Best bars in Europe?

What cities / towns in Europe have the best bars. Not nightclubs, but places to sit at a bar after a day of sightseeing and chat with strangers / bartenders? Or late afternoon pitstop for munchies and a beer. Just returned from Bologna and found some fun bars there. LOVE German beer halls and always meet interesting strangers. In Venice - we found one corner bar next to Rialto fish market run by some funny dude cranking music. Found fun places in Ghent ... but while I search out our next trip I am thinking about what cities are best for this. My husband and I dropped our son at the hotel in Milan at 9:30 and wandered out to find a place and found nothing - ended up at a cafe in front of the Duomo which was nice but I was surprised that on a Friday night there was no life around (though we may not have known where to look!). So - anyone have ideas? We are throwing around the idea of visiting Southern Italy, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia for our next trip and would love some feedback.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
8186 posts

I'd vote for any small town pub in the UK or Ireland, although they aren't what I'd call a late-night venue.

Posted by Emily
480 posts

Anywhere in the former East Berlin-the busy Oranienburgstrasse and more tucked away Linienstrasse have plenty of hopping places full of people from all over the world. Prenzlauer Berg has lots of smaller, quieter taverns, while Friedrichshain has the larger clubs with a younger crowd. The nightlife in Berlin is pretty hard to beat. I also second the UK/Ireland style pubs. I am a beer-o-phile and like to just sit and enjoy a hoppy IPA served near-room temperature in a quieter room.

Posted by bronwen
maplewood, new jersey, usa
792 posts

Thanks all. Maybe I can warm up to the UK / Ireland idea. Also, I love Germany so maybe a trip to Berlin IS in our future!

Posted by Richard
Los Angeles
998 posts

Are you familiar with the TV travel/drinking show "Three Sheets"? It is available on Hulu and would probably give you some good ideas.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2030 posts

My favorite bar-hopping city in Europe has to be Berlin. There's a staggering amount of neighborhoods where you can bar-hop (or crawl), and there's really something for everyone. Plus the prices are good - high end places are high, of course, but generally costs are lower than similar establishments in say, San Francisco. Vienna's nightlife is underrated in my book, but like most places, the best bars are outside the most touristy areas. Had fun at some bars in Croatia - we went to bars in Cavtat, Split, and Zadar. Zadar was the most fun for us, but we were in Split on a night where everything was closed (Split is supposed to have the best nightlife usually). It should go without saying, but Dubrovnik, at least the old city, is dead for nightlife. What does exist on the outside of the walls seems geared entirely for locals/tourist industry workers and I'm guessing they probably don't care to party with the people they have to serve every day. If you really want to party, consider Serbia. Belgrade is famous in Europe for being a party city. I was only there one night so I missed out on this, but I want to go back, especially to explore the floating clubs and pubs on the river which were closed down when I visited in October. Am dying to do more bar hopping in Barcelona and Budapest, both places I've been to but with older relatives so I didn't get to immerse myself in the nightlife.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

You don't go by towns, you go by surrounds: Any bar with tradesmen's vans outside. Any bar with a picnic table out front. Any bar near working fishing boats. Any bar with a wall that people are sitting on. Any rural bar in the UK. Any bar you're afraid to go in if you're a wimp.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
3399 posts

My parents had a group of 22 people that traveled all over the world in "the continental style." But the top night they ever had was in a pub below their hotel in Wales. Every Wednesday night for 150 years, a famous men's glee club met in the pub to practice their singing. They'd sing together, sing solos, sing duets, etc. And they took my parents group in like they were relatives. This glee club tours all over the world (and U.S.) in summers. Sorry I cannot remember the name of the pub, but I do have their travel notes of every trip at our other house. And eventually, I too will experience the warmth of this fantastic pub.

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
1422 posts

I'd be happy to share a glass of beer with Ed.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
1062 posts

Too late for you this time, but if you go to Milan again the canal area (Navigli?), might be what you were looking for. Elsewhere, Amsterdam, Berlin, Oslo (but take lots of money), and most of suburban and rural Britain may all suit you. However since you are not planning on those places next visit, I'll suggest the Greek islands, especially away from the main tourist centres. Despite its reputation, Crete has what you want if you avoid most of the north coast hotel strip.

Posted by bronwen
maplewood, new jersey, usa
792 posts

Thanks! We discussed Navilgi with dude at hotel but he said at that time it would be dead. Husband and I are thinking about Amsterdam while kiddo is at camp this summer. Live Amsterdam and going with no mosey 24 year old may be the ticket!

Posted by Kuku
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
7 posts

U Zlateho Tygra in Prague Phonixhof in Vienna
Wodka Cafe in Krakow

Posted by Don
West Linn, Oregon, USA
1 posts

Having recently returned from a Rick Steves' 21-day Best of Europe Tour, I found out that based on a limited sample - admittedly constrained by time - that there is a difference in the bars I visited in the six European countries and a typical NW bar. While trying to avoid generalization, it appeared that most of the European bars in cities we visited were cafes or restaurants with bars as contrasted to the typical bar or pub in Portland and Seattle. And I do have some experience on this topic since one of my hobbies since retiring two years ago is touring Portland bars, pubs and taverns and reviewing them on my blog ( While I usually stick to Portland, my last post and several in the next two months will be showing photos, reviews and experience of the bars we visited on our Best of Europe tour. We love the Rick Steves' Tour and the next time we return, I hope to research the topic more thoroughly.

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
1020 posts

Ed rules. I follow all his bar "rules" and always have a great time. I will also add that I am a fan of ex-pat bars and pubs. There's generally a bar (or 17) for ex-pat Brits wherever you go (may take the form of an "Irish" pub, for example) and they are great places to hook up with English-speaking folks and get tips/tricks/suggestions from people who live where you are just visiting. For instance, in Paris, we always stop in at The Highlander, where most of the bar staff are Scots and we can ask around about new inexpensive restaurants, places to see a band, etc.

Posted by Val
Long Beach, USA
246 posts

I am very friendly and always end up meeting people wherever I go...just like you it seems...!!!
I recently went to Dublin, Krakow, Helsinki, Nice (France) and they all had plenty of patio or bars and I found easy to meet other tourists or locals. I was travelling solo to these places...except Helsinki.