Home to Carnival, samba and Copacabana, it's not surprising that the nightlife in Rio de Janeiro is one of a kind, and Cariocas (Rio's residents) will make a party out of just about any social gathering. Whether you're looking for a relaxing bar or lounge to sip on a couple of chopps (draught beer), or in the mood for a big night out at a hip and happening dance club, Rio de Janeiro has it all.
A popular way to warm things up is to start at one of the numerous beach bars with a coconut juice or cocktail in the cooler early evening. Head off to one of Rio de Janeiro's trendy beach communities, such as Copacabana, Ipanema or Leblon and explore the bars and clubs; but be warned, some of these places may not grant entry to people wearing shorts and T-shirts or flip-flops.
Pop in at a trendy restaurant for a late dinner with friends, and then at around 11pm, when most clubs open, check out who's playing at the Rio Scenarium, Comuna da Semente or Carioca da Gema. Lapa is a popular area for revellers, as is Gamba. Rio also has a vibrant gay clubbing scene, with many bars and clubs in Copacabana and Ipanema.
Clubbing in Rio can be expensive, but one can have a cheaper night out by sticking to local drinks. Many clubs will charge you for drinks and entry only when you leave, so keep track of what you spend. Most clubs have a dress code, and some will only allow men when accompanied by women, while most will require an ID or passport to enter.
An alternative to clubs and bars in Rio are the street parties. Lapa hosts a street party every Friday and Saturday night near the aqueduct on Avenida Mem de Sá; and Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays are the best nights to head to Gávea, where you'll find music, cheap beer, and many university students on the street in front of the bar Hipódromo.
Live music and dancing is also big in Rio de Janeiro and there is a wide variety, such as samba, bossa nova, rock, MBP (Brazilian pop), blues, jazz and much more. If you search hard enough, there is sure to be a gig happening somewhere in this vibrant city on any given night. You can also watch samba school rehearsal parties, where local drummers and dancers showcase their skills in warehouses for thousands of people. It's a great way to get a taste of the Carnival atmosphere at other times of the year.
Pick up a copy of a Friday edition of a local newspaper for nightlife and entertainment listings in Rio de Janeiro.