If you like secret bars, stand-up comedy, good wine, and cheap public transportation that runs all night, you might want to plan a trip to Buenos Aires. The city is a late-night wonderland; head to the boliche (club), and you're likely to stay out until the sun comes up. Loud and friendly, this city never fully sleeps, and Porteños (Buenos Aires residents) know how to have a good time.
Like in any city, be aware when you go out. Walking in Buenos Aires at night is generally safe—but petty crimes, like phone theft, do occur. If you’re ever in doubt about the safety of an area, order an Uber to take you to your destination. Ubers are cheap and plentiful; alternatively, many buses run all night as well. If you get lost or need help, most Porteños will happily point you in the right direction of wherever you're going.
All in all, just be tranquilo (chill) when going out and enjoy wherever the night takes you. With so many events occurring in the city on a weekly basis, your weekend plans might end up changing a lot from what you originally scheduled. Read on for where to find the country’s best microbrewery, bumpin’ festivals, corner bars with charm, and a wide variety of live music.
The bar scene in Buenos Aires was strong even before the city's recent craft beer boom. Head to an elegant wine bar for a glass of Malbec, or hit up a kooky concept locale for a taste of the city's creative scene. Any neighborhood will have its host of corner bars with people drinking national beers such as Quilmes or Brahma, and those who like a little mystery can check out the speakeasies hidden underneath flower shops and behind sushi restaurants.
- Craft beer bars: Head to Strange Brewing for sours, IPAs, and fun flavors. Some say it’s the best microbrewery in Buenos Aires, others say the country. Club de la Birra has a great variety of brews and a staff that can give you a crash course in beer education.
- Concept bars: Large, delicious, and strong cocktails can be found in Calypso. Outfitted as an old San Telmo house, this bar comes complete with a bedroom, dining room, and parlor. Verne serves cocktails based on Jules Verne’s classic "180 Days Around the World."
- Wine bars: Go to Aldo’s in Microcentro for wines sold at great prices. At Vico, you can enjoy a variety of wine on tap, courtesy of the self-serve dispensers.
- Speakeasies: Floreria Atlantico—hidden inside a flower shop in Retiro—is an intimate speakeasy with expertly mixed drinks. If you like sushi and secrets, make your way through the safe of sushi restaurant Nicky NY Sushi to Harrison Speakeasy.
- Neighborhood bars: Chin Chin has hip-hop music, rowdy locals, and decently priced drinks. El Boliche de Roberto has cheap drinks, live tango, and a nostalgic ambience.
Porteños like their cumbia, reggaeton, and electronic music, so that's what spins on the decks at most of the city's mainstream clubs. Buenos Aires's gay clubs feature a bigger selection of pop, while alternative venues are known to play a variety of genres. Nightclubs here can have a very “meat market” feel to them. Groups of women wanting to dance without having guys persistently trying to pick them up will probably have more fun at a gay or alternative club.
- Mainstream clubs: Niceto Club is one of the main venues on the Palermo nightclub circuit. It's known for hip-hop, cumbia, and techno, as well as folkloric events and Club 69, a famous drag queen show performed every Thursday night. For local and international DJs spinning a mix of electronic and techno music, Crobar has two dance floors and a good sound system. Over in San Telmo, the Club Museum was designed by Gustave Eiffel himself; more than 1,000 people dance to EDM, cumbia, and reggaeton until the early morning on weekends.
- LGBT clubs: The largest and oldest gay club in Buenos Aires, Amerika has dance shows and a giant warehouse space to dance to pop and cumbia all night. Be prepared to pay a small cover fee. Feliza has several dance rooms, an arcade, swing, delicious eats, and decent cocktails.
- Alternative: Famed for their Afromama nights of funk, soul, and hip-hop, Makena has a small dance floor but a good crowd. If you love the '80s and smoky basement dancing, then check out Requiem.
- Salsa: In Abasto, Azucar plays salsa, merengue, bachata, and reggaeton. Dancing starts earlier here than in other clubs (early as in 10:30 p.m.) El Toque Cimarrón in San Telmo has a live salsa band on Friday nights.
Milongas are tango dancing events. Some are during the day, but many begin around midnight and last until the early morning. Scattered throughout the city, different milongas will suit different interests. If you just want to watch, you can opt to watch a show with dinner instead.
- El Beso: With a theme night each day of the week, this venue is gay friendly and has classes for serious beginners. Advanced dancers show up, too.
- Salón Canning: Famous for its wooden floors, many locals and tourists come to dance at this beginner-friendly milonga.
- La Nacional: Go here if you just want dinner and a tango show. Feeling inspired? Stay for the milonga afterwards.
Live Music and Performances
Music wraps around and whirls through the streets of Buenos Aires. You might be sitting in a restaurant quietly eating your dinner one minute, and the next a tango singer or small band might enter and perform a short set.
If you want to go to venues dedicated to live music, Niceto Club hosts popular Argentine acts as well as international artists. Nearby Open Folk has intimate folk music shows every Wednesday, while local bands rock out San Telmo's Guevara Bar. For live tango music, check out La Catedral in Almagro. In Konex, la Bomba de Tiempo will keep your blood pumping to the beat of their famous Monday night drum line shows. If you want something really spectacular, though, watch opera singers or orchestras perform at Teatro Colón, one of the best concert venues in the world.
There’s a stand-up scene in Buenos Aires, though it’s mostly in Spanish. Except for the occasional one-off show, the only stand-up in English is at BA Comedy Lab. Shows happen about twice a month and feature both amateur and professional comedians. If you’re interested in the Spanish scene, the Stand Up Club is a small venue in Microcentro with weekly shows and open mic nights. Most venues charge a small cover fee.
Buenos Aires has a weird history of having amazing festivals that abruptly come to an end. However, the ones that have stuck around know how to go hard.
- Lollapalooza: This annual festival features over three days of music and has a similar vibe to its sister festival in Chicago. Thousands of spectators come here to see big name artists, both local and from the States.
- Tango Festival and World Cup: This isn't just the world's largest tango fest: it's also the most important tango championship in the world. In addition to the big competition, the festival includes citywide performances, classes, a product fair, and concerts.
- International Jazz Festival: Both established and newer artists play classic bebop, jazz fusion, swing, and nuevo tango at this giant festival every November. The organizers love bringing in musicians who have never played in Buenos Aires. You can also find talks and free performances throughout the city.
- LGBT Pride Week and Parade: The main Pride event takes place in November every year, drawing over 100,000 glitter-adorned, colorful dancers and spectators. With tons of DJs, floats, and cheap beer, the party starts in Plaza de Mayo and heads to the National Congress. A smaller Pride takes place in Palermo in December.
Events and Activities
Food fairs, holiday parties, celebrations of different immigrant cultures, and more can be found throughout Buenos Aires year-round. The government puts on many free and diverse events, the schedules of which can be found on their website. One of the most famous and fun is La Noche de los Museos, when all the museums and special historical buildings in the city stay open until 3 a.m. with exhibits, concerts, food, and more.
Argentina has a strong circus subculture—and with over 20 circus schools in the capital, there's usually at least one variety show happening on any given weekend. Shows consist of aerial arts, acrobatics, knife-throwing, and more. Check individual circus schools for their schedules. Trivenchi and Club de Trapecistas are two of the best-known ones in the city.
If you want to let off some steam while you're here, head to The Break Club, where you can literally break things such as TVs, bottles, and old computers. Protective equipment and tools for smashing stuff are provided. It's only open from Wednesday to Sunday evening, so reservations are necessary.
Buenos Aires also has full moon parties on the shores of the planetarium’s pond. They happen about once a month and include a drum circle, fire dancing, and a lot of vegan food.
Tips for Going Out in Buenos Aires
- Open containers are legal and common among locals.
- Trains generally shut down by 12 a.m., but buses run all night. However, if you try to take a bus after midnight, you might end up waiting for over an hour.
- Taxis are plentiful and easy to hail around the city, no matter the hour of night.
- Uber is the easiest way to get home. If your Uber driver says they don’t accept card, it isn’t true—just cancel and order another Uber. It's not uncommon for your driver to ask you to sit in front. There’s still a lot of resentment towards Uber from taxi drivers here, and many will ask single passengers to sit in front as a precaution.
- The last call will vary from bar to club. Some bars will stay open until the sun comes up, while others shut down around 2 a.m. on weekends or 12 a.m. on weeknights.
- If you want to leave a tip, ten percent is standard, though it is not always expected.
- Many events are free. If there is a cover at a fancier club or event, it’s usually well below 600 Argentine pesos ($10).