Europe is home to a serious number of underground club nights and an untold amount of bars: we’re all familiar with the clichéd nightlife hotspots. So we’ve worked out which less obvious destinations are perfect for a big night out and are worthy of the title “party city.”
Manchester has always been closely associated with the cutting edge in UK music, with many of Britain’s most successful musicians ever stemming from the city. This, in conjunction with the tangible party vibe and guaranteed up-for-it crowd, places Manchester firmly among the most fun nights out in Britain. With four universities and nearly 100,000 students in the city, it’s no wonder that this is the case! Though the Haçienda is no more and Acid House and Rave are no longer the movement that they were, Manchester hasn’t forgotten them – their spirit is interwoven in the fabric of its nightlife and culture, it’s a real party city.
- Dress Code Suggestions: The best events in Manchester won’t care what you’ve got on, but for an authentic look go with a hat and hoodie (obviously don’t do this if going to a mainstream club…).
- 3 Places to Go Out: 2 in Manchester’s famous Northern Quarter – Band on the Wall and Mint Lounge. Alternatively: Antwerp Mansion – a club space in a former mansion dating from the industrial revolution. All 3 play host to live music as well as DJs.
- Average Entrance Costs: £5-10
- Typical drink: A pint from one of Manchester’s many craft beer pubs
- Place for the Perfect Hangover Breakfast: The Koffee Pot seems to be top of a lot of people’s lists for a hangover-vanquishing full-English breakfast.
Sound of the City: Avantgarde bass music blending influences from dancehall to Drum & Bass with a distinct Mancunian twang: Dub Phizix & Skeptical Feat. Strategy – Marka. This one was a game changer!
Despite first and foremost having a reputation as being business oriented rather than a party city, Frankfurt plays just as hard as it works and today is famous for the variety of its entertainment and nightlife. The city offers a wide range of different clubs and bars with a hugely diverse soundtrack, ranging from techno to jazz and everything in between. Given the nature of Frankfurt as a truly global city, it is unsurprising that the nightlife reflects the international crowd assembled there.
- Dress Code Suggestions: If trying to get into „posh“ clubs you should avoid trainers, but most of the places in Frankfurt aren’t fussed.
- 3 Places to Go Out: For the famous Tech House scene, clubs like Robert Johnson and U60311 are your best bet. For mainstream clubbing – Club 101 is on the 25th floor and offers an amazing city view. Still nothing you like? Frankfurt has a clubbing street called Hanauer Landstrasse that has different clubs along its length.
- Average Entrance Costs: €8-15, depending on DJs and the event.
- Typical drink: Ebbelwoi (similar to cider), the state drink of Hessen!
- Place for the Perfect Hangover Breakfast: There are a number of different places that offer not only a delicious breakfast but also some of the local apple wine (to cure your hangover hair-of-the-dog style). Just take a look along one of: Schweizer Straße in Sachsenhausen, Textorstrasse, Berger Strasse in Bornheim, around the Fressgass and Alte Oper or on the banks of the river.
Sound of the City: Deep house with some sugar sweet female vocals: AlunaGeorge – Best Be Believing (Shadow Child remix)
Liège is a vibrant city and the district of Le Carré forms its party core. There are more than 40 bars in the area and during the weekends the streets and bars are filled with people. Given the fact that it is a university city, it is unsurprising that there is a concentrated district which fully caters to all of the students’ nightlife wishes, with a mix of live music and clubs.
- Dress Code Suggestions: Cobble together your most hipster-looking outfit if you’re keen to fit in.
- 3 Places to Go Out: Le Cadran: Giant club in a former underground tunnel in the centre of Liège , with 3 rooms that each have their own vibe. It gets the biggest line ups but can a lean a bit towards the mainstream. For something more „underground“ in the other sense of the word, try L’Escalier for live music as well as techno, with their TANZ nights providing a heavier techno sound.
- Average Entrance Costs: €10-15
- Typical drink: Belgian beers, obviously.
- Place for the Perfect Hangover Breakfast: Québec Café is the perfect place for breakfast; to top it off it is open until 2pm, so hopefully you will have slept off a lot of your hangover by the time you arrive!
Sound of the city: Summery sounding deep house: Compuphonic – Sunset Feat. Marques Toliver
Rotterdam is known for having its own unique take on hardcore techno and for having a similarly hectic nightlife. Accompanying this is a great selection of bars that always fill up during the weekends. There are a mix of different sized venues, so it’s still possible to have a chilled night with your close friends in case you don’t fancy an all-night rave. The unique architecture gives Rotterdam a big-city vibe and the skyline is definitely one of the best of the Netherlands – undoubtedly a great view to have in the early hours!
- Dress Code Suggestions: Smart casual seems to go down well. A shirt with jeans will do the trick.
- 3 Places to Go Out: Maassilo is probably the best known and one of the most-loved clubs in the city. Situated in a former grain warehouse they have different events with diverse types of dance music such as house, techno and hardcore (with even the occasional bit of UK Garage!). For a more intimate venue for the discerning techno fan, there is Toffler, right in the city centre. If you fancy something a bit more upmarket, Club Vie has you covered, with house, hip hop and R&B.
- Average Entrance Costs: €10-15
- Typical Drink: Spirits mixed with something, anything that goes with Vodka is a good bet.
- Place for perfect hangover breakfast: Ontbijtbar does amazing eggs with bacon, american pancakes, sandwiches and oatmeal. Every Sunday there is also a DJ, plus you can wind down with a bloody mary, a perfect combination to see off your hangover.
Sound of the city: Peak-time house and techno: Benny Rodrigues @ Give Soul / Glow In The Dark, Maassilo, Rotterdam (21-12-2013)
Thanks to its university and accompanying popularity amongst Erasmus students, Bologna is home to an ever changing young crowd of people who continuously bring a fresh vibe and keep the nightlife in the city buzzing. It’s easy to make friends and meet new people. Discos, parties and music venues keep going until 4am, and it’s not hard to find a place for one last Piadina (Italian flatbread filled with some of the most mouthwatering ingredients you can imagine) or drink. Bologna’s gay scene is also one of the most active in Italy.
- Dress Code Suggestions: Because of its socialist political tradition, Bologna’s policy on dress code is pretty relaxed.
- 3 Places to Go Out: For Techno, House, Grunge and much more, look no further than Link. For something alternative, check out the “Teatro Polivalente Occupato” cultural centre, or just ask around. For fine dining and good jazz, the best place to go is “Cantina Bentivoglio“. It closes at 02:00am, so try to book a table.
- Average Entrance Costs: Generally between €10-20 with one drink included. University parties work with the free drink formula (pay the entrance and then it’s all-you-can-drink).
- Typical drink: Recently the Moscow Mule has been getting popular. During happy hour drinking a spritzer or a glass of red wine is a common occurrence.
- Place for the Perfect Hangover Breakfast: It’s a bit of a tradition to get a sandwich or a Piada at one of the food trucks outside of the clubs. For the next day, “Fram Cafè” on Via Rialto 22, serves a typical Italian breakfast with cappuccino, pastries and superb cakes.
Sound of the City: A techno selection from Joseph Capriati.
It all started in a small seaside resort in the 50s, when all the French actors, actresses and singers started to take secluded holidays there. Saint-Tropez or St-Trop’ – as it is known in certain circles – was and still is a small village on the French Riviera, to which the “jet setters” come to party. The difference now is that it’s not quiet anymore: everything is outrageously expensive and everybody grossly rich. However, that’s what makes it great for a lot of people: if you’ve saved up enough money to be able to follow the rhythm of this party city, you’ll have a great time!
- Dress Code Suggestions: In St-Tropez showing off is a way of life. If you have something sexy and ridiculously expensive – with an emphasis on the „expensive“ – now’s the perfect time to get it out.
- 3 Places to Go Out: It’s quite common in St-Tropez to have a few drinks in a bar with DJs before going to a club. You can do it for example in BLEU. A crucial address for clubbing in St-Tropez is: l’Esquinade club. More difficult to get in to is Les caves du Roy, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
- Average Entrance Costs: Most of the clubs won’t make you pay an entrance (if you succeed to get in), but you may have to pay for a table (the closer to the dancefloor the more expensive) and well, you’ll have to pay your drinks, and that’s already something!
- Typical Drink: Doesn’t matter so much, as long as you order it by the bottle!
- Place for the Perfect Hangover Breakfast: If you can stomach it – anywhere that sells tarte tropezienne, a kind of brioche with cream. Legend has it that Brigitte Bardot tasted the cake during a movie shoot and loved it, the name supposedly stems from her.
Sound of the City: It’s no longer the sound of the Yé-yé that characterise St-Tropez – nowadays you’ll hear mainly Tech or Deep House.
They say that in Zaragoza you can go out from Monday to Sunday every night, and what’s more, to all different kinds of music. There is such a huge variety of bars and clubs that from one night to the next you could be going out to mainstream hits, pop rock, soul, alternative and electronic music, all in the same week. In short: there is something for everyone!
- Dress Code Suggestions: Dress how you feel! It depends on what you’re planning.
- 3 places to go out: The Candy Warhol, now open for more than a decade, is famous for its Indie offerings. Likewise, La Lata de Bombillas is known for its frequent concerts. For a place open until late, with a mix of DJs and other styles of music, try Mile End.
- Average Entrance Costs: As a rule, bars are always free to enter. It is unlikely that you’ll ever be paying more than €12 to get into a club.
- Typical Drink: To begin with – beer. Later on – either rum or whisky with coke.
- The place for the perfect hangover breakfast: La rueda
Sound of the city: A 90s classic courtesy of Heroes del Silencio from Zaragoza.
Ischgl is known as Europe’s number one destination for après-ski fun. It’s not a traditional party city like some of the others on this list, instead, it turns up the heat during the winter ski-season with some big name headliners.
- Dress Code Suggestions: You’re on a skiing holiday, so wrap up warm. You can take your gear off when you go inside though, but don’t expect a fashion show.
- 3 Places to Go Out: If you like feeling like a VIP, then Madlein, in a top-level hotel, is the club for you. If you fancy a more genuine aesthetic, try the “Champagnerhütte” for a more cosy atmosphere and a party that continues through until the morning. Otherwise there is “Posthörndl” in the centre of town, furnished with curiosities from around the world.
- Average Entrance Costs: Minimum €5-10
- Typical drink: Williamsbirne (pear brandy), Flügerl (vodka, blackthorn, sour cherry and energy drink) or Glühwein. In Ischgl there is a cocktail called Après-ski (egg liqueur with hot milk).
- Place for the Perfect Hangover Breakfast: Hotel Garni Vogt has a €15 buffet. It’s steep, but has everything you need to fight against your hangover – bread, cheese, ham, sausage and eggs.
Sound of the City: Typical après-ski music, a mix of German folk, modern beats and stupid lyrics that even the most drunk reveller can sing along to.
Mykonos is well known around the world not just for its incredible beaches, but also for its parties, earning it the nickname of the Ibiza of Greece. This is unsurprising, given that during the day there are just as many parties going on as in the night, starting off with beach parties and working up to sunset ones at around 6pm. A grand total 33 bars, 19 clubs and 9 beach clubs are open from mid-may until mid-September.
- Dress Code Suggestion: Most of the clubs have a pool, so wearing swimwear is probably for the best.
- 3 Places to Go Out: The most famous parties are on Psarou beach, Paradise beach (Tropicana Bar, Sunrise Bar, Paradise Club) and Super Paradise beach. Notice a theme?
- Average Entrance Costs: €15-50, depending on DJs and event
- Typical drink: Anything, as long as it’s expensive!
- Place for the Perfect Hangover breakfast: Agrari Beach – away from the crowds, with a nice restaurant serving organic food at affordable prices.
Sound of the city: #HouseMusic
Cover photo credit: Blue Gig by Martin Fisch, CC 2.0