So, you’ve booked your flight, your suitcase is packed and you’ve been brushing up on your GCSE Spanish so that ‘dos cervezas por favor’ now rolls off the tongue. Looks like you’re all set to party with the Madrileños! But wait, with more bars in Madrid per square mile than any other European capital, where do you even begin?!
Fret not; we’ve done the hard work for you. From jaw-dropping rooftop bars to charming and cheap bodegas, we’ve rounded up the best bars in Madrid to help you swerve the tourist traps like a pro. So all you have to do is try to keep up with the party-loving locals.
1. El Palentino
El Palentino is an institution amongst Madrid’s bars ?@ababolico
Where to begin with the classic that is El Palentino? It’s essentially a city landmark, almost as iconic as the Puerta de Alcala, but with half the tourists and twice the booze! Yes it’s a dive bar, but it carries its own authentic Spanish charm and represents the community in which it’s cocooned. There are no hipster trinkets or fancy cocktails here, just fluorescent strip lights, a buzzing atmosphere and a metal topped bar that’s been there since time began. Locals claim the prices here haven’t changed since Spain joined the Euro, so to say that it’s cheap would be a slight understatement. To many people, El Palentino is the best cheap bar in Madrid bar none.
Address: Calle del Pez, 12, 28004, Madrid
2. Macera TallerBar
Head to Macera TallBar for G&Ts done right ?@pal_alt
Everyone loves a Gin and Tonic, right? The best G&Ts nowadays are works of art, and there’s nowhere better to appreciate one than at Macera, where they even craft their own gin. All exposed brick and makeshift artwork, Macera has rapidly become a firm favourite in the barrio of Malasaña. The show-stopping G&Ts here are served in a goblet-esque chalice and cost a very reasonable £5. For that price, it would be rude not to!
Address: Calle de San Mateo, 21, 28004, Madrid
3. Mercado de San Fernando
Make like the locals and swap your bar for a Mercado ?@felizamarra
Madrileños love a market, and it’s easy to see why: the best ones offer a sociable place to eat, drink and be merry in one easy hit! The city has a whole host of markets, each with its own unique charm. If you’re on the hunt for something slightly off the beaten track with a generous helping of local pizazz, Mercado de San Fernando is the market for you. It’s not gentrified, it’s not glamorous and it’s not glossy. What it is though, is bustling, authentic and real. Every Sunday, the folk of Madrid pour in to drink artisan beer at La Buena Pinta, or to answer the call of a crisp glass of Albariño.
Address: Calle de Embajadores, 41, 28012, Madrid
4. Café de la Luz
Is this the cosiest bar in Madrid? Yes. Yes, it is. ?@joserra
Picture the cosiest, snuggest living room, and you’ve envisaged Café de la Luz! This wonderfully shabby-chic Madrid bar seems to have a permanent Instagram filter glow. With a collection of well-worn sofas and cute little nooks, it’s the perfect place to bunker down with a large glass of Rioja and a good book. It doesn’t hurt that the staff are some of the friendliest folk in the city, who will always try to squeeze you in and offer you a free snack if you have to wait for a spot. A hidden gem, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Madrid’s main shopping district, Café de la Luz is the perfect place to warm up before painting the town red.
Address: Calle de la Puebla, 8, 28004, Madrid
5. 1862 Dry Bar
Head to Dry Bar 1862 some of the best cocktails in Madrid ?@nolitat
The best bars in Madrid tend to fall into one of two distinct camps: those with strip lighting and an ageing clientele, or the ones that serve drinks in jam jars. What makes Dry Bar 1862 so great is that it cannot be shoehorned into either camp. A staggeringly chic cocktail bar that’s perched on the always popular Calle Pez, it may look discreet from the outside, but once inside you’ll be met by a prohibition-era inspired bar with some of the best drinks in Madrid. The affable owner, Alberto, is a fountain of knowledge on cocktails so you’re in very safe hands.
Address: Calle del Pez, 27, 28004, Madrid
6. Pez Tortilla
Spanish Omelette + ice cold beer at Pez Tortilla ?@factoriadecerveza
Spaniards are fiercely proud of their gastronomy, and rightly so. Madrid has more than its fair share of Michelin stars, but there’s an equally amazing foodie scene for backpackers on a budget. One of the greatest pleasures to be had in life is devouring an oozy slab of tortilla de patata, that’s a Spanish Omelette to you and me, chased down with an ice cold beer. Sounds good? Then you need to head to Pez Tortilla where simplicity is key. Their range of tortillas changes weekly; we love the parmesan, basil and sundried tomato omelette. This is also one of the best bars in Madrid for craft beer fans, so understandably it’s a pretty popular spot; Try to get there early by Spanish standards, because by 8pm you’ll find yourself jostling for a space at the bar.
Address: Calle Pez, 36, 28004, Madrid
7. Casa Camacho
Enjoying a cold glass of vermouth at midday is one of Madrid’s most deeply rooted traditions, but this drink’s renewed popularity owes a lot to Casa Camacho. Located smack bang in the heart of the Malasaña neighbourhood, each month this dinky little bar serves up roughly 2,500 litres of vermouth. Olé! Often served with a potent mix of gin and soda, you’ll need to go easy on these delicious concoctions for the sake of your head the next day.
Address: Calle de San Andrés, 4, 28004, Madrid
8. Toque de Sal
Art Deco charm at one of the prettiest bars in Madrid ?@cristipinwi
The renowned strip of bars on Calle Ponzano is trending right now. So much so that there’s even a verb to describe drinking here: ‘ponzaning’. This is prime bar crawl territory, with some of the coolest bars in Madrid here. But if there’s one you absolutely must not miss, it’s Toque de Sal. Its glamorous Art Deco interior and intimate dining room tucked away at the back make it an ideal place to indulge in a pre-dinner drink, or two… or three.
Address: Calle de Ponzano, 46, 28003, Madrid
A diamond in the rough close to Plaza Mayor ?@sunsh.l.ne
Although Anticafé is in a touristy area, it’s a true diamond in the rough! Tucked away on a side street close to the Sol and Plaza Mayor, this little watering hole comes alive in the late afternoon and is always full to the brim with locals who’ve made the pilgrimage from hipper neighbourhoods such as Malasaña or Lavapiés. It’s one of the best bars in Madrid if you want to get involved with the locals. Often hosting live DJs, Anticafé is a cheap and cheerful place to enjoy the occasional lock-in when the pull of a party is stronger than your bed. It’s not difficult to while away hours here on a tenner.
Address: Calle Unión, 2, 28013, Madrid
10. Círculo de Bellas Artes
This bar has the BEST views of Madrid ?@lisa_esc
Put your hand up if you love a rooftop. Put your other hand up if you love a rooftop with jaw dropping views. If both your hands are up right now, then you need to visit Circulo de Bellas Artes. This is without a doubt the best rooftop bar in Madrid, and whilst it’s not going to be the most purse-friendly glass of cava you’ll ever enjoy, every sip is worth it for the stunning views across the city’s terracotta roofs. The vibe is reminiscent of an Ibiza beach bar, yet it’s housed in one of the most historical buildings in Madrid.
Address: Calle de Alcalá, 42, 28014, Madrid
11. Bodega de la Ardosa
An Insta-worthy old-school Madrid bodega ?@palo_busta
Another classic choice in the popular neighbourhood of Malasaña. The bold red facade and old-school looks make Bodega de la Ardosa the perfect place to indulge in some typical Spanish fiesta, and also brighten up your Instagram feed. There’s cold beers, tapas galore and if you can bag yourself a window seat you can people-watch to your heart’s content. Head there early doors to avoid the crowds and enjoy a crisp vermouth before you head off for dinner; in this barrio you’ll be spoilt for food options.
Address: Calle de Colón, 13, 28004, Madrid
12. La Via Lactea
La Via Lactea is a veteran of the Madrid bar scene ?@alvarocobarro
This bar is downright infamous within the city, largely due to it being at the epicentre of the Movida Madrileña way back in the ’80s. The décor has managed to retain a certain faded charm, making La Via Lactea nothing short of a Madrid institution. The regulars are a mixed bag thanks to the slightly alternative punk/rock tunes and the presence of a large pool table where people tend to pose, rather than play. The drinks are nice and cheap if you steer clear of spirits, and on any given Saturday it’ll be packed to the rafters with happy hipsters. Not one to be missed if you like a bit of eye candy with your tipple of choice!
Address: Calle Velarde, 18, 28004, Madrid
A round of drinks at the cosy Verbena bar won’t break the bank ?@javiergonz73
As you may have noticed, Madrid is choc-a-bloc full of cute looking bars. It’s enough to give anybody FOMO. However, should you find yourself strolling around the vintage shops that pepper Calle Velarde, you don’t want to miss the cosy and colourful Verbena Bar. It’s the ideal mid-shopping spot for a cheeky early-afternoon drink or tapas pitstop. And the best bit? A round of drinks here costs about as much as a sarnie back in Blighty.
Address: Calle Velarde, 24, 28004 Madrid
14. Arts Club Madrid
If you want to push the boat out a little and go somewhere a little more stylish, then Arts Club Madrid is just the ticket. This stylish bar slash art gallery specialises in high-octane glamour, and is a great place to party with the pretty peeps of Madrid. It’s the most expensive bar on this list, but if you skip the cocktails and go for wine or beer then it’ll cost you no more than a mediocre night out in London. So throw on your gladrags, and treat yo’self!
Address: Calle de Velázquez, 96, 28006 Madrid
15. La Playa de Lavapiés
Budget drinks in Madrid’s most multicultural neighbourhood ?@pericolo_peclobe
If you’re a lover of Indian food, then a visit to La Playa de Lavapiés is non-negotiable. Much like Brick Lane in London, Lavapiés is frequently referred to as the most multicultural neighbourhood in Madrid and it’s probably true. The varied tapestry of its residents is reflected in the diversity of its bars, and La Playa de Lavapiés is one of the best. As packed and rowdy on a Sunday afternoon as it is on a Friday night, it captures the feeling that permeates the city, the unabashed love of a good time, regardless of whether you need to set that 7am alarm for the following day. Lavapiés is still what estate agents call ‘up and coming’, so prices are pleasingly low.
Address: Calle de Argumosa, 9, 28012, Madrid
16. The Hat Madrid
When it comes to hostel bars, Madrid is ? ?@rafaelsfarias
*shameless plug alert* We all know hostel bars are usually one of the best places in any city for fun and cheap drinks, but Madrid takes this to another level. There are SO many incredible hostels in Madrid, many of which have awesome bars. We don’t have favourites, of course, but if we did it would be The Hat Madrid, which features an insane roof terrace and cocktails in a bag. Enough said!
About the Author
Cat considers herself be more than in the know when it comes to eating, drinking and being merry in the city which knows how to party. For more inspo from Madrid and beyond, follow her on Instagram @catpower84.
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