I’ve mentioned in plenty of blog post that I like to go on pub crawls. There have been plenty of times that people have told me pub crawls suck and blah blah blah. I think everyone has their own travel style and pub crawls fit my style and maybe they fit yours. So here’s my pro and con list.
You should be saving money on drinks and cover charge. The average shot at a club in Europe is 3 Euros and the average cover is 20 Euros. If you are paying 20 euros for a pub crawl and that includes at least 3 shots and a cover you’re saving like 9 Euros. In Tel Aviv, it was guaranteed three shots but I cozied up to the tour guide and I got like ten shots. A tip is always talk to the tour guide and ask them personal stuff like where are they from, what languages do they speak, what’s their favorite cocktail BUT not about tourist stuff or how long he’s been doing his job. Don’t be a basic bitch! Also, be the person next to them handing out the shot because once everyone gets their shots you get first choice on the leftovers.
If you are traveling alone it makes it safer to party. At least you have people to party with, people to look out for you and other solo travelers in the same boat. Your guide is at least watching you for the first two of three places. Then hopefully, by the time you are going to the second place you found a drinking buddy or group to join.
It’s a great way to get a well-rounded look of the night life. Most pub crawls include 3-5 places so you can have variety. A good pub crawl takes you to the most popular bars in the area so you can get an idea of how locals like to party. And if you like one place you can go back the next day.
It’s really nice to not have to coordinate a large group of people. You can just pay someone to take you. If you’ve ever had to corral more than 3 drunk people in a night, you know it’s a struggle so pay someone else to handle it.
Sometimes pub crawls are a scam. They are club promoters getting paid to fill up all the shit bars in town, so they bring big groups to empty places. Check if there’s a capacity. If a pub crawl is too big it’ll be overwhelming and they are probably going to a bunch of low quality bars. The smaller the group the more likely you can go to more popular places. If they have a list of the bars check it out beforehand. If you can look at pub crawls beforehand to weed out that crappy ones or double check if your hostel has a pub crawl.
You get stuck with a group of people and sometimes they are really annoying. Many times the guys are horny and trolling hard. In Valencia, I left the pub crawl early because I just wasn’t feeling all these wasted Aussies in my group.
You will of course get taken to the touristy places. Tour guides don’t take you to the local watering hole often. And I know this because I’ve been on pub crawls in Madrid and seen where pub crawls go. They will go to some cool places but El Kapital is the best club in Madrid and they don’t allow pub crawls to come. Many bars have this policy because they don’t have a problem selling out every night and they don’t want to deal with wasted foreigners more than they already do.
People get really drunk and it’s really annoying. But of course, that’s always the price of nightlife in general.
Choosing a Pub Crawl
Make sure they offer some free shots or drinks. . Generally you are paying ~20 euros for a crawl and you better get the most out of it.
Make sure they specify if they end the night at a club or you’re just go to a bunch of bars (you could have done that on your own). A pub crawl is really only worth it if you are saving money on cover charges and drinks.
No matter what, I always, always say: watch what you drink and be aware of yourself. Partying is great but getting lost or assaulted is a very real reality when you are out on the town.
Keep a HARD copy of your accommodation’s address (Don’t depend on your phone’s battery to survive the night) make sure it’s in the country’s language for your cab driver (ask for the correct pronunciation at the front desk before you go out). It’s always good to know the nearest metro stop or major cross streets.
If you feel a little tipsier than you expected get out, get your ass in a cab home! Don’t depend on strangers to take care of you. You do not want to be wasted and taken advantage of or get lost in a foreign country. Generally, in Europe, you don’t have to worry about date rape drugs but still be wary. (Men get drugged too so this tip isn’t just for girls!).
(Tip Specifically for American Girls) If you see some guy eyeing you or being a little touchy, nip it in the bud immediately. Don’t laugh it off because Europeans don’t take hints. If you just giggle and casually slide his hand off your thigh, like you would do in the US, Europeans take that as a hint to try harder. It’s perfectly okay to get an aggressive tone and say, “Stop,” “Don’t touch me,” or “Back off.” Even if they don’t speak English, even a dog can tell if your tone means business. Unlike in America, Europeans will generally not take it too personally if you cuss at them for being a creeper. Make it very, very clear if you ever feel uncomfortable and tell your tour guide and/ or someone else in your group so people know to watch out for you. Hopefully you won’t have to deal with this. I merely say this because my first time abroad I was a little taken back by how Europeans treat women.
I like pub crawls as a single, solo traveling female because I think they generally make nightlife more affordable, safer and more fun. This may not be the case for you and that fine. Everyone has you own travel style and it takes so much traveling to figure that out. Let me know about your pub crawl experiences in the comments!