If you feel like a night owl trapped in an early bird society, Argentina is the nocturnal wonderland where dinner begins at Midnight and everyone partakes of the nightlife up until sunrise. Drawing on its Iberian heritage, Argentina manages to outdo even Spain in its exuberance for nightlife and late night living. If you are a nocturnal animal that likes to sleep during the day and stay out till dawn, Argentina’s capital – Buenos Aires – is the perfect place to visit.
Nightlife is the Right Life in Argentina
In Argentina, everything happens later – even compared to the most nocturnal Europeans, the Spanish. Whereas on the continent, Spaniards eat dinner around ten and begin to fill the bars and nightclubs around Midnight or 1 a.m., Argentines don’t start eating until Midnight and only arrive at the bars and nightclubs around 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. If you go out before then, you will see bars with just a few unwitting foreigners wondering where all the crowds are.
In Buenos Aires, where nearly everyone is a night owl, it’s not until 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. that you begin to see the nightclubs bustling with activity inside and out. Suddenly, the entire city comes to life as people scamper out of their multi-level flats like nocturnal animals. It’s only in the small hours of the morning that you truly experience how dense Buenos Aires is.
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The Nocturnal Tradition Stems from Spain
The Argentines’ night owl habits undoubtedly are an outgrowth of their Spanish and Southern European heritage. Most Argentines’ ancestors hail from Southern Europe, specifically Spain and Italy. Those who have been to Spain (and to a lesser extent Italy) have remarked on the late dinners and late nights, especially as compared to the U.S. and Northern Europe.
But Argentina, unlike Spain, never had to integrate into Europe’s common market and strict business hours, leaving Argentines free to exaggerate their Iberian night owl tendencies and create, quite literally, a country that is a nocturnal wonderland.
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Because the meals and nightlife occur at such exaggerated hours in Argentina, it’s not uncommon for students to adopt a nocturnal sleep schedule full-time rather than re-adjust each weekend. They go to bed around dawn, wake up in the afternoon and attend classes, then eat and go out to nightclubs until the sun begins to rise.
Nocturnal Lifestyle Includes Children and Elderly
Argentina’s nocturnal lifestyle is not limited to the typical nightlife activities, such as going to nightclubs and drinking. Eating with family and friends is equally as important. Often well after midnight, you will see mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, and toddlers all eating a steak dinner at nice restaurants. Dancing is also important, with the tango occupying an important place in Argentine society.
Owing to Argentina’s Mediterranean heritage and lifestyle, the local night owls are not known for engaging in binge drinking and other deleterious activities as much as you will witness in cities across North America. Close friends and families stay together when they go out and socialize into the early morning without needing to get “wasted.”
That’s not to say that nightlife isn’t nightlife. In general, however, there are fewer bad habits and over-the-top behavior associated with it in Argentina.
Making the Most of Your Trip to the Nocturnal Wonderland
To get the most out of the Argentine experience, it is important to focus on who you go out with rather than where. Buenos Aires locals – known colloquially as porteños – have a wealth of knowledge about the restaurants and bars you’ll want to visit, and if you have a guide to show you around, you can experience the nocturnal wonderland firsthand.
As in Spain or other Mediterranean countries, Argentines like to travel in groups of close friends, so it will not be as easy to befriend random strangers when you are out. However, there are some great ways to meet locals if you’re willing to spend some time in town. Why not take a class in Spanish or Tango?
Nocturnal Lifestyle Benefits Introverts and Photographers
At about 11 a.m. on Sunday morning, Buenos Aires looks like a city following a neutron bomb explosion, in which all people have died and all lights are out but buildings remain intact. That’s an exaggeration, obviously, but mornings on the weekends are an amazing time for the introverted tourist or photographer to go sightseeing and take in the ornate European architecture without the presence of humans.
Even in a country of night owls, there are still enough shops and other amenities to make your visit worthwhile – it will just appear like the most of the city is on holiday.
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If you’ve felt like your entire society is asleep while you’re awake and vice versa, you might want to try spending some time in Argentina – the world’s Nocturnal Wonderland. From the beef and wine to the tango and glaciers in Patagonia, Argentina truly is an exceptional country to visit – especially for the night owl.