Anyone who has traveled extensively will tell you that every city has two lives. There is the city during the day that most people see. This is when the locals spend most of their day either traveling into or working in the city and when tourists crowd together for a chance to look at the city's most impressive sites. When the sun goes down, however, the city undergoes a transformation. Most of the business people have left the city (or simply become unrecognizable without their business attire), and the streets become much less crowded as people return to their homes and hotels. This opens up an entirely new world of culture and experiences which simply cannot be experienced during the daylight hours. To honor this aspect of traveling, this article will name the 20 Sickest European Cities To Visit...At Night. The only real parameters for this list are that 1) the city must be classified as a European city and 2) that this city must have something about it which makes it a unique and enjoyable place to visit after dark. If you can think of any European cities with sick nightlife that did not make our list, feel free to mention them in the comments.
20 Paris - The Eiffel Tower At Night... Need We Say More?
When people think of cities at nighttime, they think of Paris. After decades of romantic movies featuring after-dark scenes in the capital city of France it has become ingrained in the human psyche that Paris is the quintessential nighttime city. While this may not be entirely true, Paris is certainly one of the sickest European cities after dark. For starters, Paris is famous for its nightlife. Dating back to the 1600's, Paris has been famous for its salons and brothels. As times have changed, Paris' infamous night club scene has supplanted these ancient practices (although people will tell you that they still exist in one form or another). If that was not enough,
having the Eiffel Tower as the backdrop to your adventure certainly adds a sense of excitement that cannot be found in other cities.
Even better, city officials light up the tower at night so it can be seen from just about anywhere in the city. Paris is one of the oldest cities in western Europe, and they have had centuries to perfect their nightlife. Paris is a must-visit for everyone in their lifetime, during the day or night.
19 Lisbon - Notorious For Their Nightlife
When people think of major players in western Europe, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Spain are usually the countries that come to mind. Historically, however, Portugal has been as important–if not more important–than these other European countries. Unfortunately for them (but fortunately for practically everyone else), the age of empires ended as did much of their influence on the world stage. Portugal continues to a fairly affluent country, although one that now flies under the radar in the international arena. But you can still see the vestiges of Portugal's former greatness throughout the country, especially in the capital city of Portugal. Several buildings within the city limits are architectural wonders, and Lisbon's port district in particular is supposed to be especially beautiful. As far as nightlife is concerned, Lisbon is notorious for a particular stretch of bars in the center of the city. This is about three blocks where just about everyone goes after the sun goes down. Luckily, there are enough bars so that it does not get too crowded. With so many things to do, Lisbon, Portugal easily makes our list of sickest European cities to visit at night.
18 London - Popular Attractions Still Opened After The Sun Goes Down
For this next entry, I chose one of the few cities on this list that I have actually been to. I was last in London in 2010 and I can personally attest that the city is very cool at night (cool enough that my entire class ditched our chaperone at the hotel to go and experience it). London certainly has its own unique quirky culture, but once you get used to it, it becomes very easy to love. The nighttime in London is just an extension of that, with the things that you notice during the day becoming seven-fold at night.
Aside from the very popular bar scene, London is also famous for keeping several of its restaurants and attractions open after the sun goes down.
If you are familiar with most cities in the United States, you will likely be surprised to find that you can still get almost anything at two in the morning. This is great because there is nothing worse than leaving the bar and being unable to find anyplace besides Mcdonald's open for food. Perhaps the best part about London at night is getting to see Big Ben and the London Eye all light up.
17 Dublin - Could Be Compared To NYC
I knew when I started this list that I wanted to include an Irish city, and after giving it some thought, I decided that Dublin was the easy choice. The capital city of Ireland, Dublin is easily the biggest city in the country. In fact, when I visited there in 2017, it reminded me a lot of New York City. Me comparing it to the city that never sleeps should tell you something about Dublin's nightlife. The city is filled with business professionals during the day. But after a certain point in the evening, they are replaced with people out having a good time. Our hotel was right in the downtown area of the city and I was impressed with how many things there were to do there, even at late into the night. If you need more evidence that Dublin is a city that is based around nighttime, take into consideration how hard it is to get an early breakfast there. We could not find anywhere that offered more than a bagel before 11AM, signaling that Dublin is much more worried about what happens at 9PM than it is about what happens at 9PM.
16 Berlin - History Plays Its Part
Just because a city has become a popular tourist destination with a vibrant nightlife, does not mean that it has not had a tumultuous history. Our next entry, Berlin, was (and still is) the capital city of Germany during WWI and WWII. As such, it has experienced a lot of troubles and horrors that other cities have not. The most famous of these is probably the joint occupation of the city following WWII. The city was split in half with the western portion being governed by the United States and its Western European allies and the eastern portion being held by the Soviet Union. As tensions between these two groups worsened, a physical wall was erected in the city to separate these zones. The wall has since been torn down, and the city of Berlin has erected several museums and monuments to remember this troubling time. All this history has given Berlin a haunted feel. Therefore, the atmosphere at night is totally different than in other cities. With that being said, the bar scene is always popular and you know how the Germans feel about their beer. Pints in Berlin might be a little pricier than in other cities, but they are certainly worth the higher bill.
15 Vienna - Vibrant Nightlife
Unfortunately, there are only a few cities from Eastern Europe that make this list. For centuries, western Europe has been lauded as the pinnacle of civilization, and increases in population, technology, and education have allowed this gap to widen. But this was not always the case. There was a time when Eastern Europe was vastly more advanced than the west and the area boasted the most populous and cultured cities in all the world. Vienna was one such city. Like the rest of Eastern Europe, Vienna was part of the Eastern Bloc that was controlled by the Soviets behind their Iron Curtain. Once the Berlin Wall fell, however, Vienna and a few other major cities began to adopt western culture. With this came a renaissance in culture and technology that you can still see the effects of today. In recent years, Vienna has used its position as the capital of Austria to undergo a significant revitalization project. Many tourists come to Austria for the Tiergarten Schonbrunn, one of the world's oldest zoos. At night, however, they are treated to a vibrant nightlife, including the balls and galas that are thrown on a regular basis.
14 Rome - One Of The Sickest Cities (Day Or Night)
I believe that Rome is one of the sickest cities to visit in Europe, day or night. There is, however, something about the capital of Italy in the dark that is particularly special. I think it really comes down to the amount of gigantic, spectacular buildings that Rome has to offer. The Vatican, the Coliseum, and St. Peter's Basilica all call Rome their home. While all of these buildings are spectacular during the day, at night, they truly become awe-inspiring. It is very easy to take a wrong turn at night in Rome and to find yourself standing below one of the world's greatest architectural wonders.
As if this were not enough to make Rome a nighttime spectacle, the city is in Italy, a place that is famous for their wines. This means that practically anywhere you go will have a spectacular menu and that just about everyone that you meet will have had a few glasses themselves that night. Rome can get a little crowded during the tourist season so I suggest that you try to visit there in the late fall or early spring. The weather should still be fairly mild then.
13 Venice - Amazing During The Day, And As Amazing At Night
Despite the fact that most people have never been to this city in northern Italy, it seems like everyone knows all about it. This is not a new phenomenon, however. Venice has been the inspiration of novels and plays since the early 1100's.
As cool as Venice is during the day, it is even crazier at night. You may have noticed from the rest of this list that many of the best nighttime European cities are near the water. This is partly because most major European cities were built near major waterways, but it is also because there is just something about being near the water at dark that seeps into our senses.
Being able to hear the waves while not being able to see them has incredibly soothing effects. This is why those machines that project sounds of the ocean while people sleep are so popular. Venice was, of course, built with canals traversing the entire city. This means that anywhere you go in the city, you will still be fairly close to the water. If this is not enough for you to want to experience Venice after dark, do not forget that the city is famous for its wines.
12 Budapest - Magnified At Night
After compiling most of this list, I became worried that far too many of these entries were coming from Western Europe. As I started to look for some possible entries from Eastern Europe, Budapest instantly sprang to the top of my list. The capital city of Hungary, Budapest has enough old-world charm to rival just about any other entry in this article. An early conquest of the Roman Empire, Budapest has been a major center for trade and commerce for thousands of years. All this history makes Budapest a beautiful and unique city to visit. Its appeals are only magnified during the night. Budapest is not famous for its bar and club scene like some of the other entries on this list, but there are just enough things to do after dark to keep you interested. The biggest attraction of Budapest at night is the people. Eastern Europeans, of course, have their own culture and several sources have stated that the Hungarians do not disappoint on a night out on the town.The only struggle with visiting Eastern Europe is that plane tickets usually cost significantly more than going to nations in the western bloc.
11 Amsterdam - Notorious Nightlife
I recently watched the movie Eurotrip for the first time in a long time, and I think it does a good job of talking about the nightlife in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is, of course, famous for allowing recreational marijuana use and 'street workers'. Even in Europe, this is on the cutting edge, so American pop culture constantly makes references to Amsterdam as this city where anything goes. But this is not all that Amsterdam is about, and I think Eurotrip does a good job of representing this. In one of the movie's scenes, two of the characters go to a bakery where they begin tripping on pot brownies. Later, they find out that the brownies they ate were regular brownies, and the owner of the storm begrudgingly informs them that he runs a legitimate bakery. This is obviously for comedic purposes, but it makes a good point. Therefore,
while all of our readers will know that these options are available to them after dark in Amsterdam, I will stick to the parts of the city's nightlife that are not quite so famous.
For instance, there are over 100 festivals that happen in Amsterdam every year, with most of them extending well into the nighttime.
Before I began compiling this list, a city like Florence would not have been at the top of my list of European cities that I wanted to visit. All that I really knew of Florence was that it hosts a famous fashion show, which would not exactly be my cup of tea during a European visit. But after compiling this list and reading all about Florence's nightlife, I have become convinced that Florence is a worthy stop during any tour of Europe. A big part of Florence's nightlife is based around its music scene. Florence became a musical center during the Middle Ages and music remains an integral part of the city's culture. Dance clubs are obviously incredibly popular but there are also music festivals and performances throughout the summer months. If dancing is not really your thing, wine is also an important staple of Florence. The Chianti region is just south of the city. This is a section of Italy where many of the bests and most famous wines are made. Because of this, these types of wines are fairly cheap in Florence. Cheap wines and an exciting nightlife make Florence more than worthy of a spot on this list.
9 Athens - One Of Europe's Sickest Nighttime Cities
For centuries, historians have traced the history of western civilization all the way back to the city states of Ancient Greece. There were the first societies with democratic principles that we have written records of so it is understandable that we would draw connections between ourselves and them. Because of this connection with Ancient Greece, the buildings and artifacts from this period in Greek history have been artfully preserved for centuries. This has led to the rise of one of Greece's primary industries, tourism. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Greece every year. They come to look at the Parthenon or to visit one of several museums that contain Ancient Greek artifacts.
Once the sun goes down, however, things become a little more vibrant in Athens. Several nighttime businesses have arisen to suit the needs of these tourists, and the constant influx of visitors ensures that Greece is one of the most populous cities in the east of Berlin.
Due to a recent recession, the price of living in Athens is also fairly low. Combine all of this with the chance to visit and stay down by the Mediterranean Sea and Athens instantly becomes one of Europe's sickest nighttime cities.
8 Barcelona (Torre Agbar Skyscraper) - That Backdrop
Several of the entries on this list are (at least partially) placed because of the impressive scenic backdrops that these cities enjoy. How can you not rank places like London and Paris as the best cities in Europe to visit at night when you can see the London Eye and Eiffel Tower lit up from just about anywhere in the city. Our next entry is another example of this, except that the Torre Agbar Skyscraper in Barcelona puts the rest of these nighttime attractions to shame. This skyscraper is 38 stories tall, and its spherical shape makes it an attraction during the day. But at night, the Torre Glories becomes even more impressive. The entire structure is lit up and the control board can project several different color combinations. Besides the Torre Agbar, Barcelona also boasts a very entertaining bar scene that mixes tourists and locals. Barcelona is also famous for its art and music scenes, so there are often concerts and art exhibits that happen well into the night. With all these things to do and the backdrop of the Torre Agbar, the city of Barcelona is more than worthy of its spot on this list.
7 Reykjavik - The Weekend Life
If I were to ask 20 random people on the street to compile a list of European cities, I doubt that Reykjavik would make very many of their lists. The capital city of Iceland, however, is quickly becoming a popular tourist destination and they have just the right amount of charm and infrastructure in place to make it a thrilling adventure for tourists and residents alike. If you are going to talk about a trip to Reykjavik, you must talk about the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon is a natural hot spring that is said to have certain healing and therapeutic properties. Best thing about the Lagoon for our purposes? It is open late into the night.
The Lagoon is not the only nighttime attraction in Reykjavik. The city is actually famous for its weekend nightlife (not so much during the week, but we cannot have it all). Part of Icelandic culture is staying up late on the weekends so bars will often be quiet until midnight when they will suddenly become filled with patrons. Because this is such a popular pastime, there are currently over 100 different bars and clubs that are legally allowed to serve alcohol in Reykjavik.
6 Oslo - One Of The Best Cities To Visit In 2018
When I began compiling this list, I knew that I would have to include Oslo as one of the entries because this city is just so distinct from the other areas on this list. Oslo is the capital city of Norway and has been a major center for trade and politics since 1048. Because of its extensive history, there are several archaeological dig sites operating in the area around Oslo at all times. Oslo's future is not entirely dependent on its past. However, it is currently ranked as a global city and is the center of several European maritime industries. For the purposes of our list, Oslo has also become a major destination for tourists. Because it is not a traditional tourist depot, it has not suffered from overcrowding the way places like Paris and Rome have. What it has done, however, is to build the infrastructure and accessories to support its blossoming tourism industry. This has led it to be ranked as one of the top 10 cities to visit in 2018 by Best in Travel magazine. The city officials of Oslo have also realized that it is important to support tourists with a fun and exciting nightlife, making it more than worthy of a spot on this list.
5 St. Petersburg - Very Fun After Dark
I realize that I am now playing fast and loose with the topic of this article, but I think it is unfair to talk about the sickest European cities after dark without any sort of nod to Russia. There is a raging debate over whether Russia should be considered a European country (or an Asian one) but I do not know if that really matters for our purposes. Of all the Russian cities, St. Petersburg is easily the most European, thus making it eligible for a spot on this list. St. Petersburg is, of course, the city that Peter the Great constructed in his effort to modernize Russia. He modeled the city after the major cities he had visited in Western Europe, so you can see the influence of places like London and Paris in its design and architecture.
Not only is St. Petersburg very European, but it is also reportedly a very fun city to visit, especially after dark.
Russia is unlike any other country in the world and St. Petersburg is representative of this in so many ways. The plane tickets are expensive. But if you can get yourself there, St. Petersburg is definitely one of the sickest nighttime cities in Europe.
4 Belfast - Environment Focused On Having A Good Time After Dark
Without giving an entire history lesson, it is important for this next entry that the reader understands something about Irish politics. The entire island where the Republic of Ireland is based is called Ireland, but the northern tip of the island is actually a part of the United Kingdom. This means that it is governed over by the British government. Because of this, cities like Belfast in the British part of Ireland are noticeably different from places like Dublin and Galway. This is important for our purposes because Belfast is one of the sickest European cities at night. Belfast has been a major port since the early 1800's. The constant influx of sailors and merchants impacted the culture of Belfast and created a city environment focused on having a good time after dark. For instance, sports are an incredibly important part of Belfast's culture. Soccer is obviously the dominate pastime but there are also several Rugby and American football clubs in the city. A big part of being a fan of these sports is going to your favorite pub to watch them. As such, there are several "club bars" where only the fans of certain teams are allowed to enter.
3 Brussels - Not Only Awesome Because Of Their Waffles
If you live in the United States or Canada, you probably do not realize how small European countries are. Even the larger countries like Spain and France pale in comparison to the size of the U.S. or Canada, and the smaller nations in Europe are not even as big as your typical U.S. state. Belgium is such a country. The official boundaries of Belgium take up slightly over 30 thousand miles, less land than almost every state in the United States.
Within this small territory, however, is an incredibly cool city and the next entry on our list. The capital city of Belgium, Brussels is in the center of the country and is one of the sickest European cities in the day or night. Belgium is, of course, known for its chocolate, french fries, and waffles so food is a huge part of any visit there.
Restaurants in Brussels recognize this so most of them stay open well into the night. Brussels also has several shopping areas that stay open late, including the famous Rue Neuve which gets an average of 230,000 visitors every day. If shopping and eating do not strike your fancy, Brussels also hosts several festivals every year including one dedicated to urban music.
2 Prague - Local Breweries
Most people have heard of Prague because it seems to be a constant reference in a variety of TV shows and movies. But despite its presence in pop culture, not very many people seem to actually know anything about the Eastern European city. For our purposes, we only need to know about Prague in the last 50 years or so. Like the rest of Eastern Europe, Prague was part of the Eastern Bloc that was controlled by the Soviets behind their Iron Curtain. Once the Berlin Wall fell, however, Prague was one of the first major cities to fully adopt western culture. With this came a renaissance in art and music that you can still see the effects of today. That is why Prague is featured so much in popular culture.
It represents the pinnacle of art and culture in Eastern Europe. Many scholars have argued that the brand of culture in Prague is actually superior to western Europe because it does not have so many old-world influences. This makes it incredibly attractive destination for visitors in the daylight or nighttime.
The night is particularly attractive, of course, because several brands of hard liquor brew their product in the Czech Republic.
1 Geneva - Rubbing Elbows With Influential People
Geneva might not be a typical tourist destination, but anyone who has actually visited the home of the World Health Organization will tell you that it was well worth the journey into Switzerland. Geneva is unique on this list (and you could argue among the cities of the world) because it is the unofficial home of the international community. Organizations like the WHO and United Nations have important offices there and several summits are held there every year for world leaders. So, why is the night time in Geneva so cool? Most of the non-locals that you will find there are not ordinary tourists. They are diplomats, civil officers, and even elected world leaders who need a night out after dealing with international affairs all day. I have a friend who completed an internship in Geneva and she said that she would routinely see influential politicians at restaurants and bars within the city. If rubbing elbows with presidents and prime ministers is your thing, then Geneva instantly becomes one of Europe's sickest nighttime cities. If not, maybe try some of the other entries on our list.