Foodies, prepare to be enthused: 12 of Spain’s best tapas bar districts


You already know what tapas are, but do you know where to enjoy the most popular ones? We’re here to help with a list of some of the best-known areas in major tourist destinations. In most places, tapas are given free of charge with a drink, but not always. Sometimes there is a small supplement to pay, and occasionally the fanciest ones are listed on a menu.

La Latina district, Madrid

Start here to explore one of the city’s most traditional districts. Streets like Cava Baja, Cava Alta and Humilladeros are home to some of the most historic tabernas, and are always brimming with people enjoying tapas, especially at the weekend. Madrid’s local specialities are patatas bravas, potato omelette, croquettes, olives, mature cheeses, and offal dishes. It’s usual to find them offered free to accompany your drink. You might be interested to know that this district was actually the original town of Madrid in the Middle Ages. More information at the Tourist Office of MadridYou will also fall in love with Alcalá de Henares, which is only 30 km away from Madrid. Enjoy the traditional tapas in its famous bars and restaurants, in such emblematic places as the arcades of its Calle Mayor.

Calamari sandwich and olive tapa. La Cebada Market, in La Latina district.

Passeig de Sant Joan, Barcelona

This is one of the city’s trendiest streets. While the traditional tapas districts of Barcelona are Poble Sec, and more recently Sant Antoni, it’s Passeig de Sant Joan where the latest and newest bite-sized snacks are to be found. Do you know what the popular tapas are? They range from the most traditional (often adapted to make modern creations) like potato salad, bombas (whole fried potatoes stuffed with meat) and little sandwiches, to haute cuisine in tapas thanks to the influence of Ferran Adrià and the avant-garde chefs of Barcelona.More information at the Tourist Office of Barcelona

Triumphal arch on Passeig Sant Joan, Barcelona

The old town centre of Donostia - San Sebastian

Lesson 1 to go for tapas in San Sebastián: they are called “pintxos” here.Lesson 2: visit the old town centre and streets like Calle Pescadería, Calle 31 de Agosto and Calle Fermín Calbeltón.Lesson 3: try as many different ones as you can, from the classic gilda (olive, hot pepper and anchovy) to more creative ideas.In this area, you can’t go wrong with any of the pintxo routes.More information at the Tourist Office of Donostia-San Sebastián

The old town centre of Donostia - San Sebastián and pintxos

Bilbao old town

We’re still in the Basque Country, land of the pintxo. Although you can enjoy them anywhere in Bilbao, it’s traditional to go to the old town centre and streets like Calle Somerda, Calle del Perro and Plaza Nueva for pintxos of squid, mussels, mushrooms, cod, omelette, etc. The options here are practically unlimited. More information at the Tourist Office of the Basque Country 

Ría de Bilbao and mussel and mushroom tapas

Granada, tapas city

Many people regard Granada as one of the best cities for wandering from bar to bar enjoying the tapas, which are often free with a drink. Local specialities include tiny fried fish, pinchos morunos (pork skewers), montaditos of sausage on bread, patatas bravas and potatoes with alioli. You can find them practically everywhere in Granada, but it’s lovely to snack and admire the sights at the same time, in the area around the Cathedral and streets like Calle Navas, Calle San Mateo, Calle Elvira, Plaza Nueva and Plaza Campillo.More information at the Tourist Office of Granada

The Alhambra Palace, Granada. Gazpacho and patatas bravas tapas

The old town centre of Seville

The Andalusian capital prides itself on its tapas, and you can find them every few steps as you stroll around the sights. But, what to order? The Seville Tourist Office has a complete guide to the bars specialising in each popular tapa. Must-taste tapas: gazpacho and papas aliñás (both are especially recommended in summer), huevos a la flamenca (a colourful egg dish), rabo de toro (oxtail stew, an Andalusian speciality), carrillada (tender braised Iberian pork), pringá (the locals dip bread in this meaty treat) and pescado en adobo (fried fish).More information at the Tourist Office of Seville

Tapa with white wine in Seville

Ruzafa district, Valencia

This is one of the trendiest areas of the city, where people gather for tapas on bar terraces. There are plenty of tapas bars on Calle Burriana, Calle Ciscar and Calle Cádiz. The local specialities in Valencia are fish and seafood: grilled cuttlefish, boquerones (fresh anchovies) in vinegar, cod croquettes, molluscs like clams and mussels, and salted fish. Of course, small servings of rice dishes, such as the famous paella, are also popular. There are also several restaurants in the area serving signature cuisine.More information at the Tourist Office of Valencia

Mercado de Ruzafa, in Valencia Paella tapa

The Barrio Húmedo district in León

Did you know León is the city with the most bars per inhabitant in all of Spain? It’s probably thanks to its famous tapas, and the Húmedo district is the main area for enjoying them. Many places serve them for free to accompany drinks. The area is very close to essential sights like León Cathedral and the Casa Botines (designed by Gaudí). So, the best thing to do is to make quick stops between the sightseeing tours to taste the most classic snacks.More information from the León Tourist Office 

Húmedo district in Leon and black pudding and chorizo tapas

Valladolid, a tapas route in the city centre

The old town centre is easy to cover from bar to bar enjoying the delicious tapas of Valladolid. Most restaurants are on the squares near the Cathedral: Plaza de Portugalete, Plaza Universidad, Plaza San Martín and Plaza Martí y Monsó. Tapas are so important to the city that every November it hosts the National Tapas Competition, when Michelin-starred chefs choose Spain’s best tapa. Here you can try a few of the winners, such as the “Lechazo Taj Mahal” (at Don Bacalao, Plaza Santa Brígida), “Bocata de calamares envuelto en obulato” and “Tigretostón” (at Los Zagales, Calle Pasión).More information at the Tourist Office of Valladolid

Mediterranean Surf and Turf tapa, participant in the National Tapas Competition of Valladolid

On and around the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca

A top tourist attraction and a university town… it’s hardly surprising to find going out for tapas is a tradition here. There are plenty of bars where a tapa is included with drinks for free or for a modest mark-up. You can see for yourself in the tabernas on Plaza Mayor and the immediate area, including Calle Prior, Calle Consuelo, Calle Concejo and Plaza del Peso. You can find all sorts of tapas here, but some traditional ones are hornazo (a bread roll usually filled with ham, chorizo and pork loin), black pudding and chorizo, pinchos morunos, tripe, fried pig snouts, chanfaina (a lamb stew with offal), palomas (potato salad on crispbreads)…More information at the Tourist Office of Salamanca

Ham on bread

Calle Laurel in Logroño

A street with over 60 bars and restaurants where you can enjoy the culinary delights of La Rioja. This is Calle Laurel, where there is a bar every two metres and you can try local produce like asparagus, borage and peppers, in delicious dishes such as patatas a la riojana or chuletillas al sarmiento. And of course, the famous wine of La Rioja is the ideal accompaniment. As well as this street, Logroño’s tapas bars also cluster on the nearby Calle Albornoz, Calle San Agustín and Travesía de Laurel. More information at the Tourist Office of La Rioja


The Tubo district, in Zaragoza

Little narrow streets full of bars famous for their delicious tapas: croquettes, anchovies, migas (fried breadcrumbs), mushrooms, pasties… A quick look at the display in each bar will help you decide what to try. This area, on and around Calle Estébanes and Calle Libertad, is very busy at lunchtime and even more so in the evenings. As the custom is to wander from bar to bar trying a wide range of tapas, the area is always lively. There is another very popular area of Zaragoza for tapas: La Magdalena (on and around Calle Estudios), where bars have special offers every Thursday.More information at the Tourist Office of Zaragoza

The Tubo district in Zaragoza, and migas and croquette tapas
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