Aaaah Mexico…a country that has won our hearts for so many reasons. Both coasts have dreamy, tropical beaches. Inland is full of nature, adventure and culture. Mexican food is drool-worthy and flavorful. Mexican people are warm and welcoming. The cities are colorful and lively and the Pueblo Magicos are indeed magical. What else could you need? Oh yes…partying in Mexico!
Mexico definitely isn’t lacking in nightlife and festivities. In fact, for some people that is the main reason to go. But where are the best party cities in Mexico? We have the answer.
Top Party Cities in Mexico on the Beach
The beautiful beaches in Mexico draw people from all over the world and there are countless beach towns to choose from. However, when the sun goes down, partying in Mexico’s beach towns begins and often goes on until the sun rises again. Think gorgeous beach clubs, live music bars, colorful nightclubs and party cruises.
Here are a few of our favorite Mexican beach towns with a lively party scene.
Let’s get this party started with arguably the top spot for party cities in Mexico. Cancun was in fact born to party. The hotel zone was built specifically for tourism and is a long strip of resorts, hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. You can find a party in Cancun pretty much any time of day or night, especially during Spring Break.
Party options are endless in Cancun. Spend days dancing on the sand at one of the beach clubs like Congo Bar or Coco’s Beach Club. When it’s time to refuel (eating is important) head to one of the many lively restaurants like the iconic Senor Frogs where the party doesn’t have to stop.
After dark, there are tons of bars and nightclubs to choose from both on the hotel strip and downtown Cancun. For an extra special party night spring for tickets at Coco Bongo where you’ll also enjoy a live Vegas-style show. Or get out on the water for a party cruise excursion from Cancun.
Playa del Carmen
Once a sleepy fishing village, Playa del Carmen is now a slightly lower-key version of Cancun. Playa has more of a lived-in vibe than Cancun with less of the massive all-inclusive resorts and more boutique hotels and vacation condos. However, the party options are plentiful.
There are several beach clubs to spend sunny days sipping on tropical drinks and some of them run after dark although most close around sunset. Zenzi, Mamita’s and Kool Beach Club are a few worth checking out. Head to 5th Avenue for an array of bars and restaurants all with enticing offers of happy hour specials.
There are plenty of nightclubs in Playa del Carmen but there is also a great live music scene. Food, drink and live music make for a great evening at many of the 5th Avenue restaurants/bars. Fah Bar and McCarthy’s usually feature rock cover bands. Tequila Barrell turns from sports bar to party central in the later evening. La Bodeguita del Medio offers Cuban food and slasa dancing. There is also a Coco Bongo and a Senor Frogs in Playa del Carmen.
The once-hippy beach town of Tulum is more boho-chic/hipster these days and has become quite expensive. However, it’s still one of the best places in Mexico for beaches and sometimes alternative party scene. Tulum is essentially split into two; downtown and the beach strip. There are party places in both areas although the beach strip is where most of the action is. However, there are also some places in the jungle.
Playa del Carmen has clubs with dance music but there tends to be more of a live rock music scene. Whereas Tulum is more about the dance party with EDM/techno/deep house etc. It’s also the place to be for Full Moon parties. If the idea of dancing under the stars in the light of the full moon in the middle of a tropical jungle setting appeals to you, Tulum is your place.
Some top spots to check out; Batey Mojito & Guarapa Bar in town with live music and great cocktails. Sleek and sexy Casa Jaguar for good food and great music. For the young, all-night party scene go to Kiki. On Saturday nights or for full-moon parties Papaya Playa Project is the place to be.
Clear across the country on the Pacific Ocean, sits lovely Puerto Vallarta. This Mexican party city has a different vibe to the Caribbean side but there’s no shortage of nightlife. It’s also bigger and more sprawling meaning the bars and clubs are spread across a few areas. Furthermore, there’s a bit more variety of nightlife than in the beach towns like Tulum.
There are a few beach clubs along playa Los Muertos, but most of the nighttime action is found on the Malecon or in Zona Romantica. Puerto Vallarta is also known as one of the most gay-friendly party cities in Mexico with several self-proclaimed gay bars in town. Two of the most popular gay clubs are Blue Chairs Rooftop Bar and the super fun Mr Flamingo.
If you take a walk along the Malecon you’ll pass by plenty of restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Some favorite Puerto Vallarta nightclubs on the Malecon are Zoo, La Vaquita and Mandala where you can dance the night away. For live rock music head to Roxy Rock House or Murphy’s Irish Pub. If you want something more chill check out the live music at Encanto. Finally, if you’re a beer drinker Puerto Vallarta also has a rapidly growing craft beer scene at places like Los Muertos Brewing.
For a special evening consider splurging on Rhythms of the Night. A party boat takes you to a private island where you’ll have a beachside dinner, drinks and an amazing jungle show.
Cabo San Lucas
Cabo has been honing their party scene for decades so it’s not surprising that it’s a favorite party city in Mexico. The nightlife in Cabo is lively and varied so there’s something for every style of partier.
There are some beach clubs and beach bars like Mango Deck to enjoy during the day and early evening. But for the real nightlife, people head into downtown Cabo. The tourist district in downtown is the place to party, particularly the two blocks around Plaza Bonita. This is where you will find bars and nightclubs of all shapes and sizes.
If you enjoy live rock music you’ll love Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina or the fun party scene at Jungle Bar. For nightclubs, you can dance all night with the young and beautiful at El Squid Roe, Pink Kitty or Mandala. Fun party spots at the marina include the Nowhere Bar and the Giggling Marlin.
Top Party Cities in Mexico Away From the Beach
If you’ve only ever thought of Mexico for beach vacations, think again. There are some amazing party cities in Mexico that are many miles from the coast. You can spend your days enjoying the Mexican culture, visiting historic sites and museums and exploring the colonial squares and cobblestone streets. Then come nightfall venture out to indulge in fabulous food, cocktails and cervezas.
The massive capital city of Mexico is understandably full of places to party. This city may be lacking beach clubs but that’s about the only thing you won’t find here. As you’d expect of any large cosmopolitan metropolis there’s everything from local cantinas and bars to swanky lounges and hot nightclubs and a sexy salsa and speakeasy scene.
Mexico City’s trendy neighborhoods are the best places to go for a night out. The neighborhoods of Zona Rosa, Roma, La Condesa and Polanco are the most popular. Zona Rosa tends to be a little more casual and budget-friendly and is also home to a vibrant, gay-friendly party vibe. La Condesa and Polanco are the higher-end areas where you go to be seen. Roma is chill and trendy.
There is such a variety of places to party in Mexico City it’s almost pointless to name just a few. So let’s just say you must try to fit in a rooftop bar, a mezcaleria, a pulque bar and a swanky speakeasy.
The least touristy Mexican party city on our list is Guadalajara. But that’s not to say it doesn’t have a great nightlife. It’s just more local and organic as opposed to the planned party place that is Cancun. There is a large student population and a thriving gay community which both add to the colorful party scene.
Zapopan and Chapultepec Avenue are the best areas to go for nightlife. Here you’ll find cantinas, pubs, lounges, nightclubs, craft beer bars and live music venues. Guadalajara is also home of the Mariachi which always gets the party started.
Of note are; Cantina Mexicaltzingo for great music. Bar Americas for EDM and all-night dancing. California’s Bar and Envy for the gay bar scene. El Callejón de los Rumberos for latin music and dancing.
Merida (aka The White City) is a gorgeous Spanish colonial city with a rich Mayan heritage making it quite unique from other Mexican Party cities. The nightlife isn’t as wild as Mexico City or the Mexican beach towns but it’s a great place to enjoy music and drinks in a more local atmosphere.
The highlight of the party scene in Merida is the cantinas. Unlike most of Mexico, many of the cantinas welcome women. They are also quite trendy rather than the dark and somewhat seedy traditional Mexican cantinas. You won’t find a ton of party till dawn cosmopolitan nightclubs here but the live music scene is awesome.
Start your night at one of the cantinas. La Negrita is a popular spot with a great garden and Latin music. Dzalby is another good spot with a rooftop terrace and El Porvenir is good for a very local crowd. After the cantinas close at 10 pm head to the late-night bars like La Mezcaleria, Mayan Pub or M60 for great music and a lively atmosphere.
If you think Tijuana is just a dangerous, dirty border town you haven’t been there in a while. Tijuana is reinventing itself and lots of areas are now very hip and trendy attracting a higher level of tourism. Having said that, if you venture out of the tourist area into La Zona Norte you’ll find the traditional Tijuana hole-in-the-wall seedy bars and the infamous red-light district. This is not an area we cover or recommend.
The best tourist areas for food and nightlife are Avenida Revolución in Zona Centro, Plaza del Zapato in Zona Rio and Chapultepec. For a party beach town vibe, there’s also nearby Rosarito. In all these areas you’ll find great restaurants, trendy bars, craft beer pubs and top nightclubs.
Some bars to check out are Dandy del Sur Cantina, La Mezcalera, Cerveza Funes and Border Psycho Brewery. For nightclubs try Rubiks Retro Bar, El Alebrije, Deck 22 or for a super young crowd there’s Coko Bongo.
Another beautiful colonial city, Oaxaca is often overlooked as a tourist destination and is definitely not on the top of the list as a party city in Mexico. However, we really enjoyed the more relaxed nightlife in Oaxaca.
The best area to enjoy evening festivities is in the nicely compact Zocalo. You can easily walk around after dark and stumble across a good variety of restaurants, cantinas, bars and even a few nightclubs. The pedestrian street of Macedonio Alcalá is especially lively after 10 pm.
Two big pieces of the nightlife scene in Oaxaca are mezcal and music. You’ll find both these things at almost every bar in the city. Music styles are varied and include Latin, jazz, blues, salsa, pop, rock and reggae. La Candela is the place for salsa. For mezcal head to the 80+ year-old La Casa del Mezcal. If you’re in the mood for dancing La Cantinita and La Tentación are good choices.
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Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.