When we say ‘party city’ – we’re not talking about a place that’s good for a few pints and a couple of shots if you’re feeling adventurous
We’re talking about cities where going out is an event. That sense of anticipation in a packed queue. The feeling of entering a rooftop bar, or a beach party, or a dimly lit club filled with exotic outfits and exotic people. We’re talking about drinking-until-7am-walking-back-without-your-shoes BEST DAMN PARTY CITIES IN THE WORLD.
Whether it’s for a stag, hen, birthday, New Year’s Eve or a random Wednesday evening these cities have something for everyone looking to have a good time.
Cancun, Mexico: Not just for frat bros
Cancun, Mexico, is a little slice of Heaven on the far west-coast of Mexico. Walk as west as you can go in Cancun and you’ll hit ‘Zona Hotelera’ also known to the locals as the ‘Tourist Zone’ or more commonly known to travellers as the ‘Party Zone’. This thin sliver of land is home to Cancun’s wildest clubs, and for the first two weeks of March (Spring Break for U.S students), it’s a free-for-all when it comes to boozing and late nights. For an intense partying experience go during Spring Break; for a more chilled version, then June-September is your best bet with temperatures that never dip below 23°C.
Club recommendation: Cocobongo is a classic, so expect a queue. Once inside you can expect anything from hip-hop, dance, trance and pop plus confetti, balloons and foam parties.
Bar recommendation: The Blue Gecko Cantina is easy vibes with classic American-Mexican food on offer as well as cheap-as-chips deals on beers and tequila.
Amsterdam, Netherlands: More like Amsterdamnnnn
Amsterdam is known for a few things: canals, the red light district, bikes and certain legal substances that your mother warned you about. Amsterdam is a nightlife city with an eclectic mixture of clubs hosting some of the world’s biggest and up-and-coming DJs, the perfect destination to get lost in the music and emerge refreshed. A fan favourite, Shelter, is located across the river from the city centre in Noord, a vast subterranean club located in the basement of A’DAM Tower, it offers a more diverse club experience than the usual fare.
Club recommendation: De School is, yep you guessed it, located in an old school building. Part club, part exhibition space, part lecture theatre – it’s got a bit of something for everyone and offers an intimate environment that’s still big enough to get lost in.
Bar recommendation: Café Sound Garden was founded in the 90’s with a strong grunge aesthetic still running through it, expect to pound beers while discussing Smiths B-sides on the sunny terrace which overlooks a canal.
New York City, New York, USA: Start spreading the news…
Did you know New York City is the closest US City to the UK? Okay, Boston edges it but only slightly, but the point remains with only a seven and a half hour flight you could be in one of the greatest cities in the world. New York clubs have set a precedent for the rest of the world when it comes to nightlife, the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s trends all came out of New York, and each influenced a generation. Today you’ll find no exceptions to that rule; the culture has grown out of the city into neighbourhoods like Brooklyn, Bushwick and the Bronx for a more diverse offering then you’ll find in Manhattan.
Club recommendation: Experience the surreal and fantastical at the House of Yes where aerial performers will fly above you, chaotic dance-floors filled with opulent outfits will surround you, and the experience will take you over – just say yes.
Bar recommendation: The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog is exactly like its name, perplexing, amusing and fun. Expect Irish-American bartenders to resurrect long-forgotten cocktails for the crowd’s pleasure
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New Orleans, Louisiana, USA: Southern Hospitality
You’ll be forgiven if you’re not sure exactly when Mardi Gras in New Orlean is. Especially, as it seems like every day is Mardi Gras when you walk down the infamous Bourbon Street with beads jangling around your neck and a $1 beer in your hand. The Carnival season is officially January to the end of February, but the French Quarter of this historic city is always buzzing with jazz clubs, underground clubs and debauchery spilling from every 24-hour bar.
Club recommendation: There are traditional clubs in New Orleans, but what’s the point when there’s a jazz bar on every other street, act like a local and head to Maison where there’s live music and boogieing every single day.
Bar recommendation: If you like your bar experience with a bit of theatre then Ye Olde Original Dungeon is the perfect place for you, expect bikers, metal and smoking cocktails.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Down at the Copa, Copacabana
Rio is the party city of Brazil, and over 1 million people flock there every year to attend Carnival, a festival that has been celebrated since 1723. Why? Because in Rio, partying is an art form, even if you go in the off-season there are still clubs and bars pumping out traditional samba on the Copacabana beach strip until dawn. Rio is also well known for being a great LGBTQI friendly city with gay clubs, bars and venues aplenty; The Week International in downtown is an impressive example of this with 22,000-square footage of space in which to dance the night away.
Club recommendation: The Palaphita Gávea is an underrated gem that travellers could easily miss. The club/lounge is located across from the Brazilian Jockey Club and sports a chilled eco-vibe as you sit on reclaimed wood furniture whilst the waitress takes impromptu bets from spectators. Excellent view of Christ the Redeemer as well – a must see all round.
Bar recommendation: Bip Bip has a cult following amongst travellers, here you’ll find an informal arrangement of musicians playing samba, choro and bossa nova to a simply decorated bar that spills out onto the pavement. A great place to hear authentic Brazilian music.
Ibiza, Spain: Back to the Island
If you were at all plugged into popular culture in the mid-to-late 90’s you’ll know that Ibiza was the number one party destinations for many years and spawned countless films, TV shows and dance compilation CDs. You can still find all that on the island, but the mega-clubs like Pacha and Amnesia can charge up to €50-70 entry so it can price out a lot of the punters who just want to have a dance. For a more chilled, but definitely-still-a-party vibe why not check out Pikes Ibiza in Sant Antoni de Portmany, steeped in rock and roll history it’s now the place to be.
Club recommendation: An experiment where art, music and food collide in this club experiment extravaganza by one of the founders of Cirque du Soleil. ‘Heart’ is located in the five-star Gran Hotel. Expect to feel like you’ve taken some illegal substances as soon as you walk in the door, pricey but worth it.
Bar recommendation: With possibly one of the most spectacular views on the island, Sunset Ashram offers beach-bottle service and pure relaxation.
Berlin, Germany: Go Underground
Berlin is famous for lots of reasons: it’s cheap, it’s fun, it’s cultural, it’s cool, and oh, there are probably more clubs than there are people. Notoriously the coolest clubs are the most tricky to get into but there are a few rules that you abide by in order to stand a chance – look tough (think black and leather), don’t be drunk, know who’s playing that night and if you can, attempt to speak some German or make friends with one in the queue. That being said, Berghain, the capital of techno scene since 2004, is known for turning people away for no reason so have a backup plan.
Club recommendation: Head down to Puschkinallee which houses some of Berlin’s best clubs like Chalet and Club der Visionaere for a taste of everything.
Bar recommendation: Check out our guide to authentic Berlin away from typical tourist hotspots to find out the coolest and, more importantly, cheapest bars in which to while away the hours in.
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Tel Aviv, Israel: A Mediterranean paradise
You won’t find bad weather in Tel Aviv, the coldest months are December and January at 14°C on average, but in the summer it’s a toasty 20-28°C from April to November. Which explains why Tel Aviv is becoming the new ‘city that never sleeps’ with a clubbing mentality that rivals any of the legendary cities of Europe or the U.S. Diversity is the name of the game when it comes to clubs in Tel Aviv. With high-end rooftop bars like Speakeasy – Rooftop on Rothschild drawing a crowd of stylish residents, there’s also a bustling crowd for clubs like Kuli Alma which features an open-air courtyard and dance floor as well as an exhibition space.
Club recommendation: The Breakfast Club (no 80’s hits sorry) is a dance institution with DJs from across Israel spinning the early hours with funk, hip-hop, rave and EDM.
Bar recommendation: Go over to the dark side at Lucifer, this dark and intimate bar offers up a slice of decadence in the shape of eclectic beers and cocktails.
Bangkok, Thailand: Experience the exotic
A bustling city mixed with business, shopping, street food, excessive drinking, loud tourists and beautiful sites – Bangkok is poetically chaotic and a definite somewhere the intrepid traveller must visit. As you wander around the Royal City Avenue in Huai Khwang district, you’ll be greeted by neon lights, scantily clad party-goers and alluring clubs. Anything can happen in Bangkok, and it usually does, so keep your wits about you and try not to spend all your money on tuk-tuks and fruity cocktails.
Club recommendation: Walking into the Sing Sing Theatre in Sukhumvit, is like walking into a 1930’s Hollywood version of what a Bangkok club would look like. Think dark red lighting, a well-dressed crowd and lots of free flowing booze.
Bar recommendation: Wong’s Place is part myth, part legend and part dive bar. An institution Wong’s Place is the last place open in Bangkok, so arrive there around 2 am after you leave the club to see a mixture of all types attempting to drink until the sun comes up.
Belgrade, Serbia: Discover unknown pleasures
Belgrade may seem a bit off the beaten track for Western European partiers, but the residents of the Balkans have known that Belgrade is one of the best party cities for a while now, so catch up quickly! Belgrade is known for its 24-hour parties in some of the oddest places, for example, KST is located in the basement of the University of Belgrade Faculty of Electrical Engineering. For more information about the cultural and clubbing scene in Belgrade we went in-depth in our article Bloc Party: 5 Eastern European Cities Where You Can Party on a Budget.
Club recommendation: If you venture into the walls of Belgrade Fortress you’ll discover Barutana, which literally translates as ‘gunpowder storage’, a fan favourite club which plays host to world-renowned DJs.
Bar recommendation: Jazz Bašta is something different, expect mellow jazz stylings in this building built in the 1870s while you sip a glass of recommended wine – be warned young ones, it’s only over 21+ here.
London, England: Hang the DJ
Ah, London, the Metropolitan mega-city that all those seeking fame and fortune flock to. While, unlike some of its European counterparts, it will put a sizable dent in your wallet, what’s that compared to a good night out? You’ll find everything in London from cabaret to jazz, to underground fetish clubs – you’re bound to find your party people somewhere. East London may not be as underground as it once was but it’s still the place to be for newest and freshest nights.
Club recommendation: The Nest is a forward thinking club, in what’s essentially a basement, that attracts music lovers from far and wide – buy a ticket before you go, it usually sells out fast.
Bar recommendation: Hunker down and listen to some vinyl while sipping an elegant cocktail in Behind This Wall in Hackney, a prohibition style bar you’ll have to find the bar before you imbibe (hint: down some steps, behind a big curtain on Mare Street).
Note: These rates are based on search queries made on KAYAK.co.uk on September 11th, 2017. The prices are quoted in GBP. Flight prices are based on results for a return economy flight search. Hotel prices are for double occupancy and include taxes and fees. Prices are subject to change, may vary, or no longer be available.