Preparing for a night out in Buenos Aires has an element of marathon training to it. Rest up with a siesta, fortify yourself with some protein, and drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after. That’s right, the key to porteño nightlife is longevity—after all, an early night means hailing a cab at 6 am.
The scene here rivals that of any capital city, so you’ll find something to suit every taste. Trendy cocktail bars, secret speakeasies, classic tango haunts, artsy watering holes, and packed dance floors await. To make the most of them, try following the locals’ lead.
Painting Buenos Aires red means looking sharp, going with the flow as you bar-hop, and not challenging your new B.A. buddies to raucous drinking games. Porteños adore going out with their friends, but it’s not uncommon to see a large group sharing a liter bottle of beer and swigging from the same glass. Latino lightweights? Not at all. This is just how Argentines roll—and once a night gets really rocking, they'll move onto their favorite tipple, Fernet y Cola.
Hours are relaxed, but there are general guidelines. The smartest bars kick off an evening with happy hours that begin around 8 pm and often stretch way beyond 60 minutes; downtown drinking establishments start even earlier to lure workers to part with hard-earned pesos, spawning the "after-office" across the city, which is now a nightlife fixture almost any day of the week. Theater performances begin around 9 pm and the last movie begins after midnight. By that point, lines to get into popular bars have started forming, but clubs aren’t buzzing until 4 am. If in doubt, turn up later than you consider reasonable when you’re meeting a local (30 minutes after the appointed time is the norm). The subte (subway) closes between 10 and 11 pm, depending on the line and day. Monday through Saturday it reopens at 5 am; on Sunday, however, trains don’t start running again until 8 am. So taking a cab to and from home is a good idea—it’s also quicker than waiting for a colectivo bus very late at night.