Remember in the film Bridesmaids when Kristin Wigg’s character Annie Walker gets upstaged by her rival bridesmaid at the bridal shower when Helen manages to steal the bride’s favour by buying her a trip to Paris? Annie is enraged, and trashes the bridal shower, earning herself an un-invite from the wedding. Aside from being essential viewing material for any bridesmaid, the film teaches us a very important lesson – nothing beats a hen party abroad!
The film also shows an ill-fated trip to Vegas, where the hen party plan to drink a lot, and see a lot of male strippers. But hen parties don’t have to be all about fish bowls and debauchery, you know. Although donning a novelty tiara and drunkenly gracing Europe’s finest dance floors is extremely fun and highly recommended, sometimes it’s okay to want to relax before your big day instead, and soak up some of Europe’s cultural magic. Every country in Europe is radically and refreshingly different from the next, so whatever type of cultural weekend city break you’re after, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect place to spend your hen party. Here’s the culturally abundant cities in Europe that tops the list of hen party destinations.
Madrid – a foodie paradise
The Spanish know how to live life to it’s fullest, and none more so than the residents of Madrid, who are passionate about their food, and know how to wine and dine. Any place that is home to the oldest restaurant in the world, El Sobrino de Botin, is guaranteed to have a foodie culture steeped in delicious history, and Madrid is the place to taste outstanding and traditionally prepared cuisine from every region in Spain. Take the dish, Cocido madrileño, for instance, a chickpea-based stew originating in Madrid in medieval times, and still served in the winter in many Madrid restaurants. Also look at Casa Labra, another long established restaurant in Sol, Madrid, the interior and layout of which has been unchanged since the 19th century. They serve the staple traditional Spanish delicacy of Croquettes and Bacalao, which are cod fritters and croquettes, and an essential notch in any foodie’s belt. It was here that the Spanish Workers’ Socialist Party was founded in 1879. Of course, no foodie trip to Madrid is complete without sampling some tapas. For the ultimate hen party experience in Madrid, spend some time in Mercado de San Miguel, an incredible indoor food market and the hub of real modern Madrid cuisine. Here you can sample tapas, wine and all things gastronomy alongside locals for a truly Spanish experience.
Budapest – soak up the architecture and unwind
If you want the architectural importance of Budapest summed up simply, you can say that most of the areas which encase the River Danube, including the embankments of the river themselves, have been named UNESCO world heritage sights. Budapest tells the story of Hungary through bricks and mortar. Highlights include the immense Neo-Gothic parliament building which dominates the edge of the Danube river, Saint Stephen’s Basilica, which houses the preserved remains of King Saint Stephen, founder of Hungary, and Castle Hill, which is home to three churches, six museums full of treasures and the Buda Castle Quarter. Heroes Square is another highlight, an enormous monument sandwiched between the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Arts. Hen parties can spend days getting lost in the magnificence of Budapest, and unwind at the end of it all in one of the city’s famous baths and spas. Budapest sits upon more than a thousand natural springs, The oldest thermal baths in Budapest are the Ottoman-built Kiraly baths and the largest and most beautiful are the Szechenyi baths, which were built in 1881 and contain 15 different pools and saunas with an outdoor swimming area. For an extra hen party treat, visit Budapest during one og the famous bath parties where revellers descend on the historic Szechenyi baths for a night of electronic beats, light shows and dancing in the water. It’s still cultural, we promise.
Paris – get lost in the beauty and nostalgia
See the above Bridesmaids for an example of the passion that Paris can ignite in people. It’s one of the most beautiful European capital cities, and has the potential to make any hen party unforgettable. Aside from it’s famously beautiful landmarks – the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Elysees, Notre Dame. the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe and the Sacre Coeur to name but a few – Paris is celebrated for it’s beautiful people, impeccable style and intimate back streets and cafes. Take a wander around Paris at any time of day and you can’t put a foot wrong. Highlights include strolling through the Les Passages Couverts for some tucked away boutique, antique and jewellery shops, experiencing classical ballet at the opulent Palais Garnier, or playing antique expert at the Drouot-Montaigne art sales rooms to purchase or just admire the beautiful artefacts on auction. Here, Picassos, impressionist Rouart paintings, royal jewellery and medieval maps have exchanged hands. On top of all this, Paris is a haven for fashion-lovers, so on any cultural hen party city break to Paris, the Faubourg Saint-Honore district is home to the best of old school Paris design including Lanvin, Yves Saint Laurent, Lancome and the Paris Vogue Offices. Paris is, and will remain, a staple in any cultural hen party diet.