Want to have fun over the Aussie winter? Try the European party circuit! Kelli Armstrong picks the top destinations.
Swapping an Aussie winter for Europe’s summer party season is as much about pulling all-nighters as it is exploring and relaxing. That’s why we’ve selected the best places in Europe to eat, drink, sightsee and party! Get ready to book flights for your most decadent summer getaway yet.
Marbella, Spain (above)
Having long been a playground for the rich and famous, the luxurious resort town of Puerto Banús, on Marbella’s southwest coast sizzles with sun, fun and then some. With an endless supply of bars, clubs, restaurants and shopping to entertain the masses, Nikki Beach is where you’ll find the beautiful people hiding out from the paparazzi with a steady flow of cocktails and good vibes under summer skies. For the ultimate night out, book dinner on the terrace at La Sala, head to Pangea for pre-dancing drinks then hit up Aqwa Mist for an all-out sweat-soaked night of revelry.
This famous Balearic island has been hosting insane beach parties and next-level club nights since the 60s. The world’s largest nightclub, Privilege, dominates among other huge names like Pacha, Amnesia and Eden. Bars and clubs are dotted around the island that world-famous DJs, celebs and supermodels call home during the summer months.
While there’s wild partying aplenty, it’s tamed by a dazzling coastline complete with hidden coves and azure lagoons. Soak up some sun at Las Salinas beach at Playa d’en Bossa, where the celebrity set mix their love of water sports with beats at bars that sit between sand and forest.
Wherever you end up in this bohemian playground, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience.
Party in beachside bars and clubs set among ancient architectural sights. This island resort attracts a mixture of Eurotrash, cashed-up jetsetters and party hungry backpackers. Bonj “les bains” is the most popular beach, with its pebble bay rimmed by a stone colonnade. There are also plenty of pebbly nooks and pine woods to discover when you venture to the Pakleni islands, maybe even combining the excursion with a yacht party. Hail a midnight taxi-boat to the magical Carpe Diem Beach in Stipanska, or to Hula Hula beach club for an all-nighter.
Overlooking a tranquil fishing harbour, with its cobbled alleys and pastel-hued homes this photogenic west coast town is bursting with restaurants serving succulent seafood, and waterside bars pouring lethal cocktails. By day, visitors head to the coves of Punta Corrente and the sultry Mulini beach — don’t be surprised if you see people getting their kit off. Summer also hosts a salsa festival, and there are secret vineyard parties to get you drunk enough to try this sensual dance. There’s plenty of water sports to keep your fitness in check between the parties.
This island has a reputation for attracting an international crowd of roisterers who love nothing more than spending their hungover days making sand angels and cooling off in the mesmerising Mediterranean. There are archaeological sights and sites to explore for those interested in history, but it’s the non-stop party at Paradise Beach’s Tropicana Club that will become your home away from home — you can have your breakfast here, sip cocktails through the afternoon and dance past midnight in your bikini. Other hot venues include Super Paradise that pumps out beats and hosts impromptu beach parties, and Cavo Paradiso.
Filled with open-air clubs and clifftop bars, this bewitching island with its giddy coastline, whitewash buildings and black sand beaches is a favourite for decadence and downtime. Explore the island by quadbike at day, and after a seaside meal at Yalos, down some ouzo shots and dance till dawn at Enigma Club in Fira. For romance, take in the sunset on the terrace at the stylish Tango bar.
This summer heralds the 20th anniversary of Distortion, Copenhagen’s “annual party-tsunami”. The week-long event pushes the limits of the city’s street life and celebrates its much-loved club culture with over 100 dance floors pumping from dusk till dawn. Revellers, some 100,000 per day, venture from all corners of the globe to party well into the wee hours in what is one of Europe’s biggest annual gatherings.
Ayia Napa, Cyprus
A coastal town on the island of Cyprus, Ayia Napa is known for two things: beautiful beaches and a wild party scene. Whether it’s a beer-soaked sand session, disco day boat party or a raucous foam night at Nissi Beach, there’s a good time to be had any day or night of the week. Makronissos Beach Club is a premier venue set within a cove, and is the perfect setting for sunsets and spectacular events featuring live artists, big-name disc spinners and light shows. Meanwhile, The Castle Club boasts five separate arenas, including a chill out room and terrace for VIPs. It consistently makes the top 100 clubs for those in the know. River Reggae Club is where everyone who doesn’t want to go home goes for more good times.
If you fancy yourself as a bit of a raver, immersing yourself in Amsterdam’s EDM scene should be at the top of your dancefloor to-do list. Complementing the city’s stellar club line-up are a host of summer dance festivals like Electronic Family and Loveland. When you want to wind down, the unique vibes of the city’s lounge bars, labyrinthine canals, jazz clubs and smoky cafés beckon your company. Be sure to check out Sugarfactory, where live music, theatre and clubbing meet, and down some whiskey at quirky Café de Dokter, surely Amsterdam’s smallest bar.
The Germans are connoisseurs of techno and clubs like Tresor (the largest and most respected) and Berghain (housed inside an abandoned power plant) are notorious for their four-day parties and impossible door policies. You’ll need a bit of knowledge under your disco belt to get in — be sure to wear black on black on black, and leave the colourful tourist ensemble for raging in Italy. Put your phone away, it is not cool to take selfies in line and phones are forbidden on the dancefloor. The club culture here can get pretty freaky, so be prepared for your mind to be bent. Especially if you plan to visit KitKatClub, a well-known sex club. Chalet is a little more convivial, music echoes over two levels inside a decadent century-old mansion, and there’s a garden to chill out in if that’s more your pace.
This wild (and cheap) city with its outlandish ways to have a good time makes the cut. Budapest is well-known for its grand and ancient baths, and yep, spa parties or “sparties” are a thing — there’s a lot of steamy fun to be had in these natural geothermal springs. Ruin bars are another unique way to get social; these chaotic bars housed in old, derelict buildings are a hotspot for local hipsters as much as they’re a haven for the twilight generation. The Hungarian capital also hosts Europe’s answer to Burning Man — Sziget Festival is a week-long musical extravaganza on the island of Òbuda in the Danube that thrives from sun up til sun down.