Four Metal Bars You Have to Visit in Europe
Early last month, two of my friends tied the knot in Granada, Spain; this presented a great opportunity for a bunch of us friends to go on a multiple-city tour of Spain and Portugal. As with any good vacation trip, one of our priorities was to try and find as many heavy metal bars as we could (the groom is part of some kind of forum which points out where to find them in any city). During the day we visited ancient cathedrals, catacombs, bridges, and intricate palaces, but at night we sought out some of the best heavy metal themed watering holes Europe has to offer. These are the four metal bars you have to visit!
Bar Lemmy (Malaga, Spain)
According to my buddy, this bar was located in what used to be a store in an old shopping plaza, along with several other music-themed bars of different genres. After an evening filled with delicious tapas and sangria in Madrid, we took the subway to Malaga and found our way to said plaza at around 1AM:
On the ground level was a large Snaggletooth painted on the wall, seemingly indicating that we should enter nearby. So we opened the door to the left of the large painting and found ourselves in a not-so metal bar. Ten feet in we noticed our error, immediately turned around and exited — much to the chagrin of an employee who begged us to stay there. Somehow we missed the hidden door which was part of the painting (notice the opening mechanism under his left eye):
Upon entering I immediately noticed two things: 1) the Evil Dead movie art painted on the wall opposite of the bar and 2) LOTS of W.A.S.P. shirts. Apparently W.A.S.P. was in town that evening (November 3rd), and the bar was receiving an influx of concert goers.
Draught beers were served cold and cheap by a bartender with a Manowar vest, and the music was mainly hard rock and classic heavy metal like Scorpions and Megadeth. We met the lead vocalist of a local hard rock band who spoke some English (if you’re seeing this, hi Irene!) and played fuszball with some of the locals. For our first metal bar, I only took those few pictures; so I’m going to go ahead and include a few photos taken from their Facebook page:
It was our first full night in Spain, and so we were ready to call it a night around around 2:30 AM when it started to get really packed!
Fundo do Poço (Porto, Portugal)
Porto was probably our favorite out of all the cities we visited. It features stunning attractions and is full of incredibly nice people — but isn’t as packed with people as Madrid. After our typical daytime shopping, eating, and sight-seeing, it was time to move onto the real attraction: Fundo do Poço. Now this was a literal hidden gem, buried deep within the heart of a shopping mall accessed through a narrow hallway running between what you would consider many “normal” stores. This bar is tiny, as in I would venture to guess it could hold 20 people if it was packed; but more were loitering in the narrow hallway right outside the joint.
The above wall was lined with classic heavy metal LP sleeves such as Exodus, Bathory, and Sepultura. Fundo do Poço allows smoking so one can imagine how thick the atmosphere was (literally), and the entrance to the restroom was decorated thusly:
But the centerpiece of this cozy bar was a mural painted on the wall opposite of the album covers which included several popular heavy metal mascots:
They served smallish draught beers for one euro a glass and we made friends with the Portugese-speaking bartender — whom I think we determined owned the place. At one point in the night, I shouted with joy because their music selection included a song by a band which I assumed I was the only person to recognize: “From Endless Chasms” by The Ominous Circle.
After spending about an hour here, the smoke became too much for our American lungs to handle and we called it a night.
WASP Bar (Lisbon, Portugal)
Lisbon had a gigantic, living, breathing nightlife thanks in part to it being host to ~80,000 people visiting for some kind of web conference. The alleys were packed with young people partying and drinking, bouncing from restaurant to bar and vice-versa. This is where we stumbled upon the WASP Bar:
This cozy drinking establishment was roughly the same size as Fundo do Poço but less packed. Their music selection was geared more towards the hard rock crowd, including music by Iron Maiden and of course W.A.S.P. Our group was split up and so after a few caipirinhas we decided it was time to leave and meet up with our friends. The next evening we would end up returning here for some more hard rock, after having dinner at a lovely restaurant featuring Fado (a traditional form of Portugese music). Apparently I got into trouble after loudly singing along to “Fear of the Dark” whilst it played overhead, judging from my friend’s advice:
I know you love to sing [Jimmy], but here’s the thing about your voice… it’s not good.
Here’s a better photo (taken from TripAdvisor) to give you an idea of the size of the bar:
Rainbow Bar (Granada, Spain)
The true gem of our trip was discovered on our last night in Granada, and it’s probably for the best. Because if we had discovered it sooner, we might have ended up spending all of our time here. I present to you the mecca of heavy metal watering holes, The Rainbow Bar:
This was the largest of the bars we hit, and also the most fun. They had flat screen televisions mounted on opposite walls, showing music videos and concert footage of some of the most iconic heavy metal acts such as Slayer, Judas Priest, and of course Rainbow. Our bartender was an energetic young lady who would run from one end of the bar to the other and smash a wall-mounted cymbal every time a patron tipped her along with her drink sale. By 1AM we would overhear the smash of the cymbal roughly every four minutes, each time causing a raucous “yeah!” by all the thirsty metalheads at the bar. The walls were simply covered with framed posters, autographed pictures, vinyls, and painted murals.
So while the lovely lady behind the bar served libations, a man in a denim vest with a large Testament patch on the back ably worked the audio/video equipment. He alternated between audio and video, using the time alloted during a song being played overhead to queue up the next live video footage to be shown on the flat screens. Our group of friends more or less went nuts and started singing along with “Painkiller”, and undoubtedly scared away the girls in our party. But you know what, they could have tried to find a better bar… and they didn’t 🙂 The centerpiece of Rainbow Bar:
At around 2AM we decided (against our lesser judgement) to head back to the hotel because the next morning we would be driving up to Toledo. Our several city trip throughout Spain and Portugal included some jaw-dropping historical locations, as well as plenty of killer heavy metal bars. I’ll end this mini travel blog with a few talking points:
- Europeans like heavy metal more than Americans.
- Heavy metal is a universal language that brings together people of various ethnicities.
- Lord help you if you ever hear me sing.
Thanks for checking out my heavy metal travel blog!