f you’re someone who loves to party and have a damn good time (like me), you’re always going to be wondering where to find the world’s best nightlife scene (like me).
Barcelona, Spain is best loved for its outrageous nightlife – the city’s famous for partying well into the morning on any given day (until the sun comes up, at the very least). Whether you like to mix it up with the eclectic bunch or fancy something more luxurious with the glitterati, you’ll find plenty going on. Did someone say hola nightlife?!
WHERE TO GO
Bellinis in The Old Town: A good starting point for newcomers is of course Las Ramblas and – on either side of it – the narrow streets of the medieval Old Town. Barcelona’s most bustling street by day, Las Ramblas is also pulsing by night (I love the time in the early evening when the street performers are still bustling as people start heading out for their first round of drinks for the night). The best-known watering holes are Boadas cocktail bar, the Kiosk La Cazalla, and Boulevard Club. For a more sophisticated time, drop by on Le Pop Cocktail Bar at the Le Meridien Hotel, which has one of the best bartenders in town. They can make you their signature Catalan Bellini. And that’s how you say hola, Barcelona nightlife!
Crazy, colourful Barca: Once you’ve dipped your toe into the nightlife scene at Las Ramblas, head over to the Gothic Quarter – a colourful, crazy maze of interesting lanes with scores of happening bars, restaurants and clubs dotting it. Keep exploring and you never know what you will encounter! The chic Milk Bar is a top pick (check out their cocktail menu) as is the Irish pub Flaherty’s. Legendary clubs like Jamboree, Sidecar and Tarantos are must-visits for travellers to Barca. Don’t miss the epic Tapas and Flamenco Night at Tarantos.
Edgy and experimental: If edgy, non-conformist and experimental is your scene, head to the neighbourhood of Raval. Hip bars like Ambar are nestled alongside streetside taco joints. The hip cocktail bar Marmalade (known for its signature special cocktail Pornstar Martini) is a mainstay of the area. The vibe is hipster bohemian with no pretences – just come as you are, and have a great time. You can also visit the legendary clubs like Les Enfants (a kitsch Spanish disco!), Moog (famous for tech/minimal DJs) and Sala Apolo (must visit on Monday for their legendary Nasty Mondays).
Party in a former Olympic Park: What was built to host the sailing events for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona is now home to a slew of bars and clubs right on the beachfront – believed to be one of the coolest beachside party scenes in the world. Barca’s swish set are hanging out in Port Olimpic this season with a whole range of modern, international watering holes opening their doors. Lounge bars like CDLC, Shoko and Bestial are the places to be seen. If you’re looking for an extra cool experience, drop in at the Ice Bar where you can enjoy a drink in a sub-zero chamber, complete with glasses made of ice. Finish the night off with a leisurely time at the extravagant Moll Mestral, located on the harbour.
The great Barca Boat party: Also departing from Port Olimpic is the Barcelona boat party, a cruise that plies in the evenings during summer (think: the luxury yachts of Monaco donning their party hat). You will have a DJ, BBQ, an enviable view of the sunset and plenty of company with whom you can dive off the boat into the ocean (consider it part of the experience).
Party in the street: La botellon is a party in the streets, a form of enjoying the nightlife largely enjoyed by the youth of Spain who take to the city streets with a variety of homemade drinks remixed in plastic soda bottles, or botellas (for which the event is named). Mostly, this is a cost-saving measure but also a popular way to take advantage of the good weather.
Balcony bars: One of the things that surprised me most was how many balconies there are in Spain, especially in the larger city centers like Madrid and Barcelona. There was a whole world above me I never knew existed. It is wonderful to enjoy the city from above, to see glittering, enchanting panoramas of the city lights spreads out below. Sit sky high in one of the hotel terraces where you can enjoy an expertly made drink and good music.
Hardcore dance parties: If you’re serious about your dance music then you might want to try Sala Becool (minimal/electro/tech-house), and of course the legendary open air nightclub in Poble Espanyol – La Terrrazza (Balearic house). Perhaps the best club for a guaranteed good time though is the mammoth Sala Razzmatazz with its five rooms playing everything from serious beeps and blips (The Loft) to cheesy rock and pop (the other four rooms!). Many clubs also have specialised Flamenco Nights once a week.
Why you should take an afternoon nap: Clubs are almost never busy any time before the bars shut, and they’re open until 6am. That means you might want to have a siesta before you head out for the evening. For getting to and from your nightlife, there are a few different options: the metro, the bus and the night bus, and taxis. The metro runs until midnight during the week, 2 a.m. on Fridays, and all night on Saturdays. Taxis are generally inexpensive, so they’re also a good option.
Dress code: In general, Barcelona is a pretty laid-back city, both in terms of attitude and how people dress. For lots of places, you don’t need to be super dressed up to get in. That being said, save your shorts and flip-flops for the beach (as well as your soccer jerseys for the stadium). To be on the safe side, wear dark shoes rather than white ones, and never wear running shoes. Apart from that, just about anything goes most of the time.