Party like it’s Spring Break all year round.
If there’s one thing at which Cancún excels—except, you know, having some of the best beaches in Mexico—it’s nightlife. From some of the biggest clubs in Latin America to casual watering holes and upscale rooftop bars, there’s very little in the way of evening entertainment that you can’t get in Cancún. Here’s where to head in the Hotel Zone and beyond when night falls over the unofficial capital of the Mexican Caribbean.
It’s not Cancún’s biggest nightclub, but Coco Bongo is most definitely the city’s best-known nightlife institution. Dance floors are non-existent and yet everyone is dancing, live aerial acrobats fling themselves around the place and celebrity impersonators put on a show as falling balloons and confetti add to the over-the-top atmosphere. In short, Coco Bongo mashes together the best of Cirque du Soleil with the weirdest, most ridiculous nightclub you’ve ever been to a block from the Caribbean Ocean.
INSIDER TIPIf you’ve opted for table service in Coco Bongo (or any Cancún club, really) tip well to get the quickest service throughout the night. Paying for your drinks after each round will help you stay on top of your spending too.
Another classic of the so-called Cancún Party Zone—a cluster of bars and nightclubs that also includes Coco Bongo—Mandala evokes the atmosphere of an upscale lounge, rather than that of a sweaty nightclub. Although not quite as big as some of its competitors, like Dady’O and The City, Mandala is still vast and best suited to travelers who enjoy the club scene. If you’re not sure whether it’s for you, take a peek through the open-sided, street-facing façade before committing to a ticket.
INSIDER TIPThe dress code at Mandala is the rather vague upscale-casual. To stay on the right side of the bouncers, ditch the flip flops and beachwear.
Officially called Amarula con Acento Tropical, this trendy downtown Cancún cocktail bar certainly delivers on its titular ‘tropical twist’. Situated in a converted house on the Ruta Nader, a Cancún avenue thronged with nightlife hotspots and more locals than the upscale Hotel Zone, Amarula is all neon lighting and Instagrammable plants. Head to the patio to sip Amarula’s fruity cocktails made with local flavors—they’re well-suited to sultry Cancún evenings—against a backdrop of throbbing house music.
INSIDER TIPWednesday is Ladies Night at Amarula.
Grand Mambo Café
If clubbing ain’t your thing and the idea of sitting around with a cocktail leaves you cold, get down to the Grand Mambo Café in Plaza Hong Kong. Here, locals and visitors alike come together to literally dance the night away—with actual steps and everything!—in the presence of nightly live bands which take to the stage once the clock strikes midnight. Even if you’ve never danced (or even heard of) salsa, cumbia, or bachata before, you’ll find yourself picking it up as you go at Grand Mambo Café.
With a capacity of up to 6,000, The City is the largest nightclub in Latin America. With a regular roster of celebrity DJs, big-name performers, and acrobats, The City is made for hardcore partygoers looking to dance ‘til 5 a.m. And given that The City is spread over three stories, you’ll want to make sure your phone is fully charged for when your friends inevitably disappear into the crowds.
H Roof opened just a couple of years ago, but it’s already made a name for itself on the notoriously tricksy Cancún nightlife scene. Sitting atop one of the city’s swankiest and best-known steakhouses—Harry’s Steakhouse & Raw Bar—right at the heart of the Hotel Zone, H Roof is an atmospheric private lounge which only opens on the weekends and specializes in bottle service. Just make sure you ditch the shorts and sandals if you want to gain access to this exclusive spot.
If you’re partied out and looking for a not-quite-so-swanky bar in Cancún then head to Rooftop Cancún. Part of the Nomads Hotel and Hostel, this somewhat unimaginatively named but surprisingly well-rounded rooftop spot serves sports bar staples—wings, sliders, ice-cold beers—in the Cancún downtown and is ideal for travelers on a budget in the Mexican party capital. Settle down for the day in the open-air seating area and squeeze in a game or two of pool between pints.
La Sabina Mezcalería
Mezcal might be the domain of central Mexican states like Oaxaca, Puebla, and Guanajuato, but you can also get your agave distillate fix in Cancún at La Sabina Mezcalería. Very much the opposite of your uber-polished Hotel Zone hotspots, La Sabina Mezcalería is decked out with hand-painted tables and has an unassuming exterior. But don’t be deterred, because the craft beers and mezcal mixed drinks are affordable, the music is good, and the crowd swings local.
The baby sister of Cancún nightlife behemoth Coco Bongo, Congo Bar is one of the city’s smaller, open-air Hotel Zone spots which fills with locals and tourists alike on any given night. Considering that the massive nightclubs usually don’t deign to open before 10.30 p.m., Congo Bar is a great place to start your night out with a bang and take advantage of (slightly) lower drinks and cover prices. Expect to see dancers, shot girls, and balloons, and consider picking up an open bar ticket if you decide to stay at Congo Bar for the long haul.
Nebrina Gin & Cocina
Nebrina Gin & Cocina is, as you might imagine, a gin lover’s dream, so once you tire of tequila shots and Corona—it happens to the best of us—this is the place to be. Located on the Ruta Nader, Nebrina dishes up Mediterranean staples, including a selection of fish-forward dishes, alongside around two dozen types of gin and live music six days a week. Plus, the low-lit, understated wood decor sets Nebrina apart in a city of jungle-esque interiors.