Madrid’s Historic Cafes

There are plenty cafés in Madrid and as a visitor you must set aside a little time to savour the unique experience of at least one of them.  Buy your newspaper, order a coffee and sit back whilst you take in the atmosphere of one of these establishments.  It was in the ‘tertulias’ (discussion forums) in some of the older cafés that heated debate amongst politicians and academics led to decisions that would shape modern Spanish history.

Café Central (Plaza del Angel, 10): This is one of Madrid’s most important jazz venues and a favourite spot to spend the afternoon looking through the day’s newspaper.

Café de Oriente (Plaza de Oriente, 2): This cafe affords lovely views of the Palacio Real and Plaza de Oriente and is a welcoming spot for a coffee or drink.

Café de Gijón
El Gran Café de Gijón – Image thanks to Alberto Carrasco Casado

Café Libertad (Libertad, 8 ): Cafe with live music most evenings.

Café del Círculo de Bellas Artes (Alcalá, 42): This cultural institution has some of the best views of the calles Alcalá and Gran Vía. It hosts concerts, plays, exhibitions and some of the city’s most famous parties.

Café del Espejo (Paseo de Recoletos, 33): A very elegant establishment with a lovely, shady summer terrace on the Castellana.

Café Gijón (Paseo de Recoletos, 21): Once a genuine literary bar where writers discussed politics and art, much of the atmosphere has remained.

Café Comercial (Glorieta de Bilbao, 7): One of the classics in the Bilbao/Malasaña zone, full of people of all ages. In summer, tables are put out onto the pavement.

Café de Barbieri (Lavapies Plaza): A cafe that captures much of the ambiance of the Lavapies zone.

Café de Belén (Belén, 5): A quiet and romantic cafe/bar, with plenty of mellow music and candlelight.

Café de Chinitas (Torija, 7): More than a cafe, this is also a restaurant with live flamenco.

Café la Palma (La Palma, 62): Located at the quieter end of C/Palma, this café is much larger and and more welcoming than would appear from its streetside window.

Café de Ruiz (Calle de Ruiz, 11): Famous for its ice-cream, this old-fashioned bar can provide a pleasant escape from the crowds that descend on Malasaña during the late-night hours.

Café del Foro (San Andrés, 38): This cafe often has live performances of various types usually starting after 11pm. Otherwise a cafe by day and a bar by night.

Café Latino (Augusto Figueroa, 47): A strange mix between a restaurant, cafe and bar.

Café Moderno (Plaza de las Comendadoras, 1): In warm weather this cafe has a terrace on one of the most pleasant plazas in the centre.

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