10 Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro at Night

Nightlife in Rio de Janeiro offers a unique charm and vibrant culture, with countless experiences to enjoy when the sun goes down.

Lorena Morales

Lorena Morales

10 min read

10 Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro at Night

Copacabana by Night | ©Igo Pieters

Rio de Janeiro comes to life when the sun goes down, and invites you to explore its culture, gastronomy and nightlife. Whether you want to relax on the moonlit beaches, enjoy live music in the local bars or immerse yourself in the samba scene, here you will find a variety of options to make the most of your nights in this city.

There are many things to see and do in Rio de Janeiro all day long, but exploring the city at night is an experience that will immerse you in the very essence of this Brazilian capital. Here is a list of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro at night, so you can make the most of your visit to the city.

1. Discover the magic of Christ the Redeemer at night.

Christ the Redeemer at night| ©Jr. Enes
Christ the Redeemer at night| ©Jr. Enes

Undoubtedly, visiting Christ the Redeemer at night in Rio de Janeiro is a very interesting experience. This emblematic monument is located at the top of Corcovado Mountain and, as soon as the sun goes down, it is spectacularly illuminated. From there, you can enjoy the panoramic view of the gradually illuminating city and the Guanabara Bay.

This experience is ideal if you are a photography lover, as you will be able to capture unique images while enjoying a quiet moment in the middle of the vibrant city. Visiting Christ the Redeemer is an interesting option to do at the beginning of the night, since it is usually open until around 8 pm.

A good alternative to visit it is to join a guided tour to Christ the Redeemer during the day and stay at the top until night to enjoy its unique view. If you go on your own, you have the option of taking a cab or using the train that takes you directly to the base of Corcovado Mountain. From there, you can take a short streetcar ride to the summit for this unforgettable nighttime experience - don't miss it!

Interesting facts

  • Location: Tijuca National Park - Alto da Boa Vista, Rio de Janeiro.
  • Days and hours: every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. approximately.
  • How to get there: you can take the Corcovado Train at the Corcovado Railway Station.

Buy your ticket for the Christ the Redeemer Rack Railroad Train

2. Dance to the rhythm of samba in Lapa

Samba Nights| ©Riotur.Rio
Samba Nights| ©Riotur.Rio

Listening or dancing to the samba rhythm is one of the best activities to do in Rio de Janeiro at night. And the place to enjoy this experience to the fullest are the clubs and bars in Lapa, undoubtedly, where this rhythm is the protagonist. This neighborhood is located in the center of the city, near the iconic Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro.

One of the emblematic bars you can go to is the Lapa 40 Graus, a lively club where mostly young people go, and where live samba bands play.

You can also go to Rio Scenarium, one of the most popular clubs in Rio de Janeiro, where you can enjoy live shows, dance music and the opportunity to join the dance floor with locals and visitors.

Nightlife in Lapa usually starts after 9 p.m. and lasts until the wee hours of the morning. To get to this neighborhood, you can take a cab, which is the most recommended option at night; or use Rio's public transportation system. Lapa is a place that comes alive especially on Fridays and Saturdays, but any night of the week you can find something exciting to discover.

Buy your ticket for Rio Scenarium

3. Get to know the culture and gastronomy of the favela of Santa Teresa

Favela of Santa Teresa| ©AHLN
Favela of Santa Teresa| ©AHLN

Santa Teresa is one of Rio de Janeiro's traditional neighborhoods located in the hills surrounding the city center. It is a neighborhood that, for a long time, has been the refuge of intellectuals and the artistic scene of Rio de Janeiro. Although it is surrounded by favelas, it is a very safe and interesting place to dine.

In the Santa Teresa neighborhood, you will find a variety of authentic restaurants and bars, such as Aprazível and Bar dos Descasados, which offer delicious Brazilian dishes and have beautiful panoramic views of the city.

In addition to enjoying a regional meal, if you go a little earlier you can stroll through the neighborhood's cobblestone streets and see its artistic murals. You can also sign up for a tour of one of Rio de Janeiro's favelas, which is interesting if you want to learn more about the local culture. You can reach the neighborhood by cab or by the historic Santa Teresa streetcar. Note that most restaurants in Santa Teresa open their doors from 5 p.m., so you can dine early, if you prefer.

Sign up for a tour of the Santa Teresa and Lapa neighborhoods

4. Discover the iconic nightlife of Copacabana

Copacabana| ©Marco S. Nobile
Copacabana| ©Marco S. Nobile

Undoubtedly, Copacabana is one of the most characteristic neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro, and the most popular. Its crescent-shaped beach becomes a meeting point for locals and tourists, where you can stroll along the shore illuminated by the lights of the buildings and enjoy the sea breeze. Don't forget to try the delicious snacks that street vendors offer along the promenade.

Avenida Atlantica is the nightlife heart of Copacabana, and is lined with restaurants, bars and nightclubs. If you are looking to enjoy live Brazilian music, there are options for all tastes. In addition, you can take the opportunity to sample authentic Carioca cuisine at local restaurants. The view of the iconic illuminated Copacabana Palace Hotel is an attraction in itself.

Depending on the time of year you visit, you can witness various cultural events, festivals or mega-concerts on Copacabana's beach at night. For example, visiting Rio de Janeiro in December is highly recommended, especially for the New Year's Eve celebrations on the beach.

If you want to experience the real nightlife of Rio, this neighborhood undoubtedly offers a festive atmosphere that will allow you to live unforgettable nights in this bohemian and emblematic area of the city.

5. Cheer a soccer match like a local

At the Maracana| ©Jogos Rio 2016
At the Maracana| ©Jogos Rio 2016

Brazilians are known all over the world for their passion for soccer and the high level of their game, so it is an interesting idea to attend a soccer match in the city and cheer the teams on par with the locals. This option is a must for lovers of this sport, but also for all those who wish to learn a little more about the local culture.

The matches of local teams, such as Flamengo, Fluminense and Botafogo, are usually played at the Maracana Stadium and the Olympic Stadium Nilton Santos, and many of them are held at night. It is important to check the tournament calendars to find out the dates and times of the matches in advance, and to book your ticket for soccer activities in Rio at the ticket office or online.

Many companies with your ticket purchase also include transportation to and from your hotel, and even give guided tours so you know how the tournaments go and can understand the matches like a local. You can also take a guided tour of the stadiums during the day, and learn about the history of the soccer teams and the outstanding players who have been part of them.

Interesting facts

  • Maracanã Stadium: Av. Pres. Castelo Branco, Portão 3 - Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro.
  • Nilton Santos Olympic Stadium: R. José dos Reis, 425 - Engenho de Dentro, Rio de Janeiro.

Attend a soccer game in Rio de Janeiro

6. Enjoy the night cultural proposal of the Municipal Theater

Municipal Theater| ©José Eduardo Nucci
Municipal Theater| ©José Eduardo Nucci

If you are looking for a cultural experience in Rio de Janeiro, you can visit the Municipal Theater, an impressive construction, both inside and out. At night, the lighting transforms this building into a real jewel, highlighting its majestic columns, decorations and large windows. No doubt, you will be able to take a good photo session of this theater.

In addition, at night, the Municipal Theater comes alive with a variety of plays and shows, ranging from concerts by symphony orchestras from around the world to staging plays, operas and ballets.

The detailed schedule, including times and dates, is available on its website, so I recommend that you consult it before planning your visit. Getting there by subway is easy and fast, so you can't miss it if you are looking for nighttime cultural experiences in Rio de Janeiro.

Besides, the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro is a place where history and art merge, so it is a good idea that you can take advantage of guided tours to learn about its history and all its secrets, as it is even the protagonist of a spooky legend.

Interesting facts

  • Location: Floriana Square S/N - Downtown, Rio de Janeiro.
  • Days and hours: schedules may vary, so you should visit the Municipal Theater's website to see the days and times of the performances.
  • How to get there: Metro Carioca | Cinelandia - Lines 1 and 2.

7. Live a culinary experience at dusk in Rio de Janeiro

Rio Food| ©geigerwe
Rio Food| ©geigerwe

If you have a special taste for gastronomy, you can't miss a cooking class in Rio de Janeiro, which usually start at sunset. This is a great opportunity for you to explore the city's gastronomic tradition and get to know the authentic typical dishes of Rio and Brazil.

Most classes are held in small groups, and you can come with family, friends or your partner, or take the opportunity to meet new people. With the guidance of local culinary experts you can learn the most representative recipes of the region, such as picanha steak, seafood moqueca with cassava and other delicacies.

You don't need to have previous cooking experience, as the instructors will guide you through every step of the process. In addition, many classes end with a dinner where, besides tasting an exquisite regional dish, you will be able to pair your dish with fresh caipirinhas and a traditional dessert. If you want to combine your love of food with getting to know the local culture and gastronomy of Rio de Janeiro, these classes are a perfect option for you to explore the city's nightlife culinary scene.

Take a cooking class in Rio de Janeiro

8. Explore the floating night party on Guanabara Bay

Guanabara Bay| ©Stefano Ravalli
Guanabara Bay| ©Stefano Ravalli

If you want to experience a different kind of party night, you can't miss boarding a cruise on Guanabara Bay. In addition, you will be able to enjoy the night views of the city, while you are transported by the music of the DJs on board. These adventures usually start after 10pm at the NewClub, where you can enjoy free beers before boarding the cruise ship.

Cruises usually depart from Marina da Glória after 11pm. Many of these ships offer an open bar while the boat turns into a floating disco with the characteristic sound and lighting.

During the party on board, you will sail by some of the main attractions of the city, such as Praia de Botafogo, Praia do Flamengo, the Amanhã Museum, the Giant Wheel and the Rio-Niterói Bridge, so you will have the opportunity to capture unique photos of the city at night.

Undoubtedly, this option is among the best cruises you can do in Rio de Janeiro, if you want to experience what it is like to party on board these boats. DJs usually play music to dance all night long, in a variety of styles such as funk, reggaeton, hip-hop and cumbia.

Sailing in Guanabara Bay

9. Explore the traditional Ipanema night

Ipanema| ©José Eduardo Nucci
Ipanema| ©José Eduardo Nucci

Ipanema is known for being one of the most popular destinations for tourists and locals looking to enjoy the beach during the day and the lively nightlife after sunset. In the area you will find a wide variety of bars, nightclubs, restaurants and cafes offering live music, DJs and dancing.

One of the most emblematic bars in Ipanema is the Garota de Ipanema, a place famous for the personalities that frequent it, and ideal for bossa nova lovers. There they usually serve local dishes from cod croquettes and crab skates, to the traditional feijoada or picanha, perfect to share with your family or friends, as well as caipirinhas.

Another highly recommended place is Galeria Café, a place that offers a varied program of parties, contemporary art exhibitions and other events. In addition, on weekends it functions as a bazaar, exhibiting the creations of designers and stylists, always accompanied by drinks and DJs.

You can also stroll along the Orla de Ipanema, its promenade, where there are usually various events at night. Don't forget to check the city's events calendar at the time of your visit to make sure you don't miss anything.

10. Experience the magic of Samba in Pedra do Sal

Samba dancers| ©Elisangela Leite
Samba dancers| ©Elisangela Leite

In the heart of Rio, Pedra do Sal is located, a must-see tourist destination if you want to experience the essence of samba. Usually on Mondays and Fridays, this historic site comes alive with samba wheels, where local musicians gather to play the rhythms of samba and other Afro-Brazilian musical genres.

Pedra do Sal is a site of great importance in Brazil's musical history and a living testimony of Rio's cultural diversity, so you can't miss it if you are a music lover. It is also a great opportunity for you to join in the fun by dancing or listening to the music, in an authentic atmosphere.

Pedra do Sal is very easy to reach from various points in the city, as it is located about 3 km from downtown, near the Museu do Amanha, an iconic futuristic museum whose shape is reminiscent of bromeliad flowers and could be your stop prior to this plan. It's best to arrive early to secure a good spot and better enjoy the show. Don't forget to wear comfortable clothes and dancing shoes, and to check schedules and specific events before your visit, as the experience may vary from day to day.

Useful information

  • Location: Rua Argemiro Bulcão - Saúde.
  • Admission: free.
  • Days and hours: Mondays and Fridays from 9 p.m. onwards.

Get to know the Olympic Boulevard and the Museum of Tomorrow