If you are visiting the capital of Spain there are some things that you should know. It is the largest city in the whole country and the third biggest in all of the European Union, and there is no surprise why 3 million people have chosen to live here. It is also a popular destination for tourists and for good reason, since it is home to some important infrastructures like the residences of every King of Spain and the royal family.
You should stay in different parts of the city depending on what you are planning to do on your vacation. If you are looking to discover the numerous cultural attractions, do some upscale shopping or stay somewhere with a vibrant nightlife there are different places that are best suited to you.
There are hotels located all over town and with many of them just a short walk from Madrid's main square you can easily get a taste of what life is like in the city. After you find the perfect place to stay and decide to go out around town leave your shopping bags or backpacks at a location for luggage storage in Madrid so as not to get slowed down for a minute!
Where to Stay in La Latina
If you are looking to make friends in the Spanish capital, check out La Latina which has a great nightlife and is home to some of the best restaurants and tapas bars. Narrow streets have many hidden gems for you to explore, and when you walk around the neighborhood you will notice the incredible churches and basilicas that are definitely worth stopping to check out.
If you have some free time, join the local citizens shopping at the Mercado de la Cebada. On Sunday mornings most people stop by the Rastro Market, which is the city's largest flea market. Lots of restaurants and bars set up shop here with some even offering live entertainment while you eat. You can stay at a nearby boutique hotel like the Posada del Dragon, which used to be a municipal granary in the 16th century and later turned into a guest house in 1868. Today it is a stunning hotel with 27 different modern rooms that are uniquely decorated.
This is the best spot for any social tourists or partygoers who want to get a taste of the life of the local youth. If you are looking for some nearby landmarks you can check out the Basilica de San Francisco el Grande which is a gorgeous 18th-century church with multiple levels. The domed roof is a sight to see and inside there are works from several renowned artists. Just outside you will find the stunning Dalieda dahlia gardens. You can easily reach this neighborhood through the La Latina metro station.
Where to Stay in Madrid de Los Austrias
Los Austrias is one of the most historic places in the city and is a great place to stay while visiting Madrid. The area is full of palaces, monuments and churches that date back to the time of the monarchs. There are lots of things going on in this neighborhood like the Mercado de San Miguel Market which can be a fun place to explore with the family.
The top attractions to visit here are the Almudena Cathedral and the Plaza Mayor. Both of these structures boast incredible architecture and are truly beautiful, with their ornate exteriors and grand decorated interiors. When you get hungry you can try the delicious cocido madrileño which is a traditional Madrid stew served in the local restaurants, and afterward, take a stroll and enjoy the natural beauty of the Sabatini Gardens.
This city is a great place for tourists because of all the amazing sights that you can see. One place that you cannot miss is the Royal Palace, more locally known as the Palacio Real. You will be amazed by the palace entrance and its hundreds of rooms which are open for visits from the public and were decorated by talented Italian painters. While you tour the palace you will visit areas like the Porcelain Room, Throne Room and Hall of Columns.
Where to Stay in Barrio de las Letras
This is one of the best neighborhoods to visit for lovers of literature as many authors from the Golden Age like Lope de Vega, Quevedo and Cervantes were born here. Even the streets in this terrific location are covered in famous quotes and writing, giving the area a certain unique personality.
The city has great places to eat with some really exciting dishes to try. As well, the neighborhood is full of spots to try beer and a few wine bars too. You can stay in a modern hotel in the Plaza Santa Ana while exploring everything that the area has to offer. You might appreciate a visit to the Caixa Forum Cultural Center which holds regular events and is decorated by a vertical garden that stands 24 meters high.
Barrio de las Letras is a great choice for any art and literature enthusiasts as it is also home to the Golden Triangle of Art. The three art museums that make up the triangle, which are the Prado Museum, Reina Sofía Museum and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, all boast an impressive collection of artwork. One of the buildings even used to be the Palacio de Villahermosa back in the 18th century.
Where to Stay in Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol is one of the central neighborhoods in Madrid and is easily accessible from other places around the city. In this area, there are casual restaurants with some fabulous must-try dishes and a great shopping district as well. Walk along the Gran Vía to the Plaza de España or the Plaza del Sol, which is often the busiest spot in the city, to see what kind of events are going on.
There are some great areas to see in this town like the historic Casa de Correos which is where you will find the Seat of the Government. The clock tower located nearby is a traditional gathering spot during New Year's Eve, and not too far away is the Bear and the Strawberry Tree monument which is a symbol of Madrid. If you need to choose one thing to do here check out the Círculo de Bellas Artes. This building, which was created by Antonio Palacios, is an important place for the local art scene and often hosts exhibitions, lectures, balls or shows in its theater and concert hall.
This is a popular spot often frequented by both locals and tourists and is a great place for anyone new to the city to experience the culture and events. Thanks to its central location this area has great options for public transport, making it a nice choice for any budget travelers who don't want to pay for a taxi or Uber.
Where to Stay in Chueca
Chueca is fun, colorful, enthusiastic and one of the best neighborhoods for meeting up with people and spending time with friends. In the centrally located area of Plaza de Chueca, you will see cultural events and festivals put on regularly. If you make your way to the Principal Madrid hotel you can see some of the best views of the Gran Vía.
Some great activities to participate in here are found in the Mercado de San Anton. This place has an art gallery, a bar with a terrace and a local market that sells fresh products like fish, meat, fruit and vegetables. Restaurants found in the area have selections of wine and cocktails coming from around Spain and serve some delicious meals. If you are looking for something to do around the area check out the Museo del Romanticismo. This museum shows artwork focusing on the life of local citizens in 19th-century Spain through 1,600 artifacts like paintings, china, furniture and more.
Chueca is a welcoming and accepting area in Madrid. Most shops, bars and other services here focus on the community and the neighborhood is home to some big festivals like their world-famous Gay Pride celebrations. Frequent partiers will also enjoy their time in Chueca as nights are usually active. If you want to feel like royalty, you can stay in the Only You Boutique Hotel that is housed in a recently restored palace. The interior design of this building is gorgeous and the rooms are very comfortable.
Where to Stay in Malasaña
The trendy neighborhood of Malasaña is home to modern cafes, trendy restaurants and chic stores mixed in with more traditional places to shop and dine. The area often hosts markets and has some great bars for social gatherings too. Malasaña is found inside the city center and the streets and buildings are decorated by some impressive street art.
New places to eat or shop are opening almost every week here, so there is always something new to discover. The local restaurants serve a combination of traditional Spanish meals or new dishes for adventurous eaters to try.
Aside from offering great places to eat with amazing food and live music, this neighborhood in central Madrid is home to the Plaza del Dos de Mayo. This local square is within walking distance from anywhere in the area and is a popular spot for locals to meet up and party.
Where to Stay in Lavapiés
The town of Lavapiés is found next door to the Las Letras neighborhood and is a multicultural spot with 88 different nationalities found in this one area. Here you can find a selection of local bars selling traditional Spanish cuisine as well as an on-site restaurant serving Indian food. Enjoy your meal from a rooftop terrace while you take in the warm atmosphere and charming streets of Lavapiés.
A great place to visit in this neighborhood during your stay in Madrid is the Reina Sofía Museum which is an important museum in Spain and part of the Art Triangle. The building's exterior and architecture are impressive but even better are the exhibitions found inside. One of the top attractions in the museum is Picasso's famous painting named Guernica. A fantastic location to stop by for a bite is the Mercado de Anton Martin which is a local market selling fresh fish, meat and delicious pre-made meals like sandwiches, ramen, sushi and craft beer.
In the past, mostly elderly people lived in this part of town, but its recent transformations are making it into a more modern place with a lively population. The humble area and affordable housing has recently been attracting younger residents and has given it a good balance of old and young Madrid. This is a great location to find a mid-range or lower-budget hotel while still experiencing the Spanish culture.
Finding the Best Place to Spend Your Vacation in Madrid
Every neighborhood in Madrid has a unique charm and personality, and no matter where you choose to stay you will enjoy your time here. If you are searching for a spot with lower-priced accommodation options you can stay at one of the budget hotels around town, or treat yourself and book private rooms in one of the best luxury hotels in Madrid for a good night's sleep.
If you want to do some exploring and are planning to travel to different neighborhoods in this wonderful city you should find a place that is within easy walking distance from the metro stations or a train station. Every neighborhood listed here showcases a unique part of Spanish life in the museums, shops, markets, lively bars and trendy cafes sprinkled around the city. This Madrid neighborhood guide shows only a few of the amazing locations in the city but there are so many more to discover, like Wellington Madrid, Paseo de la Castellana or Retiro which is located east of the city center.