We spoke to hen weekend specialists Maximise to get a different view of the main party stop offs of Amsterdam, Barcelona and Prague, on the Geordie Shore European Tour and uncovered the hidden gems of each:
Amsterdam may be one of Europe’s leading hen and stag party spots due to its relaxed approach to the naughty side of life, but it is worth remembering that this beautiful city is also famous for tulips and windmills. Away from the red light district it’s possible to have a very different kind of hen weekend. This canal woven city is charming to walk around, with each area having a unique feel and offering its own vibrant mix of shopping, restaurants and cultural sights. Quirky shops sit alongside high fashion brands, state-of-the art design and one-off boutiques, whilst thanks to the multi-cultural nature of the city, restaurants serve up everything from Dutch pancakes to amazing international cuisine, including exceptional Indonesian food.
What to do
See the city by boat – Pick your vessel from luxurious salon boats to the convenient hop-on hop-off canal bus and sit back as you cruise along the city’s principal canals, taking in Amsterdam’s major sights, including gracious 17th century gabled merchants’ houses, the numerous baroque churches, and the enchanting bridges.
Get a design fix – Experience some of the most cutting-edge design coming out of the city with a bit of browsing at Droog! More than a luxury design store, Droog sells innovative accessories, lighting and furniture that promises to enhance your everyday life and pioneers projects and events around the world. Be inspired at the simple works of pure genius or shoot yourself for not thinking of that first!
Escape for a few hours – For a rest from the bright lights, spend some time relaxing at Westergasfabriek as you explore the converted 19th-century gas-work buildings which have now been transformed into a relaxing leisure area, fast becoming one of the city’s most raved about cultural hubs. There’s a theatre, cinema, some good cafes for trend-spotting, plus various exhibitions and events to check out.
Get floaty about flowers – Bloemenmarkt is the fascinating collage of colour that is the world’s only floating flower market. It has 15 florists and garden shops permanently floating on barges along the southern side of the river.
The blessings of Barcelona stem from the fact that this lively cosmopolitan city, with its warm Mediterranean climate and Spanish attitude, is a mere hop and skip from the UK on a quick flight. Its location means that hens can experience all the culture, shopping and nightlife of the city as well as some relaxing beach time, all in the space of a weekend.
What to do
Pick on Pintxos – Pintxos are platters of bite-sized food served on bread (a Basque version of tapas) and have become a popular culinary trend in Barcelona. Tradition requires you to pick at the dishes with toothpicks, and at the end of the night you will be charged for the number of toothpicks that you have used. The delicious treats vary from traditional basque favorites of fish, stuffed peppers and croquettes to elaborate concoctions carefully created by the city’s up-and-coming chefs. Yum!
Shop for fashion bargains – You are likely to recognise the Spanish labels Mango and Zara, but fashionistas should take the opportunity to grab something original in the city’s design boutiques and markets. Try Zazo&Bull for beautifully combined materials and textures at affordable prices and Cuervo Cobberblack Bird for handcrafted shoes. Dedicated designer bargain-hunters can also take the 30-minute journey to La Roca Village for more than 50 discount outlets with goods to tempt you from brands such as Antonio Miró, Versace, Diesel and Camper.
Have a fiery fling with flamenco – Barcelona is a great city to experience the passion that is flamenco. There are many venues where you can see established stars and new talent. Visit the popular Los Tarantos in Plaça Reial or come during the vibrant Festival Ciutat Flamenco in May.
Explore the coast – Not the first activity that comes to mind when thinking of a hen weekend in Barcelona, sea kayaking will allow you to escape the city for a day and see some hidden areas of Spain’s beautiful coast. Any lingering after-effects of the night before will soon be forgotten when you begin to explore the hidden caves and tunnels of the shoreline by sea kayak.
Non beer drinkers will be pleased to know that the brown frothy stuff is only one of the many treasures of this lively Czech city. Whilst the rumours may be true, it is indeed a mere 50p a pint in some venues and it may even be the best beer in the world (or at least according to Prague locals), the city boasts many other attributes; a fascinating mix of culture, thrilling history and postcard-perfect scenes of baroque architecture, stone bridges and river-side locations.
What to do
Jump off a bridge – From June to September KI Bungee Jump company offers visitors the opportunity to take a giant leap from the Zvikov bridge, which towers high over the Vltava valley. Said to hold some secret magic, this is a remarkable setting for those new and familiar with the legendary adrenaline activity of bungee jumping.
Get geeky about architecture – Prague’s fascinating mix of architecture means it is seriously worth injecting some culture into your hen weekend. Explore the city’s melange of stunning buildings, which incorporate styles from gothic, renaissance and baroque to neoclassical, art nouveau and cubist, whatever your tastes you cannot fail to be impressed.
Discover the art of puppetry – The art of puppetry has a long and sometimes subversive history in the Czech Rebublic and is not just reserved for children. Whilst you’ll find that much of the puppet theatre is aimed at tourists, high-quality Czech puppeteers and productions appear frequently. For something more comedy, slapstick puppet opera is performed on the Formans’ Mystery Boat Theatre.
Make a date at the Castle – The Castle dominates the city’s skyline and its captivating jumble of styles illustrate a millennium of changing demands from the city’s occupants and conquerors. But don’t just visit to be impressed by the grandeur of the gothic spires, flying buttresses and imposing cathedral, enjoy one of the city’s most amazing vista’s over a meal and wine in the beautiful Royal Gardens, or take advantage of ‘Jazz at the Castle’ for a more musical education.
Maximise create bespoke packages for hen and stag dos in all of these destinations and more. For more details visit Maximise or call 0208 236 0111.