Stag parties are increasingly invading the great cities of Europe, but there's a lack of information out there for the best man. Where to go? Where to stay? What to drink? Read on for the essentials
Gone are the days when a night down the local boozer was an acceptable way to spend your last night of freedom. Today's stag packs his drinking shoes and heads to the continent for the weekend. Here's my pick of stag do destinations, from A to Z:
What to do: Hoegaarden, Stella, Jupiler, Leffe, fruit beer, trappist beer - do you need anything else to do when you can be sampling all these on a bar crawl around Belgium's second city? It's also famous for fashion and diamonds, if there's enough money left in the beer kitty.
Where to stay: Hotel Florida (De Keyserlei 59) has twins with buffet breakfast from €50 and is right next to the train station.
Down in one: De Koninck – Antwerp's very own beer is delicious in its own right, but the fact that it comes served in round glasses called "Bollekes" makes ordering a couple a great laugh, although I'm sure the joke's wearing thin for Antwerp's barstaff.
What to do: After a quick walk around the Old Town, go paint-balling in the forests out of town – arrange through www.bratislavastags.com. When you get back, have a pre-pub crawl meal at the UFO (www.redmonkeygroup.com). The restaurant, the flying saucer at the top of the SNP bridge, affords stunning views across the Danube.
Where to stay: Old City Hotel (Michalska 2) is a great base for stag dos, ticking the main boxes of cheap, clean and central. Triples from €80.
Down in one: Zlaty Bazant – the nicest lager in the world? This 5% lager is in my top five!
What to do: Budapest has a built in hangover cure – its thermal spa baths, a great way to sweat out the previous night's excesses. The baths at the Gellert Hotel are the poshest in town, and you don't have to be staying at the hotel to visit.
Where to stay: You get two cities for the price of one - Buda for sights, and Pest for nightlife. The art'otel budapest, by park plaza (Bem Rakpart 16-19) on the banks of the Danube in Buda is a great base - the rooms and reception areas feature works of art from famous artists, and it's worth paying extra for Danube-view rooms (twin rooms from €105).
Down in one: The beer (Dreher) is nothing to write home about, but the Hungarian herbal liqueur, Unicum, is something you won't forget in a hurry!
What to do: Godfather aficionados will love a trip to Corleone, an hour and a half's drive inland on bus no. 8. Although no part of the film was shot here, you don't have to tell anyone that! Beach-bums can relax or play on the city's Mondello beach. At night, Via Dei Candelai is the place to be. Who can resist a bar called Drunks, while I Candelai is a huge bar/club at the end of the road.
Where to stay: Hotel Posta (Via Antonio Gagini, 77) – twin rooms from €69 at this comfortable hotel opposite Palermo's post office in a central yet quiet area.
Down in one: Limoncello – Italy may not have the drinking culture of the UK, but you won't mind, downing shots of this sweet 40% lemon liqueur.
What to do: Drink beer in the surroundings of the most gorgeous city in Europe. It may cost more in the bars edging the Old Town Square, but that's because the views are awesome. If you visit in summer, hire pedalos and race your mates on the River Vltava, while www.pissup.com/prague can arrange a rifle-shooting day out.
Where to stay: Apartments are ideal for stag do groups, and Prague is full of them! Try www.my-prague-apartments.com and search for any to suit your party size and budget.
Down in one: Budweiser Budvar - the original Budweiser and far better than the American imitation.
What to do: If you're here on the last Wednesday in August, take the train to Buñol, 45-minutes away, for the world's biggest food fight - La Tomatina, where you can throw tomatoes at Aussie backpackers. Valencia itself has a beach, easily accessible on metro line no. 4 (an over-ground tram), or for a bit of culture go to Europe's largest aquarium at the City of Arts and Sciences (www.cac.es). At night, head to Barrio del Carmen for drinks - just don't expect to get to bed much before 5am!
Where to stay: The Acta del Carmen (Blanqueirias 11) has stylish twins from €50 - you won't find a better location to take advantage of Valencia's lively nightlife and you'll be glad of the air-conditioning in this steamy city.
Down in one: Agua de Valencia – a cocktail of orange juice, cava, vodka and lemonade, served in pitchers ideal for drinking games.
What to do: It may not be on the stag-radar yet, but it will be soon. Football fans should stand with notorious hooligans, The Bad Blue Boys, at a Dinamo Zagreb match (www.nk-dinamo.hr). Start your night at Croatia and AC Milan legend Zvonimir Boban's popular bar (Gajeva 9; www.boban.hr) before a pub crawl up and down Tkalciceva.
Where to stay: Hotel Ilica (Ilica 102) – a great stag-friendly place ten minutes' walk from the main square. Spacious triples for 699 kuna with breakfast.
Down in one: Ozjusko – few beers are as hard to pronounce, but you'll get plenty of practice, ordering this distinctive tasting Croatian lager.