Last update: 06 Apr 2019
Lapa is the most famous nightlife point in Rio. Among ‘cariocas’, however, it’s far from an unanimity. But if there’s something we can all agree is that Lapa is democratic: you can find anything in there. That’s why my first recommendation is that you act like a local and don’t make huge plans in advance. Just go and let your night flows.
Local tip: prefer going on Fridays rather than Saturdays. It’s the most cheerful day, so there are more options.
What to do in Lapa: bars and parties
As I told before, just go and see what calls your attention. Lapa is very eclectic, so I’m pretty sure you will find your place in there. To help you out, I will give some suggestions, along with some useful information about each one of them.
1) ‘Botecos’ (this is how we call bars that are not fancy). Everytime I go to Lapa, either I start or I end up my night at Bar da Cachaça (corner of Gomes Freire w/ Mem de Sá). This bar is specialized in cachaça, a typical sugarcane liquor produced only in Brazil.
Some popular flavors include honey, Gabriela, ginger and jambu. Jambu is made of a fruit that leaves your mouth with a tingling sensation.
If you go a little further, across the street, there is a bar known as Litrão, which is one of the cheapest places to drink beer. Arco-Íris da Lapa and Ximeninho are other examples of good botecos, which offers cheap beer and good appetizers.
2) Circo Voador: I dare to say Circo is the most traditional concert house in Rio. Check the schedule beforehand, but chances are you will find top-notch artists of Brazilian music. Prices may vary, but it’s around 40 to 60 reais the half-entrance (mainly students, but other policies may be specified).
Fundição Progresso also has a good concerts schedule, but the atmosphere is not as delighting as Circo.
3) Rock n’roll: to prove how democratic Lapa is, I will give you three suggestions of places to hear rock. Lapa Irish Pub (Evaristo da Veiga, 147), Boemia da Lapa Cavern Pub (Praça João Pessoa, nº 02, corner of Gomes Freire with Mem de Sá) and La Esquina (Av. Mem de Sá, 61). The latter is more eclectic, so you better check their schedule beforehand in their site.
4) Leviano Bar (Av. Mem de Sá, 47): I went there twice, and one thing that I noticed is the variety of musical genders. On Fridays and Sundays, they usually throw parties with several kinds of music, from funk (the Brazilian, not the American one, haha) to samba, but always focused on Brazilian music. At Thursdays, they have live salsa! Check the schedule through their site, since it’s can be modified at any time.
Where to eat in Lapa
Feeling hungry? Lapa has lots of options, from its infinite bars to restaurants. If you need to grab something to eat, before or after getting in some party, here are some suggestions:
In the area near the Arches, you will find a lot of tents selling drinks and/or food, such as BBQ sticks, burguers, etc. Well, it’s up to you to decide whether the place seems tidy enough for you to trust, but I personally recommend Burguer Lapa. It’s cheap, clean and tasty!
At the gas station near the Arches, there is a Bob’s store, which is a local McDonald’s. At this same gas station, you can find the only 24h ATM’s available within this area.
Contemporâneo Lapa (Av. Gomes Freire, 625): a small restaurant that offers lamb sandwiches on cheese breads (pão de queijo, a typical Brazilian bread, as I talk about in this post). The service is kind and efficient.
For sliced pizza, I suggest Vezpa (Rua do Lavradio, 198), which remains opened for long hours throughout the night.
Bonde Sucos (Av. Mem de Sá, 47): right next to Leviano Bar, it’s a sandwiches and juices bar. If you’re looking for healthy options, this is the right place for you!
Little money? What about these for only 1 real? It’s really good, I’ve tried it already! You can find it at Rua do Lavradio, 172. Its a family business and they keep this price since 2003.
What not to do in Lapa
– Being a foreigner, there’s a huge chance that people suggested you to have fun in Lapa at Rio Scenarium, right? Well, this place is nice, but it’s expensive and mostly attended by tourists. If you want an authentic perspective of Lapa’s nightlife, you’d rather go somewhere else. The same applies for Carioca da Gema and Lapa 40 Graus.
– Another place that I dislike is Teatro Odisséia. Huge lines of under-age students carrying false IDs and pop/rock indie music.
– Avoid taking tequila shots at the streets. The same applies for buying drugs. Weed, cocaine and other drugs are prohibited in Brazil, so the quality is very poor and you might get in trouble if you get caught.
– Be careful with cellphones or valuable objects in your pockets. Robberies are more likely to happen in deserted places around Lapa, but pick-pocketing usually happens among the crowd.
Lapa by day
During the day, you can meet the famous Selarón Steps (Rua Joaquim Silva) and see the Arches with the sunlight. There’s no need to be afraid, but watch your step 😉
Besides, every first Saturday of the month, the traditional Feira Rio Antigo – an open-air market – takes place in Rua do Lavradio, which gets floaded by tents selling crafts, antiquities and other cool stuff. A lot of nice restaurants are opened for lunch and sometimes there are music groups presenting.
How about pulling your day and getting up to Santa Teresa, one of the most charming neighborhoods in Rio? Take the tram at Largo da Carioca (only between 8am to 4pm, Monday-Saturday, R$20).
Check Santa Teresa’s neighborhood guide, here.
If you need a hand to plan your trip to Rio, take a look at the services When in Rio offer.
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