While other cities sleep, darkness makes Buenos Aires come alive. One thing you'll notice immediately in this city is that nightlife is a huge part of the Porteño experience. From Avenida Corrientes theaters to tango salons to big techno clubs, Buenos Aires offers an exceptional night out.
For Porteños, the evening usually begins with a play or movie around 8pm, followed by a late and long dinner. Then, after 11pm or midnight, it'll be time to visit a bar or two, before heading to clubs around 2am. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Porteños stay out really late, heading to big dance clubs and bars in neighborhoods like Recoleta, Palermo, and the Costanera. By the time they head home, the sun is rising. Summertime nightlife is quieter because many flee to the coast, moving their nocturnal activities to places such as Mar del Plata and Punta del Este.
But nightlife is not just about clubbing. There are numerous cultural activities for visitors and residents alike. Professional theaters (many located along Av. Corrientes, between Av. 9 de Julio and Callao and in the San Telmo and Abasto neighborhoods) show Broadway- and off-Broadway-style hits, Argentine plays, and music revues, though most are in Spanish. Buy tickets for most productions at the box office or through Ticketmaster (tel. 11/4321-9700). Tickets Buenos Aires (www.ticketsbuenosaires.com.ar) is a reduced-price ticket office at the intersections of Corrientes, Cerritos (9 de Julio), and Diagonal Norte, open Wednesday to Sunday 11am to 8pm. The British Arts Centre, Suipacha 1333 (tel. 11/4393-2004), offers entertainment in English, ranging from lectures to standup comedy to Shakespeare.
For current information on after-dark activities, consult the English-language Buenos Aires Herald (www.buenosairesherald.com), which lists events held in English and Spanish and often features events by Irish, British, Australian, and North American expats. The Argentine Independent (www.argentinaindependent.com), produced by Brit Kristie Robinson, has similar listings and intelligent cultural articles. Clarín, La Nación, Página 12 and many of the major local publications also list events, but in Spanish only. QuickGuide Buenos Aires, available in the city's tourism kiosks and in various hotels, has information on shows, theaters, and nightclubs. Ciudad Abierta (www.ciudadabiertatv.gov.ar) is a free weekly published by the city government and lists cultural events all over the city. Also check out their cable-access channel (by the same name), which highlights cultural and tourist interests around the city. Llegas a Buenos Aires (www.revistallegas.com.ar) lists cultural, arts, tango, and other events. This free newspaper is published weekly and distributed at locations across the city. Its website is an excellent planning resource for your trip. The websites www.bainsomnio.com and www.whatsupbuenosaires.com also list entertainment of all kinds in this city that never sleeps. Additionally, you can ask the Buenos Aires City Tourism offices for the "Funny Night Map," which lists bars and clubs throughout Buenos Aires (www.funnymaps.com.ar).
Dancing in Buenos Aires is not just about tango; in fact, much of the younger generation prefers salsa and European techno. The biggest nights out are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Generally, clubs, called boliches, open around midnight, get busy around 2 or 3am, and close around 7am. The websites www.adondevamos.com and www.bsasinsomnio.com are great resources for Buenos Aires nightlife. Club entry will generally run from $10 to $15, but getting yourself on a website or Facebook guest list can reduce or eliminate this cost. Young women should take note that young Argentine men can be very aggressive in their approach techniques in bars and nightclubs. Most of the advances are harmless, however, even if they may be annoying. Take note that while smoking is officially banned in all indoor spaces in Buenos Aires, most venues take a laissez-faire attitude toward folks lighting up.
The Bar Scene
There is no shortage of popular bars in Buenos Aires, and Porteños need little excuse to party. While dancing isn't the main draw at most bars the way it is at clubs, some do have DJs or live performers. You'll really be in luck if you catch a bachelor or bachelorette party out on the town; they'll be happy to have you come along to help embarrass the soon-to-be wedded. Most smoking now takes place outside, though you'll still find plenty of people breaking the ban indoors.
Palermo Nightlife -- Hip, lively bars and innovative restaurants cluster around Plaza Serrano in Palermo Soho and spread throughout the neighboring districts of Palermo Hollywood and Palermo Viejo, so come for dinner and stay for drinks.
Come for Dinner, Stay for Drinks -- The Palermo restaurants Olsen and Sullivan's are open late and each have a full bar, so you can stick around after dinner or stop by just for drinks. The restaurant and bookstore Clásica y Moderna, in Barrio Norte, often has evening literary readings, plays, and dance shows.
Historical Bars & Bares Notables
Buenos Aires is blessed with a large collection of historical bars, cafes, pubs, and restaurants. Most of these are concentrated in San Telmo, Monserrat, the Microcentro, and other older areas of the city. I highly recommend checking them out all over the city. I've listed just a few highlights. You should ask for the Bares y Cafés Notables map from the Buenos Aires tourism kiosks to see a longer list of these remarkable spaces, which I hope will continue to be preserved.
Buenos Aires has over 250 movie theaters showing Argentine and international films. There are cinemas at two shopping malls: Alto Palermo, Av. Santa Fe 3251, at Agüero (tel. 11/4827-8000), and Galerías Pacífico, at Calle Florida 753 and Córdoba (tel. 11/4319-5357). Other convenient Microcentro locations include the six-screen Atlas Lavalle, Lavalle 869, at Esmeralda (tel. 11/5032-8527; www.atlascines.com.ar), and the four-screen Monumental Lavalle, Lavalle 739, at Maipú (tel. 11/4322-1515). Most films are American and shown in English with Spanish subtitles; however, some are Argentine films, which are not subtitled. The average movie ticket price is 20 pesos. Check the Buenos Aires Herald for film listings. Every April, Buenos Aires hosts an international film festival (http://www.bafici.gov.ar). The MALBA also has a film program.
Casinos, Arcades & Bingo Halls
Calle Lavalle, with its bright lights and big-city tackiness, is the perfect place for adults and teenagers alike to test their luck. This can often be done together with a movie viewing, since many of the city's cinemas are here as well.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.