I can gush on and on about Mexico. The beaches, the scenery, the food… Oh god, the food. My stomach is rumbling just thinking about it. A plate of tacos al pastor washed down by crackling cerveza would hit the spot right now. Anyway, back to the topic at hand. If you couldn’t tell by my blog name, I enjoy a poppin’ fiesta about as much as I enjoy an overstuffed burrito. In other words, Mexico is a near unbeatable travel destination for me.
With the help of Kay over at The Awkward Traveller, I’ve compiled a list of the best party destinations in Mexico. I love the parties in Mexico. Whether you prefer making a fool of yourself at a salsateca or moving like a zombie to some house music, Mexico has got you covered. And it’s not even just about the clubs or the music. The party-loving people of Mexico are what makes the nightlife great. Seriously, they just know how to have a good time no matter what.
Wherever you go, as long as you are with good people and a local crowd, the party will be peak quality. Rest assured, you can’t go wrong with these criminally poppin’ party destinations. Without further ado, these are the best places to party in Mexico.
Sike! Let’s talk about COVID real quick.
COVID-19 Precautions for Mexico: As of right now, Mexico has minimal restrictions to travelers coming in and out of the country. Basically, you don’t need a negative Coronavirus test or need to quarantine to enter Mexico, and you can travel freely as soon as you land. I’ve noticed that lots of my fellow travel bloggers, influencers, and friends have taken advantage and made their temporary homes in Mexico. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is safe to travel. Do your research beforehand on the best way to travel responsibly. Do not travel if there is a possibility that you have COVID-19 and do your part in slowing the spread of the pandemic.
And though this blog is called The Partying Traveler and this post is about partying in Mexico, please do so responsibly. In most cases, that means don’t do it at all. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself in these fantastic travel destinations, though.
Okay, now for real. Without further ado, the best places to party in Mexico.
Oaxaca de Juarez
Oaxaca City is one of the most underrated destinations in all of Latin America. Despite being one of the larger cities in Mexico, it is a lengthy drive from the coast. Many people associate Mexico with sunny beaches, so Oaxaca often gets overlooked. Although Oaxaca is a big city, its colonial center maintains a local, small-town feel. It’s a bustling and beautiful city during the day, but one that truly doesn’t come alive until the nighttime.
Don’t miss out on a visit here during Dia de los Muertos. Oaxaca, home of many Day of the Dead traditions, such as alebrijes, is one of the top destinations in Mexico for the festivities. Although Day of the Dead is the best time of year to visit Oaxaca, you’ll find a good party year round. Oaxaca has a wide range of bars, salsa clubs, Latin clubs, and even house music clubs to fit your taste. And it gets wild in Oaxaca. I celebrated my 24th birthday in Oaxaca. Let’s just say the winding six hour drive through the mountains to San Jose del Pacifico the next morning did not sit well with my stomach. I don’t remember much from my birthday, but I know the mezcal flowed freely and my fumbling feet embarrassed me on the dance floor.
Coming second only to Mexico’s sprawling capital when it comes to population, Guadalajara is unsurprisingly a hotspot for nightlife. Guadalajara may not be a coastal city, but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked as a party destination. It’s about five hours away from the beach party hotspot of Puerto Vallarta, so if you want to have some variety in your holiday, be sure to check out both.
Guadalajara honestly might deserve the crown when it comes to best party destinations in Mexico. I mean, when you think Mexico, you think Tequila. Less than an hour away from Guadalajara is the town of Tequila, the birthplace of none other than, you guessed it, tequila. What else has Guadalajara given to the world? Mariachi, to name another iconic part of Mexico’s fiesta culture. Guadalajara’s sheer size alone makes it a huge cultural hub, hosting anything from film festivals, sporting events, to all kinds of crazy parties. You can’t go wrong with Guadalajara. There’s always something going on in arguably Mexico’s top party destination.
Puebla is a dope city, but if you’re looking to heat things up, take a quick ride to the neighboring town of Cholula. The nightlife here is spicier than the hot sauce that’s named after it. Colorful, colonial Cholula feels like a small town until the nightlife starts churning. At that point, you just wonder how half of the city suddenly turned into a nightclub. Cholula’s nightlife district is massive for how small the town is. This can be attributed to the large university population in the city that is more dedicated to dancing than studying.
We were drastically unprepared for a night out in Cholula. We expected a quiet town where there might be one or two discotecas that people flock to as the night goes on. As soon as we got to the nightlife street, we were overwhelmed. There was a much wider selection of clubs than I expected.
Oh yeah, and Cholula also has an entire bar district built out of shipping containers. It’s dope as hell and worth visiting just to see it. The drinks there are much cheaper, as well. I recommend downing a few shots there before moving onto the main nightlife district at San Andres. Being well-dressed will get you into most of the nicer clubs. I wish I knew what that felt like, because like I said, we did not come prepared.
The best thing about a small town like Cholula is that if you ever get bored, Puebla’s only a quick ride away. That opens you up to plenty more nightlife options. While Puebla may not have the renown as a nightlife capital, instead boasting a mind-boggling 365 churches, it still has plenty of cool places for a drink.
Coined the “Las Vegas of Mexico,” Cancun is often synonymous with over-the-top partying and wild nightlife. For good reason. It’s absolutely true. However, before you get down to the get down in Cancun, you have to make the decision if you want to party at an all-inclusive resort, or party in town. The pros of staying at an all inclusive resort in Cancun means you get to party literally from the moment you wake up until closing your eyes to a drunken slumber – all without the worry of overspending or losing your credit card at a bar. Many of the adults-only resorts in Cancun offer entertainments nights and guest DJs to liven up the pool parties and in-house nightclubs.
That said, Cancun has so many more outside of the resorts that you might not want to stay there all day anyway! In that case, opt-out of the all inclusive package and head to the Cancun hotel zone “strip” to find the hot spots! During the day, head to a beach bar to soak up both sun and alcohol; Congo Bar, The Surfin’ Burrito, and Coco’s Beach Club offer the best views, food, and drinks on the strip. If you have a large group, Coco’s Beach Club offer’s beach beds for $125 USD for up to 6 people. For solo travelers, Congo Bar will be easier on your wallet but keep the fun atmosphere! But if you would rather mingle with the locals, Los Arcos, La Playita, and Black Pub are less touristy and even host live music from local artists!
Once you’re sufficiently juiced up to start your afternoon, it’s time to experience Cancun’s attractions. Take a day tour to nearby Chichen Itza, one of the seven wonders of the world. This also usually includes at least one shot of tequila on the bus ride over. Or, if you need a bit of solid fuel, sign up for a food and beer tour and hop between the city’s hidden gems!
Once the sun sets, it’s back to the wild life. Hands down, the showstopping club in Cancun is Coco Bongo, which is basically an acrobatic impersonation show with a dance floor and all you can drink bars. It is also the most expensive entry rate, with promoters starting the ticket price at ~$80usd. To get cheaper entry to nightclubs in Cancun, buy your tickets in advance IN PERSON on the strip. Club promoters are usually chilling around the clubs in the afternoon trying to find people who want to party. You can talk them down to 50% off the asking price of the ticket, maybe more if you speak Spanish! Cheaper clubs that are still fun include Mandala, The City, and 11:11 Club – or experience them all on a bar crawl! You can never run out of party options in Cancun.
Cabo San Lucas
Cabo doesn’t need much of an introduction. This is one of Mexico’s most iconic party destinations for sun-lovers and spring breakers. Outside of being one of the most beautiful spots in Mexico, it’s also one of the liveliest party destinations in the country. It caters to any kind of partier, from the Bacchanalian spring breakers to people who prefer a microbrewery or even a wine tasting.
Playa del Carmen
Located about an hour and a half south of Cancun is Playa del Carmen. Its proximity to Cancun has made it a popular alternative for travelers, local and international alike. Admittedly, Playa del Carmen is very gringo-centric, although the beach is undeniably stunning here. It’s a bit more chilled out than Cancun but is rapidly growing and developing. Its central location between Cancun, Cozumel, and Tulum makes it a major hub for tourists looking to party.
Unlike Cancun, it lacks a a sprawling metropolis to go with its beachy resort area. That makes Playa del Carmen pretty expensive compared to other beach destinations in Mexico, but depending on where you are coming from, still pretty affordable. Just keep in mind that you won’t be able to just escape into a city when you need cheaper food or cheaper nights out.
The chilled out beach town of Tulum has several different crowds. You’ve got the hippie backpackers like myself, the Instagram models in their bamboo palaces, and then the American tourists who needed a break from Cancun. It’s become the newest hot spot in Mexico, and you better get it while it’s hot. Tulum is great because during the day, there’s plenty to see and explore. The cenotes, the ruins, and endless adventures along the coast make it so that you’re never bored. If you’re into something more laid-back, then you’ve got plenty of shimmering ocean to kick back next to.
It’s a little quieter than the other booming beach towns of Mexico, and that might be Tulum’s biggest draw. There are no shortage of beach clubs to choose from. There’s guaranteed to be a good party nearly every night in Tulum.
One of my wildest nights out in Mexico happened in Merida, and I didn’t even need alcohol to have it. My friend and I wanted to go out with a bang since it was my last night in Mexico. We Ubered to the fancy nightlife district only for him to be turned back because he stupidly wore shorts. I really don’t know what he was thinking but he tried to solve the problem by asking local people if they could give him pants and he’ll give them shorts.
A fiery-haired gringo asking you to take off your pants in mediocre Spanish? You can assume whether that worked or not. Anyway, we headed back to the city center when the undeniably thump of house music caught our ears. We got lost in the sauce at this amazing electronic party that I never would have expected to find in a city like Merida. Psychedelic graphics flashed on every wall of the open-aired dance floor, and we partied well until past a reasonable time to wake up for my flight.
Puerto Vallarta is a fan favorite Mexican beach destination; it has perfect weather, incredible food, enriching culture, and the cherry on top is that Puerto Vallarta is the most welcoming and LGBTQ+ friendly cities in Mexico, and possibly the best gay-friendly beach destinations in all of Latin America. If you prefer staying at an all-inclusive resort, Casa Culpa and Al Mar Resort are two resorts that keep the fun flowing with the hottest local DJs hosting in-house activities! However, Puerto Vallarta’s true party lies in the city. Stay anywhere in El Centro to be walking distance from the boardwalk nightclubs, or Zona Romantica to be near the best bars and events.
Start your days in PV off right with affordable mimosas and even better food at Coco’s Kitchen before heading down to the boardwalk. There you will find tons of bars and beach clubs such as Swell and Blondies! Along the Malecon (aka the boardwalk), that spans both the El Centro and Zona Romantica neighborhoods, there are also dozens of shops, boutiques, and Indigenous art galleries.
By the time night rolls around, you have two options. You can party the night away at one of the many clubs and bars, or you can take in a show. For a more laid-back vibe, grab tickets for the Rhythms of the Night Sunset Cruise which takes you through the history and culture of Mexico through dance, music, food, and of course drinks! On the flip side, to turn up the energy, you have to check out a drag show (or two, or three)! The world’s most famous drag queens frequent Puerto Vallarta to host the best shows featuring both international and local drag queens! And that’s just the pre-game. There’s even dancing almost every night in the town square, so no matter what your rodeo, you’re sure to find a party!
Tijuana might be Mexico’s most infamous nightlife destination. This city of sin is often renowned for its unforgettable nights, that you end up not even remembering. As the largest city on the Baja California Peninsula, it is a top destination for travelers coming from the United States. A big part of that might be the fact that it’s only two horus from Los Angeles and 30 minutes from San Diego. Talk about a quick getaway. There are plenty of attractions in Tijuana, but it is undeniable that nightlife plays a big part in enticing tourists. Tijuana’s Red Light District may be one of the most famous in the world.
If you really want to immerse yourself in the real Tijuana, you might want to consider glossing over the Red Light District and other tourist hotspots. La Zona Norte is where you’ll want to be if you want some authentic Mexican fun. The culture, the nightlife, and the food of Tijuana make it one of the top travel destinations in Mexico.
Mexico City is not just one of the best nightlife destinations in Mexico, it might be one of the best in the world. The varied nightlife districts of Mexico City guarantee that there’s a scene that fits every taste. I could write a book on just how excellent the nightlife in Mexico City is. However, ain’t nobody got time for that so I’ll just brush over this city as thoroughly as I can.
There is a lot to know about Mexico City. As one of the world’s largest cities, Mexico City often feels like it could be dozens of different cities in one. The barrios range from modern and trendy, to more traditional and cultural. Mexico City often feels like multiple cities within one massive city. The nightlife offerings will vary by district, from local salsatecas to clubs that cater to a more international crowd.
One of the trendiest districts of Mexico City, Roma is where you’ll want to start any night out. Find a cozy cocktail bar, of which there are many to discover, before heading out to one of Mexico City’s booming nightclubs.
The Zocalo is the main historic city center of Mexico City and its surrounding neighborhood. It’s the most bustling part of Mexico City. There’s always something guaranteed to be going on in the area. While not known specifically for its nightlife, there are plenty of options for restaurants, bars, and live music.
For the boujee, Polanco is where you’ll want to be. It’s one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in all of Latin America. I’m talking the highest concentration of Michelin Star restaurants and only the finest of nightlife establishments. I’ll admit that it’s a bit out of my price range, but hey, maybe this blog will take off and someday I’ll be buying rounds for everyone at Polanco.
- La Condesa
La Condesa might be the trendiest district in all of Mexico City. When I first arrived to Mexico City after midnight, La Condesa is what won me over. I initially was hesitant about visiting Mexico City, as it doesn’t get the best reputation internationally. La Condesa flipped those unjustified preconceptions and absolutely shocked me.
- Zona Rosa
While Zona Rosa is an excellent district for anyone to visit, it is particularly popular due to its vibrant gay community. Calle Amberes is the central hub for Mexico City’s gay nightlife scene. Most of the gay clubs in Mexico City can be found in this area.
The bustling coastal city of Acapulco often plays second or third fiddle to some of Mexico’s other beach party destinations. Despite falling a little behind in popularity, it is actually Mexico’s largest beach resort city. It was gaining renown, especially among American spring breakers, but Acapulco’s dangerous reputation has slowed its rise as an alternative to Cancun. It’s mostly a fear thing, as most of the danger and violence in Acapulco is restricted to gangs and cartels, and hardly ever affects tourists.
Just be careful when choosing your options, and definitely keep your wits about you. A party destination like Acapulco can turn sour real quick if you find yourself too drunk and ending up in a dangerous situation.
Let’s end this list with a quieter little town that I hold pretty close to my heart. Puerto Escondido is one of the more low-key beach destinations of Mexico. However, it stands out as one of my favorite. There’s something about surf towns. No matter how small they are, you’re guaranteed to find a good party. This is true all over the world, and of course, Mexico is never an exception when nightlife is involved. It’s not always about the venues or megaclubs. Sometimes, it’s just about good vibes and good people.