Considering it’s renowned as a ‘city that never sleeps’, we’d feel pretty short-changed if Madrid nightlife was anything short of spectacular. Early nights? No thank you. We’re thinking high-energy clubs, rooftop DJs and sultry Latino men a la Gael García Bernal…
Perhaps even *gasp* McDonald’s breakfast at 5am? Tapas style. With Gael.
But, we digress.
The moral of this story (at least as far as we’re concerned) is that some stereotypes do ring true. And so, while Gael himself may not be forthcoming, Madrid nightlife most definitely will be. You can hold us to that.
To make life a little easier for you party-seeking backpackers, we’ve sourced out the best budget Madrid bars and clubs that this sleepless city has to offer.
Bars in Madrid
Whether you’re in the market for a diet coke or a splash of vino, research is a key aspect of budget drinking in Madrid.
We’ll be blunt – for the uninformed traveller, this city can be expensive. Find yourself in a posh area like Paseo de la Castellana, and you can kiss that cheap night out goodbye. Alternatively, stick to places like Malasaña, Alonso Martinez, Arguelles and Chueca, and that remaining €10 could get you pretty far…
Balmoral: Dubbed as one of the ‘best bars in the world’, Balmoral retains it’s (relatively!) low prices despite a growing popularity and upmarket clientele. Your best bet is to stick with the cocktails, which start from €6 and are equally as exceptional as they are original (although we wouldn’t go quite so far as the ‘bull shot’ combination of vodka and beef consommé…) Calle de Hermosilla, 10, 28001, Madrid.
Corazon Loco: The epitome of quintessential Spanish wine bar, Corazon Loco is a gathering spot for young Madrid hipsters. Requisite chalkboards behind the bar advertise an ever-changing tapas menu, alongside cheap Spanish wine from only €1.50 a glass. Calle de Almendro, 22, 28005 Madrid.
Las Cuevas de Sésamo: Away from the partying crowds of Madrid’s main streets, Las Cuevas de Sésamo is the ideal locale for an old-school tapas adventure. Venture down the staircase to this cellar hideaway and be greeted by jugs of cheap sangria, gents in bow ties and a live pianist who will transport you back to decades gone by. Calle de Príncipe, 7, 28012, Madrid.
Then again, for those on an even tighter budget, your best bet is to bar hop around the streets of Calle Huertas. Aside from coming across some great hidden pubs, you’re likely to be approached by a sequence of promoters convincing you to sample a free sangria or ‘chupito’ shot (a hard liquor made of local fruits). In other words, you can go from bar to bar without spending a single euro!
Clubs in Madrid
While tight regulations mean many bars close their doors by 2am, you’ll find an equal number of clubs that don’t get going till after 3. Getting home after sunrise is the rule, not the exception, and you’ll soon come to think of midnight as the new 7pm (i.e. time to have dinner and start thinking about what you’re going to wear out)!
Tupperware: This place takes ‘psychedelic’ to a whole new level, with everything from lava lamps to fake fur and Barbie dolls contributing to the kitsch 1970s theme. The bar has an energising vibe, although the patrons as a whole are relatively chilled out (no fake tans and sky-high heels here). Arrive early enough to score seats upstairs and you’ll be set for the night. Calle Corredera Alta de San Pablo, 26, Madrid.
Kapital: Madrid nightlife doesn’t get much bigger or crazier than Kapital. Think seven floors of music ranging from Spanish pop to techno, house and R&B, plus karaoke, a cosy cocktail bar and movie theatre to boot! The club attracts an eclectic crowd, combining one part fashionable foreigners with one part Spanish students in search of free entry and a cheap drinks. Open seven days a week from dusk until dawn! Calle de Atocha, 125, 28012, Madrid.
Sala SOL: Simple and relaxed, with good music and a great vibe, Sala SOL is one of the oldest nightclubs in Madrid. Be advised: if you’re looking for dress codes and picky bouncers, this is not the place for you. From Sunday through Thursday, the club turns into a hall for concerts and live shows. Cover charge is €8 and includes your first drink. Calle de Jardines, 3, 28013, Madrid.
Joy Madrid: Housed in a splendid 19th-century theatre, Joy Madrid (otherwise known as Joy Eslava) is one of the best known nightclubs in the city. With a massive dance floor, recognisable international dance tunes, the odd celebrity appearance and wide variety of club nights, you’ll be guaranteed a good time. There is a cover charge of €12 on Saturday but this will typically include your first drink. Calle de Arenal, 11, 28013, Madrid.
Where to Stay in Madrid
Looking for a budget hostel in Madrid? Check out the Hostal Bergantin for a dose of downtown cool. Located in Puerta del Sol – the epicentre of Madrid – you’ll be stumbling distance to some of the hottest bars and clubs in the city. Private rooms start from €17.50 a night. Alternatively, if you’re seeking something slightly more communal, Mad Hostel offers dorm rooms from €13 a night, all of which come complete with ensuite, breakfast, free internet access, gym and rooftop terrace.