Home of the world’s largest carnival celebration, Rio de Janeiro is widely-renowned as the city where the party never stops, but there are many things to do in Rio at night besides clubbing. Revellers from around the globe come to sip on caipirinhas, swing their hips to samba, and sample the city’s rich and varied nightlife. But the best evenings in Rio aren’t always spent in the clubs.
After a long day of sight-seeing or sunbathing on Ipanema, it’s not always preferable to spend the evening in a nightclub. Whether you’re looking to taste some traditional Brazilian cuisine, catch the sunset from one of the city’s best spots, or head to where cariocas – Rio’s local people – hang out after dark, there’s a large number of things to do in Rio de Janeiro come nightfall.
If partying isn’t really your thing, or you’re in desperate need of a night off, we’ve pulled together a list of 11 of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro at night, besides clubbing.
Sundowners at Mureta Da Urca
Evenings in Rio de Janeiro begin at sunset. There’s nowhere better to admire the setting sun than at Mureta Da Urca. This is a stretch of wall that overlooks Guanabara Bay. Locals and tourists alike congregate at Mureta Da Urca (literally Urca’s little wall). Here you can chat, drink beer, and marvel at views of Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer silhouetted against a beautiful orange and pink sky.
Set in the quiet, Southerly neighborhood of Urca, this spot is a perfect relaxed start to your night in Rio. It’s not unusual to catch adhoc live music performances here, or get chatting to someone sat on the wall next to you – so don’t be afraid to come here on your own. Lastly, remember that any evening spent at Mureta De Urca is best accompanied with an ice cold beer and some snacks, either from one of the street vendors or local bars.
Christ the Redeemer at dusk
Christ the Redeemer is undeniably Rio de Janeiro’s most famous sight. The colossal, 92-foot Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ towers over the city. It is one of The New Seven Wonders of the World. Owing to its position at the peak of Corcovado mountain, Christ the Redeemer offers unrivalled views of Rio. Most people visit this must-see monument in the burning heat of the day. But why not beat the crowds and venture up at dusk?
Visiting Christ the Redeemer just before it closes at 7pm is a great way to capture the perfect picture of the views of the city from the top of Corcovado mountain. The positioning of the sun behind you makes for beautiful images of the city as it transitions into night. For the best visibility, make sure you go on a clear evening!
Kiosk hop at Copacabana Beach
The kiosks (known as quiosques in Portuguese) on Copacabana beach’s promenade are a great place to start any night in Rio. These bustling, open air bars are situated on Rio’s most iconic shoreline. They attract a mix of locals, national and international tourists with their live music, food and drink, served all day and into the night. Whether you’re after a reasonably-priced caiprinha and some traditional Brazilian snacks, or fancy something a little more high-end, with so many kiosks to choose from, it’s easy to stroll along the promenade and pick one, or perhaps multiple, that suit your vibe.
If you’re hungry for a taste of the sea try Gosto de Mar. This kiosk offers freshly caught seafood and an eclectic mix of live music. Quiosque Globo, run by Brazilian TV network Globo, is a good choice if you fancy a drink and a simple snack. For something a little different, head to Cantino Cearense. This bustling kiosk serves generous portions of Cearense food, originating from the state of Ceara, in North Brazil. You can find a more tranquil experience at the southerly end of the beach, where fishermen at work replace beachgoers. Here you’ll find Posto 6, a great kiosk with a relaxed vibe and a great plate of calamari.
Watch a game of fútbol at Maracanã Stadium
Whether you’re a soccer fanatic, or are simply interested in experiencing a different aspect of Brazilian culture, going to watch a soccer game (or fútbol, as it’s known locally) is a fun thing to do at night in Rio de Janeiro. Maracanã Stadium is the largest stadium in Brazil. It has hosted events ranging from the 2016 Olympic games, to concerts from bands such as The Rolling Stones. However, some of the most exciting experiences to be had at Maracanã Stadium come when local teams – such as Flamengo, Botafogo, Fluminense, and Vasco – come head to head.
Brazilians are well-renowned for their passion for soccer. Attending a game at Maracanã Stadium is the best way to experience it first hand. While this is a family-friendly activity, get ready for a lively atmosphere of chants, shouts and singing. Regardless of whether you know your Portuguese or not, it’s best to forget your inhibitions and get involved!
Sip cocktails on Sugarloaf Mountain
There’s a reason that Sugarloaf Mountain is one of the most popular attractions in Rio de Janeiro. Standing 396 meters high, the mountain offers a panoramic view of the city: from Tiuna National Park and the city’s historical centre, to its beaches, harbor and of course, Christ the Redeemer. To get up here, you have two options. Either hike up the first section to Morro da Urca, where you can catch a cable car to the peak, or catch two cable cars all the way to the peak. For those fancying a little exercise, the hike is relatively easy. It takes between 30 and 40 minutes, and takes a scenic route through tropical greenery populated by various wildlife. Whichever you decide to do, we recommend you aim to reach the top for sunset.
Most people head to Sugarloaf Mountain between 10am and 3pm. If you go at these times, you’re likely to encounter large queues to board a cable car. Providing it’s a clear day, heading up Sugarloaf mountain in the early evening offers beautiful views of the sun setting over the city. There’s even a cocktail bar at the top, which usually has a happy hour in the early evening – making for the perfect way to start your night in Rio de Janeiro. Just be sure not to miss the final cable car, which descends at 8:30pm.
Eat at a Churrascaría
If you’re a lover of all things meaty, you have to eat at a churrascaría. In these restaurants, chefs prepare meat in the traditional churrasco style, which roughly translates to barbeque. It’s essential to turn up with a healthy appetite, because dining in a churrascaría is an all you can eat affair. You can expect waiters to serve the barbequed meats rodízio style – sliced from large skewers at your table. Accompanying the meat, churrascarías serve a selection of side dishes and salads. Some restaurants additionally offering fresh fish and even sushi.
Rio de Janeiro is home to some of the best churrascarías in Brazil. You’ll find plenty all throughout the city, but some of the most popular ones are Churrascaría Palace in Copacabana – a family restaurant founded in 1951 – Fogo de Chão in the Botafogo neighborhood, and Carretão Ipanema, which is located in the heart of Ipanema. Having an indulgent dining experience at one of these typical, Brazilian restaurants is a delicious thing to do in Rio de Janeiro at night – providing you eat meat!
Sample traditional Brazilian finger foods in a sujinho
If you don’t have the appetite or budget for a meat feast, spend the evening in a sujinho. These small bars make for a much more lowkey and affordable night in Rio. The nickname sunjinho, translating as ‘dirty’ in English, may not seem like an appealing place to eat. However these often cramped bars form the backbone of carioca nightlife. As the name suggests, don’t expect anything fancy. These bars are renowned for their simplicity: think plastic seating, cheap beer and relaxed dress codes. If you want a more authentic experience of Rio by night, heading to a sujinho is a great way to immerse yourself in local culture and get chatting to local people.
In addition to your ice-cold beer, sujinhos tend to serve a wide variety of Brazilian finger foods. Be sure to sample a range of their popular street food snacks. We recommend you try a coxinha – a cone-shaped chicken croquette, and empadas, small patties filled with meat and vegetables. Spending a night in a sujinho is a great thing to do in Rio de Janeiro at night.
Experience the origins of samba in Pedra do Sal
Each Monday and Friday night, it hosts Samba at Pedra do Sal, a free open air Samba party. Starting at 8pm, this is a brilliant event to attend for a much more authentic experience of Brazilian music and dancing than you’ll find in any club.
Pedra do Sal is widely-recognised as the birthplace of Brazil’s favourite dance, samba. The historic and religious site is located in the neighborhood of Saúde. It was previously a quilombo, a community of escaped slaves during colonial times in Brazil. Nicknamed ‘Little Africa,’ nowadays Pedra do Sal is a centre for Black culture within Rio. It attracts locals and tourist alike to appreciate samba roots, chorinho and jazz.
Attend a live performance
Don’t fancy doing the dancing yourself? No problem! Attending a live dance performance is a great thing to do in Rio de Janeiro at night. Performed at Teatros Leblon, Ginga Tropical is a live show that showcases the cultural diversity of Brazil. Set to Brazilian music, the performance features wide variety of Brazil’s folkloric dances – 16 different styles to be specific. Dancers from all regions of the country perform traditional dances. This includes carimbó from the Amazon, frevo from Pernambuco, boleadeira from Rio Grande do Sul and many more. Ginga Tropical runs the gamut of Brazilian dance culture, proving that there’s much more to dance in Rio than just samba!
Rio Scenarium, in the lively neighborhood of Lapa, is another great place to catch a show. The bar and live music venue is one of the most iconic venues in Rio. It hosts local acts and up-and-coming bands performing samba, forró, baião, bossa nova, and gafieira music. As you listen to the music, you can also enjoy the impressive interiors of Rio Scenarium. The beautiful venue houses a collection of 10,000 antiques. This makes it the perfect place to snap pictures of everything from vintage bicycles to antique clocks and radios. What’s more, Rio Scenarium incorporates its own dance floor. Once you’ve watched the professionals at work, you can get up and have a dance yourself.
Sleep with the fishes at Rio de Janeiro Marine Aquarium
If you’re a fan of marine wildlife, you can’t miss Rio de Janeiro Marine Aquarium, South America’s largest aquarium. Here you can come fin to face with over 8,000 animals of 350 different species, mostly native to Brazil. When walking through the acquarium’s 650-feet long underseas tunnel visitors can spot exotic varieties of sea life. While the venue typically closes for the evening, it does offer an exciting opportunity for people to spend the nights in the depth of the aquarium: Dormindo no Aquario (Sleeping in the Aquarium). This unique experience is the perfect, family-friendly way to spend an exciting evening in Rio with the kids.
But sorry, adults – this one is aimed at kids!
Learn to cook like a Brazilian at an evening cookery class
It’s easy to spend a long time in Rio de Janeiro, eating out at all the delicious restaurants that the city has to offer. However, wouldn’t it be great if, at the end of your trip, you were able to take a little piece of the Brazilian cuisine home with you?
Cookery classes are one of the best ways to experience one of the cornerstones of Brazilian culture: food. Many chefs from Rio de Janeiro host cookery classes in English. These can last as long as 4 hours and give you the opportunity to learn up to 7 traditional recipes.
Cookery classes make for an evening of culinary delight. They allow participants to immerse themselves in the unique flavors of local cooking while practicing traditional carioca techniques and recipes. From learning how to cook a classic black bean Feijoada, to mixing the perfect Caiprinha or Batida de Coco, after attending a Brazilian cookery class, you’ll be prepared to take a slice of the Rio’s culture home with you. This is also a great activity if you’re looking for one of the best gifts to bring back from Brazil. Why not put your learnings to practice and treat your friends and family to a delicious Brazilian meal once you get home?
Is Rio de Janeiro safe at night?
Rio’s safety at night largely depends on which part of the city you find yourself in. Generally speaking, Rio’s South Zone is safe at night so long as you stick to busy, well-lit areas and take precautions. This includes the neighborhoods of Ipanema, Copacabana, Leblon and Botafogo. On the other hand, Rio’s North Zone and its favelas are certainly not safe at night. Tourists should by no means venture into these areas.
Even in the touristic areas of Rio, your safety at night very much depends on how you behave. Many of the crimes that happens towards tourists in Rio de Janeiro are crimes of opportunity. This means tourists can become targets by behaving in a way that makes them vulnerable. For example, it is strongly recommended not draw attention to yourself by wearing flashy jewelry (even if it’s not expensive jewelry), using smartphones, tablets, or expensive-looking cameras in plain view of others, or carrying large amounts of cash.
Staying vigilant is essential. Never let your possessions get out of your sight, and make sure you carry your belongings in a secure way. Don’t walk around with your smartphone in your back pocket, or carry your possessions in a bag without a secure zip. To keep things extra safe, it’s definitely worth buying a money belt that you can wear discretely under your clothing to ensure that your belongings are out of view of prying eyes.
Keeping your money safe from theft and pickpockets is essential when traveling on the road.
A Travel Safety Belt is an effective and affordable way of protecting your notes, cards, and cash.
Getting around Rio at night
Public transport is generally safe in the day, but it’s best not to use it at night. To get around safely in Rio at night, never use the metro or buses. Instead, take a registered taxi or Uber. While walking in well-lit and busy areas of the South Zone is fine, be sure to avoid dark and deserted streets, especially if you are alone. This is true also of the beach. While it’s okay to stroll along the lit promenade next to the beach, never venture onto the actual beach after dark.
Ultimately, the golden rule to ensure you remain safe in Rio at night is to listen to trusted locals. It’s worth speaking to your guide or the staff at your hotel or hostel to get the best idea of which areas are safer and where to avoid at night.
Keeping your possessions safe at the beach in Rio
You should particularly keep your wits about you on the beach. Ipanema and Copacabana beaches get very busy in the daytime, and are populated by a mix of tourists, locals and sellers. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t take your valuables to the beach.
While it can be tempting to consider leaving your items under a towel while you take a quick dip in the sea, it’s very likely that they won’t be there when you come back. Don’t even leave your flip-flops, or you might end up walking around the city barefoot looking to buy another pair! If you’re on you’re own and in the mood for a dip, ask another beachgoer to look after your belongings.
Is it safe to walk around Copacabana at night?
It is safe to walk around Copacabana at night, so long as you follow a number of basic rules. Stick to busy, well-lit areas, don’t flash your valuables about (including jewelry, cameras, phones etc), and avoid getting on public transport (take a taxi!).
Copacabana is home to some of the best of Rio’s nightlife. This means that many of the streets in this neighborhood are well lit, bustling and safe for tourists after dark. However, this excludes the beach. While it’s perfectly safe to enjoy Copacabana beach by day, going onto the beach at night could be dangerous. When walking by the beach at night, be sure to stick to the lit promenade with the black and white tiling, just don’t venture onto the sand.
To ensure your safety in this part of the city at night, do your research beforehand. Before setting off, work out where it is you want to go and how you’re going to get there. As we’ve mentioned before, chatting your plans through with one of the local people at your hotel or hostel is a great way to ensure you stay safe. Wherever you go, make sure you walk with purpose, and avoid talking loudly in English.
Where is the party in Rio de Janeiro?
Rio de Janeiro has a rich and varied nightlife. If you’re in the mood to party, look no further than the neighborhoods of the city’s Zona Sul (South Zone). Lapa is undoubtedly the beating heart of Rio’s nightlife. Here you’ll find the famous Rio Scenarium. In this elaborately decorated venue where you can see live music performances and dance the night away. Another great place to party in Lapa is Casa de Cachaça. Here you can choose carefully from over one hundred different flavored cachaça shots. Leviano Bar is also a great spot for a proper dance. The three different floors in Leviano Bar each play different Brazilian music, usually samba, forró, and Música popular brasileira. With so many different venues to choose from, stroll the streets of Lapa and take your pick of the venues that best suit your vibe.
Copacabana is also host to some great nightlife in Rio de Janeiro. Less venues in this area stay open all night, but you can start your evening in its abundance of great bars. View the sunset on the rooftop bar at Pestana Hotel, where live DJs set the soundtrack to your pre-clubbing drinks. Fosfobox is a great venue for those on a backpacking budget. It plays a mix of pop, hiphop, electronic music and samba. Meanwhile for something more traditional, head to Beco das Garrafas to hear some live bossa nova in a electric atmosphere.
São Salvador Square in the residential neighborhood of Laranjeiras Praça hosts great open air parties from Thursday through til Sunday. Similarly, people often congregate at Praca Santos Dumont square to drink beers once the surrounding bars get too full.