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Cancún Nightlife: A Guide to the Best Clubs and Live Music

Cancún’s most popular nightclubs are within walking distance of each other in the Zona Hotelera, at Punta Cancún. Downtown, meanwhile, has some great cocktail bars and nightclubs specializing in Latin music.

Cuncrawl does fun guided bar/club crawls in the heart of Cancún’s Zona Hotelera, hitting three different clubs (they vary by night) with VIP entrance and seating, unlimited drinks, and bottle service, over the course of five hours.

sunset over cancun
You don’t have to be on spring break to join in on the fun. Photo © yvesgagnon1974/iStock.

Nightclubs

Nightclubs in the Zona Hotelera charge US$60-80 admission with open bar included. Most clubs are open every day, from around 10pm until 4am or later. Special events, like ladies night or bikini parties, vary by the day, club, and season; check the clubs’ websites or Facebook pages for the latest info and deals. Discounted tickets also are occasionally sold at concierge desks.

Zona Hotelera

Coco Bongo is a spectacular club featuring live rock and salsa bands, flying acrobats, and impersonators ranging from Beetlejuice to Freddy Mercury. For dancing, hit the main floor; for free-flowing drinks, reserve a seat in the VIP section.

The City is a megaclub with three levels and a total capacity of 6,000 (and allegedly the world’s biggest disco ball). Be sure to take a whirl on the movable dance floor, which descends from the 3rd floor to the center of the club below. Open Friday only.

Palazzo books big-name DJs and draws raucous crowds. The interior has a sleek Vegas-like look, huge chandeliers, and a VIP section. Open Wednesday and Saturday only.

Mandala is an upscale club with indoor and outdoor areas for partying. There’s plenty of VIP seating in case you want to splurge on a private table (and better service).

Dady-O (Blvd. Kukulcán Km 9.5, tel. 998/883-3333) is, well, the daddy of Cancún’s nightclubs, with seven different “environments,” including laser shows, swimsuit contests, and theme parties on five different levels.

Downtown

Grand Mambocafé is Cancún’s biggest Latin music club, and popular with locals, tourists, and expats alike. Live Latin music—mostly salsa, cumbia, and bachata—doesn’t start until midnight, but the crowds arrive earlier than that, spinning to recorded rhythms.

A popular gay nightclub, 11:11 Club Cancún features drag shows, go-go dancers, and DJs spinning pop and electronica until breakfast. There are drinks sold by the liter plus open bar specials too. Look for the rainbow signage on the building.

Bars and Live Music

Several of the major nightclubs feature live rock music and even big-name concerts, most notably Palazzo and CocoBongo, while the lounges and bars tend toward DJs or recorded music. Downtown, you’ll find smaller venues filled with locals.

Zona Hotelera

Congo Bar is about as lively as a bar can get without being called a club. Music is upbeat and drinks are plentiful. A conga line inevitably forms at some point (or points) and usually heads out the door and onto the street for a quick spin.

Old standbys Carlos n’ Charlie’s and Señor Frog’s both open at noon for meals and stay open until 3am for drinking, dancing, and general mayhem.

Downtown

Nomads is a hipster restaurant with a killer cocktail bar. The place itself feels like an old-world pub—wood-panel ceilings, brick walls, mismatched tile floors. Outside, a breezy patio has towering trees and twinkling lights. Thursday means open bar for just US$17. Look for the huge black duckling standing guard at the entrance.

Mixologists at Amarula con Acento Tropical serve up strong cocktails with a tropical flair: chili-rimmed glassware, floating seashells, anise stars, and bright flowers on top. Set in an old Cancún house, the bar has a 1920s-meets-hacienda style with art deco flair, tropical woodwork, and arches here and there. Head to the patio for cozy seating under the stars.

It may be the bullring but the Plaza de Toros is also a nightlife hotspot. Bars encircle the structure, selling cheap beer and finger food, many blasting Mexican rock and classics. A couple of food trucks park outside on weekends should you need something heftier to soak up your drinks. Most bars are open 3pm-3am daily.

On the southern end of Parque Las Palapas, La Terraza del Vino is a pleasant open-air wine bar that books live guitar soloists most nights starting at 9pm.

La Taberna is a locals’ sports bar with lots of big-screen TVs and drink and meals specials every night of the week. Free appetizers often come with each round of drinks.


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