If you have plans to travel to Europe anytime soon, here’s a guide for you provided by Foot Print on the European Nightlife so you don’t miss out on any of the fun!
Ask Athenians what they think their city does better than any other European capital and they will probably tell you about the nightlife. All year round Psirri and Gazi are rocking. In Psirri, Psirra, Miaouli 19, pulls the grungy intellectual crowd, who drink rakomelo (hot raki with honey and cinnamon) at streetside tables. Nearby, in Monastiraki, TAF is a bar-gallery, with semi-derelict outbuildings hosting art and photography exhibitions and installations, and a lovely courtyard garden with mellow lighting and chill-out music for drinks.
Up the road, between Monastiraki and Syntagma, arty Booze, Kolokotroni 57, occupies three levels in a restored neoclassical building. On the ground floor there are two bars staging occasional contemporary exhibitions, while up top there’s alternative music, another bar and plenty of space to dance.
In gay-friendly Gazi, Hoxton, 42 Voutadon, is another hip bar with exposed concrete walls, sofas and electronic music in a former warehouse. Nearby, chi-chi Villa Mercedes, Andronikou & Tzaferi 11, has a restaurant serving creative Mediterranean cuisine in a courtyard garden, plus a dance floor with guest DJs – French house producer David Guetta has played here.
In summer, many of the big clubs in the centre are closed as they move out to the coastal strip from Kalamaki to Varkiza. They have surprise new beach locations each year, but names to look out for include Envy and Akrotiri. Some, such as Balux, double as swanky bathing establishments during the day, with waterside music and cocktails around sunset; the party mood sets in after midnight.
Barcelona is a popular stop on the international DJ circuit, with cutting- edge clubs (discotecas) playing the very latest tunes. Some of the best clubs can be found on Carrer Nou de Francesc in the Barri Gòtic and along the painfully hip Passeig del Born in El Born. There are also several excellent bars in the Ciutat Vella, where you can enjoy a mellow copa on a candlelit terrace. El Raval has a concentration of funky bohemian clubs as well as louche bars where you can sip absinthe in timeless surroundings. Bigger clubs, catering for the frenetic summer party crowd, can be found on Montjuïc and around the Port Olímpic, while gay clubs are clustered in the so-called Gaixample, east of Passeig del Gràcia.
There are plenty of live music venues. Popular clubs like Jamboree and Luz de Gas offer a mixed bag of musical styles. Visit Harlem Jazz Club for the city’s jazz scene. Latin and African music are also popular.
For lovers of electronica, the Sónar summer festival of multimedia music and art is fantastic. The BAM festival in Sep is another great time to catch alternative sounds.
Berlin offers some of the best nightlife in Europe: laid-back, accessible and cutting edge at the same time. The further east you go the more shabby-chic the bars tend to be; the further west the smarter and more elegant they become. You’ll never be pushed for somewhere to go. Mitte has more than its fair share of suitable watering holes, with the area around Oranienburger Str being particularly popular with tourists. For something a bit more authentically Berlin, Prenzlauerberg is the place to go. From U-Bahn Rosenthaler Platz, head up Weinbergsweg into Kastanienallee where you’ll find many hip bars and restaurants. Bars usually open at 2200 and then close when the last guest leaves.
The club scene attracts top performers, be it a plethora of International DJs at the incredibly hip Weekend Club, or Kings of Leon at O2 World. Berlin also plays host to secret Geheimtip parties, part of the eastside nightlife. If you are lucky you might discover the location for favourites, such as the Mittwochclub, every Wed.
Bairro Alto is the best place to kickstart an evening. Its cobbled streets hold hundreds of bars, eateries, clubs and shops. Start along the main Rua da Atalaia and explore down-to-earth tascas, sleek gay joints (Sétimo Céu), jazz bars (Catacombas), lounge clubs (Caffe Suave, Clube da Esquina) and funky discos (Bicaense) that come to life after 2200. Miradouro de Santa Catarina has the best views, on the terrace or at the Noo Bai rooftop bar. B.leza has the best African rhythms, with live music every night in Largo Conde Barão. Av 24 de Julho holds the larger, more commercial venues, like Kremlin or Kapital with pop-rock and house. East of 25th April Bridge, the Docas district of renovated warehouses on a marina has bars and clubs serving up latino sounds and tall drinks. Finally, the nightclub of Lisbon, Lux Frágil, in the docks opposite Santa Apolonia train, is high-tech and spacious and offers the best in DJs, concerts, performance and video.
Finding authentic fado is tricky. Still, you can stumble across raucous amateur fado vadio, with no formal programme, only an orgy of catharsis.
Some traditional pubs boast genuine Victorian interiors (The Salisbury, 90 St Martin’s Lane, W1) while others thrive as straightforward local boozers (Coach and Horses, 29 Greek St, W1; Dog and Duck, 18 Bateman St, W1). Music bars are still jumping into the wee small hours, particularly in Shoreditch (Big Chill Bar, Dray Walk, off Brick Lane, E1; Shoreditch Electricity Showrooms, 39a Hoxton St, N1), as are the gay bars in Soho (Freedom, 60-66 Wardour St, W1) while others are branching out (The Book Club, 100 Leonard St, EC2). There are also hundreds of candlelit wine bars, swish brasseries, elegant hotel bars, sweaty dives and designer cocktail lounges. Many of the best clubs are around Old Street and Shoreditch.
In Madrid it’s possible to start dancing on Fri night and not stop until Mon morning. Some of the best clubs are: Low Club, Fri at De Nombre Publico (Pl Mostenses 11); the gay party, Ohm, Sat and Sun at Bash (Pl de Callao 4); and The Room, Fri at stylish Stella. There’s tango or salsa Mon- Fri at the Palacio Gaviria and dance music or electro-pop at weekends.
Elsewhere, the Paseo de Castellano is famous for its summer terrazas where you can drink and dance outside. Madrid also has hundreds of discobares spread all over the city. Santa Ana and Huertas get packed, especially in summer, and though not especially fashionable barrios, you are guaranteed a good time. The streets around Plaza de la Paja, in the Plaza Mayor and Los Austrias area, are packed with fancy tapas joints but there’s also a healthy sprinkling of down-to-earth bars. There are some very funky bars tucked away in the old working-class districts of La Latina and Lavapiés, while to the north of Gran Vía are two formerly run-down neighbourhoods that have become the focal point of the city’s heady nightlife: Chueca is the heart of the gay district and stuffed with some ultra-stylish places – such as Acuarela, El Liquid and the non-gay Star’s Café – while Malasaña is popular with students and younger people looking for a good time.
Valencia’s nightlife is concentrated in different areas, but the best place to start is the hip Barri del Carme in the Old City, where stylish restaurants, clubs, and bars are nudged up against each other. The heart of the gay scene is here on C Quart. There are also bars and clubs near the university in the new part of town: check out the streets around the Pl Honduras, near Avinguda Blasco Ibáñez and look out for the following favourites: Radio City (Old City), La Indiana, The Music Box (live music), Akuarela (by the beach), Jimmy Glass (for jazz), Roxy Club (New City club). In summer, everyone heads to big outdoor clubs (terrazas) in the suburbs. There’s plenty going on around the port and along the bar-lined seafront promenade.