Madrid by Night: a handy guidebook for exploring the city's nightlife

Madrid's nightlife has been the inspiration for many singers and poets. Madrid is a magical city that shows its cheerful and captivating side at sunset.

Carolina Morales

Carolina Morales

9 min read

Madrid by Night: a handy guidebook for exploring the city's nightlife

Puerta de Alcalá in Madrid | @hermenpaca

Summer or winter, dusk or dawn, Madrid never sleeps. This is a city famous for its lively nightlife, where you can start with a quiet walk, enjoy the city's wide gastronomic offer with a dinner in a restaurant and end up dancing until you can't go any more.

If you are looking for what to see and do in Madrid at night you will find everything, for everyone and at any time. It is common for people to go out during the week for an "afterwork" to reduce the fatigue of the day and meet in pubs, terraces or bars to have a few drinks and an aperitif before dinner. But these are just some of the many alternatives for nightlife.

1. Enjoy a Flamenco show

Flamenco Show| ©Sebastian R
Flamenco Show| ©Sebastian R

If dancing is not your thing, Madrid also offers a range of alternative experiences for all tastes. And, of course, Flamenco shows are a must.

One of the classic customs you can experience in the heart of Madrid are the tablaos flamencos that abound in the city. When you book your ticket to a flamenco show you will experience an immersion into the deep Spain that was tanned in an Arab and gypsy heritage.

Flamenco singers, tapas, a good wine... This is a show that can be enjoyed at any time of the year.

Buy your ticket to a flamenco show

2. Go on a ghost tour or other night tours

Ghost Tour| ©A Muñoz
Ghost Tour| ©A Muñoz

Madrid is a city full of secrets that you can discover by booking a ghost tour. This type of activity will take you to discover the darker side of the Spanish capital, where ghost stories abound and tales of atrocities once filled the cobbled alleyways.

This nocturnal expedition takes you through the city's oral tradition to relive the legends associated with a tragic and bloody Madrid. The guides are usually dressed in medieval-style costumes and the light of oil lamps makes this a highly recommended experience.

Another suggestion I can give you is to check the programme of several of the city's museums, as they sometimes offer night tours to visitors, such as the one organised by the Wax Museum.

Book a ghost tour of Madrid

3. Take a tapas tour of Madrid's most representative neighbourhoods

Metro exit, Chueca neighbourhood| ©JA Abad
Metro exit, Chueca neighbourhood| ©JA Abad

If Madrid' s best museums take you on a journey through art and history, the neighbourhoods invite you to connect with urban stories and breathe a more bohemian and relaxed air.

Here are some of the city's most classic neighbourhoods that you can include in your nightlife plans and that are usually included when booking a historical tour of Madrid with tapas.

La Latina neighbourhood

La Latina is very close to the city centre, making it a perfect neighbourhood to stay in and enjoy Madrid's nightlife by walking through its narrow streets with squares and terraces where you can enjoy a good tapa or a drink.

It is also famous for having served as a set for most of the films that have been shot in Madrid. It is therefore not unusual to meet film stars, singers or television personalities in its theatres or bars.

As a curious fact, this Madrid neighbourhood owes its name to Beatriz Galindo, who was in charge of teaching Latin, among other things, to Isabella the Catholic and her daughters. Over the years she was respectfully nicknamed "La Latina" and her memory lives on in the name of this mythical district of the city.

Malasaña neighbourhood

Today it is considered one of the most alternative and avant-garde neighbourhoods in the Spanish capital. This neighbourhood was the hub of the so-called Movida Madrileña, a countercultural movement that emerged at the end of the 1970s.

Malasaña is home to a large number of bookshops, bars, markets and restaurants. Curiously, it also owes its name to a woman, Manuela Malasaña, known in history as the heroine of the resistance against Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion during the uprisings of 2 May 1808.

Chueca neighbourhood

I also recommend the mythical neighbourhood of Chueca, which for decades has marked the tradition of nightlife and has become popular as one of the spaces of expression for the LGTBI community in the city.

Among squares, art galleries, exclusive fashion shops, tattoo parlours, specialised bookshops and sex shops, you'll enjoy a glimpse of **Madrid'**s underground. It's no coincidence that Chueca is among the neighbourhoods where the best wine and tapas tours in Madrid take place.

And while you're there, don't forget to visit the Casa de las Siete Chimeneas, with its ghost stories, or have a cocktail at the Chicote Museum, which was a meeting place for great artists such as Dalí, Frank Sinatra and Ernest Hemingway, among others.

Book a historic tour of Madrid with tapas

4. Visit the Santiago Bernabéu

Santiago Bernabéu by night| ©Cisco Pics
Santiago Bernabéu by night| ©Cisco Pics

The Santiago Bernabéu stadium is one of the icons of Madrid, especially for football fans, and even more so now that it has been completely refurbished and is an absolute work of engineering both inside and out.

As well as being able to book tickets to see a Real Madrid match at the Bernabéu and many other evening or night-time shows, you can also just pop in to see it from the outside and contemplate its magnitude in the middle of the city. Or, if you prefer, you can even book the Bernabéu tour to learn all the secrets of one of the most important football clubs in the world.

Book the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium Tour

5. Enjoy the illumination of Plaza de Cibeles and other places of interest

Cibeles Square| ©kuhnmi
Cibeles Square| ©kuhnmi

If time or itinerary constraints prevented you from seeing all the great sights of Madrid during the day, don't worry, the night can also be the right time to see the main sights of the city, either on your own or by booking a night tour of Madrid.

I recommend a tour of the Plaza de Cibeles, which is illuminated at night and from where you can see other symbols of the city such as the Palacio Cibeles, today the seat of Madrid City Hall.

Back in the centre and near the Plaza de España, you can see the Temple of Debod, one of Madrid's best-hidden secrets. It is an Egyptian building more than two thousand years old, which was transported and rebuilt stone by stone, maintaining the orientation of its original site in the city of Aswan.

Book a night tour of Madrid

6. Visit Casa Botín restaurant

Inside Casa Botín Restaurant| ©Tamorlan
Inside Casa Botín Restaurant| ©Tamorlan

Can you imagine dining in the oldest restaurant in the world? Well, it's also one of Madrid's evening plans.

Founded in 1725, Casa Botín is one of the most prized exponents of traditional Spanish cuisine and the perfect place to savour roast suckling pig or Castilian-style lamb, its two specialities. In addition, some of the greatest figures in world history have sat at its tables.

As it is so emblematic, you can also get to know it when you book a night-time gastronomic tour of Madrid, as it is sometimes part of the itinerary of this activity.

Book a night-time gastronomic tour of Madrid

7. See Madrid from above

Rooftop of the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid| ©Camilo
Rooftop of the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid| ©Camilo

Although imported from New York, the trend for terraces and roof tops has become popular all over Madrid and they are a perfect option for those who enjoy open spaces to have a drink and share with friends. Here are a few recommended ones:

Azotea del Círculo de Bellas Artes de Madrid

I highly recommend going up to enjoy the beautiful view of the city from the rooftop of the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, which also offers a varied programme of exhibitions, musical and theatrical performances and film seasons.

From here you will have a panoramic view of emblematic places, such as the Puerta de Alcalá or the lights of the Gran Vía, while you have a drink, as there is a restaurant service on the rooftop.

Opening times:

  • Monday to Thursday: 12:00 to 01:00.
  • Fridays and Saturdays: 10:00 to 02:00 hours.
  • Sundays: 10:00 to 01:00 hours.

Hotel Riu in Plaza España

And if adrenaline is your thing, you can't miss the vertigo as you go through the 100-metre-high glass passageway of the Hotel Riu in Plaza España.

And if you still have energy left after the scare, you can visit the famous skybar De Madrid al cielo, with a 360-degree panoramic view of the Royal Palace, the Almudena Cathedral, the Gran Vía and other iconic buildings of the city, while you enjoy a good cocktail.

  • Last admission: 22:00.

El Viajero

El Viajero, located in Plaza de la Cebada, offers what is probably one of the best windows into old Madrid. It is a pleasant space that invites you to enjoy one of its famous mojitos.

It also has a small market where you can get exclusive products and offers a menu that stands out for its tasty and healthy dishes.

Opening hours:

  • Tuesday to Thursday: 13:30 to 21:00 hours.
  • Weekends: 12:30 to 21:00 hours

Doña Luz The Madrid Rooftop

Doña Luz The Madrid Rooftop is proof that terraces are not just for summer. With an exceptional view over the Puerta del Sol, this place is equipped with modern heaters that will temper the worst of winter.

It brings the flavour of the Caribbean with a menu inspired by the delicacies of South America, offering different types of fried food, tacos and salads to delight any palate.

I recommend you try to book in advance, as the capacity is usually controlled to avoid congestion at the entrance.

Opening hours:

  • Monday to Thursday: 18:00 to 24:00.
  • Friday: 14:00 to 01:00 hours
  • Saturdays: 13:00 to 01:00 hours
  • Sundays and public holidays: 13:00 to 24:00 hours

8. Visit one of the many cocktail bars in Madrid

Casino Gran Via cocktail bar| ©Mariano P
Casino Gran Via cocktail bar| ©Mariano P

Visiting one of the city's cocktail bars is another plan I recommend for your night out in Madrid. More than just having a cocktail, you will live an experience with expert bartenders with a lot of creativity to make you have a great time.

The cocktail bar at the Casino Gran Vía, for example, is a good option to enjoy a signature cocktail with your favourite drink. The place has large windows, from where you will have great views of the city.

Another recommended place is the Hemingway Cocktail Bar in Casa Suecia. A classic-looking place that seems to be suspended in time, where you can enjoy a daiquiri, the favourite drink of the famous writer Ernest Hemingway.

9. Have fun in the nightclubs of Madrid

Uñas Ching Lee Discotheque| ©Acosta J
Uñas Ching Lee Discotheque| ©Acosta J

If you are one of those people who are always looking for something different, Medias Puri or Uñas Ching Lee may be the extravagant experience you have been looking for.

  • Medias Puri: located in Plaza de Tirso de Molina, it looks like a haberdashery in any neighbourhood in Madrid. However, when you enter you will find a space with three dance floors, live shows and cabaret shows with a varied musical offer that has earned it the title of one of the best nightclubs in the city.

  • Uñas Chung Lee: an exotic and surreal experience that mixes theatre, circus, acrobatics and cabaret, with an oriental decoration full of bright and colourful colours.

And if you want something more typical, I recommend what is considered one of the best nightclubs in Europe, Teatro Kapital, or Joy Eslava and Teatro Barceló.

10. Experience a night of theatre in Madrid

Teatro Real de Madrid by night| ©Contando Estrelas
Teatro Real de Madrid by night| ©Contando Estrelas

Just by walking along the Gran Via in Madrid you will realise how many theatres there are in the Spanish capital. My recommendation is that you don't miss out on their year-round programme to enjoy a great night of theatre in Madrid.

Depending on the play or show you want to see, you can find tickets from around 12€. If you're looking for a more sophisticated evening, I recommend checking out the opera programme at the Teatro Real in Madrid, so you can experience a night out in the Spanish capital the way you deserve.

I hope these options can help you plan a good night out for every day you spend in Madrid.