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Madrid Nightlife

 
 

Madrid is one of the world's liveliest cities, a city that never sleeps, and here we list some of the places to go and things to do to enjoy "la noche".

When ask you people for their first impressions of Madrid, the most common response tends to be something along the lines of... "this place is crazy!"
Madrileños and foreigners alike roam the streets at all hours, hopping from tapas bar to bar, from bar to nightclub, and from nightclub to after-hours. There are so many bars in Madrid that the city government just placed a cap on opening new ones... need we say more?

During weekends or before public holidays, and also on the days running up to Christmas, it is not unusual to see more people out and about at 4, 5 or 6am in the morning than in many other cities during the day!

Madrid's nightlife has something for everybody
, whatever your preferences, age or nationality. And don't worry if you're with kids. Children are freely admitted in all types of bars, cafeterias and restaurants.

Start your discovery of "la noche", with this description of Madrid's night, a brief summary of the differences between bars and pubs
, and a few recommendations plus areas of the city you can visit to pursue your favourite night-time activity. It's all in there: discos, pubs, bars, restaurants, flamenco and more.

Differences between bars and pubs

Madrid bars close between 2am and 3:30am, depending on the type of license they have. As recently as 5 years ago this was not the case - bars stayed open until all hours of the night - but laws and enforcement have become much stricter since then.
Looking to shake up the typical pub experience? Here's just a sampling of the wide variety of bars Madrid has to offer...

Bares de tapas & cañas

The most authentic of Madrid bar experiences is the tapas bar. Here, you can order a bunch of small food portions, "tapas," or its larger variant, "raciones," to share with friends while standing at the bar. This is a typical early night activity, starting around 9:30pm.
In the old days, you'd get a free tapa with your drink. Unfortunately, these bars have become more and more scarce. To find free food these days, take tips from locals or look for these characteristics: Not-so-polished. Old-school Spanish. Older bartenders.
A "caña" is a short draft beer for about 1€ or 1.10€. You can also order a "tubo" (twice the size in a tall skinny glass) or "jarra/ doble" (even bigger, in a mug). A "vino tinto" is red wine, "vino blanco," white.

Bares de copas

"Bares de copas" serve beer, mixed drinks, and sometimes cocktails. These locales are more likely to have dance music and even a small dance floor. You'll usually head here around midnight, after the tapas or cañas bar. Some vocabulary for bares de copas...
Beer: Asking for "una cerveza" or "un tercio" will get you a bottled beer. The most common national brands are Mahou, Cruzcampo and Estrella

Mixed drinks: "Cubata" is one way to say a mixed drink. Or just ask for ron (rum)/ whiskey/ vodka/ gin CON coca cola/ fanta (limón, naranja..)/ tonic...

Cervecerías

This is the Spanish equivalent of a pub, often called just that: "pub irlandés".

Coctelerías

A "coctelería" serves all kinds of cocktails, but tropical drinks like mojitis, caipirinhas and margaritas are especially in fashion these days. This kind of Madrid bar tends to have a chill-out, trendy vibe with comfortable seating and colorful decor -- more for chatting than dancing.

Madrid Nightlife by zones

Each barrio carries a distinct style and vibe, so instead of picking one place to spend the whole night, the norm is to jump around bars in an area that fits your tastes, then commit to one nightclub where you'll have to pay a cover charge.

Puerta del Sol, Gran Vía & Huertas

When tourists don't know where to go, they start at the center of it all, Puerta del Sol, and trickle back towards Plaza de Santa Ana and Huertas for more. This is the land of Irish pubs, pop music, foreigners and, to be frank, Spaniards looking for foreign action. Nevertheless, there are some authentic tapas bars around here and Huertas holds two respected jazz bars: Café Populart (Huertas, 22) and Café Central (Plaza del Ángel, 10).



Gran Vía


Up, down and off Gran Vía, Madrid nightclubs abound. The boulevard is packed at all hours of the weekend, starting at the metro stop Gran Vía, Callao, San Bernardo and Plaza de España.

La Latina


La Latina, nearby Plaza Mayor, is a Sunday afternoon favorite. Just when you thought the weekend was over, you'll find madrileños packed into the bars around Plaza de la Paja, Plaza de San Andrés and Cava Baja; drinking beer in the squares; or chilling at sought-after terrace spots. It's also a great area to get tapas, wine, beer or cocktails on any night of the week. The vibe here is laid-back and a touch trendy, but very inclusive.

Cava Baja and the streets nearby include some traditional Castilian restaurants such as Casa Lucio and Botin, many new, modern wine bars and several tapas establishments. The area is very popular on  Sunday mornings before lunch.

Although the many cafeterias and restaurants located within the Plaza Mayor itself can be a tourist trap and little expensive, it's still worth enjoying the occasional drink here if you can sit outside at one of the terraces on a nice day,  enjoying the street theatre in the Plaza or simply people watching before moving on. In the area immediately surrounding the square there are many pubs, restaurants, and tapas bars for every taste and budget.


Chueca


Queers and heteros alike mingle seamlessly in Chueca, the dynamic hub of Gay Madrid. The most modern of Madrid barrios in decor and style, Chueca nightlife is sleek and refined.

Malasaña

This is the name given to the streets surrounding the Plaza de Dos de Mayo, home to a myriad of bars, cafeterias, pubs and restaurants. Many establishments have live music and in the summer months the cafés bring tables and chairs outside  to form terraces, especially in the Plaza, where you will also be able to purchase some interesting "products" from the local dealers. Mostly a young crowd and perhaps not the best choice for more "mature" night-dwellers.

Emerge from the metro station Tribunal on any weekend night and you'll immediately get a feel for the Malasaña nightlife: young, alternative, rocker, hipster. Malasaña may not be the counterculture hotbed it was during La Movida, but it still packs a punch all around Plaza Dos de Mayo, Calle de San Vincente Ferrer and Calle de la Palma. Calle del Pez, closer to Gran Vía, attracts a slightly more mature crowd with stellar tapas bars like El Pez Gordo

Lavapiés


If you want to see gentrification in action, head to Lavapiés. It's inhabited by hippies, hipsters and a large immigrant population, but locales with a sleeker look are sprouting up everywhere. From Indian restaurants and Brazilian bars to clandestine chill-outs and flamenco locales, Lavapiés is, hands-down, the city's multicultural scene.

Salamanca


The Salamanca landscape consists of loafers, polo shirts, high heels and tans fresh off vacation at the beach house. In other words, this is where the city's wealthy mix.

 
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