When it comes to celebrating someone’s imminent nuptials, Europe truly has it all. If beer bikes and wild nights are on the agenda, you’ll have no trouble finding them. But if you want outdoor adventures, epic food scenes and cultural exploits there’s plenty in that department too. From classic party cities to sundrenched isles and wild coastlines, these are some of Europe’s best stag and hen do destinations.
1. Dublin, Ireland
For a pub-crawling, whiskey-swilling, toe-tapping riot of a weekend, there is no question: it has to be Dublin. A Guinness Storehouse tasting, Temple Bar tour and trad music session (try The Cobblestone) are all essential stag and hen activities, while sporty types can try their hand at traditional Irish sports with Experience Gaelic games, or go wakeboarding in Grand Canal Dock. For a truly memorable (and free) group activity, brave the chilly waters at the Forty Foot – a natural sea pool just outside the city, where locals swim year-round.
2. Lisbon, Portugal
If you want long nights, lazy days, al-fresco dining and spectacular city views, make a beeline for Lisbon. Enjoy dinner and a rooftop panorama at The Insólito, bar-hop in bohemian Bairro Alto, then throw some shapes at party powerhouse Lux or its little sister Rive Rouge, which happens to be above Time Out Market (1am snacks anyone?) By day, try making your own Portuguese tiles or tarts at a craft or cookery class, or opt for a beachy, fairy-tale-filled day trip to Cascais and Sintra.
3. Berlin, Germany
As one of Europe’s party capitals, Berlin makes a fine choice for stags and hens looking to stay on the dancefloor til dawn, but beware: rowdy groups of the same gender stand more chance of sharing a currywurst with Angela Merkel than getting into the likes of Watergate, ://about blank or techno ‘church’ Berghain, so do your research and have a back-up plan if these clubs are on your wishlist. If you’d rather not queue for hours with no guaranteed entry, opt for a street art tour and a stand-up gig – Berlin’s international comedy scene is top-notch.
4. Basque Country, Spain
Ready for a road trip? Designated drivers, assemble – a Basque Country stag or hen do could take you from food-lover’s paradise San Sebastián, with its perfect crescent of sand at Playa de la Concha, to culture-packed Bilbao via surf beaches such as Bakio and Plentzia (ideal for beginners) and Mundaka (experienced surfers only). If you can tear yourselves away from the coast, you’ll find mountain vistas and moreish wine at the vineyards surrounding historic Laguardia.
5. Tallinn, Estonia
Tallinn has long been popular with stag and hen groups seeking cheap flights, copious booze, seedy clubs and medieval-themed pubs, but there’s a different side to Estonia’s capital that’s well worth discovering. Beyond the Old Town, Telliskivi Creative City in Kalamaja is a community hub made for morning strolls; browse flea markets, indie craft stores and street art before tucking into brunch at a pop-up cafe. Weather permitting, zip over to pine-trimmed Pirita Beach for volleyball and sundowners before tucking in to a fancy-but-affordable dinner at Pegasus.
6. North Wales, UK
Prefer hiking to hangovers? Opt for a weekend in North Wales, where miles of rugged coastal track and the country’s highest mountain, Snowdon, will put you through your paces. For more adrenaline-fuelled adventures, why not try mountain biking, catching some waves at inland wave pool Surf Snowdonia or soaring through the air on the world’s fastest zipline? If wellness activities are more your pace, there’s yoga, SUP and glamping galore too. Adventure Tours UK can arrange bespoke itineraries and short trips for small groups.
7. Budapest, Hungary
Budget-friendly Budapest is a classic stag and hen destination, mostly due to its fantastic nightlife. Every Saturday ‘sparties’ at the famed Széchenyi Baths turn their outdoor pools into aquatic dancefloors, complete with pumping beats and laser light shows. The next day, experience the healing waters on a calmer return visit, or try another of the city’s steamy venues (we’d choose Gellért Baths) for a revitalising sauna and massage. Hungary for more? Head to Szimpla Kert ruin bar for hair of the dog or trawl the Great or Lehel Market Halls for lángos, a deep-fried cheesy treat.
8. Aeolian Islands, Italy
If island-hopping under the Mediterranean sun sounds like your kind of pre-wedding send-off, consider a sailing trip around the Unesco-listed Aeolian Islands. This smattering of seven islands off the north coast of Sicily is known for its active volcanoes (on Stromboli and Vulcano), natural mud baths, secluded swimming coves and the local Malvasia wine. Take a day trip from Taormina with Viator or find a skipper for hire on SailSquare.
9. Sweden's West Coast
If fresh air and coastal pursuits are your bag (and budgets permit), go to Sweden’s West Coast to explore the granite islands of the Bohuslän archipelago. You could join a sea kayak or stand-up paddleboard tour with Nautopp Kayak Centre, or sail for your supper on a seafood safari before celebrating your success (or at least the taking part) with oysters and champagne at Q Skär in Grebbestad. Scandi Noir fans? Crime writer Camilla Läckberg hails from charming Fjällbacka, where you can tour the locations featured in her novels and the subsequent TV show, The Fjällbacka Murders.
Get your novelty trunks and bride squad swimsuits at the ready: sunny Malta is made for laid-back days by the water. Take your pick of tempting paddle spots, including popular St Peter’s Pool and the Blue Lagoon; snorkel or dive the Blue Hole, or see who can hang on to the banana boat the longest in Mellieha Bay. Once you’ve dried off, dance the night away in Paceville near St Julian’s, or cool capital Valletta.
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