Lonely Planet’s ultimate party cities
Andergraund night club in central Belgrade rocks until the early hours of the morning. (Greg Elms/LPI)
Looking to tread terrain still untouched by foreign stag expeditions? Want to unwind in luxury or drink up the sun? Taken from Lonely Planet's 1000 Ultimate Experiences, we present to you the ultimate party cities.
Taken from Lonely Planet's 1000 Ultimate Experiences, we present to you the ultimate party cities.
Back in 1999, Belgraders held outdoor concerts while undergoing NATO bombardment, a feat that bewildered many outsiders. The long years of bad press that kept Serbia and its energetic capital off the map have now passed, and foreigners are now realising what locals always knew - that Belgrade really rocks. With an exuberant population and its legacy as an intellectual hangout, Belgrade offers intriguingly varied nightlife, ranging from eclectic watering holes for those in the know, to the busy restaurants and bars of the Skadarlija district and the summer clubs in heaving barges on the Sava and Danube Rivers. Major international musicians hit Belgrade's Sava Center, and the summertime EXIT Festival, held an hour north in Novi Sad, is one of Europe's best.
Not only underage drinkers from New England are descending on the dynamic francophone city of Québec these days. Easygoing Montréal is increasingly popular with other foreign travellers, who enjoy the joie de vivre of a place with bilingual ambience and good local beer. Montréal's irrepressible student population and atmospheric old quarter give the city a light-hearted, Bohemian air. There are Old World cafes, cool jazz clubs, packed discos and titillating late bars to choose from, plus a popular comedy festival each July.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
With its unique mix of European and South American cultures, and a native passion for dance (tango, baby!), the Argentine capital provides fertile ground for lively nightlife. There is an emphasis on fashion and a diverse range of entertainment in Buenos Aires' barrios (districts). Relax at a swingin' jazz club or dance all night by the waterfront; some clubs and cultural centres offer classes so you can learn to tango or salsa like (and with) a local. Variety is huge - there is everything from Irish pubs and local folk to industrial-strength house parties. Come in October for both the world tango festival and the international guitar festival.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
For those who can afford it, the world capital of conspicuous consumption is unbeatable. Dubai's extravagance is way over the top, with ultraluxury hotels on artificial islands, slick modern malls and tonnes of precious metals glittering in shops. Yet Dubai is also a surprisingly cosmopolitan place, with workers coming from all over the globe. So if you are not invited to party on board the private yacht of a celebrity, you can always mingle with people from around the world in the swank bars and clubs of the Middle East's most decadent desert getaway.
This city has style, with plenty of fashionable shops and salons and a one-million-strong population fleshed out by a big university (80,000-plus students). Thessaloniki boasts great nightlife during those long months when more famous Greek destinations are deep in hibernation, from arty cafes to Latin bars; from discos pumping out house music to salacious bouzoukia (clubs featuring twangy, Eastern-flavoured Greek folk-pop). That is plenty to keep you occupied after you have traversed the city's sublime Byzantine churches, museums and scattered ruins. It is not cheap, but no Greek city other than Athens compares.
La Paz, Bolivia
Do not forget that liquor goes to the head quickly in the Bolivian capital, which is well over 3000m above sea level. Get hot and sweaty on a chilly Andean night in one of many slick nightclubs, which cater to chic locals and the foreign contingent. The natives are friendly and, with a steady stream of travellers, it's a town of many tongues. World-class bars, swank cafes and restaurants serenading with traditional Bolivian music round out the offerings. Buy traditional Aymara herbs at the Witches' Market (Mercado de Brujas) to ward off hangovers and bothersome spirits.