Unlike many of its European counterparts, Spain has no licensing laws so it’s little wonder that its capital is overrun with drinking establishments. Just about every corner of the city has a bar on it and as a result the locals never stay in one watering hole for more than one or two drinks as there is simply too much to see and do. As well as this their drinking is not at all restricted to the weekend which is good news for those of you holidaying in the city. For those who live there, it really must be a struggle getting up for work in the morning.
One thing that you will note, however, is that despite the fact that the native Madrilenos can be found in the pub every night of the week, their drinking habits are quite unique. They rarely get drunk, unlike the residents of some other European capitals, but wander from bar to bar sampling tapas and socialising in a most relaxed and civilised fashion which is testament to the easy going mood which seems to descend over the whole city in the evening.
As you can appreciate, there are whole host of party zones in the Spanish capital but there are a few which any true reveller simply must check out. The area between Puerta del Sol and Plaza de Santa Ana is eternally popular, particularly Calle Huertas which is lined with pubs, traditional tavernas and theatre cafés. The local pubs around Plaza de Santa Barbara are another hive of activity after dark and during summer the terraces in Paseo de la Castellana are thronged with those out to have a good time. Regarded by many as Madrid’s most exciting area, day or night, Gran Via is another part of the city which you won’t want to miss. Others include Malasana, a great place to check out some authentic flamenco and Plaza del Dos de Mayo.
And finally, for up to date information on venues which you should seek out after dark check out Guia de Ocio which is published every Monday or the daily listings in El Pais.
Calle de la Cava Baja 27, Madrid, Spain
If you’ve come to Madrid looking for flamenco, then look no further. Regarded by locals as the last true flamenco bar in the city, La Solea is located in the old part of the city and as yet is not that well known by tourists so hurry. Entrance is free, drink is cheap and the entertainment is second to none.
Plaza Vasquez de Mella 2, Madrid, Spain
Unlike a lot of the bars mentioned here, there is a cover charge between €7-€10 to get into Long Play but this does include your first drink. As well as this incentive, however, the minute you get inside you’ll see that the entry fee was money well spent. Wtih a variety of live and recorded music playing until 6.00am on Fridays and Saturdays, this place is worth checking out.
Jardines 3, Madrid, Spain
Playing host to live concerts which kick off around midnight and a disco which gets going about 4.00am, you can probably tell that this place is a hard core party haunt where only the strong survive. Admission is reasonable at €7 which includes a free drink and you may even negotiate a group discount if there’s a horde of revellers in your troop.
Principe 7, Madrid, Spain
Dating from the early fifties, to say Sesamo is bohemian is an understatement. Attracting writers, artists and the like from all over the city it’s a fascinating establishment where live piano music is common adding the chilled out atmosphere of the pub and the chilled out mood of the clientele.
Soenores de Luzon 3, Madrid, Spain
The hottest club in town at the moment, prepare to be dazzled. Playing an eclectic mix of hip hop, reggae, jungle and all things cool, the décor is Oriental in style making the club itself all the more alternative. Open from Thursday to Saturday, this place can become extremely packed so get there early if you wish to breathe for your first couple of hours.
Calle de la Cruz 8, Madrid, Spain
Open from 6.00pm until late, this is a typical Spanish bar at its best. Tapas and Spanish music combined with the latest in top 40 hits, this place is quirky and fun but is for those of you looking for more of a relaxed atmosphere. Is quite packed from 11.00pm onwards.
Atocha 125, Madrid, Spain
A vast and varied discotheque located in a former theatre, this mammoth club has seven different levels each with its very own bar and its very own style. Wandering from one floor to the next, you could easily be forgiven for thinking that you had entered an entirely different bar so diverse is the décor in this place. Open from Thursday to Sunday.
Albuquerque 14, Madrid, Spain
With free entry on Sunday and Monday and a minimal cover charge for the rest of the week, the best nights to frequent Clamores are those where you have to pay as this is when you will hear some of the best jazz in the city. Otherwise the music is that of the recorded variety but the place is still worth a visit.
Calle del la Cruz 7, Madrid, Spain
With live music every night and of every variety – African, Cuban, Salsa – this is a real party establishment. The music kicks off about 10.00pm and keeps going until 2.00am when a DJ steps in and keeps things going until 5.30am. Prepare to boogie into the night.
Plaza del Angel 10, Madrid, Spain
While the crowd are pretty subdued during the day and come here mainly to read and chat, things certainly liven up after dark when the nightly jazz sessions kick in. Open throughout the week, there is live music between 10.00pm and 12.00am daily making it a really popular choice.
c/Principe 16, Madrid, Spain
As plush as this bar just off Plaza Santa Ana may seem, it is surprisingly forthcoming to easy going backpackers who make the trek to the Spanish capital every weekend. Its dark décor creates a subdued ambiance, but this changes as the night gets older when livelier tunes cause each member of the clientele to get down.
Open nightly from 5pm-4am.