Rio is everything you can expect from a Brazilian city: chaotic, steamy and vibrant. Rio de Janeiro is beautifully situated at the Atlantic coast around a couple of bays and beaches which give you spectacular views on the city. In one glance you can see the wealth of areas like Ipanema or Copacabana and the poverty of the surrounding favelas. It proofs how fascinating Rio de Janeiro can be.
Where to stay in Rio
The gay area of Rio is Ipanema. Here you find the popoular famous gay beach, and some gay bars, clubs and saunas. The other tourist area is Copacobana beach, not far from it.
See our hotel page for maps and recommendations on where to stay.
The best areas to stay in Rio de Janeiro are the neighbourhoods of Copacabana or Ipanema. These are the wealthier areas in town and they offer the best shops, restaurants, hotels, gay bars and clubs.
And on top, both areas have the most beautiful beaches in town. And Rio summers happen on the beach: just take your towel, your latest Speedo or AussieBum, little money and hit the sand! The gay beach, so the hotspot to show off your tan, is the beach on Ipanema gay beach, at the end of the Rua Farme de Amoedo. You will recognize it from the rainbow flags and the thousands of hot guys standing between the umbrellas, showing off and cruising around.
Stay on the beach till late: the moment the sun sets behind the mountains is always a magical end of a great day at the beach.
Gay night-life in Rio starts late. Do not expect the bars to fill up before midnight. But once the crowd is in and enjoying the caipirinhas or one of the local beers, the night can begin. Most of the popular gay bars are situated in either Ipanema or Copacabana, though there is not a very specific gay area.
Taxi's are dead cheap, so be sure not to walk from one bar to another. Around 2 am, the guys will move towards the clubs.
Club The Week, down in Centro attracts the biggest crowds of cute and muscled guys. Rio does not have a leather or other fetish scene (the weather is too hot anyway...). So if you're up for a play, you need to go to one of the many gay bath houses.
Next to New Years Eve at Copacabana, the Carnival Rio must be the highlight of the year. It is a fascinating weekend, as it seems the people of Rio only live for Samba.
The main event of Carnival is the Samba Parade at the Sambadrome. This is main competition of all the Rio Samba Schools. The Sambadrome is a permanent 700 metres open air parade ground with grandstands built on either side for spectators. The capacity is 90000 people.
On Carnival Sunday and Monday, the 12 best schools parade the special strip. Each school presents a theme and has exactly 80 minutes to parade the strip. This goes on till deep at night. This is how you know Rio Carnival: outrageous costumes, massive floats and all glitz and feathers.
You can buy tickets for the special boxes in advance. These (tourists) tickets will cost you at least a couple of hundred dollars. If you're not willing to spend that money, and are okay with a view a bit further off, just buy tickets for the cheaper grandstands and the beginning or end of the strip just on the streets around Sambadrome. Carnival is a once in a lifetime experience.
Less organized but at least as much fun are the the street carnivals, where local samba bands parade the streets of the city. One of the oldest and most gayest is the Banda de Ipanema, which parades the boulevard on Carnival Saturday and Monday, attracting thousands of people coming off the beach, and ending in a massive street party.
At night many large gay parties take place.
During carnaval week hotels usually have a minimum stay requirement of 5-7 days.
A short but important note on safety: Rio is a big and mainly poor city. There are a few rules to take into consideration for your safety: do not bring too much money with you on the streets or when you are going out to the bars, don't bring your expensive camera or jewellery in public. At night, take a cab (even for a few blocks). Do not bring strangers into your hotel room. Our experience is that the guys who are not speaking English, tend to be more after your money. If you want to have sex with one of the local cuties, go to one of the love hotels and rent a room for a couple of hours.