To say Argentina was exhausting would be an understatement. The people here are crazy. By the time I’m used to going home, most Argentines are just getting ready to hit the boliches. After a week of calm spent in the deserts of Chile, I immediately found myself needing to adjust to an entirely different way of life. There was no time zone change, but my schedule had turned all wonky as if there were. In Argentina, we were eating dinner close to midnight, pre-gaming until 3 AM, and then partying until 7 AM on average.
The week that I spent in Buenos Aires, my hostel couldn’t help but start to make fun of me. Every day, I was meant to check out at 11 AM because I was planning on moving to a different district of the city. I had such big aspirations for exploring Buenos Aires. Every morning, I’d groggily roll up to reception in the early afternoon to let them know I was staying another night. I even missed my first ever bus in Cordoba. It broke my streak of nearly four years of traveling around the world without having ever missed a bus. Alas, I thought I was still 21 and decided to book an 8 AM bus and just stay up all night partying. I made it to 6:30 AM before deciding to lay my head down just for a minute. Should’ve known better. There went $40, which goes a long way if we’re talking booze in Argentina. Especially those $.50 bottles of wine.
I was in Argentina when the Coronavirus lockdowns started happening and I was forced to flee back to my parents’ house in the United States. That Argentine nightlife definitely played a part into why I still find myself staying up until 7 AM every night for the last two months. Sadly, the nightlife down in my parents’ basement is nowhere near as popping as these places in Argentina.
On the outskirts of Argentinian Patagonia lies Bariloche. This large city is one of the last few havens before the vast expanses of Patagonia really take hold. Take advantage of the civilization here because it might be likely your last real place to party if you are working your way south towards Ushuaia.
Craft beer and lively breweries are the name of the game in Bariloche. After a long day of hiking, there is nothing much better than a cold beer on an outdoor patio overlooking the lake and the mountains. There are so many breweries in Bariloche that it can get overwhelming. You could stay in Bariloche for a month, doing a different hike each day and visiting a different brewery every evening and never run out of hikes or breweries. For something a little classier, take advantage of the cheap wine and meat, and treat yourself to an insanely affordable steak dinner while getting wine drunk.
Of course, no night is complete without hitting the clubs. After all, you can’t spell Bariloche without bar or boliche. While Bariloche doesn’t boast the megaclubs that the bigger cities of Argentina have, you can always expect a fun crowd. As a major tourist destination, Bariloche will always have a good crowd of people looking to just let loose without any care. As a year-round destination, there’s no peak time of year to visit Bariloche either. Come in the summer to live large on the lakes or come in the winter to ski the slopes and slurp some cervezas.
Salta was my first introduction in the Argentine nightlife. And at first, I was a bit resistant. My hostel in Salta would host an asado every few nights and it was popular among the locals, as well. We’d have large groups of local families come by and I always wanted to join but had not yet adjusted to Argentine time. What’s Argentine time? It basically means these crazy boludos eat dinner at like 10 PM every night. After adventuring all day, I much preferred to just scarf down a fat meal early and call it a night muy temprano.
But ~ the partying traveler ~ can only resist the call for so long. I was quickly reminded what I loved about Argentina. The liveliness, the vibrance, the music, the dancing, the partying, and the sheer love of life that I had yet to encounter anywhere else. It seemed like everyone was always laughing, having a good time, and living their best lives. It is contagious, and none more-so than at a good party.
Salta is a good balance between a big city like Buenos Aires and I guess, a less big city? It still felt pretty big to me. The perks of Salta’s size is that it’s big enough to have some crazy nightlife districts but not big enough to have too many. The party will usually be concentrated in Balcarce, their nightlife street lined with bars and boliches.
And of course, you’ll want to hit up one of the peñas for a spot of live music and pure Argentine culture. Salta still maintains a local, northern Argentine feel that has a dash of rurality to it. It’ll be much harder to find this type of authentic culture in the larger, more modern cities.
Located between Cordoba and Buenos Aires, Rosario is another hub for nightlife. As the third-largest city in Argentina (behind Cordoba and Buenos Aires), it is home to some of the best nightlife in the country. This triangle of cities is definitely where the best partying is at in all of Argentina.
Rosario is often overlooked by tourists in favor of the destinations that might have some sexier attractions. And I’ll admit, they have a point. Where Rosario lacks in must-see locations, it makes up for in fun. For the travelers that do get a chance to visit Rosario, they might find themselves sucked in by the nightlife.
Compared to the craziness of Argentina’s nightlife, Mendoza might seem a bit tame. The drinking scene in Mendoza is a lot more chill. It focuses on what it does best: wine. Mendoza is famed worldwide for its wine. The wine is good and it is cheap. I was shocked by the price of wine throughout Argentina, often finding bottles for less than $1 from the supermarkets. I’ll admit, I’m no wine connoisseur so wine is wine, whether it’s $1 or $100. But I know enough to know that the $1 wine in Argentina is much, much better than the $5 wine back home.
In Mendoza and its 350,000 acres of vineyards, you’ll head straight for the heart. Mendoza is beautifully located in the mountains, close enough to Chile that you could even hop over for the weekend. Despite wine being what Mendoza excels at, that doesn’t take away from the rest of its nightlife scene either. You’ll find bars, boliches, and everything else you’ll find in other Argentine nightlife hubs. Let’s just say your priorities might be focused elsewhere in the heart of wine country.
This is where I missed my first-ever bus due to sleeping in. And I almost did it again the next morning. The party in Cordoba was that enticing that I willingly put a $60 bus ride on the line twice. As Argentina’s second largest city, one can expect the party to be bumping. Cordoba showed me what an Argentine party was meant to be like.
There were a ton of Argentinian people at the hostel I was staying in, and they were more than happy to show us the ropes.. Despite the gringos struggling to keep pace with the late-night partying style, I think I did pretty well, all things considered. Cordoba was my first taste at real Argentine life. My first empanadas, my first boliches, my first Fernet and coke, my last Fernet and coke…
I actually couldn’t tell you a single thing that I did in Cordoba. And still, I absolutely adored it here. It was so fun, laid-back, and lively. Even if I spent the day lazing away at the hostel and avoiding the heat, I always had something to look forward to once the evening came around. Usually, it was a box of 30 cent empanadas and a different Argentine craft beer every hour.
Where to begin… Buenos Aires is a different animal. I don’t understand how anything works in this city but I love it with all my heart. It seems like the city revolves solely around parties and hardly anyone works. And if anyone works, it’s just so they can make some extra money for the party. Sure, there are plenty of things to do in Buenos Aires, but the parties are what stand out to me.
Partying in Buenos Aires is like a marathon. It lasts all night and you want to be able to survive until the party really hit its stride. Which is usually closer to 3 or 4 AM. Considering that I’m used to sprints from my college days where our bars shut down at 1 AM, this was admittedly a change of pace. I found myself clocking out earlier than all my local friends. Thankfully, my other traveler friend was the same way which made me feel a little less like a loser. By the way, when I say earlier, I still mean like 6 AM.
The nightlife in Buenos Aires can be found throughout the city’s many districts, but from my experience, the most poppin’ district is without a doubt Palermo Soho. I can’t even try to count the number of bars here. Buenos Aires is one of the world’s largest cities, and Palermo Soho might be one of the largest nightlife districts that I’ve been to. Or at least, it feels extremely large. We went on a lengthy pub crawl and it felt like the area never ended.
Sometimes, it also felt like the night never ended. I was not ready for the party in Buenos Aires. Truth be told, I could hand this blog off to any random local in Buenos Aires and they would be more deserving of the title than I am.