Rio skyline at sunset.


The best bars to run into an Olympian in Rio

Published August 5th, 2016

When it comes to partying, Rio De Janeiro has to be one of the best cities in the world for a night out on the town. And with this city that never sleeps hosting the Olympics right at the mo, there’s an off chance that if you're already there, you'll run into your favourite athlete. Share a pint with Usain Bolt after his 100 metre dash or chill out with the entire Aussie basketball team. Not in Rio? Pencil it in and take note of these great bars, from dance clubs to fancy pants cocktail joints, cool breweries to chill hangs with killer views.

Top tip - Avoid the touristy area, Zona Sul, which is full of slightly dodgy bars and teenager-like night clubs. Instead, first time party-goers in Rio should head straight for Lapa, the downtown district which has gone from massive seedy hangout to clubbing-central (but in a good way!). Locals also recommend going out on weekends; even if it is crowded, it is safer.

Rio Scenarium – for a girls' night out

One of the coolest dance bars in Rio - where everyone lets their hair down - is Rio Scenarium. Expect three epic floors in this heritage building, with each level hosting a different theme or music genre. The ground floor is for Forro music and tends to be a fave for the oldies. The annex is where you want to be, which blasts samba music throughout the night. It's the perfect spot for a dance-off. Be sure to take heaps of selfies; the walls are laced with antiques, film props and other cool things found in expensive museums with entry fees.

Bar Astor – to chill with locals

Ipanema beach is well and truly a tourist destination so you will surely bump into a gold medal athlete in August. Even with all the tourists, Bar Astor still has one of the hottest and trendiest crowds going through its doors every night. Order yourself a local beer, Choppe (no Foster’s here, mate), or get the national Brazilian cocktail Caipirinha – they may be super strong but they're well worth the cash. When the bar closes at (yawn) early 3am, head upstairs to Studio RJ for some extra time doing shuffles on the dance floor.


A photo posted by Leo Peralta (@peraltaleo) on

Pipo – for the foodies

Local chef Felipe Bronze stepped away from normal restaurant life and opened up this cool boteco bar for foodies who don't mind a cocktail or two with their meal. Innovation starts in the kitchen, with glorified bar snacks like the McPipo mini-burgers putting McDonalds to shame. The cocktails are some of the best in the area - all fresh, seasonal and easy to drink. The Hendricks gin and tonic comes with a twist to keep you coming back for more.

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Alto Vidigal – amazing views

One of the coolest open-air clubs in Rio, Alto Vidigal first opened as a hostel before drawing in drinkers, music lovers and random Rio locals to their lofty location in Leblon. If you’re afraid of heights, keep close to the bar and order direct from their extensive drinks menu. For everyone else, grab a bevvy, perch yourself on the ledge and peer out over amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean. 


A photo posted by Alto Vidigal (@altovidigal) on

Cervantes – cheap and cheerful

One of the most talked about Copacabana hotspots, Cervantes has everything you need in a late night bar. This awesome hang celebrates two great things in life: beer and meat.  Famous faces like Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart and other old people our parents loved as teenagers have come to this 60-year-old bar… and for good reason. It’s full of beef, glorious beer, and the meatiest, juiciest sandwich you can get for a bargain price. Tell your mum Barry Manilow sent you and she will be proud as you hack into the mega sandwich.

Bracarense – authentic and fun

If you must visit one bar in Rio make it this small and nondescript bar. Bracarense is a legend when it comes to recommending great bars in Rio for real drinkers. Caprinhas come by the jug, there are endless rounds of beer with an excellent happy hour and delicious salgadinhos (bar snacks) quickly fight off any hunger pains. For the full Bracarense experience, order the salgadinhos (beer) and fried cod balls.

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Michelle Tchea

Michelle Tchea is an award-winning Australian writer and author of 3 best-selling books on food, travel and culture.