LGBT travelers should look for the rainbow flags on Rio’s beaches for see-and-be-seen hot spots. (Photo: Dreamstime)
Rio is one of the most culturally diverse and open-minded cities in Brazil, and over the last two decades has morphed into a must-visit destination for LGBT travelers from around the globe. The Marvelous City frequently lands at the top of rankings of leading gay hot spots. With its laid-back and sexy vibe, flood of sculpted bodies in barely-there clothes, and vibrant nightlife, it’s easy to understand why.
Rio’s LGBT parade is the country’s second largest, and the city is home to a variety of gay-friendly bars and clubs. Travelers will even find entire stretches of city beaches where same-sex couples hang out and singles flirt at will.
But where to go in Rio? And when? Get the inside scoop on Rio’s best qu(ee)rky places.
LGBT travelers don’t have to be in any particular area of Rio’s beaches to feel at ease, but there are a few spots you should go to see and be seen. To the east of Farme de Amoedo Street in Ipanema, toned bodies abound. At Copacabana beach, head to the aptly named Rainbow kiosk and stake your claim in the sand. And if you are in Barra da Tijuca, make your way to Reserva Beach, located in front of a natural reserve, and look for the big rainbow flag.
Tô Nem Aí
Farme de Amoedo in Ipanema is Rio’s main LGBT street and has the greatest concentration of gay-friendly bars in the city, of which Tô Nem Aí is one of the most popular. It is a perfect place to stop after the beach or go later in the evening to have drinks — or to get the night started.
This huge downtown venue is Rio’s best LGBT club and the place to be on a Saturday night (the only day it’s open). Once inside The Week, throw yourself at the two dance floors, where up to 2,000 people, mostly men, groove to pop and electronic beats. Register on the website to get a discount on your entrance fee.
Up Turn Bar
A restaurant during the week and a club on weekends, Up Turn Bar is one of the only LGBT venues in Barra da Tijuca. You can drink at outdoor tables or hit the dance floor where DJ’s and performers play on Fridays and Saturdays. Ladies should stop by on a Saturday, a popular night among LGBT women.
Galeria Café in Ipanema is a mainstay of Rio’s ever-changing LGBT scene. The music varies from Wednesday to Saturday, ranging from Brazilian music to pop hits. Pro tip: Don’t get there late. The venue is small, and the line to enter can be long on the busiest nights. Visit the website and send Galeria an email before 8 p.m. asking to have your name included on their guest list; instead of paying an entrance fee, you’ll have that same amount credited to a drinks ticket you can use at the bar.
Head to 1140 if you are in Barra and don’t want to stray far from the neighborhood. This massive club in Jacarepaguá has three dance floors and a patio. It is open Thursday through Sunday, when it attracts crowds with drag queen performances and an eclectic soundtrack.
A Party for Everybody
A few years ago Rio’s LGBT nightlife started to shift beyond clubs and bars. New monthly parties at unusual places have brought a breath of fresh air to the scene and are now some of the best options for a night on the town. Dance to pop hits at Chá da Alice and ogle performers dressed as characters from Alice in Wonderland. Drag-se pays tribute to drag queens, while V de Viadão celebrates gay culture, and Boho offers a reliably cool vibe. Check social media to know when and where the next parties will be held. Don’t be shy; chat up locals for tips about the best new parties.
It’s Sunday, and you still haven’t had enough? The party Duo at this stylish venue in Gávea is the place to be. Inside the city’s planetarium, the club attracts a trendy and well-dressed crowd that starts to arrive by late afternoon. You can have dinner at the restaurant, followed by drinks under the stars at 00’s garden, and finish the night dancing until 5 a.m. Cheers!