Top bars and clubs when visiting Madrid!
If you think you will need to use the metro frequently, it’s cheapest to buy a 10 viajes (journeys) ticket and save yourself 2.50 off single tickets. Madrid is a very pedestrian friendly city, however, with most major sites located within half an hour stroll of each other.
If you have chosen to stay a little further out than the city centre, the Cercanias will be your lifeline in and out of the city. Much faster than the metro this local train service is also extremely modern and comfortable and connects with both major metro stations and the 4 national train stations.
The huge quantity of bars and pubs in Madrid (more than in the entirety of Norway) could almost be a little daunting, until you accept that in 80% of cases you are going to get a drink which is much cheaper AND usually stronger than home, some sort of snack and a certain resigned air of service from the staff. Once you accept these three as the golden rule you can go explore all the little ways in which this ginormous amount of drinking establishments differ.
Maybe you prefer a classy rooftop bar where your, ludicrously cheap, gin and tonic are served in a glass goblet with a fruit salad and an elegant tin of crisps or perhaps the classic cerveceria, where the floor is littered with napkins and the beer is served ice cold, for less than a euro and accompanied by a plate of you-don’t-know-what-but-wow-its-delicious? (see Tapas)
Here is a short list of my favourites for whatever occasion:
Located in the bustling maze of lanes to the direct south of Puerta de Sol, Malaspina never fails to astound me with the quantity of alcohol and food that is given to me for so little money. In a street where bars stand shoulder to shoulder Malaspina stands out for its rustic décor and unusually cheery staff. Expect it to be busy at Spanish dinner time (8-11) but for an evening drink or 3 you can’t get better in this central location. A copa de vino or doble of cerveza, complete with tapa, will set you back 1.70 and be generously poured.
Address: Calle Cadiz, Metro Sol
Tucked into the road that links La Latina with Lavapies and plays host to the famous Rastro market is Patio Andaluz, which typifies the Spanish cerveceria for me. The beer is cheap and cold, the food is delicious and plentiful and free, and the staff seem to hate you no matter what! Welcome to Spain. For its location within the trendy La Latina, Patio Andaluz is holding on to traditions in a winning way. A doble or copa de vino plus tapa will set you back 1.80, or the traditional tiny beer, cana, 70 cents.
Address: Calle de las Maldonadas, 5. Metro La Latina
On the popular calle de Toledo and just 1 minute from la Latina metro is the three story El Viajero. As the name suggest this bar is situated in an old building perched on the corner of two narrow, bar filled streets. What makes El Viajero stand out is its variety of styles which blend perfectly together. On the ground floor is the main bar and also restaurant area, the food is good but not the cheapest, and the atmosphere is chic but comfortable. A steep flight of stairs lead to the middle floor which is a much more cosy setting, soft chairs grouped tightly around low tables and a bar serving an endless flow of mixed drinks and beer, with the ubiquitous snack (note; El Viajero doesn’t offer much more than nuts or crisps as tapa) following on from this is the reason I have included it in the list. And even steeper flight of stair lead to a secluded roof terrace. Bordered by wrought iron railings and thick green hedges this is a little open air oasis from the tiny, packed spaces that is the norm for bars in La Latina. That’s not to say it isn’t busy, but customers come and go quickly and iv never had to wait long to snag a table and chairs. Unusually, the drink prices are no more for outside than in, another plus point, and service is both from the bar and at table. A little nicer than the average without losing its Spanish character, El Viajero is a hidden gem in this most popular of Barrios.
Address: Plaza de la Cebada, 11. Metro La Latina
Sited somwhat incronguously just off Plaza Lavapies is this beautiful cocktail bar with live piano music most nights. A locally known gem offering up a little taste of the '20s, Olivia is popular with locals and students alike. As it's popularity has spread by word of mouth so it is unusual to hear english being spoken, making it a great place to practice your Spanish! Bear in mind that this is not a large venue and does get very busy after 7pm most nights. G+T costs 5 euros, beer 2, not the cheapest nor the most expensive but worth a visit for the music and atmosphere.
Address: Calle Ave Maria, 35. Metro: Lavapies
Mercado de San Anton
Rising gloriously above the rooftops of Chueca is this 4 storey mercardo of endless treasures. The entire top floor is a restaurant and decadent rooftop bar, complete with views, sofas and giant drinks. The staff are friendly and efficient, the prices make no sense considering the setting (where a wine in a corridor of a bar in la latina will cost 5 euros, in this classy locale it's 3), and the view is ever changing. Perfect for an aperitif or to start off your night, the clientele tend to be young working spaniards and tourists in the know. Also very popular for dates, for obvious reasons
The 3rd floor of the Mercardo is often presumed to be the top, adding to the charm of the roof bar, as it is full of tapas and bars arranged as a gallery looking down on the food stalls of the market. Again, prices are excellent and the food is delicious, it can be difficult to secure a spot however, as this is a very popular location for all.
Address: Calle Augusto de Figuero, 24. Metro Chueca
Madrid boasts an array of late night clubs, and by late night I mean they close between 6 and 8 am, here are just a sample of the better known for a variety of different tastes.
Ocho y media
regularly toted as second only to Kapital in popularity, Sala ocho y media is a theatre by day, heaving dance floor by night. Located right by Tribunal metro station it is the perfect location for party goers streaming from both Chueca and Malasana’s bars which typically close at 2am. With a mixed crowd of students and local residents, the music is reliably mainstream with a latin twist and once a month Saturday night sees a big name DJ take to the decks. In contrast with Kapital, ocho y media has a laid back vibe which is reflected in the dress code and the price of the drinks!
Address: Calle Barcelo, 11
Opening hours: 20:00 - 5.45 (closed on mondays)
Centrally located for latin music lovers Palacio is the biggest club in town for salsa, bachata and regatton music. Entrance before 11 is free but the place will be deserted, aim to arrive at 1 to make the most of the dancing without having to pay 10 euro entrance. As with many clubs in Europe, a drink is included in the entrance price and after that expect to pay between 7 and 10 per drink, depending on your choice of poison. As an awkward brit I have never salsa danced sober, so as far as I’m concerned Palacio can be the best of fun, but leave your inhibitions at the door!
Address:Plaza de Isabel II, 7
Opening hours: 18:00 - 06:00
A live music venue as well as a rocking club, independence is unusual in Madrid for its commitment to Indie and Rock music. Playing anything from classic 80’s anthems to the breakout stars of the Spanish rock scene, and with regular live performances from such huge names as The Ramones, this is a haven from the EDM and latino beats of most Madrileno dance spaces. If you are on the (free, just sign up on their website) guest list, entrance is free on both Friday and Saturday (unless the aforementioned huge bands are playing) and, continuing its theme of unusual-within-Madrid, Independence also has a Monday night which is always heaving with students who flock to the cheaper drinks.
Address: Calle del Dr Cortezo, 1
Opening hours: 23:00 - 06:00, only open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday
For all us foreigners here in Madrid sometimes you need to be surrounded by clubbers you can lip read from, Joy serves that function fantastically. Due to its central location and absolute commitment to mainstream dance and US billboard toppers Joy has built a reputation as the ‘extranjeros club’ which is now beginning to draw in more locals. Due, perhaps, to its typical clientele, Joy does get busier earlier than its neighbour Palacio so aim to get there between 12 and 1. Prices are similar to said neighbour so I would always suggest indulging in botellon* beforehand. Best nights are Wednesdays.
Address: Calle Arenal, 11
Opening hours: 00.00 - 06:00
Much smaller but also worthy of mention as late night dance spaces are Barco and Thundercat. Both are located within the popular malasana and within a few minutes walk of each other. That is where the similarities end however.
is a pure, dedicated salsa bar, with live music and regular salsa classes and performances. It is an incredible place for both amateurs and competent salsa aficionados alike. The atmosphere is intimate yet friendly and the band are outstandingly talented. With late night (early morning) closing times Barco is the perfect venue to end your night with real latin flair
on the otherhand, is an institution dedicated to mixing the old and new of every variety of music that could loosely be termed ‘indie’. Just as Barco is unmistakeably a salsa bar, Thundercat is committed to its genre in every way. The walls are hung with huge graffiti murals depicting the icons of the 80’s and 90’s. The staff are regularly dressed as characters from Tarantino films, or as ghostbusters. They host an open mic night every Thursday (00:00 to 03:00) where any one is welcome to go up on stage to sing or play in the band for a song of their choosing, and be given a free drink for their bravery.
Address: Calle del Barco, 34
Opening hours: 22:00 - 05:00
Address: Calle de Campoamor, 11
Opening hours: 22:00- 06:00 (only Thursday, Friday, Saturday)