 2020

When you think of nightlife in Rio de Janeiro, it’s likely that vibrant colors, sizzling samba clubs and buzzing nightlife come to mind. While the entire city offers after-dark entertainment, Lapa is the place to be if you’re hoping to experience the very best of Rio de Janeiro nightlife.

In this guide, we'll take a look at:

  • 1. What is Selina?
  • 2. Brazil at Night: Best Time to Experience the Nightlife
  • 3. Nightlife in Rio de Janeiro: Best areas
  • 4. Where to Stay in Rio for the Best Nightlife

What is Selina?

About Rio de Janeiro Nightlife: What’s on Offer?

If there’s an experience to enhance your trip, it’s likely that you’ll find it in Rio. Lively Samba clubs, dance halls, mellow jazz bars, casual pubs, upscale lounges, and out-of-this-world nightclubs are essential parts of Rio nightlife. Plus, whether you’re into amazing restaurants or casual botecos you’ll find plenty of delicious local cuisine to prep you for the night ahead.

Selina Lapa Rio de Janeiro

Join a community of like-minded people who live, work, and explore on their terms at Selina Lapa Rio de Janeiro!

There’s no need to make complicated plans. Follow in locals’ footsteps and take a laid-back approach to letting your hair down. Once your daytime adventures have come to an end, rinse off the sand, grab a little siesta, and let the excitement begin. Things usually heat up around 9 pm, when locals and visitors hit the botequims for cool cervejas (the local name for beer) and snacks before heading to their chosen hangout. You can often dance, listen to live music, and enjoy unbelievable street parties all in the same evening!

Brazil at Night: Best Time to Experience the Nightlife

Rio de Janeiro nightlife is enjoyable all year round, but there are certain times when the action gets hotter than ever. Summertime is always amazing, as are the New Years and Carnival celebrations. Visiting between November and February means lots of opportunities to visit the local Samba schools, join in the rehearsals, and shimmy alongside samba dancers and drummers who keep the beat going for hours on end.

Nightlife in Rio de Janeiro: Best areas

Ready for after-hours excitement? It’s time to take a closer look at Lapa Rio de Janeiro and some other popular Rio party spots. Whether you’re a digital nomad thinking about spending your days working remotely from one of Rio de Janeiro’s well-appointed coworking spaces or if you’re here for a carefree vacation, there’s no end to adventures you can have here.

Lapa Rio Nightlife

Often referred to as the heart of Rio nightlife, Lapa attracts a young, vibrant crowd. Students love the area not only because it boasts some of the best nightclubs in Rio, but because many clubs offer inexpensive promotional offers. This area lets you experience Rio de Janeiro nightlife alongside locals and visitors alike. Plus, the bars attract a mixed crowd, making Lapa Rio de Janeiro a fantastic melting pot of people from all walks of life.

Lapa nightlife is unbeatable simply because there is so much to do, see, and experience. Aside from being a fantastic place to take in Samba performances from top bands, there are also plenty of spots offering carnival-themed entertainment year-round. Plus, it’s the ideal place to get acquainted with Samba’s roots and learn to dance in a fun, friendly atmosphere.

If you’re interested in Forro, a dance closely related to Samba, Lapa is the perfect place to learn all the right moves. Don’t forget to check out Feira Nordestina or the Leviano Bar, both of which host Forro nights. Once you’ve picked up some Samba and Forro moves, you’ll be ready to strut your stuff at the hottest Rio de Janeiro nightclubs. Don’t worry: these dances are intuitive and the basic steps are easy for beginners!

Bar hopping is a big part of Lapa nightlife and there are tons of interesting spots to try. Of all the neighborhoods in Rio, Lapa stands out for offering dozens of bars within a very short distance from Lapa arches and the famous mosaic steps.

Visit Casa de Cachaça for over a hundred different flavored cachaça shots: You can’t try them all at once, of course, but you can return as many times as you want! Alternatively, experience traditional Brazilian music at Café Sacrilegio, which offers a tempting blend of Samba, Pagode, Bossa Nova, and more. These are just a couple of top spots to try while you’re taking in the Rio de Janeiro nightlife.

Selina Lapa Rio de Janeiro

Join a community of like-minded people who live, work, and explore on their terms at Selina Lapa Rio de Janeiro!

The streets of Lapa are filled with the sound of live music and it’s impossible to resist joining in the impromptu dance parties that pop up around the bands! There are also funk parties which last about four hours- the perfect venue for perfecting your moves and sipping a few inexpensive cocktails. Be sure to try Brazil’s national cocktail, the caipirinha. This refreshing drink is made with lime, sugar, Cachaça, and plenty of ice.

Once you’ve warmed up with a bit of dancing in the streets, you might want to head indoors. No surprise: Lapa is home to a few of the best Rio de Janeiro nightclubs. Check out Lapa 40 for unbeatable authentic energy, or for a more upscale experience, head to Rio Scenarium. Finally, for something completely different, catch a live concert to Fundição Progresso. Famous Brazilian artists often perform there so look out for Jorge Ben Jor, Nação Zumbi, Monobloco, and other popular acts.

In a word, Lapa Rio nightlife is mindblowing. There’s so much to enjoy that you might just find yourself looking to extend your stay. Whether you jump at every chance to party or want to keep things civilized, one thing’s for sure: your after-dark experience will be one you’ll not soon forget.

Praça Mauá is one of the best places to experience Samba dancing on weekends and Trapiche Gamboa is a favorite spot for live samba. This multi-story colonial-era building is often so crowded with dancers that people spill out of the front!

Botafogo is a quick taxi ride from Zona Sul’s beach scene and is a great place to spend laid-back evenings sipping artisanal beers. The area is renowned for its quirky bars, and it’s also home to Comuna, one of the best nightclubs in Rio de Janeiro, or perhaps even one of the best nightclubs in Brazil. Lively clusters of locals and hipsters mix and mingle at countless bars lining Botafogo’s Rua Nelson Mandela and Rua Voluntarias, two trendy streets that are conveniently located near the Botafogo metro station.

Gávea is an upmarket neighborhood that’s famous for quality shopping. Plus, it’s also home to some of the best restaurants in Rio de Janeiro. If you’d like to spend an evening relaxing inside an air-conditioned theatre, head to Shopping Gávea, a mall where you’ll be spoiled for choice.

This neighborhood is an important part of the Rio nightclub scene too, and just in case you’d like to check out the Cariocas, you’ll find many of them performing at informal street parties. We recommend heading over on Monday, Thursday, and Sunday nights to experience the best of the action.

Copacabana is a must-visit beach both by day and by night, the perfect place to see some incredible examples of belle epoque architecture. Visit after dark to experience the rowdy, lighthearted atmosphere that permeates the many bars and restaurants all along the waterfront. Copacabana is one of the best places to find cheap eats as it’s home to great botequins with delicious snacks. It’s worth noting that this beach is such a quintessential part of Rio de Janeiro nightlife, clubs as far away as New York are named in its honor!

Laranjeiras Praça is a residential neighborhood, but Thursday through Sunday, its scenic São Salvador Square serves up incredible street parties, complete with pop-up theaters, jugglers, entertainers, and street vendors offering budget-friendly drinks.

Downtown Rio– where visitors revel in the streets after sunset. This is the birthplace of Samba, and you’ll find plenty of live music to enjoy while sipping cool beers. Downtown is in close proximity to Lapa, and other Rio de Janeiro nightlife hotspots we’ve mentioned are a quick taxi trip away.

Where to Stay in Rio for the Best Nightlife

Looking for the perfect place to stay? Accommodations in Lapa put you within easy reach of Rio de Janeiro nightlife hotspots so there’s not far to travel meaning more time enjoying your evening and less time getting to your chosen destination. Dance the night away, try pub crawling, or enjoy a fantastic botequim tour of Rio’s most iconic bars. There’s even a weekly carnival party complete with carnival drums and dancing! The festivities take place every Saturday night, so there’s no need to wait for carnival itself…

In case you’re looking for more fun in the sun (and after dark!) check out Floripa for laid-back adventures, or head to São Paulo, where you’ll find a thriving art scene and more. Wherever you go and whichever venues you visit, one thing is certain: Rio de Janeiro nightlife is absolutely unforgettable – and your options are nearly limitless. Enjoy!

Selina Lapa Rio de Janeiro

Join a community of like-minded people who live, work, and explore on their terms at Selina Lapa Rio de Janeiro!

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