Which are the best neighbourhoods to check out in Madrid? That depends on your interests!
- Tapas Lovers: La Latina
- Architecture Enthusiasts: Palacio
- Literature Lovers: Barrio de las Letras
- The Alternative Crowd: Malasaña
- Art Lovers: Lavapiés
- Party Animals: Chueca
- Families: Retiro
- First Timers: Sol
- Shopping Addicts: Gran Vía
1. Tapas Lovers: La Latina
Spain is all about tapas, and you’ll find the best tapas in Madrid in La Latina neighbourhood.
Madrid’s oldest neighbourhood, La Latina is a network of narrow streets with ample tapas bars and cantinas.
Head to the famous Calle Cava Baja (Madrid’s ‘Tapas Street’) for the best Spanish food in the city, all on one street.
On Sundays, the famous El Rastro flea market takes over La Latina neighbourhood offering antiques, flowers, groceries and anything else you could possibly imagine.
After the market, it’s tradition for locals to head to one of La Latina’s many taverns for a caña and some tapas to refuel.
La Latina is also very close to the centre of Madrid, just a 10 minute walk from Plaza Mayor and Sol.
The location is really quite perfect, because La Latina provides history, culture and local vibes, whilst being minutes away from the busy touristy areas.
If your trip to Madrid is going to be centred around finding the best tapas, then you should stay in La Latina.
Where To Stay In La Latina Neighbourhood
The Bookbinder Apartment is the coolest place to stay in La Latina.
The industrial style loft is all exposed brick and quirky furnishings, a great spot to stay at with friends or family.
You can book The Bookbinder Apartment here.
2. Architecture Enthusiasts: Palacio
If you love history and want to discover Spain’s centuries old architecture, then you need to stay in the Palacio neighbourhood.
Palacio or ‘Los Austrias’ is the most historical neighbourhood in Madrid, home to the Muslim Walls, which were built in the 9th century.
In Plaza de la Villa, you’ll find the oldest buildings still standing in the city.
Some of these buildings date back to the 15th century and really transport you to a different time.
Also, don’t miss the early 17th century las Carboneras convent, where you can buy pastries and biscuits from the nuns through a secret hatch!
In this neighbourhood you’ll also find the Royal Palace of Madrid, the Royal Basilica of Saint Francis with its famous frescoed dome and the Almudena Cathedral.
The Palacio neighbourhood spans the Royal Palace area and all of the medieval streets up to Plaza Mayor, so it’s definitely one of the most central districts in Madrid.
If you want to experience what Madrid was like hundreds of years ago, then Palacio neighbourhood is your top choice.
Where To Stay In Palacio Neighbourhood
One of the best holiday apartments in Palacio is The Perennial Prince Apartment.
The luxury one-bedroom apartment is found on a charming medieval street just five minutes on foot from the Royal Palace.
You can book The Perennial Prince Apartment here.
3. Literature Lovers: Barrio de las Letras
Barrio de las Letras or the ‘Literary Quarter’ is a charming area which was once home to Spain’s famous 17th century writers.
The neighbourhood is characterized by cobbled lanes which open out onto quaint plazas full of chic bistros and cafés.
Literature lovers will enjoy a visit to Lope de Vega’s 17th century house, which is now a museum filled with his possessions and period artwork.
Barrio de las Letras is always busy with cultural events, whether that’s classic plays at Teatro Español or live flamenco performances at tablao dinner theaters.
Book worms should spend some time perusing the area’s book stores, especially Librería Del Prado for rare books and Crazy Mary Librería & Co for an intimate reading experience.
Calle de las Huertas is the main street you should head towards in the Literary Quarter, where you’ll find lively wine bars and restaurants.
Barrio de las Letras is also home to Madrid’s best coffee shop, the perfect spot to get your caffeine fix and read a chapter or two.
The Literary Quarter is located just east of the tourist centre, so you can walk to all of Madrid’s attractions from this area.
I absolutely love the Literary Quarter, and for me it’s one of the best areas to stay in Madrid (you can also find great budget accommodation in this area).
Where To Stay In Barrio de las Letras/ Literary Quarter
Cosy Colores Apartment is the best holiday accommodation in Barrio de las Letras/ Literary Quarter.
The luxury book-filled apartment is found on the same street as Lope de Vega’s house and it has serious character throughout.
You can book Cosy Colores Apartment here.
4. The Alternative Crowd: Malasaña
If you enjoy seeking out Europe’s bohemian neighbouhoods, then you should stay in Malasaña in Madrid.
Home to the ‘Movida’ movement of the 1980’s, Malasaña was the centre of the underground movement that revolutionised art & culture after the Francoist dictatorship ended.
Today, Malasaña still oozes an air of rebellion, with thriving nightlife and edgy bars filled with both Madrileños and tourists.
The student-friendly area has the best vintage shops in the city, which are popular with hipsters and bargain-hunters alike.
Naturally, you’ll find great coffee in Malasaña, alongside traditional cantinas and modern eateries.
Malasaña is found just north of the city centre, an easy stroll to Sol and the Royal Palace.
Where To Stay In Malasaña
You should stay in the Green Grass Apartment in Malasaña for complete serenity.
Light, airy rooms and wooden beams create a relaxing space, with vintage shops and cafés right on your doorstep.
You can book the Green Grass Apartment here.
5. Art Lovers: Lavapiés
If you love art, then you have to stay in the Lavapiés neighbourhood.
Lavapiés is not only home to the world famous Reina Sofía, Spain’s national museum of 20th-century art, but it’s also the street art hub of the city.
Take a wander down Calle de Embajadores in Lavapiés to see some of the most beautiful graffiti in the city (stopping off at LAP Bar Café for a vermouth on the terrace beside some artwork).
To finish off your art tour of Lavapiés, you need to check out The Ryder Projects, a brilliant contemporary art gallery showcasing thought-provoking pieces.
Lavapiés is just south of the centre and borders La Latina.
It’s within walking distance of all the top sightseeing spots, and yet it feels so different to the ‘shiny’ areas of Madrid like Retiro and Gran Vía.
Where To Stay In Lavapiés
In Lavapiés, you should stay at Synesthesia Apartment.
The apartment is minimalist and bright, filled with juliette balconies so you can enjoy the neighbourhood’s architecture from every angle.
You can book Synesthesia Apartment here.
6. Party Animals: Chueca
If your city breaks are all about staying up dancing into the early hours, then Chueca is the neighbourhood of your dreams.
Known as Madrid’s gay neighbourhood, Chueca offers the best nightlife in the city.
Choose your holiday apartment or hotel in this vibrant area and your bed will be mere metres away after a night in Chueca’s brilliant tapas bars & clubs.
Don’t miss hand-crafted cocktails at Specia Atelier Bar, the best place for cocktails in Chueca.
Chueca borders Malasaña to the west and is a short walk from the bustling Gran Vía area in the city centre (or you can get the metro if you prefer).
Where To Stay In Chueca
The best holiday apartment in Chueca is the Vida Romantica Apartment.
The luxury studio has everything you need for a fun weekend in Madrid, complete with a brand new kitchen, a comfy double bed, a living area and a balcony for drinking sangría.
You can book Vida Romantica Apartment here.
7. Families: Retiro
Madrid can be a great area for families to visit.
World-renowned museums, interactive exhibitions and seriously good ice-cream help to keep the kids busy, whilst parents can often find a moment to enjoy a quiet glass of wine on a terraza.
The Retiro neighbourhood is one of the best areas to stay in Madrid for families.
The area around Retiro Park is walkable, safe and quiet in the evenings so you get a good night’s sleep.
Little ones can spend the day running wild in Retiro Park or enjoying a (supervised) ride on a rowing boat on the lake.
Just outside Retiro Park, you’ll find Madrid’s family-friendly museums.
Children can marvel at the model ships in the Naval Museum or enjoy the children’s audio-guide at the Prado National Art Museum.
If you like the sound of the peaceful Retiro neighbourhood, you should also consider Salamanca.
The Salamanca barrio is just next to Retiro – it’s an exclusive residential area that’s even quieter.
Where To Stay In Retiro
Families visiting Retiro should stay at the Terrarium Apartment.
The luxury 3 bedroom, 4 bathroom apartment faces the park, offering great views from two different terraces.
Two double rooms and a twin room provide the perfect sleeping arrangements for exhausted parents, young kids and teenagers too.
You can book the Terrarium Apartment here.
8. First Timers: Sol
If it’s your first time in Madrid, you may wish to stay in Sol or ‘centro’.
Puerta del Sol is in the middle of Madrid and it’s actually in the very middle of Spain too, marking the centre of the radial network of Spanish roads.
Don’t miss the ‘Kilometre Zero’ plaque on the ground outside the clock tower on the old Post Office building, which represents the geographical centre of Spain.
Naturally, the very centre point of Madrid is going to be bustling and full of fun things to do.
Puerta del Sol is usually the starting point for walking tours around the city, and it’s also where all the big protests and parades take place.
From Sol, you can easily walk to all of Madrid’s diverse neighbourhoods and Plaza Mayor is a couple of minutes’ walk away.
If you love being in the centre of the action, then you should stay in Sol in Madrid.
Where To Stay In Sol
Sweet Sol Apartment is not only the best holiday rental in Sol, it’s one of the best in Madrid.
Offering a huge outdoor terrace, it’s a rare gem in a city that lacks garden space.
You can book Sweet Sol Apartment here.
9. Shopping Addicts: Gran Vía
Gran Vía is the most famous street in Madrid.
The long street, which goes all the way from Argüelles to Salamanca, is lined with Madrid’s best hotels, dining establishments and of course, store fronts.
On Gran Vía you’ll find Zara, H&M, Lacoste and Adidas along with the official Real Madrid & Atletico Madrid retail stores.
If you want a spot of retail therapy during your trip to Madrid, then staying near Gran Vía is an absolute must.
Don’t miss the famous Metrópolis Building, which marks the start of Gran Vía.
Also, the Edificio Carrión with the famous Schweppes neon sign, that lights up at night.
For brilliant views of Gran Vía and Madrid City Hall, head up to the rooftop terrace at Círculo de Bellas Artes for a sunset drink.
Gran Vía is a very central neighbourhood, within easy walking distance to Plaza Mayor and Sol.
Where To Stay In Gran Vía
If you want to stay in the Gran Vía vicinity, you should choose Apartment Marisa.
Located right in the heart of the shopping district, the sleek apartment is the best holiday rental in the neighbourhood.
You can book Apartment Marisa here.
I hope you enjoyed my guide to the best areas to stay in Madrid, don’t miss The Best Luxury Accomodation in Madrid or The Best Cocktail Bars in Madrid.