London, Paris, Amsterdam – once upon a time people travelled far and wide to these cities to party like it was 1999, and beyond. These days it’s all a bit old hat. Sure, the famous cities are always going to turn on the charm and a good night out is all but guaranteed, but the cover charges are getting more expensive, drink prices too, and accommodation can make a serious dent in your fun money. And that’s exactly why more and more people are heading east.
One need only brush up on their history to remember that massive movements and revolutions were made throughout Eastern Europe in the 2nd half of last century to allow their people various freedoms and autonomy. In these former Iron Curtain states, those achievements are reflected today in the population’s zest for life meaning that cutting loose and giving it their all is fully embraced when it comes to socialising, and this is best seen in the bars and clubs of Eastern Europe.
So before you start planning that weekend away with your mates – be it a lads or girls weekend or just an excuse to get away and get your party on. Bypass those searches for the standard cities and cast your eyes eastwards!
Warsaw (Poland): Chic and casual at the same time
Warsaw is a dynamic city that has something for everyone; there are painfully chic clubs, extremely casual alternatives and everything in between. The latter includes, for example, the Praga District. Located on the eastern bank of the river, this area, variously described as gritty, urban, up-and-coming, etc. is home to Warsaw’s artists, students, bohemians and free spirits. This is reflected in its ranging spectrum of bars, eateries, and underground clubs, mostly located in old factories, deserted tenement buildings and the like. Head to this part of town to indulge your wild side.
Before you hit the clubs proper, you should make a pitstop at one of the numerous shot bars – the bars come in a variety of styles and ambiences but share one very important thing in common – shots. Vodka is naturally king here but comes in a variety of flavours – the cherry vodka is amazing – and one colourful liquor is less than £1. If you put £4 on the table, you can taste the whole rainbow, sure to make your night out in Warsaw super, no matter at which club you land.
In other parts of the city, the choice is also as wide, but you may have to dress up a little to gain entry; jeans and t-shirts aren’t going to fly here, but it’s a great excuse to get your glad rags on. Head to the area around Foksal street where the clubs are as lavish as the doormen are merciless; Klubokawarnia offers three dance floors, found as you navigate its crazy, tangled corridors, or try Club Mirage where the DJ bangs out tunes while you dance on a floor under a mass of chandeliers and sporting a fountain operating as its centrepiece.
Did you know that you can also filter for flights over particular weekends? Simply click on ‘Show flexible dates’ underneath the flight search and then select ‘Weekends’, and select in which month you want to see weekend offers, so that you can compare and find cheap flights for your party weekend!
Budapest (Hungary): Getting ruined in the ruins
You can’t say you’ve partied in the Hungarian capital unless you’ve revelled in a Romkocsma – try saying that three times fast. Now try saying three times fast after three beers and a few shots. A Romkocsma can be part bar, part club, part arts space or part beer garden depending on which one you visit, but the common element that makes all Romkocsmas similar is that they are housed in derelict and abandoned buildings. Romkocsma literally mean ‘ruin pub’, and the squatter mentality that comes with such an idea means these fine establishments are anything but prudish.
This trend has turned the old Jewish quarter of Budapest into a cultural hub of which the ruin pubs are an integral part. The Fogas Ház, the ‘House of Teeth’, is housed in a former dental laboratory, and is an exhilarating mixture of bicycle hire, pizzeria, art centre and three totally top-notch clubs.
The first Romkocsma actually still exists; it is called Szimpla Kert and is a labyrinth of alleys, all of which are unique, modish and hip. More than just an art centre, there is a beautiful tree-lined garden outside, – perfect for re-energising in before a second night out – and the Szimpla Kert also has its own cinema and a farmers’ market every Sunday.
Beside the Romkocsmas, attending a ‘Sparty’ is essential on your Budapest party calendar. The city is not just the capital of Hungary but also of the thermal baths, due to there being so many thermal springs in the region. Naturally, the local party people eventually came up with the idea of combining a spa with a party – a Sparty – in the thermal baths. Széchenyi Bad also hosts the legendary Magic Bath Parties events during the winter months.
Are you looking for a hotel you can easily stagger back to? Try KAYAK Heat Maps where you can use filters to find the right hotel for you. Simply click on ‘Map View’ in the upper left-hand corner of the hotel results page and filter by nightlife. This will highlight the best party zones and show you all the hotels located in these areas.
Prague (Czech Republic): beer, beer and beer again
As often happens when something becomes popular, some people like to maintain their street cred by stating that the topic of conversation is” no longer cool and was so much better in the old days” blah, blah, blah. Prague is synonymous with ‘the good times’, and the increase in travellers heading to this city has done nothing to tarnish its lofty reputation. Almost every night, the capital of the Czech Republic becomes the pinnacle of partydom. If you want to spend none of your precious time exploring the city you can head straight to the legendary Karlovy lázně, a super club spread over five floors and a basement with music styles ranging from hip hop via chart music to techno. With a pint starting at about £1.20 and a vodka + mixer costing around £4 it’s no surprise that many visitors to Prague only see the inside of this club and their hotel room.
Fear not, those of you seeking something more off of the beaten track. Prague has an incredible wealth of underground culture that is reflected in its many smaller bars and clubs, head to the Vršovice district and enter any of the bars and cafes situated here where you’ll be guaranteed an excellent night out. Prague also has a small but thriving punk and metal scene where you can bang your head while downing a pilsner or two. For a Prague institution, head to Double Trouble Bar, where the DJs kick electro jams and dancing on the tables isn’t just allowed but encouraged.
Another thing that puts the Czech Republic on the map is that damn-this-is-incredible beer, and in Prague, the beer never stops flowing. Cool clubs and bohemian bars aside you might just want to head to a fine establishment – U Fleků and U Kalicha being two of the biggest tourist attractions, and with good reason! – and spend the evening there getting on it. If you feel like no party weekend is complete without a smattering of education visit the Prague Beer Museum, which is, of course, not a museum in the traditional sense.
Can you be a bit flexible when planning your party holidays? You can also compare prices over an entire month to find the best flights for you. Simply log into your KAYAK account, click ‘Show flexible dates and then click ‘Flex month’. You choose your earliest possible departure date, and the desired length of stay and KAYAK searches for the deals that suit you best.
Belgrade, Serbia: Partying on (and off) of boats
If you’re looking for what’s new in art and culture in Belgrade, your first stop should be Savamala. The neighbourhood is just ten minutes from the centre, and though it consists of just two streets, they are jam-packed with creative spirit – nearly every building houses some sort of bar, gallery or club.
Stop by the Mikser House, a vast warehouse which houses a steady rotation of art and design installations, flea markets, and live performances. The nearby KC Grad is your best bet for live bands, while its neighbour, the Berliner, is a German-style beer hall with enough sausages and lager to get you ready for a night of polka-(or other)-dancing.
Once the dancing spirit captures you, head a few kilometres south to the BIGZ building, in the neighbourhood of Senjak. The gritty-looking high-rise, the former home of Yugoslavia’s Publishing and Graphics Institute, is now renowned as an art space and nightclub – the perfect place to party your night away on the graffiti-sprayed dancefloors.
If you’re wondering how you’ll be able to afford all this, be reassured: partying in Belgrade won’t set you back much. Most clubs don’t charge an entrance fee – instead, groups reserve VIP tables in advance and commit to buying a minimum amount of drinks. Don’t worry, bottle service here is not only for the wealthy. Expect to pay a maximum of £4.50 for cocktails, or try a shot of Serbian slivovitz – these can be found for under a pound.
If you find yourself in Belgrade in the summer, the houseboat parties (on both rivers) are the way to go. House lovers should check out Freestyler, while at Hua Hua you can get a taste of some more traditional Serbian music as well.
For more travel ideas, try out the KAYAK activity search. Book private sightseeing tours, helicopter rides, half or full-day excursions, and much more.
Berlin, (Germany) The city that never sleeps, really
Knowledge of Berlin’s scene has exploded over the last ten years and is no longer the well-guarded secret it once was, and while still a hell of a lot cheaper than a night out in any of the big UK cities, it’s not as cheap as some of its neighbours. And yes, before being denounced by geographers the world over, we do know that Berlin is not in contemporary Eastern Europe, but the party scene is so amazing and given its wall-related history we decided that we decided to let our borders relax a little so we could squeeze it into this blog.
The city is famously known for its never-ending parties, with some techno tourists even going from the airport to the club and back to the airport two days later without a hotel stop or any sleep in between. And while Berghain is the most famous name is the German capital’s club scene, places like Tresor, ://about blank, Chalet and Sisyphos offer the finest in minimal, techno, house and every subgenre therein. All in diverse and unique settings.
While 4-on-the-floor beats dominate a lot of people’s trips to the city it doesn’t mean that Berlin only has techno on offer. If you want to dance to the beat of a different drummer all night long there are rotating events every night of the week. Whether you would prefer to shake it to hip hop, Northern Soul or 80s goth and postpunk, finding a party takes very little effort.
If having a boogie has zero appeal then hit the bars. The Berlin bar scene is nothing but phenomenal; from cocktail to dive bar, from punk to black metal to modern pop, there is nothing you can’t find if you look for it. And both a blessing and/or a curse, most bars stay open until at least 4 am, even on a weeknight. And when those close, there’s always a few later bars, and later bars, and later bars…. Meaning, that while we recommend stopping at your hotel for a disco nap at the very least, in Berlin you never have to go home.
Note: These rates are based on search queries made on KAYAK.co.uk on February 6th, 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.