1 Beirut, Lebanon
Think Beirut and perhaps partying isn’t immediately what springs to mind. Bombs, bullets and barbed wire are the more universally recognised symbols of this city, where the presence of armoured tanks and soldiers bearing big guns hangs heavy even today.
But in spite of its history of violence, Beirut puts great stock in having a good time. And there’s no shortage of trussed-up beautiful locals keen to be seen in Beirut’s bars and clubs.
Don’t even think about going out in Beirut before 10pm – and even then, it had better be for dinner. Dancefloors are dead until around 1am.
While there are a raft of upmarket clubs around town – such as Sky Bar, the ultra-glam venue affording a panoramic view of the Mediterranean coastline and boasting a filthy rich clientele of local celebs – we prefer the quirkier nightspots.
Take Centrale (centralerestaurant.com), located at the end of a narrow, leafy passageway off Mar Maroun Street. There’s a restaurant on the ground floor, but we recommend you step straight inside the industrial elevator that takes you to the bar. You’ll find yourself inside a large, industrial pipe, which has a retractable roof giving way to a view of old Beirut. The cocktails are also incredibly potent.
Whatever you do, don’t miss B018 (b018.com), surely a contender for the world’s most inimitable club. Found underground in a car park a few kilometres east of Downtown, this mock-bomb shelter also has a retractable roof, which is peeled back at various points during the night to reveal Beirut’s starry night sky. It also gives the most hardcore clubbers a great view of the sunrise. (Don’t expect to get to bed before 7am.)
Also make time to wander down Gouraud Street in Gemmayzeh, where there’s a cute indie cocktail bar every few paces. Dragonfly is a particularly cosy affair, and there’s an offbeat Waiting for Godot-themed bar with a teeny staircase that makes for a great photo opportunity. Expect free shots if you’re a lady.
2 Belgrade, Serbia
We all know cities such as Bangkok and Rio de Janeiro guarantee a good party, but our tip for an emerging hotspot is the once-beleaguered Belgrade.
The largest city in Serbia, it attracts visitors from nearby Croatia and Slovenia, who prefer its lively nightlife to their own. You can dance until dawn in most venues, and we’d especially recommend the clubs that open on barges lining the banks of the Danube over summer (pictured).
3 New Orleans, US
The Big Easy might be best known as the birthplace of Louis Armstrong, but don’t expect this southern gem to be all lazy jazz lounges.
The aptly named Bourbon Street is the main strip for getting the bevvies in – consume the ‘Hurricane’ cocktail at Pat O’ Brien’s with care. For something more unusual, try Rock ‘n’ Bowl (rocknbowl.com) on South Carrollton Avenue, where Cajun dancing meets bowling.
4 Buenos Aires, Argentina
Anyone who’s been to Buenos Aires knows this conundrum: so many sights to see, but how to get out of bed after an epic night on the tiles?
Bars don’t get going until past midnight, so be prepared for the dawn walk of shame. As well as the major clubs, the city’s slick mix of European-meets-Latin-America means you can inject a little tango and salsa into your busy drinking schedule. Oh, and all of your fellow clubbers will be leg-crossingly hot.
5 Tel Aviv, Israel
Parties start to warm up around 2am in Tel Aviv, but you can start earlier at the seafront bars in the old city port.
The scene in this city is suited to all tastes, from those predisposed towards energetically busting shapes, to more chilled-out types happy to sink drinks over a game of backgammon and a shisha. The vibe sways between sleazy, relaxed and everything in between, so check out a few places until you find your groove. Believe us, there are plenty of venues to explore.