Work hard, play hard. The three cities on this list celebrate this mantra in spades year-round. We’re talking about nightlife that ends at daybreak, cultural interest explored in clever ways, incredible cuisine and cool boutique hotels.
All you need to do is slot some vacation time into the calendar to hit these Air France destinations.
Ireland’s capital brings more to the table than Guinness. A city with a high pub to person ratio bordering the sea and gorgeous countryside, other draws include Dublin’s intimate size and wit.
It’s centuries old but young at heart, thanks to a large population of university students and a young workforce. Travelers will find it upbeat, diverse, and a fresh juxtaposition of old and new with a little bit of something for everyone.
Dublin’s famous nightlife ends a bit earlier than the other two cities featured here, but people come to the city just to experience it.
Pubs feature the music of traditional fiddles and pipes while DJs spin the latest dance tunes inside the many clubs. Many of both are within walking distance of each other in the city center giving some spots a block party-like feel.
The Long Bar has a reputation for being the best-stocked bar in Dublin, nearly as old as the city itself and the best Guinness pour, to give you one example.
Things to do in Dublin
Go shopping at the Temple Bar neighborhood’s vintage stores and boutiques. If visiting on a Saturday, be sure to also eat your way through its food market.
Explore the seven floors of Guinness, covering everything you’d want to know about the world’s favorite dark beer, at the Guinness Storehouse, a national monument.
And, let’s not forget about the Jameson Distillery, a tribute to the famous Irish whiskey.
I recently read that Dublin is considered to be Europe’s next great food city and the reason is an interesting one. Most Irish dishes were designed for inexpensive sustenance so that farmers could stay warm and plow the fields (hence meat and potatoes).
New talent arriving in the city, thanks to relaxed immigration laws, is partially credited for a fresh take on old dishes and new ways to utilize local ingredients. Whether you fancy a lamb and Guinness pie or sushi, Dublin has you covered.
Try Winding Stair, a restaurant perched on top of one of the city’s oldest bookstores for Irish comfort food ranging from Irish charcuterie to seafood chowder.
Since the Berlin Wall’s demise in 1989, entrepreneurs and creatives have flocked to the city, transforming it into one of Europe’s hottest cities for nightlife.
Music helped unite the two once-divided sides and dance clubs opened in the East’s empty, historic buildings. The city is also known as one that doesn’t have to break the bank.
Travelers love its up-and-coming food scene and find it a place to let go and enjoy the moment.
If you hear that Berlin is 365/24, it’s no joke. Nightlife has no official closing time or dress codes. Buses and trains run continuously making going out or getting home at any hour easy.
There are clubs for everyone and if you’d like to come on Sunday morning and leave a club on Monday morning, it can happen here. There are so many choices, but Air France has a good list of where to go for a last drink in Berlin.
Things to do in Berlin
Hang out at the abandoned Berlin-Tempelhof airport, Tempelhofer Feld, now a 386-hectare park that is larger than Central Park also with six kilometers of pathways for biking, running and walking.
Stop at the trendy Neukölln neighborhood on the park’s border. Its restaurants, cafes, and bars are local favorites. Take a guided, 75-minute tour in a vintage East German Trabant car to get the lay of the land at the beginning of your trip.
Of course, make a point of seeing out remains of the Berlin wall around the city by cycling its route or at the East Side Gallery, an open-air exhibition with a 1.3 km section of the wall.
Germany overall does comfort food well. The list of must-eat dishes in Berlin includes currywurst, a sausage covered in ketchup and curry powder wrapped up in a roll.
The doner kebab is another with its seasoned meat shaved off of a cone of meat on a vertical rotating slow rotisserie stuffed into a flatbread with various vegetables and sauces. Bite Club, a summer street food market, is the place to find it all in one spot.
It’s well known that the Spanish stay up late, so nightlife in a city like Barcelona is a given. What Barcelona also offers is a temperate climate, gorgeous beaches and fabulous food set against a mixture of colorful Gaudi and Gothic architecture.
With dinner an event that typically occurs between 9:00 p.m. and midnight, nightlife in Barcelona occurs naturally and can last throughout the night. Go dancing at Switch Pocket Club, an intimate space with DJs that locals love.
Looking for something a bit more mellow (yet famous), try Speakeasy-Dry Martini. There’s also no cocktail menu as the bartenders whip up what they think might suit your mood. And it may not surprise you, given the name, that the dry martini here is considered one of the best in Europe.
Things to do in Barcelona
Sunbathe on Barceloneta beach, near the W Hotel (a chic option), where surfing the Mediterranean Sea is even a possibility. Slot in some Gaudi for your Instagram at the city’s most popular attractions like Park Guell and Sagrada Familia. Segway tours are also fun due to flat streets and ease of navigation, passing many historic sights along the way.
If near La Rambla, head toward the beach on Passeig de Gracia to El Nacional. The converted parking garage is now a gorgeous spot with multiple dining areas where one can try specialties from around the Iberian peninsula.
I’d also highly recommend a food tour to sample tapas, cured meats, and learn more about the city’s delights. Also, don’t forget to stop in at least one market like La Boqueria. Or, splurge on a dinner at ABaC.
Tip: I love to stay at Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona.
Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).
More in Europe
Hotel Grande Bretagne Review: Acropolis Views and Luxury in Athens
Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris Review & How Best to Book
20 Fun Things to Do in London with Kids the Whole Family Will Love
Paris Pass and Paris Museum Pass: What’s the Difference?