This is a manual of Madrid for the young, the young at heart, the energetic, the rockers, and certainly the partiers. See Madrid from an alternative view and what you won’t find in a travel guide book.
What’s great about Madrid is the party life (I’m sure you already knew that). The best nights to go out in Madrid are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. If you’re looking for something different, here is your complete guide to experiencing Madrid like a local.
- Supersonic (Sala Dolce, Calle de Campoamor, 3) – underground (literally, it’s under ground) rock and roll bar. It’s been a favorite of mine as well as that of all my friends. Dream of the most exciting bar you could imagine and this place will still exceed your expectations. You’ll regret not going and you’ll love yourself for going. (weekends only) *Note: Name of venue frequently changes, but the location is always the same with the same music and deejays.
- Independance – a big indie-rock dance bar. Full of young hipsters, with the best indie, punk, and rock tunes around. (Open Midnight to 6am, Thursday – Saturday)
- Ocho y medio (Sala But, Calle de Martín de los Heros, 11) – This club is open Saturday nights only. Similar to the aforementioned bars, but it’s one of the latest open bars in Madrid. Always jam-packed with people and the music is for those that aren’t into the womp-womp-womp of dubstep or techno/electronic music (like me). (Saturdays only)
- Star Studio (Plaza del Carmen, 3) – A fun, rockin’ Irish pub. Good fun every night of the week. (great to visit on a week night)
- La Fontana de Oro (Calle de la Victoria, 1) – A pretty touristy bar located right in the heart of Sol. Of all the touristy bars, this is by far the best. (great to visit on a week night)
- Moondance (Calle Aduana 21) – Another bar in the center with good music and good fun. (great to visit on a week night)
- Zombie – If you’re into dubstep/house/electronica/whathaveyou and music so loud you won’t be able to hear yourself think for a week, check out Madrid’s local deejaying duo, The Zombie Kids, who do an amazing dubstep mix (including covers of some of your favorite rock bands all dubbed out). The guys are old skate-rockers, covered in tattoos, studded belts, pinned-and-patched sleeveless jean jackets, and Vans shoes, they are the best for those that like the club scene. These guys also own their own bar with old fish-tail skateboards on the walls and skate trucks as coat hangers that you should definitely check out. (Only Wednesday nights)
- Biblos Bar (Corredera Baja de San Pablo, 4) – run by the nicest bartender in all of Spain (he’s not Spanish which explains why his service is so good), you’ll leave with a full stomach and a tipsy head for just 5 euros. Try the Shawarma, it’s a Lebanese kebab, beware, they are highly addicting. Make small talk with the bartender and I’m sure he’ll invite you to a few shots.
- El Palentino (Calle del Pez, 12) – a bar run by old Spanish men, it is by far the cheapest bar in town with an unlimited amount of people for you to meet. An unmissable place, especially for those of you with low budgets. Also, the bar was featured in Manu Chao’s video, me llaman calle.
- La Blanca Paloma (Calle de Espíritu Santo, 21)– a typical but atypical tapas bar. Full of Spanish themes on the wall (including a bull head), sit down, order a beer, and the tapas will just keep coming free of charge! A great place to “have dinner,” especially if you’re broke.
- El Tigre (Calle de Infantas, 28)– The most legendary free tapas bar in Madrid, this is a place that’s always brim-full of Spaniards and tourists alike. Order a drink and the plates of greasy Spanish finger food will follow.
- Outlet Bar (Calle de la Libertad, 17) – Another cheap bar located in Chueca, the gay district of Madrid. Cheapest beer in town. Enough said.
- Zombie Bar (Calle del Pez, 7) – A skate-rocker-hipster bar that shouldn’t be missed if you ride a fix-gear bike, wear skinny jeans, have a beard, or once in your life mastered a kickflip on your skateboard.
Other things not to miss:
- Rooftop Views – Visit the Círculo de Bellas Artes rooftop terrace (azotea) where you will get an incredible view of Madrid from the sky. If you’d prefer to have a drink, get a tinto de verano in the restaurant on the top floor of the El Corte Inglés in Plaza del Callao where you are able to sit next to the glass for a skyline view of the city. You’re last option, and the only free option, is taking the terrace-tour at the Palacio de Cibeles (city hall) where you get a 360-degree view of Madrid. Get there early because tickets go quick!
- Sunday evening fun – If you want to do as the Spanish, on Sunday evenings, go down to La Latina district and drink a caipirinha, grab a tapa, or buy a beer from one of the unofficial vendors wandering Plaza de Puerta de Moros and enjoy the funnest Sunday night of your life. Stroll down Calle Cava Baja and see how the Spaniards take advantage of every moment of not working (no one works on Sundays) and go out. You’ll see the bars so full you won’t even be able to get in and the streets will be littered with people conversating and drinking.
- Drink a “Mini” of Kalimotxo – to the horror of French wine drinking elitists, on one special night, the Spanish must have run out of everything to drink except red wine and coca-cola. Being the inventive and non-wasteful people they are, they decided to mix ‘em together and now we’ve got Kalimotxo. Go for the big cups: order a “mini” which is an oxy-moron, because the minis are one-litre big and it’s clearly the classiest way to drink Spain’s not-so-classy drink.
- For art lovers – free art exhibits at the Caixa Forum and at the Fundación Caja Madrid. They usually have great exhibits from famous artists. And best of all, they’re always free.
- Botellón – This is something that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. Botellón are the famous informal plaza-parties that the government irrefutably tries to stop but can’t. By law it’s illegal…but in practice, anything goes! These occur almost every night, but the best ones are on the weekends. If you need recommending of where to find the best ones, head on down to Templo de Debod around 11pm on a Friday or Saturday night and you’ll find hundreds of university-age people drinking, playing music, and living life to the fullest (which is what you want to be doing too, right?). If that doesn’t do it for you, take the Metro to Ciudad Universitaria and you’ll find even more people going about their ridiculous plaza-shenanigans.
- Note about Botellón: Bring your own booze and buy it early. It is illegal for stores to sell alcohol after 10pm so you have to get it beforehand. Go to one of the “alimentaciones” (otherwise known as “chinos” since they’re frequently run by Chinese people) where you’ll find all kinds of alcohol, cups, ice, you name it. Pack up your plastic bags with everything you’ll need for the night and head on over to the botellón.