Built on a medieval Islamic fort, Madrid's La Latina neighborhood is the city's oldest—and also one of its liveliest. While La Latina is picturesque, with narrow streets lined with tapas bars and plazas punctuated by beautiful churches, this central Madrid neighborhood is modern and bustling, with no shortage of things to do. From the remarkable Goya paintings at San Francisco el Grande Basilica to the crowded El Rastro flea market, here are nine best things to do in La Latina.
01 of 09
If you're looking for authentic Spanish cuisine, this street is the place. Calle Cava Baja is one of the neighborhood's most famous places to get food and drinks, and you'll immediately understand why, once you take in the lively, colorful street.
Loaded with character, Calla Cava Baja also has plenty of different restaurants suitable for various budgets. Our favorites: Casa Lucas, a highly-regarded wine bar that stays packed until late into the night, and Taberna Txakolina, a Basque-inspired bar that serves immensely addicting pintxos, or bar snacks.
02 of 09
This landmark church dates back to the 1600s, and you'll feel transported from the moment you step inside. Under its beautiful dome, you'll see stained glass, gold leaf, cherubs and the tomb of the patron saint of Madrid, San Isidro Labrador. A visit will only take about 15 minutes or so, making it a peaceful addition to any travel schedule. Afterward, take a pit stop for some coffee in the plaza next to the church.
03 of 09
If the Iglesia de San Andrés is peaceful and intimate, the Basilica de San Francisco El Grande is almost the exact opposite. Walk down Carrera de San Francisco, and you will be greeted by this giant basilica, whose dome is said to be the biggest in Spain and the fourth largest in Europe. The main draw here are the massive paintings inside, created by Spanish painters Francisco de Zurbarán and Francisco Goya.
04 of 09
One of Madrid's best-hidden restaurants, La Latina's Casa Granada has some of the greatest value tapas deals in all of the city. It's hidden in a nondescript building on Calle Doctor Cortezo, and you must take an elevator to the sixth floor, but once you make it, you'll be rewarded with cheap jugs of sangria and an excellent view of the city from the rooftop terrace.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
In the 13th and 14th centuries, the Plaza de la Paja was one of the city's main marketplaces. The name comes from the Spanish word for "straw" (paja), which was sold for the mules who pulled carts. Today, the shady, picturesque square is a more peaceful place to take a break. For vegetarians and vegans, the square is home to one of the best dining options on offer, Viva Burger.
06 of 09
El Rastro is Madrid's famous Sunday morning market, arguably the most famous in the whole country. But El Rastro is more than just a market: It is a day out, with restaurants offering good menus and street performers that entertain the shoppers. The market's main street consists mostly of clothing, but if you duck off into the side alleys, you'll find an assortment of antiques and other curios. Because of its crowded nature, the market is a hotspot for pickpocketers, so keep your valuables close.
07 of 09
Madrid's Calle de Segovia is one of the city's oldest streets, running parallel to Campo do Moro and up through La Latina before culminating at Plaza Segovia Nueva. The street is lined with plenty of restaurant and cafés, but one of the best reasons to walk along it are the impressive views of the Segovia Viaduct, an arched bridge that pedestrians can walk across. Be careful while exploring this street—It's very steep.
08 of 09
You won't be disappointed by the paella at this famous rice restaurant on Calle de Segovia. They can even prepare it—and many other dishes—for those following gluten-free diets. The rice and ingredients vary based on the season, but at any given time, you can find classically-prepared paella with seafood, lobster, mushrooms, and more. In the summer, the restaurant has outdoor seating where you can sit and people watch along the street.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
This free museum in La Latina pays tribute to San Isidro Labrador, Madrid's patron saint, but the primary focus here is a comprehensive look at the city's history, dating all the way back to prehistoric times. The museum's permanent collection is just 153 pieces, but it offers an interesting look at Madrid's development. Additionally, the courtyard adjacent to the museum is the supposed site of a miracle: According to lore, this is where San Isidro saved his son from drowning when waters rose dangerously high. The museum's now made the site a focal point for visitors.