Britain is a great place to have it large but all of us can count at least three reasons to go elsewhere on a stag weekend: it’s cold, it’s expensive and more importantly, we know it like the back of our hands! That’s why according to a survey by sunshine.co.uk more than 50% of us are choosing to have our stag parties abroad. And while girls seem to prefer Marbella, the lads are opting for cities in Central and Eastern Europe such as Prague and Kraków, the former is even attracting more of us than that infamous city of sin Amsterdam.
Why are cities of Central and Eastern Europe so popular? In a word: value. That’s value in both the cost and value of experience. You can do things there that you can’t even dream of doing on a stag weekend in the UK unless you want to blow a hole in your wallet.
When you go on a weekend with the lads, as spontaneous as that should be, it’s still good to know the score. So we’re going to give you the low-down on nightlife in Central and Eastern Europe – where to go, what to know – in three of our most popular top spots: Prague, Budapest and Kraków.
It’s no accident Prague looks like Vienna and Budapest’s miniature love child. That’s because it used to be part of the now-defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire up until 1918. Prague looks like it has been made for postcards, with its Disney-like castles and wedding cake churches. But by night the city really comes alive, with all walks of life from the opera-going locals to party animals from all over the world.
The Czechs drink more beer per capita than any other nation in Europe. And for alcohol consumption they rank second. So getting sloshed here is almost a cultural right of passage. However this reputation comes at a price as many hot spot areas in the centre have banned public drinking. But negatives aside, this doesn’t apply to quiet spots and the plethora of places to get hammered is so great you won’t need to drink outside.
A Lot of the action in Prague is focused in the Old Town, and if you book a guided tour it’s likely that’s one of the areas you’ll be heading to. One of the most popular spots is Karlovy Lazne (Charles’ Spa) open every day until 5am. This is a five story building which contains five different clubs (which need five different tickets!). It is the biggest club complex in Central Europe, with everything from disco to house music booming away all night till the wee hours in the morning.
If you’re looking for something a bit less clubby and a bit more performance-orientated then go to the Lucerna Music Bar. There you can check out live acts while sampling the best Pilsner beer and chatting up some sexy local women. According to Fodor’s guide Prague is also a great place to find an after-hours snack. Pubs such as the Buddha Bar on Jakubská tend to serve food well into the night. And if you’re stumped for a place to go the usual fast food chains from back home will be available.
Czech girls are renowned for their beauty, so even before you hit the strip clubs your jaw hit the floor at all that Prague eye-candy. If you fancy buying one of them a drink a beer should set you back around 23 CZK (well under £1). And when you go to a strip club a lapdance will typically come to between 1,000 and 1,500 CZK (£26-£40).
Budapest used to be known as the Paris of the East. Paris may have lost its naughty reputation but Budapest certainly hasn’t. Divided between two by the Danube into the quiet Buda and the rowdy Pest, it has a serious party culture and is perfectly mapped out to suit stag do weekends.
This city is now officially the cheapest place to buy booze in Europe according to research. So while this is not, technically, a beer capital like Prague you can get on it for less – and when you’re planning a stag weekend of debauchery that’s all you need to know! Hungarians have great Tokaj wines and spirits such as pálinka and Unicum which will knock your socks off with their strength. But more importantly the city boasts fantastic venues to drink in whatever your choice of poison.
Where to Go
The old Jewish quarter on the Pest side is the place where locals and tourists alike gravitate to have a knees up. This area also known as the 7th district is centred around Kazinczy Street and Király Street. The main attraction of Budapest nightlife for tourists and its unique selling point are ruin pubs. Ruin pubs have been fashioned out of abandoned buildings, and often done up by local artists and packed with furniture reclaimed from the streets.
Szimpla Kert is the most famous of these, and when you get to this emporium of wonders you will see why. With two levels, multiple rooms and bars, all centred around an open-air courtyard this is the ultimate ruin pub experience.
If you’ve had a banging night in the 7th district and are hankering for some late night grub then you’re in the right place. Pizza Me just off Király Street is a place to grab a slice of authentic Italian pizza. Don’t worry if you find it closed because there are now five stores, and on Friday and Saturday nights the one on Deák Square is open until 3am selling pizzas for 330 FT or just under £1 per slice. In and around the Jewish district you’ll also find plenty of Gyros – Kebab – places if you’re craving your favourite post-pub food from back home.
Drink-wise a beer will set you back around 88p on average, but expect to pay a little more in the more touristy spots. If you want to top the night off at a strip club a private lapdance would cost you around 10,000-20,000 FT which is about £20-£30, though that may depend on the club, though if you have a good guide it could be deluxe VIP or even your own show on a boat sailing down the Danube.
This is an ancient city with a history of real ups and downs. Besieged, invaded, carved up and then liberated Krakow is a vibrant place. It is one of those lucky Europeam cities to have survived World War 2 remarkably unscathed. Today it’s home to 140,000 students during the academic term. But don’t worry yourself if you’ve decided to come out of season, Kraków’s locals know how to party. It has been rumoured that the city centre has the highest density of bars in Europe.
The drinking culture is a fixed part of Polish life. The World Health Authority stated that Poles drink around 13 litres of alcohol per year. So you British lads who think you can put it away then you’ve come to the right place.
Aside from all those cute college girls, and a higher female to male ratio than most cities Kraków’s chief selling point is its size. If you stay in the centre won’t ever need to take a cab here – unless you want to ride in a strip bus – the distance from bar to bar is totally walkable. By common consent the best location is in the Old Town. Here you will be able to find everything from posh clubs to dive bars hidden down dark alleys.
Because this is a student party town there is huge variety of clubs on offer. You can head to Frantic to hear top house DJ’s. Or if you’ve had it with vodka and dance music you can check out House of Beer on Tomasza street.
After you’ve painted the town red you might be feeling a bit peckish. There is plenty of stuff on offer, this is a party town after all. But if you’re looking to try Polish food, zapiekanka, an open baguette topped with melted cheese and sauce might be the thing for you.
Booze and lapdance prices
Beer is about £1.20 for a litre glass, and if you’re buying a cocktail for a local girl then it will cost around £4 in a city centre bar. Lusting after those hot Polish girls, but on a look but don’t touch weekend? Then a private lapdance will, on average, cost you around £20.