Spain nightlife is a way of life, and Spaniards, perhaps more than any other people take their night life and partying to epic proportions. Spain nightlife, or la marcha, reaches a fevered pitch in Madrid and Barcelona. Foreigners, and those unaccustomed to having an early dinner at 10:30 pm, should use the afternoon siesta wisely to prepare for Spanish night clubs that stay open until dawn.
Though Spanish night clubs are legendary throughout the world, night life isn't necessarily all booze and disco dancing. In Madrid and Barcelona, the late evening meal means that whole families are out socializing, sipping coffee or sangria at sidewalk cafes until the wee hours.
Nightclubs in Barcelona
The bars in Old Town Barcelona are a mixture of tourist spots, local watering holes and trendy, yet casual, pubs. Nightlife in Old Town often means sitting at a sidewalk cafe and watching the varied characters passing in the night. In Spain the terms café and bar are nearly synonymous, though it is important to distinguish that a bodega specializes in wine; a cerverseria serves mostly beer, while those tourists with a more refined palate will want to visit Spains Xampanyeria or champagne bars.
The hottest nightclubs in Barcelona usually don't open for business until midnight, with the trendiest spots waiting until 1 or even 2 am to open their doors. These Spanish nightclubs charge up to ten times the price you would normally pay for a beer at another local bar. Nightclubs in Barcelona are constantly going in and out of style, so it is important to check local listings and the internet to find out which disco is currently the hottest.
If, however, you feel that disco really is dead, you'll be happy to know that some of the best nightclubs in Barcelona feature an eclectic mix of live music. In June, the best jazz masters from around the Mediterranean travel to Spain for the European Jazz Festival. In October and November, Barcelona hosts an annual jazz festival, which highlights visiting bands in Spanish nightclubs and in a series of street concerts.
The Madrid Nightlife
In Madrid the hardiest club-goer can visit Spain's epicenter of nightlife. Where else in the world can you get stuck in a traffic jam at 4 am as clubbers and ravers hop from discobares to discotecas. And if you don't know a discobare from a discoteca you better get hip before you get on the scene. Discobares are the most common of all Spain nightlife haunts. These sexually-charged bars play a mix of rock, dance, and salsa music (some of it live). The usually get going around 11 pm and stay open to 2 am or 3 am. If you visit Spains discotecas, on the other hand, don't bother to head out until midnight, as they don't get started until 1 am.
And what to do after a night of drinking and dancing? Collapse? No, do like the madrilenos do, and head out for some chocolate at the Chocolateria San Gines, a Madrid institution and perfectly sweet hangover cure.