For an authentic fiesta, Cancun has it all. Deceptively chilled by day; you’ll enjoy lounging on its pristine beaches, swimming in its idyllic Caribbean waters and getting caught up in its laidback way of life.
Yet, by night, you’ll find a different beast entirely; a world-famous nightlife scene that lives well into the early hours every day of the week. It’s not just tourists either, you’ll see that it’s the locals leading the charge. Drinking and partying is a cornerstone of social life here, and you don’t need to stick close to the resorts to join them.
From super shiny mega-clubs and Zona Hotelera’s colossal strip to rooftop hostel parties; we’ve picked out our favourite watering holes and places to party throughout Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
When’s Best to Party
Peak season tends to run from December through to April, coinciding with near-perfect weather and temperatures in the region. Whether you’re just passing through to join up with Spring Break, or you’re looking for a world-renowned festival; Cancun and its peninsula have something for everyone.
Spring Break typically runs throughout late February into April, with peak time coming during March. Nightlife and daytime parties are at fever pitch during this period, with clubs and bars pulling out all the stops, making the whole city a 24-hour party capital. From beachfront festivals to boutique pop-up parties, you’ll never be short of options on the Yucatan peninsula.
Off the beaten track, in the dives of downtown, music and local cheer sail through the streets all year round. Remember though, the Mexicans like to start late. It’ll be a ghost town at 9pm, but leave before 2am and you’ll be gutted you did. There’s no telling what you’ll miss.
Amarula Con Acento Tropical
One for the cocktail lovers and not as rowdy as some of the other destinations on our list. Identified only by a flickering neon sign, this understated downtown bar is a rooftop delight that effortlessly blends its run-down aesthetic with local nostalgia. The cocktail menu here outshines anything else on the peninsula, making specialised use of seasonal fruits and regional specialities.
The Black Pub
Probably the most out of place bar you’ll see in Mexico, this is a genuine English-style pub. Serving up ales and live bands aplenty, this Anglo-Mexican crossover attracts those of all ages and provides one of the best selections of draft beers in all of Cancun. A real rock and roll institution.
The home of the rowdy, Coco Bongo is one of the best rated and most popular nightclubs in Cancun. Expect huge live performances and acrobats swinging from the ceiling – you’ll find it difficult not to get swept up in it all. Most nights, your ticket will include access to one of its six open bars for refreshments, which are served well into the evening. With world-famous DJs pumping rhythms long into the morning, this premier mega-club will keep you coming back for more.
One of the most authentic and oldest bars in Cancun’s downtown, Los Arcos is styled beautifully with rustic Mexican charm. With plenty of booze flowing and an unmatched atmosphere, this cosy bar is a great place to get lost in. Drop by on Fridays or Saturdays for the full experience.
Another incredibly popular nightclub in Cancun, Mandala is just a stone’s throw from neighbouring Coco Bongo. Its oriental theme and open-air arrangement mean you can see the party before you even set foot inside. Full of vibrant colours across its plush interior, your entire night will feel like the VIP treatment without the over the top fee. Feel good music resonates throughout, with a good crowd of locals and tourists alike.
Adjoined is the Mandala Beach Club, one of the best beach party experiences in all Cancun. Its organisers regularly book international DJs to perform on their stage to hundreds of party-seeking revellers every season. For the true hedonistic party experience, look no further.
The City Discotheque
Somewhere for the party fanatics, the self-proclaimed ‘biggest club in Latin America’ brings the best names in dance music from around the globe. A magnet for revellers of all demographics seeking the biggest Latino club experience. The City boasts impressive production and has a sound system that dwarfs many other destinations, and you’ll find an incredibly fun and laidback attitude here that’s excellent value for money throughout the peak season. While only open on Fridays, the anticipation for its doors to open is always massive.
Not too far away from the city’s shopping centres, Toro Rojo is a favourite for those looking for something away from Cancun’s hotel zone. This quaint downtown bar has a great variety of beer and cocktails – not to mention it’s a great place to grab a bite to eat.
Playa del Carmen
About an hour south of Cancun is Playa del Carmen, another town known for its nightlife; and it’s certainly worth the trip if you’re spending a good amount of time in the area. Away from the larger American-style establishments of Cancun, the vibe here is an excellent blend of local and European.
Coralina Beach Club
Leaning on the VIP styles of Ibiza and Miami, this luxurious beach location is famed for its excellent music, impeccable table service and superb hosting. Its poolside vibe attracts people from all over, and Coralina is establishing itself as a firm favourite for anyone who visits the town.
Away from the fancier clubs in the area, L’Ambassade has built a reputation for its unparalleled atmosphere – a great place to sit back and relax with friends and locals alike. Its rooftop terrace is a favoured place for many to put their feet up and truly kick back.
Mamitas Beach Club
Busy throughout peak season, this waterfront destination captures the essential party atmosphere of the region. Mostly catering to fans of electronic music, Mamitas Beach Club is legendary for its fantastic ambience and golden sands. Running 9am to 6pm (or later) every single day, it offers a variety of events that bring DJs and acts from all over the globe.
One of the biggest hostels in the area is the home of the best parties in Playa del Carmen. The bi-monthly party ‘Usual Sundays’ routinely attracts 600+ attendants for daytime parties, BBQs and underground music. You won’t find any pop or commercial music here, and it’s all contained in Hostel 3B’s secluded rooftop bar. The parties here have become an essential visit for both the hostel guests and locals in the area.
Located in downtown, this high-energy destination sits in the heart of Playa del Carmen’s party district. This breezy, open-air club has a casual feel and friendly atmosphere. It helps that the bar serves almost intimidatingly large drinks. Enjoy great music and guest DJs that will perfectly soundtrack your evening.
Cancun and its neighbouring towns have nightlife in their blood. Here you’ll find parties to compete with those seen on Ibiza’s white isle, and now it’s easier than ever to experience with flights to Cancun from Manchester Airport.