Rio de Janeiro is famously one of the world’s greatest party cities, but visitors looking for a wild night out in the upscale neighborhood of Ipanema may find the nightlife scene somewhat sedate – at first glance, at least. This refined bairro is better known for its high end restaurants, chic bars and sophisticated lounges than its raucous party venues (most of these can be found downtown, in Lapa), but there are plenty of cool spots to hang out at.. The well-to-do types that live in the neighborhood love to socialize over a few drinks and plates of food at late-opening bars such as trendy beachfront Bar Astor and Devassa, while fans of Brazilian music can make the pilgrimage to Garota de Ipanema, the spot where Bossa Nova classic Girl From Ipanema was penned, while homesick Brits and Americans hang out at the Lord Jim Pub and Gringo Cafe. For a chance to meet fellow travelers as well as friendly Brazilians, there’s a fun and flirtatious vibe at enduringly popular Irish bar Shenanigans, while the kiosks along the beachfront are wonderful places to sip a caipirinha against one of the most stunning backdrops imaginable. Whether it’s a sunset drink and nibbles to start the evening or a last beer as the sun rises over the beach, Ipanema’s beach bars are an integral part of Rio nightlife. A block back from the beach, Rua Farme do Amoeda is a street lined with jazzy bar-restaurants, and is a focal point for Rio’s lively gay scene
Aimed squarely at North Americans with a hankering for taste of their homeland, Gringo Cafe does a roaring trade in US DIner-style favorites such as hash browns, bottomless coffees, pancakes, waffles and French toast, as well as delicious cakes, milkshakes and cheese burgers made with imported American cheese. The breakfasts, served all day, are manna from heaven for many homesick ex-pats, who can indulge a craving for bacon, eggs made any way you choose, while mains such as mac & cheese and spaghetti with meatballs also help to keep homesickness pangs at bay. A couple of blocks back from the beach, Gringo Cafe is also popular with wealthy locals keen to experience a taste of North America, but the English-speaking staff mean that bedazzled visitors to the city can relax and put the phrase book away here.
Recommended for Ipanema’s Best Nightlife because: Yummy food and good Bloody Mary cocktails make this a good place to begin a night out in Ipanema
Lucy’s expert tip: Come here for a hangover-curing Bloody Mary to set yourself up for another night out in Rio
Every city needs at least one Irish bar, and this lively hangout at the heart of Ipanema prides is the place to come for lively banter, traditional Irish food and, of course, imported Guinness (at a stiff price). A vast place with a balcony overlooking Ipanema’s main square, Shenanigans is a good place to watch international sports matches on the big screen by day, and by night throngs with a crowd of foreign tourists and Brazilian locals that are keen to get to know them. DJs spin tunes into the small hours, and this is one of the liveliest spots in the city – perfect for swapping travelers’ tales with fellow visitors, or making new Brazilian friends.
Recommended for Ipanema’s Best Nightlife because: This is a long-standing favorite hangout for out-of-towners and locals alike
Lucy’s expert tip: Things get particularly lively during big sports matches – the drinks flow and spirits are high
While Copacabana wins out as the most picture-perfect city beach in Rio, Ipanema is easily the more chic of the two neighboring stretches of sand, and this is a wonderfully scenic spot for a late-night drink.
There are scores of kiosks selling tempting food and drink. At night, the kiosks buzz with party people, and there are regular live music events on the sands.
The towering twin peaks of the Dois Irmaos (two brothers) mountains frames the beach scene in spectacular fashion, and visitors will find the beach informally divided into social groups. Head to Posto Nove (Lifeguard post 9) for a young, hip crowd, or look for the giant rainbow flag if you’re looking for gay-friendly sunbathing and socializing.
Recommended for Ipanema’s Best Nightlife because: For drinks with a picture-perfect background, it’s hard to beat the beachfront bars on the sands of Ipanema
Lucy’s expert tip: Wander along the beachfront until you find a kiosk that takes your fancy – prices vary considerably from one spot to another
Garota de Ipanema (Girl From Ipanema) is the spot where the legendary bossa nova song of the same name was penned. The songwriters Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes were inspired by a beautiful girl who passed by the window of the bar as they enjoyed a beer each day, and today the spot is a major tourist attraction in its own right. The food is less remarkable than the bar-restaurant´s history, but it´s a nice place to enjoy a pizza and a beer in the late afternoon, while the spacious upper floor hosts regular live music events that draw a mixed crowd of foreign visitors and music-loving locals.
Recommended for Ipanema’s Best Nightlife because: A drink at this iconic spot is a must for any fan of Brazilian music.
Lucy’s expert tip: Grab a window seat if you want to spot your own Ipanema muse gliding by
In a neighborhood where many bars are formal and a little stuffy, Jobi is a breath of fresh air. The early-opening, late-closing Leblon institution is a fine example of the Rio boteco – botecos being informal bars serving food and good company to a relaxed crowd.
Locals and out-of-towners alike flock here for perfectly-kept draught beers, well-mixed cocktails and an extensive range of bar snacks that includes moreish versions of local staples such as bolinhos de bacalhau(fried cod and potato balls).
The bar opens late and closes early, so you???re sure to be able to fit in a visit – whether it be for an early morning coffee, early evening food and drinks, or an end-of-the-night cocktail.
Recommended for Ipanema’s Best Nightlife because: It’s officially Leblon, but only a few minutes’ walk from Ipanema, and one of Rio’s best-loved bars
Lucy’s expert tip: Head here for post-beach drinks or for end-of-the-night nibbles – the bar is open from 9am to 4am daily.
The Devassa chain brews its own beers in a range of flavors and alcohol strengths, and while their marketing is playful, they take their brewing seriously. Here you might want to try a malt beer or a –loira–(blonde) beer, which are served ice cold by draught. The food is good too – try the pizzas made with a manioc flour base – and the lively, relaxed spot makes this a great place to begin a night out in Rio. Pitchers of beer and plates of light finger food for sharing have made Devassa a byword for sociable dining in Rio.
Recommended for Ipanema’s Best Nightlife because: This popular meeting place makes for the perfect start to an Ipanema bar crawl.
Lucy’s expert tip: Arrive here before 8pm to bag a table, and be prepared for a ‘quick drink’ to turn into a hectic night out.
This lively bar prides itself on cheerful service and a warm welcome, and it would take a concerted effort not to feel at ease in the relaxed surrounds. By day, the bar is a top choice for a sandy-footed crowd looking for post-beach sustenance, and by day live bands play live MPB (Musica Popular Brasileira – or classic Brazilian pop), and samba rock to a mixed-age crowd that isn’t afraid to get up and dance after downing a couple of the fruity house cocktails. The food menu ranges from hearty Brazilian staples such as feijoada to light salads, and the comprehensive drinks menu includes a wide range of imported beers, a good range of cocktails and a choice of wines by the glass or bottle.
Recommended for Ipanema’s Best Nightlife because: This is a wonderfully relaxed venue that attracts everybody from soap stars to local office workers.
Lucy’s expert tip: There is often an ‘artistic cover’ charge for live music – check the price before you take your seat.
Ranked the best hotel bar in the world by style bible Wallpaper, this hip hangout at the upmarket Fasano Rio hotel is open to non-guests – but be prepared to book well in advance and pay steep prices for your immaculately-prepared drinks.The bar mixes British punk attitude with Italian flair, and sees vintage album art hung on the walls, and luxurious leather armchairs for lounging in. The regular clientele here includes models, actors and footballers, and with A-listers such as Madonna and supermodel Gisele popping in occasionally, you’ll need to pull out all the wardrobe stops if you want to fit in.
Recommended for Ipanema’s Best Nightlife because: This stylish hangout is a top location for celebrities visiting Rio.
Lucy’s expert tip: Dress to seriously impress ahead if you want a drink here – or, if you have a wallet for it, book a room at the hotel.
This lively spot resembles a traditional British pub – complete with fish and chips on the menu and red phone booths outside, and it’s a long-standing favorite with visiting Brits. A lively place to hang out and meet fellow travelers, it’s at its hectic best during major international sports events – major European soccer matches are screened here, and there’s always a lively atmosphere. Traditional ‘pub grub’ makes up the bulk of the menu, but there are some favorite Brazilian bar snacks such as bolinhos de frango – breaded chicken balls – on the menu too, and you can wash it down with an imported beer or a caipirinha.
Recommended for Ipanema’s Best Nightlife because: This long-standing Ipanema hangout has been attracting locals and expats for decades
Lucy’s expert tip: This is a popular spot to watch major soccer matches – there’s a particularly lively atmosphere during important British games
This retro-chic bar in front of Ipanema beach maintains a sense of fun while taking its food and drinks seriously. Top foodie picks are the seafood and pasta dishes, while the cocktail list is staggeringly long- there is even a menu entirely dedicated to gin and tonics. Meanwhile, beer drinkers can make themselves comfortable – waitstaff stroll around the bar selling ice-cold, freshly-poured chopp (draught beer) to customers right at their tables. The sidewalk patio is a wonderful place to watch the sun make its dramatic descent over Ipanema beach.
Recommended for Ipanema’s Best Nightlife because: This is one of Ipanema’s liveliest bars, and attracts a lively mix of locals and out-of-towners.
Lucy’s expert tip: Head here on a Sunday evening to see the place at its lively, bohemian best.