Nightlife is one of the major appeals of traveling. Loads of people book a ticket and board a plane just to step into their dancing shoes and rave away somewhere across the other side of the world. In this article, we consider some of the best places in the world for nightlife and offer some ideas on where to throw some shapes. Different regions offer different types of parties, so you’ll definitely find something to suit you and your idea of a good night out:
Central Europe: this is perhaps currently the trendiest region for nightlife travel. Krakow, Warsaw, Budapest, Prague, and Bratislava are known for being hotbeds of boogying and feature cheap beer, late nights, pulsating parties, vodka-mad locals and a broad collection of nightlife lovers. Many of the cities in this region have underground bars, interesting artistic events and an odd combination of weird and wonderful venues. If you want something artistic and unusual, but in an accessible and affordable region, this is a great option. You’ll meet travelers and locals aplenty.
· Eastern Europe: for even cheaper continental kicks, Eastern Europe has some amazing nightlife. Belgrade is iconic for its use of all-night party boats and raves inside abandoned buildings, while Ukraine’s Lviv has a variety of themed bars dedicated to topics like war, sex, and art. Kiev too has some interesting venues built inside desolate and derelict buildings. Countries like Moldova also have some unique offerings in addition to a bunch of locals who are dedicated to dancing and drinking throughout the weekend. Bucharest is a good option if you want something very tourist-friendly at Eastern European prices, and hosts a number of Irish Bars and American Bars with loads of other travelers. Other cities such as Prizren and Tirana have surprisingly excellent and accessible venues and events without the surfeit of other travelers, which means you’ll be able to spend more time lolling around with the locals. For those keen to explore Russia, St Petersburg is much more liberal and laid back than you would expect, with some seriously left field love.
· South East Asia: this is often a traveler’s first experience with proper partying away from home. Where this differs from others on the list is that nightlife is often – depending on where you drink - dominated by tourists rather than locals. If you’re keen on downing cheap booze with other travelers, this is perhaps the best way to do it, though it isn’t necessarily for everyone. Dizzying doses of hedonism are on offer, and many hostels offer free bars, free drinks, and party games. In Vang Vieng and Phnom Penh, it’s possible to buy a liter of spirits for around a dollar. Hanoi has the appeal of freshly-brewed beer which you can buy every day on street corners for only a few cents. Other cities such as Bangkok, Phuket, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap are an ode to full-on self-indulgence and irresponsibility where anything goes.
· South America: this huge region has a number of venues and cities where you can let your hair down and kick your heels up. The more developed cities of South America are very liberal and friendly, in spite of a reputation they may otherwise have. Buenos Aires hosts many parties that go well into the morning, while Rio de Janeiro offers a load of samba and traditional dance for those who want to learn how to properly swing their hips. If there’s one place to learn how to really groove and grind, it probably is here. Colombia and Central America’s Guatemala also offer plenty of sweaty, sultry and intimate parties as well as beach bashes based on the most idyllic of sands.
· Western Europe: this region is home to a combination of class and crass. If you want a real underground experience where the floors are stickier than the syrup in your drinks, you can find it in places like Manchester, Berlin, Leipzig, and Newcastle, with establishments dedicated to all-night raves with no rules, no close times and no boundaries. The region is also a good pick if you want something more luxurious and expensive, with cities like Paris, Lisbon, and London awash with cocktail bars and expensive dresses. The whole region also hosts intimate underground parties, live music and world-class DJs each and every weekend, and cities like Barcelona and Brighton can be a brilliant place to find artistic and independent experiences.
· North America: cities such as Las Vegas and New York can offer hedonistic kicks and chaos, whereas more chilled-out vibes are on offer in the likes of hipstery Montreal and artistic Halifax. Beach bums might take a liking to the tourist hotspots of Mexico’s Cancun or USA’s Miami Beach, with plenty of sun and sand to help you wash down your cocktails. If you like combining booze with snacks, cities like New Orleans and Mexico City have a moreish and mouth-watering culture of cuisine.
· Party Islands: if you want to crank up your partying to dizzier heights and greater lengths, you might want to visit a party island, where you can spend a week or more getting drunk, dancing the night away and sleeping it off on an idyllic beach. Incredible party islands are spread across the world, including Magaluf, Ayia Napa, Kho Phangan, Saint Lucia and Ibiza. Many of these places offer an intense and overwhelming atmosphere of frenetic and frenzied fun, so they might not be for everyone.
· Other cities: other surprising locations famous for their nightlife include Georgia’s Tbilisi, Israel’s Tel Aviv, Latvia’s Riga and Lebanon’s Beirut. These cities are all a lot more safe, accessible and party-friendly than you might expect. Because they are less popular, they can offer a great alternative for travellers who like to avoid places with waves of other tourists.
With such an abundance of nightlife across the planet, it’s a good idea to think about the type of party you want to find before boarding your airplane and packing your Lycra. But whatever music, people and vibe you like, there’s a party somewhere waiting for you to walk in the door. Get yourself there!