You may have heard claims that Madrid night life boasts the liveliest, latest, bounciest, booziest, jauntiest and juiciest in the entire northern hemisphere? Well, quite frankly, the pie-eyed pub pundits have got it just about right. Read The Spain Event’s Guide to Madrid night spots here and do Madrid in style.
It’s all here, on the streets, in the clubs and in the wee nooks and crannies you might need a lifetime to discover if it weren’t for The Spain Event’s Nightlife Guide...Most visitors to Madrid end up exhausted, in the nicest possible way, and marvel at the sheer appetite of the local Madrileños for fun, fun, and er, more fun. Basically every second night is New Year’s Eve, and whatever it is that you are after – naughty, nice, niche, flamenco, fado, salsa, merengue, malarkey, cheesy or charming – you will find on your Madrid nighttime Safari. And if you are a day-time person who enjoys people-watching (well, who doesn’t…) the areas suggested below will also help you to choose.
Walking around, bar-hopping by day or night, and getting just a little bit lost, is a recreational activity we strongly recommend. Most of the key addresses in the city centre are best reached on foot through the maze of old streets near Sol and Gran Via. But, if you get your act together, you can also take the Metro, it’s fast, clean and virtually free if you buy a “Metrobus”, a ten–journey ticket you can share that costs about 7 quid. And if in doubt, jump in a cab (plentiful on the street and also cheap), and gesture to the driver using a map!
You’ll find that the best atmosphere before 10pm is in Irish and Sports bars. As there are so many bars to choose from, our recommendation is to take a zone-by-zone approach: choose an area of town and explore. You won’t be disappointed! Claims that there are more bars here than in the whole UK may be verging on exaggeration, but remember Madrid has serious amounts of bars. And you have to pace yourselves. At weekends dinner finishes around midnight then the night life begins! Head for the bars first (open till 3am usually) as clubs never get going at weekends until well after 2 am, (and some “after hours” keep going till after midday the next day).
Near the Puerta del Sol nerve centre, this area is full of bars and clubs and full of night life. It’s the most popular area in Madrid for out-of-towners and locals alike (and where you’ll most likely bump into a Hen group!). You can start slowly on a terrace at Plaza Santa Ana and work your way down Calle Huertas, a bar-lined street, down to Atocha, to finish your evening at Kapital night club. Or stay around the streets between Santa Ana and Sol (Calle Cruz, Calle Principe). Nearby are Orox, Café Ducados, Sala Sol, Joy, Palacio Gaviria, Black Jack and many others.
A cool, very Spanish going out area, with lots of tabernas and tapas places. It’s in the back streets of Madrid’s old town, and the action is around the La Latina square (Puerta del Moro), and the neighbouring square (Plaza de la Paja), with bars, restaurants, and cocktail bars. It’s a very smooth and relaxed area, and a good launch pad for a proper nightclub, once all the action closes down around 3am.
Near the Columbus Apartments, and near Metro Alonso Martinez, there are many lively bars around Calle Santa Teresa, and Fernando IV. Try some of the trendy bars at the top of Calle Hortaleza and around the Plaza de Chueca (especially the Bodega). Chueca is one of Madrid’s most celebrated going out areas, a mecca of the gay-friendly nightlife and well-known for its liberal attitudes all over Europe. This is a gay/mixed area but also loved by folks of all persuasions.
This is another typically Spanish going out area full of tapas bars and small bar/clubs. Very popular with the young Spanish Indie crowd, this is a pub-crawlers paradise, where the action spills out on to the streets. There lots of small, cheap bars & rock music bars, if that floats your boat. Arrive after 23:00 – you just need to follow the hordes which spill onto the streets well into the wee small hours. Key streets are: Corredera Baja de San Pablo, Calle Espiritu Santo, Calle Manuela Malasaña, Calle La Palma and Plaza Dos de Mayo.
A Madrid classic old-style. Although technically you’re not allowed to spill into the street, everyone does.
Full of wolves and foxes.
Another taste of vintage Madrid night scene near the Santa Ana square, and a great starting point for nearby mayhem!
Head for this perky little Mexican bar, strategically placed opposite “Sala Sol” so you can keep your eye on the queue as it builds up after 2am.
Is it a bar or is it a club? Who cares – it’s open till 5am!
Also open till 5am, another pub that turns into a club at the witching hour.
Irish bar peopled by locals – good vantage point o begin an assault on the lower Malasaña area (and plenty happening the square nearby)
A favourite bar for getting sloshed before a big night out with friendly bar staff.
Near the Bernabeu in Avenida de Brasil, fills up with disappointed hordes who couldn’t get tickets for Real Madrid, and those egging on whoever Barça are playing….
Near the awesome Plaza Mayor and well placed for central hotels.
Cosy yet cavernous and friendly with good grub. Raymond will welcome you as a stagger!
Clubs never warm up until after 3 am, so pace yourself. And remember that in Spain cover charges on the door almost always includes a free drink, so don’t lose that ticket and hand it to the barman when you order!
Stag’s favourite, low-priced, laid-back, throbbing with swaying locals and weekender females, and open till 6am. This place peaks around 3-4 am, so aim to be in by 0230. If you do get stuck in the queue, the street vendor opposite sells beer! Once in, you’ll lose your mates in the sea of humanity, but love it!
Also open till 6am this is one of Madrid’s classic night scenes, with an eclectic bunch of people and music.
This is the original Pacha! Another Madrid classic full of savvy locals and out-of-towners alike.
Smaller, cheaper than others, a more laid back experience but with good music.
Kapital’s 7 different floors gives scope for all tastes. The music is house, r’n b, funk, techno, Spanish etc , and its go-go dancers and laser show are legendary. Open till 12- 6.
You’ve been out on the razz for 14 hours, the bright morning sun is hurting your eyes, and you have no idea where you are…don’t despair, there’s food to be had, and that’ll cheer you up.
Next door to joy, try the classics Spanish after club donuts (churros) dipped in hot chocolate. A Madrid institution for revellers with the munchies.
Check out the bocadillo (sandwich), rice and noodle sellers (look for the cardboard boxes!) along the Gran Via, while perusing the colourful and friendly selection of señoras de la noche that line that strip of Gran Via. They also sell cans of beer!
Glorieta de Atocha, next to Hotel Mediodia. Opens at 6 am.
Breakfast joints full of clubbers usually open around 5-6am
Be aware that Strip Clubs in Spain are very full-on sex clubs that near little relation to UK lap dancing or striup clubs. That means that the girls do not stop short of dancing topless. All have private rooms for much more personal attention. You’ll find a cluster of these haunts around the Santo Domingo area of Gran Via (the best of which is Chelsea II, see below).
Our favourite. Costs €15 for entrance including a drink. Includes a go-go area and more private seating. Open every night.
Right under the Columbus Apartments. Entrance €30. Closed on Sundays.
These are group friendly places where if you go by earlier to ask you might just get a table!
A fun Mexican in the old town with excellent food and cocktails.
Top notch Argentinian beef for e carnivore feast. Try the chuletón or bife. Wash it down with a Spanish red, rioja. This is true red-blooded stag fare!
A Madrid classic. An Asturian ciderhouse, their speciality is roast chicken marinated in cider. Also try the lacon (Ham) and cabrales (cheese). This must be washed down with sidra (cider). No bookings so arrive a bit earlier than Spanish norm to beat the rush.
Tapas can be the best, and most economical way of getting an authentic local nosh-up. Madrid is tapas heaven and you can really get them on any street (especially around Plaza Santa Ana/Sol) . But here are some places we specially recommend:
A Madrid institution, specialising in spicy potatoes (Patatas bravas), tasty fried fish, or octopus!
This place serves delightful gambas (prawns) in garlic and chile. Also try the langostinos.
The museum of ham. Say No more. It’s delicious.