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Rio de Janeiro bears the nickname “The Marvelous City” for a reason. As the first South American city to host the Summer Olympics, it has amazing natural landscapes — beaches, mountains, islands — and is rich with local culture. Brazilians love to socialize, and you’ll find them lined along the beach after-work during the week. Of course, they also know how to party on weekends. You’re always sure to find a chill vibe, and gay Rio de Janeiro is a must-see.
The 4 Zones of Rio de Janeiro
The South Zone, the most touristy part of the city, is where you can find upsale restaurants, hotels and bars. The zone also has the area’s best and most famous beaches, including Ipanema, Copacabana and Leblon. Rio de Janeiro also has an unofficial gay neighborhood around this zone. You can experience local LGBTQ life around Farme de Amodeo street, and you’ll find several gay flags in the sand here while you walk.
The North Zone is where most locals live. Here you can find what the real “Carioca” lifestyle is all about. North Zone also has several stadiums, like Maracanã and Engenhão, for the sports fans. Brazilians also come here to celebrate the North East party, where they party and feast from Thursday until Sunday during Pavilhão de São Cristovão.
The West and East Zones are harder to get to. Those who live in these zones typically make their way to the North or South Zones to party and have fun.
Famous Attractions of Rio de Janeiro
Christ the Redeemer, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, is the most recognized statue in Brazil. This Art Deco statue of Jesus has become a cultural icon of both Rio de Janeiro and the nation. It’s located at the peak of the 700-meter (2,300 ft.) Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park, overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro with open arms.
Sugarloaf Mountain is another of the city’s must-visit attractions. A high peak at the mouth of Guanabara Bay, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it rises 396 meters (1,299 ft.) above the harbor, and its name refers to its resemblance to the shape of concentrated refined loaf sugar. Sugarloaf is also famous for its cableway and the panoramic views of the city it offers. Glass-walled cable cars (a bondinho or, more formally, teleférico), hold 65 people and run along a visually stunning route between the peaks of Sugarloaf and Morro da Urca every 20 minutes.
The Beaches of Gay Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is famous for its long and beautiful beaches. Copacabana, the most popular beach, is also the most visited in the city. At 2.5 miles long, it’s the perfect place for a day of sunbathing. There are historical ports at both ends of the beach, and there are plenty of hotels, restaurants and bars around Copacabana to make a full beach day.
The famous Brazilian pop song “The Girl from Ipanema” perfectly captures the elegance and the beauty of this other famed beach. Adjacent to Copacabana, Ipanema is the beach where locals socialize, party and sunbathe. Ipanema is rather easy to navigate, because the streets are aligned in a grid, but it’s also the most expensive and desirable neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, lined with modern developments, high-end hotels and restaurants.
If you prefer somewhere quiet, Grumari Beach is a great beach for chilling out. Located in the West Zone, Grumari is far away from both the local and tourist crowds. It’s also the only nude beach in town, meaning you can casually lay out sans your swimsuit.
Finally, for more active guys, Arpoador Beach is a surfer’s paradise. Located between Copacabana and Ipanema, Arpoador has the best waves for surfing, and warm water. It’s a fantastic spot for a day of outdoor fun.
Museums of Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is also a cultural center with several museums to visit during your trip. For a well-rounded trip, make sure your itinerary includes at least one of these three museums.
Museu do Amanhã, or Museum of Tomorrow, is a modern science museum offering an interactive experience. This one-of-a-kind spot takes visitors through five main areas: Cosmos, Earth, Anthropocene, Tomorrow and Now — all through a series of experiences and experiments. Plus, its modern architecture is spectacular to see in person.
Museu de Arte do Rio, the Rio Art Museum, is a great place to learn about Brazilian history. It regularly hosts special exhibitions focused on historical and contemporary arts, nationally and internationally.
Museu de Arte Moderna, the Museum of Modern Art, is another museum in Rio worth a visit. Built around 1955, this massive building sits in Flamengo Park with a stunning outdoor terrace. The museum has permanent collections as well as seasonal exhibitions, plus a theater and regularly hosted concerts, plays and ballets for the public.
Bars and Parties of Gay Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janiero attracts visitors internationally for its world-renowned thriving gay nightlife. The gay neighborhood is located around Ipanema and Copacabana, home to lively bars and clubs that offer nightly entertainment.
Rio locals usually start their party late, heading out to bars before hitting up the clubs. They often stop by To Nem Ai, which is two blocks from the beach in Ipanema, to socialize before the night’s parties. It’s a great spot to have a few cocktails and socialize. Another must-hit spot in Ipanema is Galeria Cafe. Known for playing traditional Brazilian music on Wednesdays, this upscale club attracts Brazilian cuties from all over the country.
For the bear crowd, La Cueva is the spot to hit for checking out burly guys. It’s a cave-like bar and discothèque in Copacabana. The bar hosts nightly events, from drag shows to dance parties.
The Week recently opened in the city’s Sade district and quickly became the hottest megaclub in town, with renowned DJs spinning cutting-edge music and beautiful people dancing in this massive space.
Boate 1140 is another dance club frequent by locals. This club plays the hottest music, including house, tribal and pop. Boate 1140 also has local drag performers entertaining locals nightly. It’s a spacious club with a notoriously friendly staff, and it’s been a favorite club in gay Rio de Janeiro for 30 years.
Featured image by rmnunes via iStock