Thu, September 15th, 2011 - By

Most Bars per Capita? 5 Offbeat Choices.

We all know that tourist boards and travel brochures fudge the truth a wee bit. It’s the nature of the business – and really, what harm is there proclaiming you are the “best breakfast in Podunctshire” when you’re the only place open for breakfast?

But one thing that made me laugh while researching an upcoming trip was a timeless old cliché in travel writing:  “… the most bars per capita.” That phrase, according to Google, exists in no less than 17k articles. People like to drink, but do we really need so many bars that it becomes a sprint to the finish line?  (No need to answer that.)

Where are these bars-per-capita establishments? Here are a few “interesting” examples, and what you can actually expect when you get there.

Zaragoza, Spain

I’ve not been to Zaragoza; in the northeast of Spain, it has its fair share of historic attractions, even a UNESCO World Heritage site. But it seems Zaragoza promotes something a little more exciting – it was here that I found out that Spain is the country with the most bars per capita in the world. (Not to split hairs, but most Spanish bars are tiny in comparison to their English-speaking counterparts, so no wonder the high number.) And who claims to top the cake when it comes to bars per capita in Spain? Yup, Zaragoza – though really there are plenty of other reasons to come here, and many of Zaragoza’s bars are tapas bars, mean you get food and drink. Now that’s worth celebrating.

Dusseldorf, Germany

Dusseldorf is one of Germany’s richest cities – if you did one of those fancy per capita equations. But tourists aren’t interested in the fashion and wealth on display – they’re here for the “Längste Theke der Welt” – the longest bar in the world. It’s not one gigantic bar, mind you – it’s a historic city street, the Altstadt, that has on and around it around 260 bars. I love the Altstadt and sampling the many types of beers. It’s also just a block away from the River Rhine, great to walk along by day or night.

"longest bar in the world", Dusseldorf

La Crosse, USA

If the Guinness Book of World Records says its so, then it must be. And they awarded La Crosse the honour of the most bars per capita in any city in the US – beating out other drinking heavyweights like Key West or New Orleans. La Crosse is a college town, hence the party atmosphere, and it’s a great hopping off point for a bit of exploring the outdoors of Wisconsin.

Belo Horizonte, Brazil

I love Brazil – it’s a fun country to visit, with such varying experience as their beach scene or the incredible Amazon. But have you heard of Belo Horizonte? Many travellers who want to party with the Brazilians head for Rio de Janeiro – not my first choice, but a popular one nonetheless. But the real action is north, in Belo Horizonte, a town I had never even heard of, but actually is in fact the bar capital of Brazil. It’s losing the per capita race because of the city’s exploding population, but honestly, with nearly 12 thousand bars, who cares? Pass the cachaça.

Halifax, Canada

Hugging Canada’s eastern coast, Halifax is an interesting city. I love their downtown boardwalk, and with bridges far in the distance, it reminds me of San Francisco. Being the largest city in Nova Scotia, which has a rich Scottish history, the city also reminds me of fishing villages in Scotland, with tasty chip shops and places to soothe a sweet tooth tucked down alleyways. But the big draw of Halifax for some is the raging bar scene – it has the most bars per capita in Canada. And folk here know how to have a good time – which the local establishments embrace; for example, there are a few bars that seem to be in a competition for the best nachos in town. Only in Halifax, they say…

Photo credits: Laurie Avocado, Nicole Sikora Heschong,

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Thursday, September 15th, 2011 at 11:00
Category : Spotlight
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