From the cocktail bars in New York to the underground club scene in Berlin, our rankings explore the world’s best cities for nightlife in 2018. The ranking is based on the number of quality of bars, clubs and music scene.
Overall, Europe is undoubtedly the continent for night crawlers. We picked the best places to go from the top 5 cities for nightlife.
From the West End to the alternative Camden scene, or a trendy night out in Shoreditch, London is home to some of the best bars and most prestigious nightclubs on the planet. For an exclusive night out head to the Tape Club in Mayfair. In summer, the Roof Gardens, a spectacular venue in Kensington owned by Richard Branson, is a world away from the hustle and bustle of London—the perfect place for after-work drinks. In other parts of town, institutions such as the Ministry of Sound are still surviving the development of Elephant & Castle. If a pint is what you’re after, London has hundreds of pubs, from rustic to modern, to fit any mood.
As the number of nightclubs decreased by 50% in the past five years, the Mayor’s office appointed a “night mayor” in 2016 to give nightlife a clear, respected voice in City Hall. London is not the first city to introduce such a policy—Amsterdam, Toulouse, Zurich and Paris were pioneers in Europe. Launched in 2016, Transport for London runs a “Night Tube” on weekends to provide subway services to London’s night owls.
Madrid likes to party. Ranked second-best on the planet behind London, locals and visitors are drawn to the city’s happening nightlife. In summer, the city streets light up with la noche as locals spill into bars and terrazas. The capital is also known for its cocktail culture, with Chicote, a classic bar considered among Europe’s temples of mixology. Gran Meliá Fénix, the Bar Cock, Belmondo and the Gin Bar at Mercado de la Reina are now part of the growing cocktail scene in Madrid.
3. NEW YORK
New York has finally repealed its dancing ban in bars, reinforcing the city’s designation as “The City That Never Sleeps.” Although mostly unknown to locals, the 91-year-old New York City Cabaret Law required bars to apply for a special license to allow dancing within their confines. It also prohibited more than three musicians from performing at once. Recently, Bill de Blasio’s office reported to the Times that the mayor “strongly supports repealing the law.” From now on, get ready to see more live music (and dancing) in your local bar.
Our recommendations for this season: Mailroom, located in the basement of a building that includes WeWork and WeLive; Elsewhere, a renovated industrial performance space in Bushwick; and Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge, which features an “urban amusement park” with an adult sensibility and epic Empire State Building skyline views.
Barcelona has long been renowned for its beaches and thriving nightlife. Classy lounges, tiny tapas bars and eclectic parties, mixed with Spanish culture, attract music lovers and partygoers from across the world. Recently, the waterfront in Port Olympic has become one of Barcelona’s hot spots with Pacha, the legendary Ibizan dance temple, and beside it Opium, featuring a beach terrace. Here, the hottest DJs from the dance, electro, and house scene are regular acts in this part of town.
By night, the city of bridges and castles shows off a different side. The popular Prague nightclubs are concentrated in the center of the Old Town, including the largest club in Central Europe, Karlovy Lazne. But the alternative music clubs and venues such as The Meet Factory and Palac Akropolis are now located in Žižkov, a lively neighborhood that attracts crowds of students on weekends.
The Czech capital is also gay-friendly and relaxed about recreational drugs, which only adds to the city’s rebellious and independent vibe. Wherever the night takes you, don’t miss out on the famous Czech pilsner.