nightlife index

Best and worst cities for nightlife lovers

Summer is here, and if you haven’t already, it’s time to plan your next destination. Whether your idea of a good summer vacation includes active nightlife or quiet time at a restaurant, we have a comprehensive guide to help you. The Consumer Choice Center recently published a new index examining 30 cities around the world in terms of their openness to the entertainment industry and nightlife in general. The Nightlife Index will let you know the opening and closing times for clubs, pubs, and restaurants and whether Last-Call legislation is in place. You’ll learn what the price of a pint of beer and a Big Mac will be and what sort of transportation options are available.

On to the best cities:

It will come as no surprise that Berlin made it to the very top of the list. Berlin offers the cheapest price for a pint of beer compared to other cities in the Eurozone. No mandatory opening hours or enforced last call, availability of ride-hailing, subways, buses and trams operating throughout the night during weekends, are some of the reasons why Berlin attracts so many tourists from all over the world. Those who appreciate a good night out without having their experience ruined by unnecessary regulations should consider putting Berlin on their radar. 

A good alternative to Berlin would be Budapest which is just a quick flight away from the capital of Germany. There is a reason Budapest is a popular destination for stag and bachelorette parties for Western Europeans. According to our index, it is Budapest where you can find the cheapest pint of beer. No mandatory opening hours for clubs or bars, and you don’t have to watch time to make sure you don’t miss the last call. And with some of the buses and trams running 24/7, you can feel at ease about returning home after a night out. Bolt, a ride-hailing service, is also available if you have budgeted for it. 

Honorary mentions: Tbilisi and Istanbul

Tbilisi almost had it all, but the absence of night public transportation leaves ride-hailing service as the only option for getting back home after a night out.

Unfortunately, Istanbul is one of the few cities with no availability of ride-hailing services. Yes, you can use the Uber app there, but it’s taxi companies that provide the service. Hence you don’t get the service quality Uber is known for. 

Now about places you might want to avoid if you’re after a good nightlife experience. The cities at the bottom of our index have a common tendency to enact strict regulations to control nightlife. The least welcoming city is the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik and not only because it’s almost impossible to spell the name correctly.

If you’re visiting the city on weekdays, you should note that all the bars and clubs close at 1 am. Unfortunately, ride-hailing is illegal, and a license quota system is in place for taxi companies. The night bus only operates on weekends and only till 3:40 am so the only option for getting back home during weekdays would be a traditional taxi. Added to expensive beers and burgers, we can see why Reykjavik is not the best city for people who prioritize a good nightlife. 

Doha has been marketed and promoted during the recent FIFA World Cup as a top travel destination, but it might not be up to everyone’s standards regarding active nightlife. Venues are more dayclubs than nightclubs, since they (along with bars) operate from 5 pm to 2 am. There are strict rules in place for Ramadan and other religious holidays when all the bars are closed and you can’t buy alcohol from anywhere. A pint of beer is the most expensive among studied cities in the index at a shocking $13.83 and alcohol can only be served until 1 am. In conclusion, while Qatar has much to offer in general, Doha may not exactly be the place for nightlife lovers.

Dishonorary mention: New York 

New York is referred to as the city that never sleeps, but bars, pubs and other establishments that serve alcohol must close by 4:30. Last call is at or before 4 am, and beer price is on the higher end. All of these make NY one of the least attractive cities in terms of nightlife.

While the index will be handy for travelling around the world, it also holds some lessons for policymakers too. Loosening mandatory hours and last calls, scaling back sin taxes, and encouraging ride-sharing and night transportation will revitalize the entertainment sector which took a tremendous toll due to the pandemic and make for more unforgettable summer nights.

Check out the full report on nightlife here.

Scroll to top