Ah, the pursuit of pleasure. We all do it. We seek adventures that will bring happiness and pleasure. Are we therefore, all hedonists?
Hedonism is defined as: a devotion to pleasure as a way of life and as the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the highest good. A hedonist strives to maximize pleasure (minus pain).
Michael Onfray, contemporary hedonist philosopher, defines hedonism "as an introspective attitude to life based on taking pleasure yourself and pleasuring others, without harming yourself or anyone else."
Onfray goes on to say, "In opposition to the ascetic ideal advocated by the dominant school of thought, hedonism suggests identifying the highest good with your own pleasure and that of others; the one must never be indulged at the expense of sacrificing the other. Obtaining this balance – my pleasure at the same time as the pleasure of others – presumes that we approach the subject from different angles – political, ethical, aesthetic, erotic, bioethical, pedagogical, historiographical...."
If hedonism is seeking not just your own pleasure but that of others, it seems the thing to do is travel to new and exciting locals, where you and those around you, are equally busy in the pursuit of pleasure without worry.
Whether you want to party like it’s 1999 all over again, or you want to escape reality for a period of time, here’s a list of 10 of the most hedonistic cities around the globe to help you plan sinfully pleasurable getaways.
10 Budapest, Hungary
Budapest will amaze you with its selection of nightclubs and bars and it does it with style. In the central districts of Pest and Belvaros, the River Danube glistens with thousands of twinkling lights from bars and restaurants. Budapest is a city of culture, from traditional folk music, to world renowned opera and it is working to catch up with other European cities. It won’t be long before it does, so now is a good time to take in the atmosphere. Budapest’s famous public baths, with their mineral-rich waters, are a great way to pamper yourself before pulling another all-nighter. Your feet will thank you.
9 Istanbul, Turkey
It’s not always about parties and drinking. Sometimes, cultural experiences that stimulate the senses and feed the soul is what the hedonist is looking for. Istanbul fits that requirement. Often referred to as the “Crossroads of Europe and Asia”, Istanbul offers incredible Byzantine architecture like the Hagia Sophia, which was once the world’s largest church before being converted to a mosque. In the Grand Bazaar, shop a market you will not find anywhere else. Take a cruise on the Bosphorus from one continent to another. For adventures in food, Istanbul is the place to be, with many outstanding restaurants to temp your taste buds. Indulge yourself in a Turkish massage and finally, yes, engage in the nightlight, which Istanbul does offer plenty of. Being such a large city, entertainment districts are spread out throughout the city with many options to choose from. Whichever you choose, be prepared to party into the wee hours of the night. Or is it morning?
Prague boasts ancient castles, beautiful churches and amazing architecture. Prague also lists the Sex Machine Museum as one of its main tourist attractions. Here you’ll find a variety of provocative sex toys from throughout history, and a venue for watching two Spanish adult films which date back to the 1920s. There are plenty of erotic objects that will leave you wondering ‘what the heck?’, and other items you may want to pick up in the gift shop. Prague also has plenty of seedy looking bars serving absinthe by the glass. If you are not sure how to sip absinthe, do as the locals do: pour a generous amount into a glass. Stir with a spoon then dip the wet spoon into some sugar. Light the spoon on fire allowing the sugar to caramelize and drip into the absinthe. Finally add the remaining caramelized sugar into the shot and drink. Put all this together and Prague well deserves a place on the list of hedonistic cities.
Cancun’s easy reach makes it particularly attractive to North American travelers. Well aware of the city’s reputation for pleasure-seeking, self-indulgent revelers, hotels have added to this status by introducing hotel names such as “temptation”, and “hedonism”. It is said that Cancun has something for everyone, and this is especially true after dark. Splashy discos dominate the scene. Cancun nightlife means fun and entertainment: dance clubs, bars, parties, festivals, shows, restaurants, live music bands and so on. Musical mixes featuring excellent DJs and exciting live shows are often featured. Cancun’s party and nightlife has become synonymous with winter breaks all across North America, with thousands making their way to Cancun beaches for sun and surf during the day, dancing and partying during the night.
It’s easy to see how the German capital has gained its reputation as a party city. With clubs staying open until 10am, and line-ups still forming outside its doors at 9 am, this really is a city that does not worry about night time sleeping. A host of uniquely themed clubs have popped up during the last few years, including clubs with beds, which no doubt are needed after a long night of partying. There are clubs with leather clad walls, masked bouncers, winged dancers. And on it goes. If you want to be part of this scene, leave inhibitions at home and forget sleeping until you return home.
5 Montréal, Canada
There is no place to party in Canada like Montreal. Oui, c’est vrai. Montreal’s French roots provides its joie de vivre atmosphere. Montrealers work hard during the day, but when the sun goes down, they like to party hard. Montreal offers year-round festivals celebrating everything from jazz to laughter to croissants. Yes. It’s true. Croissants! For best night-life, head to Boulevard Saint-Laurent where you are never more than one door away from a music joint, a strip bar or just a plain dive bar. When you’re all partied out, don’t forget you’re in the city with the best bagels and smoked meat in the country. Enjoy.
4 Havana, Cuba
Havana loves its music, dance and drink. Sweat and lust hangs thick in the air as the seductive sounds and moves of salsa, rumba and mambo make their way through the backstreets of Habana Vieja (Old Havana). Rum-soaked bars and clubs in Havana also offer R and B, and hip hop is popular as well, but it’s the sensual sounds of Latin music that makes locals and tourists alike, glide their way from one club to the next. Old Havana is packed with bars, tango houses and cultural centers. The main strip, Calle Obispo, is the place to begin your bar hopping. Bars close at mid-night, which is when clubs get into full swing and continue into the early morning hours. You may need to take a detour into Canada before making it to Havana, but it will be worth it.
3 Tel Aviv
Israel’s Tel Aviv is a city that stretches for miles along the Mediterranean Sea. It’s laid-back, cool and lively. Nicknamed the ‘Miami of the Middle-East’, Tel Aviv is all about beach parties, underground clubs, themed bars and impromptu celebrations. There are plenty of bars to choose from in this young, cosmopolitan city and they are open until late morning . At the more popular clubs, be prepared for long unorganized lines. Your patience could be tested. Tel Aviv’s summers are scorching and humid, with winters damp and cool. A great time to visit is spring where days are warm and evenings require no more than a light sweater.
2 Ibiza, Spain
This Balearic island in the Mediterranean Sea, 49 miles off the coast of eastern Spain, with pristine beaches and constant sunshine, has been party central since hippies first took to it in the 1960s. In 1978 a tiny disco was opened on the island and the party really started. Today, that small disco has grown to be the famous Privilege, “the biggest club in the world” according to Guinness World Book of Records, with a capacity of 10,000 people. Ibiza’s association with nightlife and electronic music, free-flowing alcohol and beautiful people, attracts large numbers of tourists looking to let it all hang out. For the true hedonist, it doesn’t get much better than this.
1 Las Vegas
No list of hedonistic cities would be complete without Vegas on it. Everything about this city is bigger than life and self-indulgent, with its themed resorts, mega casinos, shows, costumes, strip joints, bars, clubs and wedding chapels. And this city never shuts down—ever. It’s all open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Whatever your vice, you can find it here. Vegas has the power to change your life at the roll of a dice, or an "I do" at a wedding. This is a place of merry-making and debauchery, which is why what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas! For the hedonist, it is the ultimate sin city.