With the introduction of a new law banning smoking inside bars and restaurants, terrazas have become more popular than ever in Madrid and many places now have at least a few tables set up on the city pavements year-round.
In summer many more bars migrate on to the streets, especially the trendy designer ones that lie along Paseo de Recoletos and its continuation, Paseo de la Castellana. Beyond Plaza de Colón and up to the Bernabéu more fashionable terrazas with music, a posey clientele and higher prices often appear in the summer. Be aware, however, that many of the terrazas run by clubs vary their sites year by year as they fall foul of the increasingly strict licensing and noise regulations.
Atenas Parque de Atenas (just off c/Segovia). Lively summer terraza set in the park down by the river and not far from the bars and clubs of La Latina.
Jardines Las Vistillas c/Bailén (on the south side of the viaduct). This popular terraza is good for a relaxing drink while enjoying the vistillas (“little vistas”) over towards the Almudena cathedral and the Guadarrama mountains to the northwest.
Paseo del Pintor Rosales There is a clutch of terrazas catering for all tastes and popular with families along this avenue on the edge of the Parque del Oeste.
Paseo de Recoletos and Paseo de la Castellana On the nearer reaches of Paseo de Recoletos is the refined garden terraza at the Casa de América (no. 2) and those of the old-style cafés Gijón (no. 21) and Espejo (no. 31), popular meeting points for madrileños of all kinds.
Plaza de Comendadoras One of the city’s few traffic-free squares, this has a couple of very popular terrazas – attached to the Café Moderno and to the Mexican restaurant next door.
Plaza Dos de Mayo The terraza on Malasaña’s main square is always a lively affair, favoured by a grungy teenage crowd.
Plaza de Oriente The Café de Oriente terraza is a station of Madrid nightlife and enjoys a marvellous location next to the opera house, gazing across the plaza to the Palacio Real.
Plaza de la Paja One of the most pleasant terrazas in the heart of old Madrid in this former market square in La Latina.
Plaza San Andrés Just the other side of the church of San Andrés a host of bars spills out onto this atmospheric plaza. The place is buzzing in the summer, and makes a great meeting place before a bar crawl around the area.
Plaza de Santa Ana Several of the cervecerías here have outside seating, and there’s a chiringuito (a makeshift bar) in the middle of the square throughout the summer.