Madrid City Guide
Find the perfect place for your city break in Madrid!
At ChicRoom Barcelona we specialise in the best luxury apartments in Spain’s top destinations. We are dedicated to making sure you have the best holiday possible and we understand that a large part of that is making sure you are staying in the best location for you.
Madrid is an amazing city with so much culture and history to be discovered but it is also very big with many different neighbourhoods, each with its own character and attractions. Deciding which one to stay in can be confusing, especially if you have never visited before. We have made this guide to the neighbourhoods of Madrid to help you decide where to stay on your holiday. We hope this helps!
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Neighbourhoods of Madrid
This area is the oldest part of New Madrid, it is a very residential and up-market area that has now attracted sophisticated fashion stores – national and international. Calle Serrano, Calle Claudio Coello and Callejon de Jorge Juan are all packed with luxury shops and top brand boutiques. This luxurious lifestyle can also be seen in the dining options you have available here as there are several Michelin star restaurants in the neighbourhood. There are various museums too in this neighbourhood that you might be interested in, including the National Archaeological Museum that reopened in 2014 after rehabilitation work; it includes many objects from different periods of history including the Romans, Greeks and the Ancient Egyptians. There is also the Lázaro Galdiano Museum that keeps collections of art. As for the nightlife, there are Madrid’s most elegant nightclubs here including Gabana club and Goya, as well as fancy cocktail bars where you can treat yourself!
This is an ‘up and coming neighbourhood’ that is known for its artists and fashion. There aren’t too many tourists here, so you will be able to live just like a local in this young and bohemian district, filled with quirky cafes and retro, vintage and second-hand clothing shops. Malasaña is a popular area and is full of lively bars and clubs that are relaxed and friendly, including La Via Lactea, Penta, Nasti and El Barco. Discovering the rest of the city is also easy as the centre of Madrid is just a 15 minute walk away from this alternative and hip neighbourhood.
Chueca can be found in the heart of the city just next to Gran Via. It is a very lively place that is known as the neighbourhood of ‘partying’. The majority of Madrid’s clubs and nightlife are located here, but it is still a tight-knit neighbourhood where you will sometimes get a village-like feeling. The market of San Antón is a traditional market you must visit when staying here! You will find takeaway foods, tapas bars and market stalls where you can purchase fresh and local produce.
Everyone is welcome in this trendy neighbourhood, which is open and diverse. It is known for its gay population and on the last weekend of June, Chueca becomes the centre of the Madrid Gay Pride!
If you are interested in visiting areas outside of Madrid during your stay, then being in Atocha would be very convenient for you! It is home to the main railway station of Madrid and connects the capital via RENFE to the rest of the country. From here, you can even visit France and Portugal! The neighbourhood itself is very charming, with countless streets full of boutique shops, galleries and theatres. For those with an interest in art, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is located in this neighbourhood and showcases some of the most famous works from around the world from Picasso, Dalí, Antonio López and Tápies, among other famous artists. The Royal Botanical Gardens also provide a great place to relax in the Madrid’s hot sun. Atocha is a safe, clean and central area to stay during your time in Madrid and the perfect place to soak up some culture.
In the past, Lavapiés was a very typical neighbourhood of Madrid, however, today it has an exotic and cosmopolitan atmosphere. It has been described as a ‘melting pot of cultures and traditions’ as more than a third of the residents here are foreigners from 88 different countries. Due to this, you can find all sorts of cuisine and the streets are filled with the delicious smells of Thai food, Indian food, and of course, traditional Spanish tapas! Tapapiés is celebrated every year and sees tapas created from 24 different cuisines, Indonesian, Morrocan, American and many more... If you’re a foodie, you simply have to check out this beautiful blend of cultures!
While in Lavapiés, you should definitely take the time to stroll along Calle de Santa Isabel and enjoy the sunny terraces filled with people and many traditional Spanish bars. At the south of the district, you will find ‘La Casa Encendida’, a social and culture centre that exhibits the works of new artists and puts on various workshops and programs for children. The Tabacalera de Lavapiés is another contempory art space that cannot be missed due to its spectacular location in an old tobacco factory and its innovative exhibitions and concerts. There are also many theatres in Lavapies, so there really is something for everyone!
This area is surrounded by green spaces and is central enough to walk everywhere. It is close to the main university in Madrid and so there are many students here, giving the district a lively and fun atmosphere with cheap bars and night clubs!
Even if you are not staying in Moncloa-Arguelles, you might want to take a trip here to go to the Faro de Moncloa observation tower, which is an impressive viewpoint 92 metres above Madrid. In fact the area is full of attractions, such as the Plaza de España, the Theme Park of Madrid and the spectacular Templo de Debod, a 2nd century temple donated to the city by the Egyptian government.
Retiro/Paseo del Prado
This is one of the most historic neighbourhoods where you will find spectacular monuments and beautiful gardens. It is very central and well connected yet remains a traditional and relaxed area, bordering the Paseo del Prado, one of Madrid’s most important boulevards.
It is home to the famous Retiro park where you will find beautifully maintained gardens, fountains, open spaces and of course, the Retiro lake. You can rent a boat and row on the lake or simply explore the huge area. The Museo Nacional del Prado is also in this area, which is one of Madrid’s most important art galleries, with masterpieces by Velazquez, Goya and El Greco.
Puerta del Sol y Las Cortes
Puerta del Sol is the huge plaza that marks the centre of Madrid. It is home to the famous clock at Casa de Correos, the headquarters of the regional government of Madrid, and the famous statue of the bear and the strawberry tree, a statue well-loved by tourists and locals alike. The plaza and the surrounding streets are vibrant and bustling with life, with many nice restaurants and bars. A lot of the streets are pedestrianised and street performers entertain the passersby.
Plaza Mayor is very close and you should definitely go to enjoy a coffee or meal there and then head to the rooftop terrace of El Corte Ingles to enjoy a nice glass of wine whilst looking over the famous Puerta del Sol. Of course, because it is the centre of Madrid, you will find lots of streets that are jam packed with high street shops.
Barrio de Las Letras
This neighbourhood is in the heart of Madrid and the name translates as The Literary Quarter. This is because during the 17th century, many famous Spanish writers including Cervantes and Tirso de Molina lived here. Walking around this neighbourhood, you may see the streets marked with classic quotes from several of the famous writers that once resided there. You will also see famous statues of various writers in the Plaza de Santa Ana, the centre of this wonderful neighbourhood. The abundance of bookstores in the area ensures that the literary traditions of this neighbourhood live on today!
There are also a number of contemporary art galleries in this charming district. It is always lively, thanks to the many tapas bars, cafes and restaurants in the area, as well as the roof top terraces that can be found in several hotels where you can enjoy an amazing selection of cocktails.
This neighbourhood is located near Plaza Mayor and is one of the oldest in Madrid, making it one of the historical centres of the city. You can take a stroll around this neighbourhood and you’ll discover many of the beautiful squares that lie within it. There is the famous Plaza de La Cebada, but it may be worth seeking out other plazas such as Plaza del Humilladero. La Latina is famous for its tapas, try out Calle Cava Baja and Calle Cava Alta for some of the most traditional and delicious tapas that you will find!
Arrival in Madrid
On arriving in Madrid you have several options to get from the airport into the city centre and to your apartment. We can arrange transport for you or you can choose to take the bus, metro or hop into a taxi. A taxi will cost around 30 euros to any central location in Madrid. If you want a cheaper way to arrive, why not take the metro? It is a 12-minute journey from the airport into Nuevos Ministerios in the centre of Madrid. From Nuevos Ministerios, you can change onto a different metro line as from here, the whole city can be easily accessed. The final option is the aerobus which offers a 24-hour service with three stops in the city centre, O'Donell, Plaza de Cibeles and Atocha.