Nightlife in Madrid
Just as in the rest of Spain, people here in Madrid go out very late. Most begin the evening at around 10 PM at a tapas bar. The nightclubs open up at around 1 AM but people head for these at around 3 AM, when the bars close up. Then they party and dance until around 7 AM, which is closing time for most nightclubs. It is pretty common to stop over for some breakfast on the way home at one of the city’s many cafes.
For many, the weekend already starts on a Thursday night as Fridays usually imply shorter workdays. Madrid’s nightlife is so varied that everyone is sure to find something to their liking. Spaniards in general are friendly and sociable people so you should have no trouble meeting new people at the places you go to.
Attire Spaniards like to dress up when they go out. Even at ‚alternative’ bars people are seldomly wearing jeans or tennis shoes. Women in Spain like to dress sensually, especially when going to nightclubs and are always careful to ensure that they are elegantly, fashionably and femininely dressed. There are of course, those that dress with a somewhat freakish fashion sense to stand out in the crowd.
Theatre, Movies and Other Cultural Activities
If dancing all night long is not your cup of tea, there are other quieter options to choose from when it comes to ways to spend the night.
In Madrid there are over 100 movie theatres. Some are very modern, with the latest movies out at the box office while others are smaller and less frequented. These usually carry foreign or independent films. Make sure to look out for the Dia del Espectador – on these days movie tickets are sold at a reduced price, sometimes even at 50% off.
Usually these days fall on Monday and Wednesdays. Madrid also has many theatres to offer those seeking cultural entertainment. Some of these put on classical plays in huge halls and other theatres, usually smaller ones put on more experimental and avant garde performances.
Other cultural activities on offer aside from the theatre include orchestral performances, operas and many other artistic productions. The Circulo de Bellas Artes is made up of a theatre, a movie theatre, a cafe, and many other rooms in which new events and exhibitions are constantly being organized and displayed. Thanks to the Juan March Foundation, most activities here are free.
For updated information regarding activities, events and their current dates check the entertainment guide Guia de Ocio.
Cafes, Tapas Bars and Nightclubs
Madrid has cafes, tapas bars and nightclubs on almost every block and therefore only the most well-known are mentioned.
The area most favoured by those who enjoy going out to these places is probably Plaza Santa Ana. This is where tourists usually flock to, however you will also come across a considerable number of locals as well. Tapas bars line the streets here so the selection is endless.
Along Castellana you will find mostly upscale bars and nightclubs with the kind of crowd such places attract. It is unlikely to find students here and the general age group ranges from 25 years upwards. The same goes for Retiro and Salamanca areas. This is where the "pijos" hang out, Spanish for yuppies. Running parallel to Castellana are many salsatecas or salsa nightclubs, owned and run by Latin American immigrants.
In the Malasaña district you’ll mostly come across simpler bars that can come off as rather untidy or unclean. Prices here are very affordable and the crowd is generally very young, mostly made up of students who like to spend their evenings here. Plaza Dos de Mayo is a square that is always buzzing with activity – the clubs there are relatively stylish and therefore quite expensive. When the bars in this area close down for the night, the streets empty fairly quickly and it is not a good idea to stay around for to long as in this part of town street crime at that hour is very high.
The Chueca district is one of the favourite areas of Madrid at the moment. It may be helpful to know that this is the city’s gay area, that way you’ll know what to expect before wandering into the nightclubs there.
If you’re a jazz or salsa fan, in Huerta you’ll be sure to find a music bar to your liking. On weekends these places usually have live music to enjoy along with your drink.
The La Latina district is ideal for enjoying a relaxing glass of red wine with your tapas in quiet inner patios and courtyards.
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