lighthouse-scottish-highlands

The stag do. The ultimate male getaway. The stuff of laddish legend. Whether you’re after debauchery in Tel Aviv, a sporty escape in the Alps or a dose of British cool in Bristol, use this definitive list of destinations to ensure you have a memorable few days before sealing the deal.

1. Tel Aviv

A city renowned for its wild after-hours parties and beach scene, Tel Aviv is one of our top picks for a boys’ weekend away. Whether your thing is day partying at a beach club or an extended meal out, this city has got daybeds, outdoor restaurants and rooftop DJ sets galore. If you’ve overdone it on the drinking, the best cure is to lie out in the sun and work on a pre-wedding glow until lunchtime. Spend the rest of the day meandering around Florentin, Tel Aviv’s coolest bohemian neighbourhood, where you can stumble into galleries before plonking yourself on a terrace to sip on your umpteenth hair of the dog.

2. San Sebastián

One for the gourmet groom, San Sebastián converges around a crescent of sand curving along a turquoise segment of the Atlantic and is one Spain’s loveliest cities, equally enigmatic and extravagant. Bask in the Basque sunshine for hours on end – we recommend renting a boat and jetting around the bay – before hitting the tapas-style pintxo bars by the beach. The city was named European Capital of Culture in 2016 so do take some time to explore the many creative offerings, such as the open-air museum on the promenade where large-scale sculptural installations and paintings are on display. The Tabakalera, a centre for contemporary culture that showcases film screenings, photography exhibitions and performance art (including magic shows) in an old tobacco factory is another good option if you want to add more cultural points to your gastronomic getaway.

3. The Highlands

For an adventurous lads’ getaway à la Braveheart, rent a Scottish castle or go glamping in The Highlands. Your weekend will be filled with long bracing walks, swimming in freezing lochs and warming your cockles with regular swigs of firewater. The region has 47 distilleries – including Glenturret which produces The Famous Grouse – to check out before leading your band of merry men to a massive dinner spread, be it around a campfire or in stately lodgings. If boy scouts and a love of the great outdoors are your jam, this wholesome trip is pretty unbeatable.

4. Les Trois Vallées

A network comprising eight of France’s best skiing locations, Les Trois Vallées is one of the world’s largest ski areas, meaning the sky’s the limit here. Book a guide to take you off piste for top-notch powder, or focus your energies on leisurely sun-drenched lunches on various mountain terraces. Whatever your priorities, you’ll no doubt want to hit Meribel’s notorious La Folie Douce at least once, for vin chaud and steaming pots of fondue before dancing on tables in your ski boots. If you’ve got cash to splash then glitzy Courchevel is the resort for you, though Val Thorens is a more affordable option with a youthful energy and excellent runs thanks to its high altitude.

5. Lisbon

A visit to this hilly, multihued capital is a guaranteed blast, and the fact that you rarely have to worry about getting enough sunshine is an added bonus. With those two boxes ticked (not to mention the city’s affordability), Lisbon is your playground for architectural eye candy, gorging on pasteis de nata and “sampling” port with every meal. For pre-drinks, grab a few bottles of local beer and head to one of miradouros (viewpoints) spread across the city’s hills before heading out to paint the town red. If you’re into surfing, hit up one of the many breaks along the city’s coast.

6. Salzburg

One of Europe’s most charming cities, Salzburg is a compact alternative for those looking to drink stein after stein in pretty surrounds. As well as its rich musical history, Salzburg is also an excellent destination for those looking to feast. Austrian cuisine is notoriously heavy – but schnitzel, potato salad and spätzle are exactly what’s needed if you’ve spent your day in a beer hall. If your trip is a longer, wintertime affair, plan a few days of skiing in Kitzbühel just over an hour’s drive away, while hiking in the Alps is a good alternative come summer.

7. Bristol

Former Bristol students – or those yearning for university days – will rejoice in this hub of partying and youthful creativity. One of the best cities in the UK for a good old knees up, Bristol has an edgy music scene and thriving artistic community. Make the most of its rich culinary scene by day and check out local DJ sets come evening. A breeding ground for hip new restaurants, this is the place to experiment with varying takes on modern dining. Pop into a hole-in-the-wall for jerk chicken midday, then get stuck into a multi-course meal at Chomp steakhouse or the Thali restaurant, an obligatory stop for Indian food buffs.

8. New Orleans

If OTT is what you’re looking for, the search ends at New Orleans. A haven for music lovers, it’s got endless options for dancing all night and offers a mishmash of culture with its marriage of Deep South and French heritage. Eat your way across the city with shrimp-laden po’boy, grits, fried oyster and bananas foster. The Big Easy tends to favour those who come in with an open mind and not much of a plan. Wander down covert streets, hop onto a streetcar when it strikes your fancy and take advantage of the constant flow of energy around you, whether that be live music or a slew of outdoor food trucks.

9. Budapest

One of Europe’s most architecturally exciting cities, Budapest is an aesthete’s Eden. Catch belle epoque and baroque sights by renting a flock of bikes and cycling down the Danube – pack a couple of bottles of wine (bonus points if it’s Hungarian), some meats, cheese and bread for lunch by the water. The best nights out here begin with rooftop sundowners at 360 Bar before drifting to one of the city’s romkocsmas (ruin bars), a hybrid of beer garden and nightclub set in war-damaged buildings. Taking the waters at the city’s thermal baths after a long night on the town has got to be one of the best hangover cures out there. Planning your trip in August? Make sure it coincides with Sziget Festival, a week-long music extravaganza.

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