This blog post was updated on October 5, 2018.
On my first night in Spain, I bumped into a street festival at midnight. It seemed things were just getting under way, the party was only just beginning.
As part of Madrid’s many talents, it knows stamina. The nightlife in this city is legendary. Party in the evening and you might not come home until the next afternoon, in typical Spanish fashion.
In case you are feeling bad about not seeing the historic sights of the city as you sleep off that hangover, kill two birds with one stone and head to these historic hangouts when you have slept the day away and are ready to tackle Madrid’s nightlife yet again.
Museo Chicote: While museum it might not be, Museo Chicote displays classic retro chic throughout its 1930s interior. Known as one of the city’s most famous cocktail bars, Museo Chicote is definitely a must-visit for travelers arriving on flights to Madrid. This bar was once a frequent hangout of Hemingway, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren and Frank Sinatra. The foreign press also camped out here to wait out the Spanish Civil War. Do as Hemingway would do here and sip on a cocktail and watch the dramatic mix of clientele.
La Taberna de Antonio Sánchez: Opened in 1830, this Madrid eating and drinking hole is a classic vintage example of what the capital city used to be like. Step into this 200-year-old original and you will find a foundation in bullfighting. La Taberna de Antonio Sánchez for the most part has always been under the rule of those in the bullfighting business, hence the bull’s head on the wall. This historic bar became a commonplace for literary chat by Pio Baroja, Sorolla and Cossio. Aside from painters and playwrights, you can experience the carved wood bar top and zinc counter while munching on tapas and glugging down a nice beverage.
Viva Madrid: Appropriately named, the students, artists and tourists of the capital city live in Viva Madrid, at least in the evening and early morning hours. If you are still on the hunt for Madrid’s most famous historic bars, this one entertained Ava Gardner, Orson Welles and Louis Armstrong. Located in a neighborhood littered with antique homes and tiny streets, the beer flows freely here. Viva Madrid is hard to miss for its tiled facade, one of the most recognizable establishments in the city.
Gran Café de Gijón: Grab a book, look smart and head to Gran Café de Gijón. Serving drinks and meals since 1888, this old world café is not just a café. It was once where all of Spain’s great literary figures of the 20th century came for a drink and discussion. Even if you are not of the intellectual set, you can still appreciate its wrought-iron columns and checkered tabletops.
“Museo Chicote,” Flickr photo credit: Fran Villena