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The Traveler’s Refuge: 20 Great Expat Bars from Around the World

April 18, 2016 expats / students


20 Great Expat Bars from Across the World

All expats at some point seek out familiarity when they are in a foreign country. It’s a fundamental part of getting comfortable in a new home.

For some people, that means regular Skypes back home or the occasional weekend Netflix binge. For many others, that means getting a pint and surrounding themselves with people who can relate to their experiences.

A good expat bar brings those people together. Whether it’s a cozy pub in continental Europe, a whiskey bar in Southeast Asia or a gin joint in Morocco, an expat bar becomes a kind of community living room where you can slip into your native language without guilt and find reliably good conversation.

Or you can nurse your ale in the corner. Either works.

Here are 20 expat-friendly bars around the world that serve this purpose for their local communities.

Sometimes, You Just Need to Visit an Expat Bar

El Lokal — Zurich, Switzerland

This pirate ship of a bar is legendary among expats in Zurich. El Lokal is a go-to spot for football matches, and there is live music a few times each month. Bonus points for the outdoor terrace, which is a good place to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon.

The Irish Village — Dubai, UAE

Celebrating its 20th year this year, The Irish Village is the choice for many of Dubai’s expats when they need a Guinness. Mind you, this isn’t just a small Irish pub. It’s a huge area — part of the Dubai Tennis Stadium grounds — that has recently played host to shows from Simple Minds and Billy Ocean.

Stone Nullah Tavern — Hong Kong

Stone Nullah Tavern is the best place to find true American indulgences in Hong Kong. The menu is pretty intense: Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, mac ‘n’ cheese with black truffles and foie gras, and a s’mores dish served in a cast-iron skillet.

The Beer Garden Inn — Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The Beer Garden Inn is steps away from a UN agency and 2 kilometers from Bole International Airport. The inn’s bar has German food on the menu, German beer on draught and a German chef in the kitchen, which makes this place especially popular among the UN workers.


Keats Bar — New York City, USA

Speaking of the United Nations, Keats Bar is on the same block as ONE UN in New York and surrounded by consulates. Keats also just happens to have one of the best karaoke contests in Manhattan. This is where true international relations are forged.

Santa Maria — Berlin, Germany

It’s not hard to find foreigners in Berlin, but a 4-euro margarita special and the city’s best tacos make Santa Maria in Kreuzberg a magnet for expats, students, locals and backpackers alike.

The Charles Dickens Tavern — Melbourne, Australia

You won’t run out of quality hangouts in Melbourne any time soon, but The Charles Dickens Tavern is a good bet for anyone who misses proper ales and Premier League games on Saturday afternoons.

Tantalo Roofbar — Panama City, Panama

“Stringed lights, good DJ, skyline view, and trendy Panamanians and foreigners always create the perfect party atmosphere at Tantalo’s Rooftop,” writes Joey Bonura at the pty life blog. “On Tuesdays they have Artes Martes, where they have a live artistic performance; Wednesday is Latin Night; Thursday is Ladies Night; and on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday you’ll find a trendy crowd dancing to the latest DJ mixes.”

Fagans — Malmö, Sweden

Tucked away on a side street just above Gustav Adolfs torg, Fagans’ quiz nights and live music nights always bring in a crowd of expat regulars, locals and even curious Danes who’ve come across the bridge.

Arbor Brewing — Bengaluru, India

Arbor Brewing is one of the best spots on the whole subcontinent for quality brews, and that means it draws a very international crowd of hop heads. “Though popular as a microbrewery, its unique cocktails and food make it even more attractive,” The Culture Trip writes. “But what truly differentiates it from most of the pubs in the city is the wonderful ambience it offers.”


La Santisima Flor de Lupulo — Oaxaca, Mexico

La Santisima Flor de Lupulo is another craft beer oasis that gets rave reviews. This two-year-old brewpub has a deli next door, too, so you can grab a burger on the off chance you’ve had your fill of the local Oaxacan cuisine.

Kiwi Bar — Riga, Latvia

Kiwi Bar is one of the best spots in the Baltic States to catch a football or rugby match, so it sees its share of regulars, especially on Saturday afternoons. A great bonus: There is an Indian restaurant next door, and you can order dishes directly from the bar staff.

Vesper — Bangkok, Thailand

Vesper “has a real classy, elegant feel with ample tables spread across for diners, (although it’s best to park yourself at the handsome marble bar if you’re coming alone),” writes. “The clientele here is mostly expats with a bit more cash to splash — compared to the usual foreigner crowd lower Sukhumvit draws in.”

Karga Bar — Istanbul, Turkey

Karga Bar, in the city’s incredible Kadıköy neighborhood, isn’t exactly expat-focused, but it is one of the only places in Istanbul where the bartenders will put on a Fugazi record while you sip your Guinness.

The Highlander — Paris, France

The Highlander, on the The Left Bank just across from the Pont Neuf, is a good bet for anyone in Paris in need of a stout or a single malt whisky. Six TVs throughout the bar show major matches when they’re on, and pub quiz nights on Sundays and Mondays bring out a regular crowd.


La Gringa — Madrid, Spain

La Gringa gets a nod as an expat-friendly spot simply because it draws so many people who live in or are visiting Madrid. In a city and country already famous for its cuisine, La Gringa’s weekend brunch is getting particular attention.

The Rooster — Shanghai, China

Along Shanghai’s famous-among-expats Yongkang Road (which Hayo Magazine describes as a United Nations of bars”) is The Rooster, an American bar that serves frozen mojitos and pulled pork sliders. This is a good starting point if you have plans to do a Yongkang bar hop.

Ralph’s Bar — Brussels, Belgium

Ralph’s Bar on Place Lux, in front of the EU Parliament, is a popular after-work spot among Eurocrats because it has a 2-for-1 happy hour from 18.00 to 19.00 every day. Even on a warm spring evening, you should grab at least one drink inside Ralph’s to admire the high ceilings and the library of bottles behind the bar.

Doppelgänger Bar — Buenos Aires, Argentina

Doppelgänger Bar, in the heart of San Telmo, draws in locals and expats alike with its cocktail menu. The bartenders here might make the best Old Fashioned in Buenos Aires. Cocktail geeks from London, New York, Tokyo and everywhere else will eventually find their way here once they get settled in Buenos Aires.

The Penny Black — Singapore

A traditional Victorian pub along Boat Quay, The Penny Black has a cosy interior, outdoor seating along the water, a good collection of beers on draught, and rugby frequently on the TV. For expats in a busy, always-on city such as Singapore, a traditional English pub is the perfect place to relax for an evening.

images by: Kevin Curtis, Taylor Davidson, Sarah Götze, Yutacar

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