In charge of a hen weekend but not sure where you should go? If you’ve been to several before, you’ll probably have seen and done pretty much everything. And even if you haven’t, there’s nothing wrong with wanting the hen weekend you plan to be the most unique out of your squad.
When it comes to giving your bestie bride-to-be a send-off she’ll really remember, consider thinking beyond those more obvious location choices. Sunshine, sangria and strippers in Marbella starting to sound a little clichéd? Turn that all-important weekend into the perfect mini-break to remember with the following alternative hen do destinations.
Riga’s been a popular boys trip destination for years – but who said the ladies couldn’t get in on the action, too? While shooting ranges might not be everyone’s cup of tea, Latvia’s capital has lots to uncover for culture-vultures and those who love a good bargain.
The city’s Old Town dates back to medieval times and is a charming mix of cobbled streets and grand art nouveau buildings that’ll look incredible on your Instagram feed. Spend a few hours in the Central Market – Europe’s largest indoor bazaar and a UNESCO World Heritage site housing hundreds of stalls selling souvenirs, clothing and mouth-watering street food.
Riga’s nightlife is also pretty amazing (and cheap, too). Check out Aristīda Briāna Street for a dusk ‘til dawn bar crawl in the city’s most bohemian quarter or splash out on cocktails at Skyline, the Radisson Blu’s chic rooftop bar.
The sophisticated Icelandic capital and the jumping off point for the stunning Blue Lagoon, you definitely won’t be disappointed by a weekend in Reykjavik.
As well as taking the hens to the country’s thermal springs and viewing the magical Northern Lights in the early hours (trust us, it’s worth getting out of bed for), Iceland offers up plenty of alternative experiences – especially for adrenaline junkies.
Soar across an Icelandic glacier on a snowmobile, go off-roading on quad bikes or set sail from the city’s harbour to spot whales and dolphins along the coast. Reykjavik city centre also has a handful of great bars and clubs if the hens still want the opportunity to let loose.
From whizzing up to the top of the tallest building in the world for sunset cocktails to having the ultimate shopping experience in the city’s huge bazaars, Dubai is a dream destination for a classier, more luxurious hen weekend. It’s packed with incredible shopping malls if you fancy some retail therapy, plus there are huge golden sand beaches that regularly host glamorous parties with music mixed by all the world’s top DJs.
If you want to make your experience in Dubai particularly memorable, you should head out to the desert. Trek over the sand on camels, have a go at dune bashing or see the dunes from up high in a hot air balloon. You can even glamp overnight in a traditional Bedouin tent beneath the clear desert skies.
Whether you’re planning a summer hen do or a winter one, Budapest is a beautiful option. Located on the picturesque Danube River, it’s packed with spectacular buildings as well as its world-famous thermal spas. The largest is Szechenyi, an outdoor bathhouse with multiple pools that hosts Saturday night sparties (spa parties) complete with live DJs, lights shows and fire performers. If the group wants to relax rather than rave, the smaller Gellert Baths are located in a stunning Art Deco building and offer great aroma massages.
Once you’re done pampering yourselves, take a dinner cruise down the river to spot all the city’s most important sights. Don’t forget to pack your selfie stick for some great photo ops at Fisherman’s Bastion, a fairy-tale viewing terrace at the top of Castle Hill (it even has turrets). At night, head to the Jewish Quarter for cheap drinks in the city’s cool ruin bars set in atmospheric crumbling buildings.
Top tip: Budapest hosts some pretty awesome festivals throughout the year, including Sziget (Europe’s largest music festival). It’s worth checking out what’s happening in the city the week you’re planning the hen do.
As well as its seemingly endless historic attractions, Berlin is also home to a pretty cool underground clubbing scene which makes it perfect for hardcore hens after some non-stop partying. Get the city’s must-sees checked off your list first, from the Brandenburg Gate to the East Side Gallery (an open-air art exhibit on a section of the Berlin Wall), before preparing for a clubbing experience like no other.
Get your names on the guest-lists of Berlin’s most exclusive venues like three-storey club Tresor or keep things low key with cocktails and good beats in the City West neighbourhood. Head to the riverside for a wilder night at one of the city’s outdoor clubs, including Watergate that has a dance-floor right on the water.
Need somewhere to nurse your hangover? Badeschiff is Berlin’s coolest outdoor pool that’s suspended over the river and ideal for lazy lounging on warm summer days.
Ljubljana (pronounced loo-blee-ana) is the capital of Slovenia – Italy and Croatia’s lesser known neighbour – and a gorgeous spot for a weekend of chilling out in charming riverside café bars and shopping in incredible independent boutiques.
If the bride has a love of vintage fashion, you’re in luck as the city is full of fabulous second-hand clothing stores. Hire bikes and make your way around all the best spots, including Divas Vintage and Moje Tvoje. Definitely visit Ljubljana’s idyllic medieval castle, too. It sits on top of a hill and is the ideal spot for group photo ops.
If that all sounds a bit tame, you’ll be pleased to know that Ljubljana also has plenty of adventurous hen weekend activities. Try indoor skydiving, kayaking in underground caves or exploring the city on a paddle boarding tour along the Ljubljanica river.
Poland’s second city Krakow is also its most historic, making it a great al hen weekend destination for a bit of culture. Fill up your camera rolls with photos of the city’s medieval centre – including dreamy Wawel Royal Castle – and the cobbled lanes of the charming Jewish Quarter.
Don’t miss the chance to try pierogi – delicious filled dumplings – and other traditional Polish delicacies in Krakow’s ornate Cloth Hall, the world’s oldest shopping centre. If street food’s more your thing, head to the trendy Judah Square Food Truck Park for yummy local and international treats.
Krakow is also heaven for vodka lovers (or those who claim to love vodka after a few Proseccos…) There are bars dedicated solely to the drink, including Wodka Bar that serves up more than a hundred different flavours. If you just want somewhere to let your hair down and bust a move, though, you can’t go wrong with Klub 30 – it’s the city’s largest nightclub.
Sandy toes and beach parties sound more like the bride’s ideal hen weekend? Mykonos is definitely the one to beat. Part of the Greek Cyclades islands, it’s surrounded by crystal clear seas and scattered with lush beaches that are great places to top up your tans before the big day.
Mykonos has a pretty great reputation as a party destination, too, with beachside venues like Paradise Beach and Cava Paradiso transforming into Ibiza-style clubs after dark. Expect sets from international DJs and a pretty glam crowd. There’s also plenty of options in downtown Mykonos if a bar crawl is more your thing.
Days are incredibly idyllic in this Greek paradise – think poolside lounging and cocktails, exploring enchanting white-washed towns and shopping in cool boho boutiques. If you’ve got cash to splash, you could even charter a yacht for the day and sail to secluded coves.
Need a hand?
If one of these alternative destinations sounds like a flawless match for your BFF’s hen do, why not get in touch with the packed hen planner to see how we could make it even more magical? From suggesting great activities and setting up payment plans to sorting out all the finer details, we’ve got your hen do well and truly handled.