*disclaimer: I am 19 (almost 20), and the legal drinking age in Spain is 18, so (nearly) all of this is completely legal. Also, kids start drinking here as early as 12, so the drinking culture is very different. Yes the drinking age in the States is 21, and I of course NEVER drink there. Never mom, I promise.
Step 1: Buy Cheap Alcohol
My personal favorite is a liter of boxed white wine that costs 60 cents. Generally my friend and I split it as a pregame to the night. One time I brought my 60 cent wine home, and my host mom saw it. She looked absolutely appalled, and said the equivalent of (in Spanish), “what on earth did you buy? You know that’s cooking wine, right?”
Siiii, me da igual. She told me it’d give me a headache, but it hasn’t yet. She seems to have forgotten what the college kid’s body can withstand. But really, she’s right. It’s pretty disgusting. But if you’re not quite as cheap as I am, you can get a nice bottle of wine for about seven euros, and bearable wine for two.
Wine isn’t the only option though of course. You can buy beer, which I tend to hate. But I do like Desperado, which I would highly recommend. The regional beer of Sevilla is called Cruzcampo. I’m not a fan, but I despise all beer. I have been told that it’s fairly good though. If you’re up for it, hard liquor can be as cheap as four euros for a handle.
TEN CUIDADO!!!!! Grocery stores stop selling alcohol past 10pm, and sometimes aren’t even open that late. So you gotta plan ahead. Sometimes the Chinos (a crappy supermarket, that’s what they’re called I’m not being racist I swear) will sell liquor to you past 10, but it’s always a toss up with them. So go get whatever you want before 10, and save the bag that it comes in for step 2.
Step 2: Botellón
A botellón generally consists of a group of people drinking in public. It’s technically not allowed, but everyone does it. It’s one of those things that if you’re not underage and not being annoying, the cops will turn a blind eye. Just keep your bottle in the grocery store bag so it’s “hidden.”
Parks are popular places for a botellón, and you can sit on the park benches or play on the swings if you’re a child at heart like me. Botellóning down by the river is also very popular because it has a great view and is pretty close to some of the bars. Yes, I did just make that into a verb.
The main purpose of a botellón is to pregame either the bars or clubs so that you don’t have to pay as much, and to socialize with friends and strangers. Cause that’s what the Spaniards live for, is socializing.
Generally the main goal of a night out for a Spaniard isn’t to get blackout drunk like it commonly is in the States. They go out to hang out with friends and get a little drunk. Sometimes wasted, but from what I’ve witnessed, that’s not super common here.
Step 3: Hit the Bars
But not until AT LEAST after 10:30. That’s even super early. On the weekend people tend to eat dinner later, like they start eating at 10 or 10:30. So the natives won’t be at the bars until 11 at the earliest. When I go out with my Spanish friends, we leave the house at midnight.
I’ve been to two major bar areas in Sevilla: Alfalfa and Alameda.
Calle Alfalfa is a street in the center of the city near my school (how convenient right?) and las Setas. It’s lined with lots of little bars that tend to be pretty cheap. The scene here is a 9 on a scale of 1-10 of lit-ness. The bars that I go to on Alfalfa are generally filled with young adults like myself. Sometimes there’s a decent amount of Americans out on this street, which I’m not a huge fan of. I figure I’m in Spain, so I should party with the locals. But it really depends on the time of year how many Americans are out.
Rebotica is a great bar on the street where you can get liter cocktails for four euros. Sure, there’s a lot of ice in them, but the bartender knows what’s up and makes them pretty strong. It’s a cute little bar with a good vibe.
Ruko N’ Roll is my personal favorite on Alfalfa because it’s always playing music. Straight off of YouTube, but music is music to any dancer like me. This bar has some great deals on shots if you buy like twelve of them (please do this with friends, not solo). They also have fire shots. That’s right, shots that are set on fire. You take the shot, and then they set the residue on fire. Kind of strange, but definitely fun to try once.
I’ve heard good things about the little bar next to Ruko N’ Roll, but I haven’t been there yet. My Spanish friends have taken me to other little local bars along Alfalfa that I don’t remember the names of, but they were more chill than these other two.
SPEAKING OF DEALS
If you’re an exchange student it’s pretty easy to find drink deals. You just have to say you’re on a “list,” even if you’re really not. Request to be friends with TobaGuest List on Facebook, and he has lots of deals at different bars. Also follow Erasmus Club Sevilla on Facebook for some good deals too. In addition to these two that have specials specifically for study abroad students, if you like the bar or discoteca’s Instagram, they usually post drink or entrance specials on the Instasphere.
Sorry I got sidetracked there.
Alameda is a giant… plaza? I guess I would describe it as a plaza, filled with different bars and restaurants. This area is a bit more hippie/hipster than Alfalfa. Not quite sure how to explain it, but it’s a little more chill than Alfalfa. Generally there aren’t too many Americans around here, just lots of Spaniards.
I’ve been to a couple of bars on this street, but I can’t recall all of their names. Fun Club is a bar that plays throwback 90s jams which is always great. I’ve been to a bar called Plan B a couple of times. No, it’s not referencing the day after pill, or the gay club in Madison, WI. It’s just a bar that has decently priced cocktails, and a good vibe. Last weekend I went to Cafe Eureka which was really fun. Mixed drinks were 5 euros, a little pricey for my liking, but they had music bumping and it was a really fun time.
I’ve been out to eat a couple of times on Alameda too, and it’s a great place to go for dinner and then drinks afterwards. There’s also a disco/bar hybrid at the end of plaza which I’ve heard is fun. It’s like a chill disco, or a really lit bar, whichever description you prefer.
Some other bars in the center will also have drink deals. I’ve heard lots of good things about a bar called Madison, which sometimes has 50 cent shots and free Sangria. But generally it’s packed with Americans, so I try to avoid it.
Step 4: Dance the Night Away
Think it’s time to hit the clubs? You’re probably wrong!
People generally don’t get to the clubs until 2am or later. Sometimes you can get in for free or cheaper if you get there earlier on in the night, but it will be nearly empty. I repeat, EMPTY. Make sure you’re at a good, sustainable amount of intoxication before you head to the clubs, because drinks are extremely expensive unless there’s some sort of deal going on. I’m talking 7 or 8 euros. My bank account can’t afford that.
There are tons of discotecas all over Sevilla, so many that I still haven’t discovered yet. All of them have a slightly different feel and various crowds of people. Believe it or not, there are actually discos for adultier adults too. I of course haven’t been to them, but my host mom says they exist.
Unfortunately, you can’t go to the disco dressed like a hobo. There’s no explicit dress code, but if you look like a bum you’re gonna look very out of place. Also the more American you look (blonde, non-Spanish looking face, American style clothes), the more likely you are to get hit on by guys. Do what you want with that information, just be warned. Spanish men in the clubs tend to be very aggressive. Not in a threatening way, they’re just very upfront and don’t take hints well when you’re done dancing with them.
The obvious disco in Sevilla is Uthopia. It’s the biggest disco in town, and tends to be the most popular for tourists. Uthopia is three floors: three floors of pure sober hell or three floors of drunk fun. Take your pick, but I’d highly suggest the latter option. It tends to be very crowded, and overwhelmingly filled with men. Probably about a third of the songs they play are American, and the other two thirds are Spanish; a good mix in my opinion. Each floor plays a different type of music, so make sure you venture to all three floors. Also, if you buy the general 10 euro entrance ticket, DON’T THROW IT OUT!!! It includes a free mixed drink.
If you’re an Erasmus student (study abroad), you’re in luck at this disco. Miss your American music? Come here. Want free entrance AND free beer (for a limited period of time on certain days)? Hoyo 19 is the place for you. I’ve gone two or three Thursdays when they had free entrance and beer for study abroad students, and it was actually really fun. It’s about two blocks away from Uthopia, so if you want to pregame a disco with another disco this is the place to do it. Generally there are a lot of foreigners here (at least on Thursdays), and the club is a little smaller, just one dance floor. But the vibe is really fun and energetic.
So this place is actually called Bandalai, but the locals call it Casino for some reason. Don’t ask me why, because I’ve asked and I still don’t know. Casino is right next to the Universidad de Sevilla, and tends to be the disco of choice for young locals. It’s one dance floor with a DJ and bar, and lots of people. I went on a Thursday that was free for exchange students and they played almost exclusively American music, specifically American throwbacks. I would imagine though that they play more Spanish music on busier days of the weekend.
El Sótano de O’Neill’s
O’Neill’s is an Irish pub chain that happens to have a location a couple blocks from my house. For the longest time I was unaware, but there’s a club in the basement. Hence the name Sótano (that means basement in English). I like this club because it’s super close to my house, and because they usually have a cheap entrance fee that includes a drink. Sometimes one of my friends gets hired to photograph people there throughout the night; it’s always fun to have pictures of yourself dancing like a drunken fool. This club is pretty much only filled with Spaniards, and typically only University-age students. And because of its crowd, it really only plays Spanish music, which is fine by me.
There’s a couple of other clubs in town that I’ve heard really good reviews about, like Abril and O’Clock. I haven’t been. I’m trying to fit everything in, but it’s impossible to hit up every club cause there’s so many.
So if you want a really cheap 60 cent night like me, buy some super cheap wine. Choke that down, and then head to a disco with a deal. I went to Bandalai when they had free entrance and free beer, and that’s how I only spent 60 cents that night. Usually I don’t spend more that 10 or 15 euros on a night out in Sevilla.
Please drink responsibly. And enjoy the Spanish nightlife.
*All pictures taken at O’Neill’s were taken by my very talented friend Ines. Follow her on Insta for more great photos: @inesrojascruz