Having genuinely great nightlife on holiday is a real treat. But you don’t want to sacrifice the quality of the beaches, food, or culture in order to have a good time.
Typical nightlife travel destinations may be saturated with tourists but there are countless up-and-coming places where partying is an unexpected bonus.
Using internal data, Booking.com found the top five destinations to go to for a surprisingly good nightlife scene.*
Attend a rooftop pool party and enjoy glittering views in Medellín, Colombia
Having rapidly risen to glory since its dangerous days, Medellín is now not only safe but also resounding with an energetic nightlife scene. Made all the more enjoyable by tropical temperatures that have earned it the reputation of ‘City of Eternal Spring’. Hotels host rooftop pool parties high up enough to see 360 degrees of the city’s glittering skyline and exclusive restaurants offer progressive fine dining.
The new Berlin? Belgrade, Serbia
Belgrade has just the right amount of grit and emerging creativity to be dubbed the new Berlin. Former industrial districts are gentrifying as art galleries, concept stores, and cafés appear underneath bridges and between Soviet-era buildings. By night bohemian bars, beer gardens, party boats, and club nights championing new DJs provide plenty of choice for those keen to sample the city’s hedonistic spirit.
Cardiff Bay during the Harbour Festival, Wales
In the last few years, Cardiff’s cultural and nightlife scene has burgeoned. The Welsh capital has pubs and craft beer hubs aplenty, niche music, affordable, independent eateries, and bargain-filled vintage shops. Cardiff’s music hot spots include Tramshed, a revamped Grade II-listed old tram depot, and Gwdihw Cafe Bar, a laid-back daytime cafe with beer garden and soulful gigs. Then there's Jacob’s Antique Market, a red-brick retro emporium of antique and second hand treasures, whose rooftop turns into a cinema come spring.
The well-known Quays pub, Galway, Ireland
Galway is known as Ireland’s ‘city of festivals’, with a season of cultural and literary events that are well worth travelling for. Of course you must visit a typical Irish pub for a singalong of a sentimental Irish folk song and a Guinness. The Quays on Quay Street is a shining example, with its wooden-clad interior including a church organ for impromptu musical performances.
Club nights galore in Groningen, The Netherlands
Though tourists might head to Amsterdam for the nightlife, those that live in Holland will tell you that Groningen is a major party town. There’s a big university there, so events and venues are focused on a younger market but there are places to suit all tastes and ages. From heaving house music nights to dimly-lit, wooden Dutch ‘brown cafes’ and avant-garde jazz shows.
**These destinations were the top-rated cities for ‘nightlife’, according to Booking.com travellers. Destinations had to have over 500 endorsements for ‘nightlife’. And had to qualify as ‘off the beaten path’. Off the beaten path was defined as destinations that are recommended at 95% or higher with at least 50 bookings but have less than 1000 endorsements in total.