When the clock strikes and the lights go out, some of the world’s most iconic cities come alive. Gin bars, jazz clubs, and spectacular cabarets are only a few of the main attractions, and visitors will have no trouble finding after-hours entertainment. From the City of Lights to the City that Never Sleeps, here are our picks for the world’s best cities for night owls.
By Emily Wasserman
When it comes to nightlife, Amsterdam is best known for its Red Light District. But there are many venues throughout the city that offer unique late night experiences. Movie lovers can visit The Movies, a 1920s-style art house cinema that dates back to 1912. After getting your fill of indie films, you can walk next door for drinks at the cinema’s restaurant and bar. If you’re in the mood for music, visit Paradiso: a contemporary music venue with live performances and special club nights. To get away from the hustle and bustle, stop at Wynand Fockink, a small, 17th century-style tasting house that offers the finest Dutch liquors.
The City of Lights comes alive after hours. It wouldn’t be a night out in Paris without a trip to the Moulin Rouge. Visitors can watch a cabaret show while sipping champagne, and sample cuisine from one of the venues gourmet tasting menus. Once the clock strikes midnight, stop by Club Silencio, one of Paris’s most exclusive nightclubs. Created by movie director David Lynch, the secret club only allows members and guests until midnight, but then admits the general public. If you’re lucky enough to make it past the bouncers, you might rub elbows with some of Hollywood’s elite.
Nightlife starts late in Rome—diners linger over meals until midnight, and clubs stay open until the early hours of the morning. But with late hours come plenty of opportunities for entertainment. At the top of the Spanish Steps is Gregory’s, one of the city's most celebrated jazz bars and dinner clubs. After sampling the club’s delicious cuisine and extensive collection of whiskey, enjoy a live jazz performance in the lounge. To do as the Romans do, stop by Il Piccolo—a wine bar just off the Piazza Navona. The quaint setting is perfect for people watching and will have you lingering in true Roman style.
There’s no shortage of nightlife activities in Sin City. New clubs sprout up almost daily, and bars and casinos dot every corner. For an upscale, sophisticated setting, visit the Vesper Bar in the Cosmopolitan Hotel. The bar offers an extensive cocktail and drink menu, and exudes elegance and refinement with its classic décor. For a more lively setting, PURE is your best bet. Dance through the club’s multiple rooms, or step out onto the terrace for a view of the city’s center Strip.
While Chicago is best known for its sports bars, a new wave of cocktail bars offers an upscale nightlife setting. Chef Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas’s The Aviary elevates cocktail-making to an art form, using the freshest herbs and produce to create unique drinks and late-night snacks. For traditional Southern hospitality, visit The Barrelhouse Flat. Head bartender Stephen Cole’s extensive drink menu ranges from classic to contemporary, and offers cocktails for conservative and adventurous drinkers. End the night at Sable Kitchen & Bar, a gastro-lounge in Chicago’s River North neighborhood with 1950s Hollywood glamour and a complete collection of amber spirits.
Los Angeles’s glitz and glamour extends past movie sets, and into its vibrant nightlife. With its World War II décor and artisanal cocktail list, Harvard & Stone will take you to a different era. The bar, which just celebrated its second anniversary, also features live music and an extensive collection of American spirits. For a Mad Men-esque bar experience, visit Stark Bar in Mid-City West. Located next to the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art, the bar features seasonal cocktails and a California-centric wine list. During the summer, you can listen to live jazz music from the museum’s adjacent courtyard.
London nightlife offers something for everyone—from comedy cabarets to swanky boutique bars, you don’t have to look far for late-night revelry. Dusty blue walls and romantic décor make the Blue Bar a favorite upscale cocktail spot. Located in the Berkeley Hotel, it offers live jazz music and an inventive cocktail menu. For a more traditional pub experience, try Jerusalem Tavern. The pub’s small interior belies an extensive menu of St. Peter’s beers and ale, and the laid-back atmosphere creates a convivial drinking experience. For arts and culture aficionados, the Royal Opera House is a must. The venue hosts nightly performances, including classic ballets and opera.
Bangkok has a reputation for being rowdy after-hours, but there are many upscale locales that offer a more sophisticated late-night experience. Take the elevator to the 63rd floor of State Tower to Sky Bar, a rooftop cocktail lounge with panoramic views of the city. Le Derriere, the city’s only absinthe bar, offers a more intimate drinking experience. The décor is reminiscent of 1920s Paris, and patrons can sip on champagne on one of the lounge’s velvet red chaises.
Hong Kong’s hustle-and-bustle doesn’t end when the clock strikes ten. The city’s wide array of clubs, bars, and evening markets offer multiple opportunities for late-night fun. For food lovers, there is no better place than the Temple Street Night Market. The air is rich with smells of delicious Cantonese food, and fortune-tellers and acrobats vie for visitors’ attention. For late-night drinks, visit Aqua Spirit, a bar on the top floor of one of Hong Kong’s tallest skyscrapers.
New York City
There are plenty of late night options in the city that never sleeps. For a unique drinking experience, visit Pouring Ribbons. The bar rates each cocktail on two scales: refreshing to spirituous, and comforting to adventurous. Guests can choose their own adventure, and also sample from the bar’s extensive charcuterie menu. Dead Rabbit provides a more informal drinking atmosphere. The bar’s ground floor taproom offers craft beer, bottled punch, and whiskies, while the upstairs parlor features 72 cocktails based on different historical periods. The Experimental Cocktail Club on the city’s Lower East Side also offers innovative cocktails in a low-lit, vintage setting.
It’s hard to leave Miami’s pristine beaches, but fortunately much of the city’s nightlife is seaside. Nikki Beach Club is in the middle of the beach, and visitors can enjoy their drinks in tepees, hammocks, or beach beds. Every Sunday, the club hosts an outdoor beach party that runs well past midnight. The Delano Hotel’s Rose Bar offers a more glamorous drinking atmosphere with rose-colored walls and Venetian chandeliers, and guests can sip on cocktails in the bar’s lobby lounge or outdoor terrace. A short walk from the beach, the Freehand Miami Hostel’s Broken Shaker features handcrafted cocktails made from garden-fresh produce.
Bourbon Street bars and jazz in the French Quarter are typical of New Orleans’s nightlife. But with recent openings of boutique bars and clubs, the city’s nightlife will surprise even the most seasoned NOLA veteran. In the middle of the city’s historic Freret Corridor neighborhood is Cure, an upscale cocktail lounge with traditional Southern flavor. The dress code is strict—even in August, men must wear long pants. For old world elegance, visit French 75 in the city’s French Quarter. Bartenders in white tuxedos and black bowties attend to your drink order, and leather-backed chairs and wooden ceiling fans add to the bar’s historical ambiance.
Tokyo’s international spirit is reflected in its nightlife, as visitors can find everything from live music and bars to traditional Japanese Kabuki shows. Music lovers will enjoy Sweet Basil 139, an upscale jazz club that features both national and international acts. For a more colorful experience, visit Kamiya Bar, the city’s oldest Western-style bar. The bar is home to Denki Bran, liquor invented in Tokyo that comprises gin, red wine, brandy, and curacao.
The party never ends in Berlin, as late night venues are open until the early hours of the morning. The Victoria Bar’s intimate, ‘70s style lounge is the perfect place to enjoy a drink. The bar’s artsy décor and well-dressed barmen will take you back to a different era, and old-school cocktails are the epitome of stylish elegance. Green Door, another one of the city’s retro lounges, features expertly crafted drinks and quirky décor—the walls are covered with gingham wallpaper and stand-alone lamps line the bar.
A night out in Buenos Aires isn’t for the faint of heart; Portenos head to bars and clubs at 1 or 2 am, and usually don’t return home until 6. For music, dancing, and food all rolled into one, head to Rojo Tango. The club features an eye-catching tango cabaret show, complete with a live orchestra and a three-course meal. For a more low-key experience, visit Notorious, a jazz bar that doubles as a record store and restaurant. The area’s best musicians frequent the bar, and each table comes equipped with a CD player.
Rio de Janeiro
Rio is the city of Samba, but there are many other options for late-night visitors. For pristine views of the sea and well-crafted cocktails, visit Bar D’Hotel. The bar attracts some of Rio’s most elite, including actors, socialites, and sports starts. Cultural aficionados will enjoy the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, one of Rio’s most important cultural centers. The building, which used to be the headquarters of the Banco do Brazil, houses art exhibitions, theater performances and music recitals.
Cold weather doesn’t keep locals from going out in Montreal. The city boasts a vibrant nightlife scene, even when temperatures dip below freezing. For creative drinks made by an expert mixologist, visit Le Lab. Fabien Maillard handcrafts cocktails to fit every taste, and the menu changes twice a year to reflect seasonal ingredients. If wine is your pleasure, visit Pullman, a sophisticated wine bar located near the city’s Latin Quarter. Wine glass chandeliers, fur-covered barstools, and sleek wooden tables comprise the bar’s interior, and create a classy, elegant drinking atmosphere.
Stockholm’s nightlife is broken up geographically: to the North are classier bars and establishments, while the South is home to louder, more bohemian locales. Enjoy a glass of champagne at Riche, one of Stockholm’s premiere bars. Sommeliers carefully select beverages for the menu, and the bar prides itself on carrying difficult-to-find wines. For a quiet atmosphere and views of the water, visit Vinbar Gondolen. Cheerful service and stylish clientele make the wine bar a perfect place for an evening drink. To catch local and internationally renowned musicians, stop by Fasching, the city’s most popular jazz venue.
Nightlife in Tel Aviv usually starts at 11 pm, with most parties gaining steam around 2 am. Nanutchka, an ornate Georgian bistro by day and party hotspot by night, is a good place to start the evening. Sample one of the house specialty drinks, or choose from a variety of sweet Georgian wines. Artistic types will enjoy Saloona, an upscale lounge bar on the edge of the city. Sparkling chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and laid-back music and ambiance make the bar a favorite among locals.
New York may be the city that never sleeps, but Madrilenos don’t catch much shut-eye, either. The city is known for its all-night partying and lively late-night hotspots, but the latest trend is gin and tonic bars. Start the night at Arzabal for classic tapas and carefully prepared gin and tonics. Next, head to the Gin Room, which offers more than a dozen unusual brands of gin in a sleek, stylish environment. For sky-high views of the city, visit Glass Bar and La Terraza at the Urban Hotel. The menu includes over 30 gin and tonic pairings, and draws from an extensive collection of international gins.