Going on a Madrid night photography tour is a great way of exploring this vibrant European capital. But whether we’re talking about subjects for night photographs, or more debauched forms of nocturnal entertainment, Madrid is a city that only really comes alive after dark.
Sure, the streets around Puerta del Sol and La Latina certainly aren’t deserted in the daytime, so a spot of street photography isn’t totally out of the question. But it’s only once the heavy heat of mid-afternoon has passed that most Madrileños begin to stir.
Putting together an itinerary for a Madrid night photography trip? Maybe some of these locations will spark your interest.
01 – Circulo de Bellas Artes
The roof bar at the Fine Arts Circle of Madrid is a popular spot for kicking back and enjoying an aperitif with panoramic views of the city center. It also makes for an excellent starting point for a leisurely evening exploring Madrid’s night photography locations.
Best time to come is probably at dusk, so you can combine the last light of day with the city’s electric lights – and most importantly, a cocktail, to get things started on the right foot. Grab a table with a clear view over some of the towering early 20th century architecture that dominates this part of the city, and get your Madrid night photography tour started in style.
02 – Gran Via/Callao
For further architectural relics of Spain’s imperialist past, head on down Gran Via to the area around Callao, where neon billboards and numerous colored lights illuminate this busy plaza. The top floor of the Corte Ingles department store offers a particularly iconic view of the distinctive rounded building opposite. From this angle you can shoot both the giant Schweppes sign on top of the building and the busy traffic rushing along the Gran Via beside it.
03 – Palacio Real
For regal splendor, it’s hard to beat Madrid’s royal palace. And once lit up at night, the building takes on an even grander and more baroque appearance.
This place really works when there’s still a hint of light left in the sky, balancing with the artificial floodlights that shine onto the building itself. But if you’ve only got a night or two to shoot in Madrid, clearly you’ll need to prioritize: obviously you can’t be in more than one location at once and there are many other equally worthy Madrid night photography spots competing for your presence at twilight.
04 – Plaza de Cibeles
One of the Palazzo Reale’s main competitors for your photographic attention is of course the stunning Plaza de Cibeles. This collection of neoclassical marble buildings and ornamental fountains lies at the intersection between three of Madrid’s principal arteries: Calle de Alcalla, Paseo del Prado, and Paseo de Recoletos. Shooting through the swirling traffic and spot-lit spray of the fountains makes for a surprisingly lively and dynamic view of such a classical location.
05 – Cuatro Torres
Looking for a change from all the classicism? Head on over to the Cuatro Torres business area near Chamartin in the north of Madrid. In stark contrast to the generally much older building styles on display elsewhere in the city, the contemporary glass and steel architecture of the “Four Towers” makes for an altogether sharper, more modern, subject for Madrid night photography.
If you get up here on a clear evening, stunning long-exposure images can be shot with the buildings brightly lit up and the last glow of the daylight lingering in the sky. If you choose your vantage point well, blurred car tail-lights on nearby multilane highways will add foreground interest and movement to the shot.
06 – Chueca and Malasaña
Of course, too much architecture makes Jonny a very boring photographer, so for some alternative night photography head on over to the lively entertainment districts of Malasaña and Chueca. With countless busy and welcoming bars, and hordes of partygoers spilling out into the streets and squares, there’s plenty of opportunity here for capturing atmospheric nightlife scenes and candid nocturnal street shots.
With an appealing mix of old and new architecture, Madrid is one of Europe’s more interesting cities for urban landscape, architectural, and night photography – not to mention all night partying. If you’ve got a photography trip to the Spanish capital planned, hopefully this short guide has given you some ideas of where to begin your Madrid night photography excursions. On the contrary, if you are not travelling soon and want to get some of my shots directly from the comfort of your sofa at home, you can always buy them on my Official Photo Gallery.