The club scenes of cities like Las Vegas, Paris and Tokyo are legendary. But what if you’re looking for a destination where you can get stuck into some incredible nightlife without putting a serious hole in your travel budget?
How do we know? Because we quizzed 34,000 people in hundreds of cities for our Time Out Index 2019. We asked each local respondent not only how great their city’s nightlife scene is right now, but also how much they’d spend on a night out. Then we used all that data to put together the ultimate guide to party cities in Europe and beyond, where you can get after-dark thrills at a fraction of the cost of a night out in London or New York.
Get planning your party trip now – because the music sounds better when the drinks are cheap.
The best party cities in Europe and beyond
Sure, everyone wants to get into Berghain, but save yourself the queue (and potential rejection) by hitting up the ultimate clubbing capital’s more accessible parties. Warm up with drinks at Roses, a bar that resembles a nu-metal-loving millennial’s bedroom – complete with fur-lined walls – or party by day on the canal edge at Club Der Visionäre or at Schwuz, a legendary queer club in Neukölln. But Berlin is best known for its all-nighters, so stay up at Watergate in Kreuzberg for an epic panoramic sunrise over the River Spree.
Want more? Here are the 22 best clubs in Berlin.
Cost of a typical night out: €40 (around $45).
São Paulo holds the largest LGBT+ Pride parade in the world: as millions descend on the city to protest and celebrate, São Paulo erupts into one giant party. Outside of June, clubs and bars of the city centre and Rua Augusta are thriving with locals and travellers, but did you know São Paulo boasts a healthy underground party scene? Raves like Carlos Capslock and queer party Mamba Negra have been popping up at temporary venues, offering musicians, artists and ravers the chance to unite at a time when Brazil is in the midst of a challenging political climate.
Cost of a typical night out: 150 reais (around $39).
Between kitsch experiences like The Duck Church of Lavapiés (don’t miss ‘duck mass’ at this curious temple) and ’70s acid-trip-style club Tupperware, Madrid’s counter-culture scene is positively thriving. But the capital also smashes the big night out. Mondo Disko – now in its nineteenth year – is known for its sound system and electronic line-ups. For gigs, check Lab and La Riviera (the latter has a giant palm tree in the middle of it). Or turn it up to 11 at 4,000-capacity Fabrik on the outskirts of the city, with a triple-decker stage and a shedload of lasers.
Cost of a typical night out: €50 (around $57).
The Argentinian capital is fast becoming a global go-to for nightlife. While tango is alive and kicking in the streets and clubs, the city is diversifying with live drumathons at La Bomba de Tiempo and four-to-the-floor raves at club Crobar in Palermo. There’s also a speakeasy scene, with tiny bars The Harrison, below a sushi restaurant, and Florería Atlántico, behind a florist.
Cost of a typical night out: 1,020 pesos (around $25).
Montreal is the jewel in Canada’s cultural crown. Its cool, arty vibe comes from the low cost of living, which allows grassroots artists to flourish – so it’s no surprise the nightlife scene is popping. If you’re serious about dance music, check out New City Gas, a coal-plant-turned-club. For a hardcore all-nighter head to Stereo in the Gay Village, booking local talent as well as the likes of Omar S.
Cost of a typical night out: C$61 (around $46).
Some of the best nights out in the musically liberated Portuguese capital are to be had in the Cais do Sodré neighbourhood: it’s rowdy, it’s loud and there’s a bright pink street that runs slap bang through the middle of the clubs. Viking, Sabotage and Jamaica are the places to go for trashy dancing while MusicBox boasts contemporary, curated line-ups. Be sure to take the hike up Rua do Alecrim too, to drink and party at tiny Bairro Alto bars like A Capela.
Wien, baby: it’s more than a waltz! Vienna’s underground club scene has been pumping for years, and the number-one venue is Grelle Forelle: it’s dark, with a massive sound system, and line-ups include everything from leftfield drum and bass to deep, throbbing techno. Second is Das Werk, a riverside railway arch with a super-underground electronic music policy. The third, but not the final, place to check out is Donau: a secret techno club inside an old industrial building. For the Sunday morning afterparty, head to Sass, which opens at 6am.
Cost of a typical night out: €50 (around $56).
Although a lot of Mumbai clubs cater to opulent VIP partygoers, the ‘city of dreams’ still has a clutch of renegade promoters pushing the underground sound. Hunt out parties by Wild City, Magnetic Fields and Grime Riot Disco: the latter operates a series of covert pop-up parties at various venues around the city, so you'll need to sign up to find out more. It’s also worth checking out reggae-themed bar Raasta or millennial hangout-chain Social, especially the Khar and Carter Road venues.
Cost of a typical night out: 2,020 rupees (around $29).
Many nights out in Mexico City start at one of the city’s myriad speakeasy bars. Chic venues such as Hanky Panky and Jules Basement serve as a classy precursor to a night out at one of the city’s DIY spaces, such as the multifunctional art and music hub Centro de Salud for punk bands and experimental DJs all night long. For queer clubbing, there’s the Zona Rosa (pink neighbourhood) where there are clubs aplenty. And for an authentic night of underground homegrown electronica head to Foro Normandie, Yu Yu or Japan.
Cost of a typical night out: 800 pesos (around $42).
Unless you’re visiting for the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival in February, the South African city’s party scene can be hard to track down – but it’s worth the effort. Start at The Waiting Room on Long Street, which works with local promoters like Private Life for house and disco, and Wax On for homegrown sounds like kwaito and bubblegum. Another hit is the growing Not Sorry Club, which tours around the city with an inclusive, forward-thinking approach. And for a quick drop-in session, check out Mødular for underground techno and house.
Cost of a typical night out: 559 rand (around $40).
Tel Aviv is famed for hosting one of the world’s rowdiest Pride festivals, and the city’s hedonistic, polysexual attitude flows into the party scene: you’re guaranteed to find a club night happening any day of the week. One of the best spots is The Block, an LGBT+-friendly venue that promises the best in techno and house. Cock-Shock is another hot queer party ticket, bringing a techno line-up and free-thinking attitude to clubs across the city. And for extra lashings of fun, check out some of the city’s DJ bars: Alphabet, Drama and Cuckoo’s Nest are well worth a detour.
Cost of a typical night out: 202 shekels (around $56).
Looking for more one-of-a-kind experiences?
In our humble and expert opinion, these are the 50 very best experiences of their kind in the world right now. We’ve judged the list by uniqueness, timeliness, geographic diversity, and cultural brilliance – making good use of our expert theatre, art, museum, film, food and travel editors.