Getting Around Madrid
If you get your act together, take the Metro, it’s fast, clean and virtually free if you buy a “Metrobus”, a ten -journey ticket you can share that costs about 6 quid. But if in doubt, jump in a cab (plentiful on the street and also cheap).
Claims that there are more bars here than in the whole UK may be verging on exaggeration, but remember Madrid has serious amounts of bars. And you have to pace yourselves. At weekends dinner finishes around midnight then the night life begins! Head for the bars first (open till 3am usually) as clubs never get going at weekends until well after 2 am, (and some “after hours” keep going till after midday the next day). You’ll find that the best atmosphere before 10pm is in Irish and Sports bars. As there are so many bars to choose from, our recommendation is to take a zone-by-zone approach: choose an area of town and explore. You won’t be disappointed!
Santa Ana/Huertas: (Metro Sol or Sevilla) Near the Puerta del Sol nerve centre, this area is full of bars and clubs. It’s the most popular area in Madrid for out-of-towners and locals alike (and where you’ll most likely bump into a Hen group!). You can start slowly on a terrace at Plaza Santa Ana and work your way down Calle Huertas, a bar-lined street, down to Atocha, to finish your evening at Kapital night club. Or stay around the streets between Santa Ana and Sol (Calle Cruz, Calle Principe). Nearby are Orox, Café Ducados, Sala Sol, Joy, Palacio Gaviria, Black Jack etc etc etc.
La Latina: (Metro: La Latina) A cool very Spanish going out area, with lots of tabernas and tapas places. It’s in the back streets of Madrid’s old town, and the action is around the La Latina square (Puerta del Moro), and the neighbouring square (Plaza de la Paja), with bars, restaurants, and cocktail bars. It’s a very smooth and relaxed area, and a good launch pad for a proper nightclub, once all the action closes down around 3am.
Chueca/ Alonso Martínez: (Metro: Chueca, M: Alonso Martinez) Near the Columbus Apartments, near Metro Alonso Martinez, there are many lively bars around Calle Santa Teresa, and Fernando IV. Try some of the trendy bars at the top of Calle Hortaleza and around the Plaza de Chueca (especially the Bodega). This is a gay/mixed area but loved by folks of all persuasions.
Malasaña (Metro:Tribunal, Bilbao)This is another typically Spanish going out area full of tapas bars and small bar/clubs. Very popular with the young Spanish Indie crowd, this is a pub-crawlers paradise, where the action spills out on to the streets. There lots of small, cheap bars & rock music bars, if that floats your boat. Arrive after 23:00 – you just need to follow the hoards. Key streets are: Corredera Baja de San Pablo, Calle Espiritu Santo, Calle La palama, Plaza Dos de Mayo.
Recommended – Bars Bodega Chueca (Plaza de Chueca) – a Madrid classic old-style. Although technically you’re not allowed to spill into the street, everyone does.
La Boca del Lobo (opposite Orox), Calle Echagaray, 13) Full of wolves and foxes.
Viva Madrid (C/ Manuel Fernandez y Gonzalez, 7) – another taste of vintage Madrid night scene near the Santa Ana square, and a great starting point for nearby mayhem!
La Chingada (C/ Jardines, 8) – head for this perky little Mexican bar, strategically placed opposite “Sala Sol” so you can keep your eye on the queue as it builds up after 2am.
Black Jack (C/Principe 11) – is it a bar or is it a club? Who cares – it’s open till 5am.
La Fontana de Oro (c/de la Victoria 2) – also open till 5am, another pub that turns into a club at the witching hour.
The Quiet Man (Valverde, 44): Irish bar peopled by locals – good vantage point to begin an assault on the lower Malasaña area (and plenty happening the square nearby.)
Sports bars The James Joyce (C/ Alcala, 59 :Near Columbus Apartments. Loads of screens and showing football, rugby cricket, They also do an awesome Irish breakfast.
Finnegan’s (C/ Santo Tome/Plaza de las Salesas): Very near Columbus Apartments. Show our card an you’ll get a deal at the bar….
The Irish Rover Avenida del Brasil, 7: Near the Bernabeu in Avenida de Brasil, fills up with disappointed hordes who couldn’t get tickets for Real Madrid, and those egging on whoever Barça are playing..
Moore’s (Calle Felipe III): Near the awesome Plaza Mayor and well placed for central hotels.
El Rinconcito (Espoy y Mina, 28) Cosy and friendly place with good grub. Paul will welcome you as a stagger
Club Guide Clubs never warm up until after 3 am, so pace yourself. And remember that in Spain cover charges on the door almost always includes a free drink, so don’t lose that ticket and hand it to the barman when you order!
Sala Sol (Calle Jardines, 3), Stag’s favourite, low-priced, laid-back, throbbing with swaying locals and weekender females, and open till 6am. This place peaks around 3-4 am, so aim to be in by 0230. If you do get stuck in the queue, the street vendor opposite sells beer! Once in, you’ll lose your mates in the sea of humanity, but love it.
Joy (C/ Arenal, 11), Also open till 6am this is one of Madrid’s classic night scenes, with an eclectic bunch of people and music.
Palacio Gaviria (C/Arenal, 9): an excellent alternative to Joy, this is an old stately home with lots of rooms to get lost in and different type of music in each.
Pacha (C/ Barcelo, 11): this is the original Pacha! Another Madrid classic full of savvy locals and out-of-towners alike.
Morocco (Marqués de Leganés, 7). Smaller, cheaper than others, a more laid back experience but with good music.
Kapital (C/Atocha, 125) Kapital’s 7 different floors gives scope for all tastes. The music is house, r’n b, funk, techno, Spanish etc, and its go-go dancers and laser show are legendary. Open till 12- 6.
Late Night Munchies You’ve been out on the razz for 14 hours, the bright morning sun is hurting your eyes, and you have no idea where you are…don’t despair, there’s food to be had, and that’ll cheer you up.
Chocolateria San Gines. (C/ San Gines) Next door to joy, try the classics Spanish after club donuts (churros) dipped in hot chocolate. A Madrid institution for revellers with the munchies.
Gran Via street vendors: Check out the bocadillo (sandwich), rice and noodle sellers (look for the cardboard boxes!) along the Gran Via, while perusing the colourful and friendly selection of señoras de la noche that line that strip of Gran Via. They also sell cans of beer!
O’Muiño, (C/Leganitos, 14) Next to Hotel Señorial, this is favourite little tapas bar with Sr Stag. Gets lively with refuelling partiers on their way to the next club at around 8 am…
Brillante, Glorieta de Atocha, next to Hotel Mediodia. Opens at 6 am.
Calle San Bernardo, near Gran Via: breakfast joints usually open around 5-6am.
Strip Clubs Be aware that Strip Clubs in Spain are very full on sex clubs that near little relation to UK lap dancing clubs. That means that the girls do not stop short of dancing topless. All have private rooms for much more personal attention. You’ll find a cluster of these haunts around the Santo Domingo area of Gran Via (the best of which is Chelsea II, see below).
Chelsea II (Calle Silva, 6) our favourite costs. EUR15 entrance including a drink. Includes a go-go area and more private seating. Open every night.
Hot, (Plaza Colon, corner of Calle Genova). Right under the Columbus Apartments. Entrance EUR30. Closed on Sundays.
Restaurants These are group friendly places where if you go by earlier to ask you might just get a table!
Casa Mingo (Paseo de la Florida, 34). A Madrid classic. An Asturian ciderhouse, their speciality is roast chicken marinated in cider. Also try the lacon (Ham) and cabrales (cheese). This must be washed down with sidra (cider). No bookings so arrive a bit earlier than Spanish norm to beat the rush.
La Panza es Primero. (Calle Segovia, 17) A fun Mexican in the old town with excellent food and cocktails.
La Vaca Argentina (Caños del Peral, 2- Near Opera Square) – Top notch Argentinian beef for e carnivore feast. Try the chuletón or bife. Wash it down with a Spanish red, rioja. This is true red-blooded stag fare!
Tapas Bars This can be the best, and most economical way of getting an authentic local nosh-up. Madrid is tapas heaven and you can really get them on any street (especially around Plaza Santa Ana/Sol). But here are some places we specially recommend:
Café Las Bravas, (A few near Calle Espoz y Mina) A Madrid institution, specialising in spicy potatoes (Patatas bravas), tasty fried fish, or octopus!
El Abuelo (Nuñez de Arce, 5) This place serves delightful gambas (prawns) in garlic and chile. Also try the langostinos.
Museo del Jamon (Carrera de San Jeronimo, VVV) The museum of ham. Say No more. It’s delicious.
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Mark James Buchanan