Madrid is arguably the liveliest city in all of Spain, and in this European capital city, partying is a way of life; bars don’t typically get busy until 11pm or midnight and clubs stay open until sunrise. An influx of university students and international travelers have only helped maintain the city’s status as the ultimate nightlife destination through their nocturnal sleeping schedule and amazing ability to dance till they drop. Although the nightclubs seem to get all the attention for their legendary hours, the bars in Madrid should get a shout out for being both the perfect place to rally for a late night of clubbing adventures, or a wild destination in and of themselves. Whether you want to spend the night enjoying an authentic Spanish flamenco performance, or want to grab a beer and watch sports, Madrid has a bar for you.
Cardamomo is Madrid’s premier place to both watch and participate in flamenco dancing every night of the week. An impressively stocked bar greets guests as they walk in and eventually make their way to a small space in the back where some of Spain’s most talented flamenco dancers perform to the music of a singer and guitar virtuoso. The best-known dancers usually take the stage on Wednesday night, but you are guaranteed a great show any night of the week. It is immediately obvious that the venue is dedicated to respecting the art of flamenco dancing; the bar has a wall of posters and photographs to honor the greatest performers of all time. If you’re feeling inspired, classes are taught at 10:30pm that focus on the basic steps of flamenco, followed by a chance to show off your moves in a more free style environment.
Dubliners and O’Connell St. are twin Irish bars that sit right next door to each other, owned by the same person, and are almost identical inside. Both have two bars on a single level with scattered tables, and happening dance floors. O’Neill’s is a much larger pub just down the street with two levels and comfy recliners scattered throughout, inviting guests to kick back and enjoy a beer. All three bars have the classic dim lighting, hardwood floors and hefty pints that give them away as true Irish pubs. Dubliners, O’Connell St., and O’Neill’s attract a predominately English speaking audience, making it easy to strike up a conversation over a delicious pint. On holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween as well as for major football matches, all three of these sports bars get downright rowdy – making the bar banter all the more fun.
If you’re looking for a drink that comes in a glass the size of a goldfish bowl, Chapandaz serves up just what you’re looking for. This venue has taken the idea of “cave bars” that made Madrid nightlife famous and ran with it. Old-fashioned lanterns lead crowds of locals and international students through jagged stonewalls and molten décor to mini-cave rooms and the huge curved bar. The real plato fuerte of Chapandaz is their signature drink, the leche pantera (panther milk), a mixture of gin and cinnamon combined with a flowing stream of milk poured straight from artificial rocks in the bar’s ceiling.
Bar Campus is a neighbor to Universidad Complutense, Spain’s largest university. Needless to say, most of the bar’s patrons are students looking to take advantage of the fact that they can walk or stumble to and from this notorious watering hole. An enormous wraparound bar provides the perfect spot for both local and international students to mingle, but if you need a quieter space or an escape from rowdy dancers, there is a small upstairs seating area. Although this place maintains a consistently energetic atmosphere, things really start to heat up around 10:30pm when guests are given the chance to make fools of themselves singing karaoke. Although there are many student friendly bars in Madrid, Bar Campus is the city’s definitive college drinking spot.
La Vía Láctea has been one of Madrid’s favorite places to spend the night sweating away on a crowded dance floor for over thirty years. A long bar on the first floor welcomes locals, students, and international travelers who can grab a spot at one of the comfy booths, or join in on a game of pool at the billiards table. If you are set on the idea of sitting down, it is best to get to La Vía Láctea before 1am because by 2am the main floor is filled to the brim with people looking to their get Nicki Minaj on. The upstairs is a smoking area equipped with a second bar, a few tables, and a 1950’s style jukebox. Vintage posters and custom mini-murals of famous bands cover the walls and ceiling and give a nod to the bar’s dedication to playing a nonstop flow of rock, funk, and techno beats.