Madrid is famous for many things: beautiful parks and green spaces, world-class art museums and rich cultural heritage. It’s also one of Europe’s nightlife capitals, with a dazzling and unique array of bars, clubs and other venues where you can while away the early hours in whichever style you please.
Madrid’s bars and restaurants were good enough for Ernest Hemingway, who sampled the libations from a number of locals throughout his time in the Spanish capital. So, it’s no surprise to see that artisanal cocktails are still very much at the heart of the city’s drinking culture. The recent global trend toward craft beer is visible throughout the city, too, as well an extremely credible and prestigious electronic music scene, plus plenty of Reggaeton, which seems to be Spain’s favourite party music these days. From seven-storey superclubs to cosy cocktail bars, via traditional tavernas and cervecerías, Madrid’s nightlife is so rich and varied that you’ll never struggle to find a party to suit you.
If Kapital is Madrid’s best mainstream nightclub, then Goya Social Club is the city’s premier underground dance venue. Cosy and intimate, the venue has space for about 400 people and is rarely lacking for clubgoers. The sound system and equipment in Goya is perfectly designed for house and techno fans, and its resident and guest DJs are among the city’s biggest music nerds.
Known as a top nightlife spot in the city, La Riviera hosts smaller concerts and shows in addition to its bar and nightclub. You’ll often find appearances by Spanish bands, but also by international acts such as Jamie Cullum. The venue also hosts many parties and events.
Specialising in underground and electronic music, Mondo Disko has spent the best part of two decades bringing the best international house and techno DJs to Madrid, week after week. Always popular, you may have to buy tickets for your favourite DJs in advance to ensure entry, but as long as you have tickets you’ll find no dress code or other arbitrary entry rules here. Just come as you are and dance until sunrise in close proximity of world-class DJs and fellow music lovers.
As the first cocktail bar to open in Spain, in its heyday this institution saw Hollywood stars like Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra, along with Ernest Hemingway, mingle with dashing Spanish matadors and Madrid’s in-crowd. Today, snuggle discreetly into one of the bar’s cosy booths, select from one of the many cocktails and channel the silver-screen glamour of yesteryear.
With its neon, lightning-strike ceiling and leopard-print lamps, Salmon Guru brings a big dose of fun to Madrid’s literary quarter. Located just off Plaza de Santa Ana, the bar is the brainchild of mixologist Diego Cabrera, who has combined serious cocktail craft with a creative spin on the genre, offering both old favourites and cool new inventions. Tell the bartenders your favourite flavours, and they’ll whip you up a bespoke cocktail.
Located in the heart of Madrid’s achingly hip Malasaña area, Ojala is one of the area’s most beloved bars. Set across two floors, you can order a range of international tapas dishes here as well as interesting cocktails, such as the red fruit mojito, and even alcohol-free smoothies and other refreshments. Head downstairs, and you’ll be transported to a sandy replica beach, where you can kick back on big, comfy cushions as you sip your cocktails.
Freeway is a unique bar for a number of reasons. Firstly, it looks like an old-fashioned British pub, with a low ceiling, posters of rock bands plastered all over the wall and solid wooden bar. Secondly, it serves pints of beer. Considering most bars in Spain would pour you a caña on a solid chrome bar, Freeway is a real one-off, and a must-see for rock and indie fans, with an intimate downstairs dance floor which opens late at night. Best of all, entry is completely free.
Focussing on rock, indie, garage and punk, Wurlitzer Ballroom has one of the most packed gig listings in the city, with events on every day. Always full, but never overwhelming, the bar’s atmosphere is fun with an emphasis on live music. Cut loose to the coolest bands in the city every day, with doors opening at 10pm. Wurlitzer is just as lively on a Tuesday as it is at the weekend, so if you’re a fan of live rock’n’roll, this is the place for you.