Traveling solo to Rio de Janeiro was the trip of the lifetime for me. Especially because the nightlife was some of the craziest in the world!
When I traveled around Brazil, one of the questions that people asked me all the time is - is Brazil safe? Often the media and even Brazilians will tell you to be careful, Brazil is not safe, the country is unstable, etc. And as my mother would always say, don't go outside after 10pm!
I've traveled & partied all around Brazil - while traveling solo. Rio is one of the best party cities in the world, and there was no way I was just going to sit at home at night! From "favela" (slum) parties in Rio de Janeiro, to all-night beach raves on Copacabana, to clubbing to Brazilian sertanejo music in Lapa, Rio has a lot to offer in its nightlife, and you can enjoy it fully as a solo traveler!
Let's get this out of the way. Yes, there is a lot of poverty in Brazil and there is crime. However, same can probably be said about parts of wherever you live too. Would you go wandering into the Bronx in the middle of the night? As it is traveling to any city, it's hard to foresee petty crime, such as getting pickpocketed. However, with common sense, encountering violent crimes is unlikely. Exercise caution, research your destination, and of course don't wander around aimlessly at night.
There are a lot of slums in Rio - you'll know when you're there, they are on the hills or Rio. There's not as taboo or dangerous as the media portrays them , as many of the gangs have been "pacified" by the police. However, it's still best not to go into the slums on your own. I don't think it is necessary to explore this area on your own. I took a slum walking tour offered by the hostel when I was there. I thought it was a great way to learn about the other side of Rio from a local guide.
I also took a trip booked through the hostel to the "baile funk" in the slums of Rio. The baile funk is a club that people from the slums go to, and dance to "funk" music. It's a rhythmic Brazilian electronic music originated from the slums, with suggestive lyrics and lots of booty shaking. It's a highly recommended local experience for those that like to party!
The locations of other tourist attractions of the city are easily reachable by metro, bus or taxi. Places like Santa Teresa, Lapa, Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf Mountain, the lakes, and the beaches are really not more dangerous than the average city.
Ways to meet party buddies
Hostels, as always, are a great place to meet like-minded travelers. Couchsurfing meetings are also a cool way to meet a mix of locals, expats, and travelers.
And if you're keen to meet locals that want to party, the best way is to use the Party with a Local app!
Meeting people on a night out
Everyone you meet will tell you that Brazilians are super friendly. In Rio especially, everything they say about Brazilians is 110% true. Wherever you go, people will be talking to you, or trying even if they don't speak a lot of English.
If you're not accustomed to Brazilian culture, you may be taken aback by the way people flirt in clubs. If you are a girl, a lot of men will come up to you and try to kiss you minutes after talking to you. If you don't want to kiss them, they move on. If you are a guy and you approach a girl, she probably expects to be kissed after a minute. She'll become frustrated with you if you don't. Even my male European friends felt put off by that! It was definitely very different from what I was used to in the US.
Casual conversations and being "just friends" in a club don't seem to exist, but I use a trick to make friends when solo.
I'm not a smoker, but I go to the smoking area and ask for a cigarette. It's a great way to break the ice and speak with people where it isn't so loud! I've met a lot of people this way that I ended up hanging out with for the rest of the night. I know some travelers that just bring a pack of cigarettes and lighter always, to meet new people. It really works!
This article is by Tendelle, who has traveled solo to Rio de Janeiro for the World Cup and Carnaval, and loved it!