Bar Urca wall

Happy customers line the sea wall as the sun sets.

What is it?

Bar Urca is a small bar and restaurant situated on the Urca peninsula, not far from Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain). There are a number of things that make Bar Urca special:

  • The wall – The bar itself is tiny and although there is a small restaurant with seating on the floor above, most people take their drinks and food to the long sea wall across the road.
  • The food – Bar Urca already made it onto the list of Eat Rio recommended restaurants. Many of the items on the menu are classics you’ll find in most bars, but the difference is that Bar Urca does them better!
  • The views – In a city of spectacular views, Bar Urca offers something a little different – no beaches, no Sugarloaf, no Cristo. Instead you have views across Guanabara Bay to Niterói taking in the Niterói Bridge, countless ships, sailing boats and jets taking off from nearby Santos Dumont airport. It’s a beautiful setting with a great summery vibe.
Bar Urca vista

If you enjoy watching the world go by, Bar Urca’s location means that there’s always plenty to keep you interested.

How to get there

Bar Urca is at Rua Cândido Gaffrée, 205 in the neighbourhood of Urca:

Most taxi drivers know the bar by name (say “Bar Oor-ka”) and many of you will find a taxi is the easiest way to get there. From Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabana it should cost between R$15-30 depending on traffic and your exact location.

If you’re trying to economise, there are plenty of buses that go to Urca – just get off at the stop for Pão de Açúcar and then follow the 20 minute walk on this map.

Highlights

  • Caldinho de frutos do mar – this is a rich, thick seafood broth. Although it is served rather inelegantly (in a plastic cup with a spoon), this is a delicious treat for seafood lovers.
  • Caipirinhas – What the hell, either it’s the weekend or you’re on holiday, right? They don’t use a fancy cachaça, but they still make a great caipirinha. Just 2 things to remember: 1) Ask for pouco açúcar (sounds like “poh-koe ass-OO-ka”) unless you have a very sweet-tooth; 2) Pace yourself – a little caipirinha goes a long way!
  • Empadas – Empadas are small, savoury pies made with crumbly shortcrust pastry. Try the camarão (shrimp), siri (crab) or queijo (cheese) varieties.
Empadas Bar Urca

Delicious empadas are baked fresh at regular intervals throughout the day.

  • The sunset – As you sit on the wall, sipping an icy beer and watching the sun go down, you will find yourself sighing contentedly “this is the life…”.
  • Cristo – If you’re interested in getting a dramatic photo of Cristo Redentor, take a short walk once the sun has dropped below the horizon (or, if you prefer, ask your taxi driver to make a stop-off when you’re leaving). From point B on this map you will have a great view of the Corcovado across water:
Cristo redentor

A dramatic view to finish the day.

How much?

I’d say the prices at Bar Urca are very reasonable. A 600ml beer costs R$8. Empadas cost R$5, and a caipirinha costs R$12.

When to go?

A sunny Sunday would be the quintessential time to visit Bar Urca – on such days things get quite busy which makes for a great atmosphere but means you may have to wait a while at the bar. If you prefer a little less competition for service (and space on the wall!) then go on a weekday.

Bar Urca

The main issue though is the weather. Sitting on the sea wall, sipping a beer and nibbling on something delicious while the sun slowly sinks is a wonderful way to spend a day. If it’s raining, or even just cloudy, the situation is transformed. So check the forecast or at least look out the window and try to go on one of those long, sunny afternoons that Rio was made for.

Bar Urca