Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has some of the most exciting and diverse nightlife in the world. You can find everything from cool little Samba bars to trendy high-end nightclubs. The party never stops in Rio and there is something going on every day of the week. No matter what your scene is, you’re guaranteed to find a cool place to enjoy Rio’s nightlife.
The nightlife scene here works pretty much like everywhere else in the world, but Rio does have some unique differences that it helps to be aware of. So I put together some basic Rio nightlife tips that I learned along the way to help you avoid making a lot of the same mistakes we’ve made.
Talk to the Locals
Locals always know where the best parties are. 99% of the time I find out about the hottest events and newest nightclubs from my Cariocan (Rio local) friends. Since the nightlife in Rio is so diverse though a good thing to do is find some locals who look like they may have a similar style/taste to you and ask them where they party at. Be sure to try to ask them a few questions about their recommended spots and why they like it. So you don’t end up at a laid back Samba joint when you want to dance the night away to club and pop music.
Even though the majority of nightlife spots in Rio are come as you are with a relaxed dress code it still is a good idea to put a little effort into looking ‘grown and sexy’ especially if you want to meet people. Ladies, you’re easy and can pretty much get away with wearing anything, but sexy is always better in Rio. Nice club dresses and a pair of sexy heels are always a good look. Guys throw on a nice pair of jeans, a nice t-shirt/polo/button, and some decent footwear. It gets hot in Brazil especially up in the clubs so make sure you wear lightweight materials. Be sure to leave the Havaianas (Brazilian flip-flops) at the hotel. A lot of the higher-end places will not let you in with Havaianas or shorts. I have learned that it’s always best to be a little over-dressed than to be underdressed when clubbing in Rio.
Rio’s Unique Nightclub Payment System
Many of the nightclubs in Rio have a unique payment system where you pay for your cover charge and your drinks not as you go, but all at the end of the night. When you enter the nightclub the door staff will issue you a paper ticket. You order all your drinks with this ticket and the bartender or server will mark your drinks on it. At the end of the night, you take your ticket to the cashier and pay for everything. You will then be handed a receipt to exit the club. Without this receipt, you will not be permitted to leave. Check your ticket after each order to make sure they are adding the correct orders so you don’t get overcharged. Some of the higher-end places will actually give you a club credit card that the bartender swipes every time you order. Whatever you do DO NOT lose your ticket or card because some places will charge you up to R$150 for a lost ticket.
When going out always carry a copy of your passport with you. Not only is it required by law in Brazil it’s just a good thing to have with you since you will need some form of ID to get into most nightclubs.
The saying “If you have to ask how much it cost then you can’t afford it” DOES NOT apply to Rio de Janeiro nightlife. Be sure to ask how much everything is, including cover charges and drink prices, or else you might be in for a nice surprise when you go to pay the bill. Most cover charges in Rio run from R$10-30. Drinks prices really vary, but at most places, you can get a Caipirinha (Brazil’s national drink) for R$5-10. You can save a lot of money sticking to domestic Brazilian drinks, your favorite imports from back in the USA can be very expensive.