Madrid is a splendid capital, a powerhouse of art and culture, with several world-class galleries and an infinite supply of culinary specialities, from tapas to fine dining. After dark, the nightlife opportunities beckon and keep you happy until dawn. In this article we suggest some of the less familiar, more unusual locations.
1. Chamberí station
The Madrid Metro system celebrates its first centenary this year (2019), and so a visit to the “ghost station” Chamberí is particularly appropriate. It was one of the eight stations on the very first line, but in 1966, it was closed when trains were lengthened, because it was on a curve, and very close to Bilbao and Iglesia stations. Today it is a museum called Andén 0, Platform Zero, showing what the station used to be like, with the original ticket offices, turnstiles, and adverts in ceramic tiles dating back to 1919. Admission free, open Thursday 10am-1pm, Friday 11am-7pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am-3pm.
Plaza Chamberí, s/n
Tel. +34 91 392 06 93
2. Market dining
Mercado San Miguel is probably the best-known covered market offering an alternative to restaurant dining, with an endless succession of tapas opportunities. But it is crowded at all hours. An interesting alternative is Mercado de la Paz (Calle Ayala 28), a local market with fewer tourists and a fine selection of culinary delicacies. If you want a chance of sitting down at a table, go at about noon, not later. Or try Platea Madrid (Calle de Goya 5-7), a culinary market located in a converted theatre, with music and flamenco performances. The restaurants here include Canalla Bistro Madrid, the only two-Michelin-starred restaurant in the city.
Mercado San Miguel
Plaza de San Miguel, s/n
Mercado de La Paz
Calle Ayala, 28
Tel. +34 91 435 743
Calle Goya 5-7
Tel. +34 91 577 00 25
3. Santiago Bernabéu Stadium
The home stadium of Real Madrid is a true sports temple. If you can’t see a match, the best way of visiting it is on a stadium tour. Its popularity is demonstrated by the fact that it is the third-most visited museum in Madrid. You get to see a panoramic view of the stadium, the press room, the trophy room, the presidential box, the pitch, with the benches and coaching area, and you can read about the club’s history. How much you see may vary: check on the website. Visits start from 10am. Tickets €25, buy in advance to avoid queues, or buy at the stadium, Box Office 10, alongside Gate 7 (Paseo de la Castellana, entrance at Tower B). Information from https://www.realmadrid.com
4. CaixaForum Madrid
This spectacular venue is the result of a refurbishment project, the conversion of a disused power station, by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron completed in 2007. The architecture is remarkable in itself, and the building seems to be miraculously floating, as a result of the way the ground floor is designed. Inside, exhibition spaces, an auditorium, café, bookstore and restaurant. Outside, the vertical garden by Patrick Blanc is another distinctive sight. The CaixaForum is open every day 10am-8pm. In the same area you will find the “big three” Madrid galleries, the Prado (which celebrates its bicentenary this year), the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia museums.
Paseo del Prado 36
Tel. +34 91 330 73 00
5. Faro de Moncloa
Formerly a transmission tower designed by architect Salvador Pérez Arroyo and completed in 1992, Faro de Moncloa now represents the highest observation point for the city, with a panoramic lift that takes you up 92 metres. On clear days you can see across the city right to the peaks of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains. Open Tuesday-Sunday 9.30am-8pm, closed on Mondays. You are allowed to remain on the observation platform for 30 minutes. €3.
Avenida de la Memoria 2
Tel. +34 91 550 12 51
6. Casa González
Casa González is a traditional tapas bar where you can sample 45 Spanish wines available by the glass and another 150 labels available by the bottle, to accompany hot dishes, cheeses, jamón ibérico de bellota and much more. It is located in the Literary Quarter, a traditional district with vibrant nightlife and many events. These include the Mercado de las Ranas, a street market that takes place on the first Saturday of the month.
Calle León 12, Barrio de las Letras
Tel. +34 91 429 56 18
7. Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando
This is a small museum, much quieter than the Prado, with a fine collection of paintings. Masterpieces on the ground floor, a superb collection of Goya etchings, works by less familiar artists upstairs. Plus Zurbaran, Titian, Rubens, Murillo, Rivera, Van Dyck, El Greco and others. There is a pleasant rooftop bar. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-3pm, closed on Mondays, closed in August.
Tel. +34 91 524 08 64
During the day, Kikekeller is an interior design gallery. In the evening, it reveals a secret bar right at the back of the store, where people in the know meet for a few gin & tonics. Cocktails are excellent, and likewise the music. The bar operates on Thursday, Friday and Saturday only.
Corredera Baja de San Pablo 17
Tel. +34 91 522 87 67
9. Hemingway Cocktail Bar at Casa Suecia Hotel
You access this bar through a secret entrance hidden in the back wall of the bathrooms, and discover lavish interiors, all red velvet, leopard textiles, mirrors and gilt, designer lamps. This Prohibition-inspired atmosphere provides an interesting setting in which to enjoy the cocktails. Open 7pm-2am every day.
Calle del Marqués de Casa Riera 4
Tel. +34 639 003 020
10. Yúgó The Bunker
Yúgó The Bunker is an unusual Japanese restaurant featuring chef Julián Mármol, with a private club, bunker-type ambience that also recalls the traditional Japanese Izakayas taverns, and a menu that includes much more than classic sushi and sashimi. The wagyu burger is one of the highlights. The 12-course tasting menu costs €135, a slightly shorter version costs €90. It was awarded a Michelin star in 2018. Open Monday 8.30pm-10.30pm, Tuesday-Saturday 1.30pm-3.15pm, 8.30pm-10.30pm.
Calle San Blas 4
Tel. +34 914 44 90 34
Boggi Milano in Madrid
The Boggi Milano store is on the main shopping street, Calle Serrano. It was recently renovated, with modern design and bright, spacious interiors. It has a total floor area of 400 square metres, and it is divided into two sections, the prêt-à-porter collection, and the area dedicated to the exclusive Su Misura tailoring service.
Calle Serrano 8
Tel. +34 91 435 46 98
Open Monday-Saturday 10am-8.30pm, Sunday 12 midday-8pm.