This article gives details about how to find some great bars in Madrid. There are also tips about what to wear, and insider information on what to drink, depending on where you are. You'll also see how to find each bar, and there's a rough guide to prices.
The Different Styles Of Bars in Madrid
Madrid has a big bar culture although the locals do not generally drink to excess and it is quite normal to eat tapas as you go. You'll find the nightlife includes plenty of bars with tapas. There are also many chill out bars that are popular on Sunday afternoons as well as at night. If you have a preferred taste in music, you're sure to be able to find a bar that caters to it. For example, there are many venues that host flamenco shows.
To avoid embarrassment, remember when looking for the bathroom, that 'm' is for 'mujeres' which is 'women'! NOT 'men'. Men will either be 'caballeros' or 'hombres'.
What To Wear To When You Go Out At Night
People from Madrid like to look smart. The other extreme is the bohemian crowd, who tend to hang out in the district of La Latina.
Metro: La Latina (Green Line, L5)
At any time a small beer (caña) is fine. During the spring, in the daytime, you'll see people drinking tall glasses of 'tinto de verano' (red wine with a type of lemonade). As the heat increases drink 'horchata' (a drink from Valencia, served cold and made from tiger nuts, sugar and water) or 'granizado' (normally of lemon, a bit like a slush puppy). At night, red wine and cocktails are popular. Expect to pay about €6.00 for a cocktail and anything from €1.60 for a glass of wine.
Popular Bars In Madrid
Street: Gran Via
Metro: Gran Via (Green Line, L5) Plus 5 minutes walk
This bar was voted the 'Best European Bar 2004' by MTV-Campari. They have an extensive cocktail list, and claim to have served drinks to many famous celebrities, including, Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, Lana Turner, Gary Cooper, Orson Wells, Yul Brynner and Ernest Hemingway. Today the celebrities still come, in the form of Catherine Zeta Jones, Hugh Grant and Tim Robbins.
They only serve drinks and are open from 17:00 - 02:00 every day.
Street: Visitag Manzana, 10
Metro: La Latina (Green Line, L5) Plus 7 minutes walk
I love stumbling across bars in backstreets. This street is just off the bustling Cava Baja street, and this bar is a rare find. It's especially busy on Sunday afternoons, and you can get delicious 'tostas' (small pieces of toast with different toppings). Their speciality is avocado (aguacate), and it goes down perfectly with a couple of cañas (small beers).
It's not the cheapest bar around, one serving of 'tostas' and 2 cañas will cost €10.00, but its worth it for the atmosphere. Open evenings and all day on the weekends.
Street: Calle Horteleza, 96
Metro: Chueca (Green Line, L5) Plus 5 minutes walk
This bar is seriously cool. In the heart of Madrid's gay friendly zone of Chueca, it attracts a mixed crowd of very cool people. Primarily it's a chill out bar and is decorated in sumptuous deep colours in a Moroccan style. It's dark and inviting, and the seating is a choice of cushions on the floor, traditional tables and chairs, or if you're lucky, you can grab the four poster bed at the back for you and your friends.
Personally, I don't feel there's any point trying to have a cheap night in this bar. A small beer costs way too much. You may as well plump for the cocktails like everyone else does as they're much better value for money. Try the mojitos, they are delicious and cost €7.00 before 22:00 (all cocktails have the same price) and €8.00 after 22:00 mojitos and any other cocktail. This bar is open every night. At the weekends after 23:00 you may have to queue to get in.
Street: Plaza Santa Ana
Metro: Sol (Red Line, L2) Plus 10 minutes walk
There's a nice terrace outside, and the interior of the bar is tastefully decorated. They have a tasty array of tapas and serve nice cold beers.
Miali is open daily from midday onwards. It's a great place to sit and people watch.
If you visit the Plaza Santa Ana after about 22:00 be prepared for touts from various bars to approach you. They will ask you if you are planning to visit their particular bar and offer you tickets that will get you a free drink. They'll offer to accompany you to the bar. They're not dangerous, and if you aren't interested, a polite 'no thanks' will suffice.
Knowing Where To Go
There are chill out bars, tapas bars, bars with terraces and many more to choose from. The bohemian crowd head for La Latina area, and if you're looking for good tapas to accompany your drinks then try Plaza Santa Ana or Cava Baja. Remember that nightlife starts later in Spain, and that in Madrid, most people stay out until after dawn.