20 Things To Do In Rio de Janeiro at Night

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This iconic city on the Brazilian Coast is famous for its beaches, Sugar Loaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer statue (Corcovado) and the world’s largest and most impressive Carnaval festival. The Maracanã Stadium is a soccer stadium that hosts club games and internationals, and you have to believe that soccer is Brazil’s passion, even more so than music and dance.

Rio is neither the biggest city in Brazil nor the national capital, but it remains the top tourist venue in this huge South American country. The Portuguese founded this city of 6 million people in the 16th century. Contrasts between the super-rich to the poverty in the favelas are easy to see. By day and night in Rio, there are many things to enjoy. Its natural setting, with its peaks and beaches, is stunning 24 hours a day. After the sun sets and the lights turn on, Rio loses none of its appeal. Here are some ideas of things to do in Rio de Janeiro at night.

Rio de Janeiro at Night

Top 3 Tours

20 Things To Do In Rio At Night

1- Take A Nightlife Guided Tour

rio de janeiro at night
Copacabana beach, Urca and Botafogo from Sugar Loaf in Rio de Janeiro at night.

The best introduction to night in the city of Rio de Janeiro is a guided walking tour where you can familiarise yourself with popular nighttime neighbourhoods.

Lapa is the most popular district for spending an evening in Rio.

An organised tour will include more than just drinks.

You will learn about the neighbourhood’s history while sampling the best bars and clubs where you can return on another night.

Dancing is a Brazilian passion, and the samba is something you will certainly enjoy watching and trying for yourself. Check out this pub crawl and learn how to mix a Caipirinha

2- Head To Rio Scenarium

night out in lapa at the rio scenarium Shot of a band playing their percussion instruments in a Brazilian setting
Check out a Brazilian band playing their percussion instruments in Rio de Janeiro at night.

One of Lapa’s most popular night spots is a former antique store on three levels, Rio Scenarium.

There is an elevator for those not wanting to take the stairs.

It provides a very attractive setting with its relics and antiques and décor full of colour, which is why it has been regularly used as a location for film and live music.

It is a place to enjoy the best Brazilian music and dance, Forro, MPB, local pop music and, of course, the samba.

You can get fast-track entry by booking in advance with three hours of free bar for selected drinks and a three-course dinner.

3- Learn The Samba

rio brazil at night colourful feathered headresses and costumes
Dancing the night away with samba dancers at carnival in Rio de Janeiro at night.

Brazil is famous for the samba. Its origins date back over a century, with its development largely due to the Afro influences in Brazilian society.

It was not just a dance style but also identified as a musical genre.

It was criminalised for a short period but has subsequently developed as an important part of Brazilian culture.

The best way to learn the most famous national dance is to book a lesson with a professional.

An hour-long lesson will teach you the key steps before going to a nightclub to test your skills.

The lesson will give you confidence before you get on the dancefloor, and it’s well worth spending the dollars. Book your spot here.

4- Enjoy the “Roots” Experience

Brazil’s population is a mix that includes African heritage, others native to the land, and others whose origins are European.

This multicultural show is an excellent experience displaying energy and joy, three hours of the best of Brazilian dance.

There is the option of having a BBQ dinner while you watch the show.

Eat as much as you like but don’t eat in the hours before you are collected from your hotel. There is a vegetarian alternative, incidentally.

Each region of Brazil, Bahia, the Amazon, the North East and the Pampas all feature.

The colours of the performers add to the whole experience with Carnaval-type costumes.

5- Eat Dinner At The Waterfront

things to do in rio de janeiro at night
Copacabana with Sugar Loaf in the background.

Lots of locals gather at Rio’s beaches as the sun sets, so join them, even if you are unfamiliar with Rio, under the guidance of a local expert.

Dinner is fairly informal, with plenty of places that cater to those who enjoy dinner with an ocean view.

Brazilian cuisine is a mix, a reflection of the origins of the local populace.

There are some lovely dishes worth trying, often using shrimp, always using fresh local produce with great desserts as well.

Music is always part of a night out at Rio, so all in all, the food, the drink, the setting and the music add up to a perfect evening.

6- Do The Forro

The Forro is one of Brazil’s great dances and you should attend a class to learn how to do it even if you don’t intend to “perform” in public.

Expert instruction is there, your partner being a guide and instructor.

Forro is straightforward to learn, with bands specialising in its music.

Forro originates amongst the farms and plantations in the northeast of Brazil, but its popularity has spread countrywide.

Original songs were stories of rural life and its problems.

Today, it encompasses everything from urban life to romance.

There are performances to watch every night in Rio, with the June Festivals throughout Brazil celebrating Forro. Find out more here.

7- Take To The Sea After Sunset

brazil rio at night
A city that never sleeps, spending the night partying in Rio de Janeiro all night means you’ll see a stunning sunrise.

A tour of the ocean allows you to see Rio’s skyline from a different perspective.

Take to the water in the early evening to see the sunset and the famous landmarks of Rio, including Sugar Loaf Mountain and Copacabana Beach.

A three-hour trip on a speedboat is exhilarating.

The lights of Rio from the sea make for a great photograph capturing its major landmarks.

8- Watch A Game At The Maracanã Stadium

why are the rio olympcs so late at night
Maracana stadium is an open-air stadium in Rio de Janeiro to check out at night.

Soccer and Brazil are synonymous.

The Maracanã in Rio is an iconic stadium whose record crowd is just short of 200,000.

It was built to host the World Cup Final in 1950 and held the final in the 2014 competition.

With seating replacing much of the standing areas, the capacity became just below 80,000.

It is the stadium where some of Rio’s clubs host their league games, while it has also hosted concerts, along with the 2016 Olympics opening and closing ceremonies.

A tour of the stadium is a great experience but not as good as actually watching a soccer game there, so check if there is a game while you are in the city.

9- Marvel At Corcovado

rio de janeiro brazil at night Aerial view of Rio de Janeiro with Christ Redeemer
Climbing the steps to Christ Redeemer and Corcovado Mountain is one of the top things to do in Rio de Janeiro at night.

Wherever you are in Rio, you will be able to see the statue of Jesus, “Christ the Redeemer” on the top of Corcovado mountain.

The name means “hunchback” in Portuguese, a granite hill of 710 metres (2330 feet) within the Corcovado National Park.

The statue is 38 metres (125 feet) and has won many votes as one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World.

Access is via a railway that can carry 540 passengers per hour or a walking trail.

Demand is much higher than that, so book a seat in advance if you want to avoid standing in line.

The views over the city are great, and many famous people have visited over the years.

10- Rise To Sugar Loaf

rio at night
View Copacabana beach, Urca and Botafogo from Sugar Loaf Mountain in a cable car in Rio at night.

Sugar Loaf Mountain is equally impressive, if not quite as high; 396 metres (1300 feet).

Access is via a cable car, and you will immediately have panoramic views of the city and ocean on arrival.

It is made of granite and quartz and rises straight up from the shoreline of Guanabara Bay.

It was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status earlier this century.

The Portuguese gave it its name when the sugarcane trade was at its height.

The cable car holds 65 people per journey and was originally built in 1912.

You take two cable cars to reach the summit, the first to Morro da Urca, 220 m (722 ft) high, then the second to Pão de Açúcar.

11- Attend Cookery Classes

rio de janeiro hotel rooms at night flat lay assortment with delicious brazilian food
Tasting Brazilian food is one of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro at night.

It is fun to take a cookery class in many parts of the world, learning to cook the food that you may sample at dinner time.

Rio is no exception and the various influences that make up Brazilian food make for great flavours.

You will find several alternatives, including vegetarian dishes.

One of the most popular involves seafood, a natural given Rio’s extensive shoreline.

The region’s exotic fruits also play a role in the dishes and the cocktails you will learn to make during a class. Book your spot here.

There is no reason to book a table for dinner because, after your hard work, you will sit down and eat what you have prepared.

12- See Carnaval Behind The Scenes

You will see the wonderful colours, music and parades of Carnaval if you are in Rio in February.

However, with some imagination, you can get close and pretend you are there if you book a tour that takes you behind the scenes.

You will see the preparation that goes into the annual event in Rio, arguably the biggest and most impressive Carnaval worldwide, try on a costume and take a photo.

The samba features in the tour, as does Brazil’s most famous cocktail, caipirinha, made from cachaca, a form of rum, sugar and lime.

13- Head To Ipanema

winners of beach volleyball at rio last night
Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro at night.

Ipanema’s fame outside Rio came about because of the famous “Girl from Ipanema” song, bossa nova, sung by Astrid Gilberto in 1963.

It sold millions worldwide.

Ipanema means something you would not associate with a lovely beach: “stinking pond” in the Tupi language.

The beach attracts surfers and sunbathers daily, but it is also popular where people gather at night.

The Ipanema district is one of Rio’s most expensive parts, with quality restaurants and great shopping.

There are also galleries and theatres while youngsters enjoy volleyball, roller skating or soccer after dark.

You might enjoy a stroll watching the activity with plenty of places to stop for refreshments.

14- Go Shopping At Copacabana Night Market

where to go at night in rio de janeiro
Forte de Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro at sunset.

There is a night market six days a week at Copacabana, every day except Sundays.

Feira de Copacabana’s location is Avenida Atlantica (Atlantic Avenue) which faces the iconic beach.

Locals visit this market regularly in search of bargains.

It is an excellent place to get souvenirs, while the locals are more likely to be looking for clothing.

The market starts at 6 pm, just as people leave the beach, and continues until midnight.

Local handicrafts are on sale, and you can wander around the many stalls, including ones selling street food and drinks; there is no need for a table for dinner on the night you visit.

15- Enjoy A Night At The Opera

You can enjoy opera in the heart of Rio at Theatro Municipal, an early 20th Century building among Brazil’s most beautiful and important theatres.

Its eclectic style aimed to copy a similar theatre in Paris.

Inscriptions on the outside remember both local and European artists, while there are lovely sculptures and paintings internally.

Classical music and ballet performances are held throughout the year, with programmes published well in advance.

Two orchestras are headquartered here, the Petrobas and the Brazilian Symphony Orchestras.

A basement restaurant allows you to combine dinner with a performance.

16- Head To A Night Club

rio city at night
View of Rio de Janeiro at twilight in Brazil.

Many of Rio’s nightclubs do not even open until 10 pm and close around 5 am.

While you may not want such a late night (or early morning) each day, it’s worth trying it at least once.

Don’t walk around alone at night in some parts of Rio, so research the best clubs to visit, and take a taxi to get there or join a tour.

Such clubs are too expensive for many locals, so you can expect them to be filled with wealthier residents of Rio society and visitors.

17- Pedra do Sal

Pedra do Sal is downtown, an old part of the city with a rich history.

You probably need a guide to show you around, and it is worth that if only for the history you will learn.

Here you will find the port area, cobbled streets with colourful buildings.

Many date back to the early days of the Portuguese.

You can head up Conceição Hill, and there is plenty of samba music coming out of the buildings but also being played in the streets where one big party takes place every weekday night.

18- Party On A Boat

Another place to enjoy a party is on a boat. Bahia de Guanabara is one of the world’s most beautiful bays, so where better to enjoy a party than on its waters?

The boat comes fully equipped to play all the music a party might want.

Even if it is not a special occasion, you should set aside a night to party in the bay.

It is a special occasion because you are in Rio de Janeiro.

You can get collected from your hotel and dropped back at the night’s end.

Take a moment to look at your surroundings, with Sugar Loaf Mountain likely to be right above you. Here’s a sunset cruise you may like.

19- Tackle A Churrascaria

favela rio de janeiro photography at night
Sink your teeth into juicy smoked BBQ ribs in Rio de Janeiro at night.

If you have never been to a real feast, Rio de Janeiro is a place where you can get that experience.

A churrascaria serves Brazilian cuisine for a fixed price.

The word in Portuguese translates roughly into “barbeque” and in the case of Rio, there are typical Brazilian sauces and flavours added to the meat.

Meat comes to you on large skewers from which the servers will cut as much as you want.

It may be pork, beef or chicken usually but sometimes, more exotic meats are on the menu.

The servers will return repeatedly until you say you have had enough.

20- Go Fashion Shopping

Brazil’s clothing industry is huge.

It has a large domestic population to cater for, yet its clothing, with its bright colours, will remind you of your holiday if you go shopping for items that will certainly stand out back at home.

The colours rather than the styles make local clothing stand out.

There are several of the world’s top international brands in Rio, but the local colours should really attract you.

Rio Sul, Barra Shopping and Shopping Lebron are just three late-night shopping malls where you can shop and dine.

They are places where prices can seem a little high but affordable for tourists who want to take home reminders of this beautiful city.

For more exciting cities at night, read:

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Steve Smith is a widely travelled man who has lived on the South West Coast of Turkey since 2008. He hails from North East England where he lived most of his life but has been to every continent of the world, with a particular love for Southern Africa and its wildlife. He lists Argentina, India, and Vietnam as other favourite places that he enjoyed greatly while sport is also a passion, cricket and golf as a participant, rugby union and soccer as a spectator.