11 Things to Do in Madrid's La Latina Neighborhood

Shot of a small street lined with restaurants and shops

TripSavvy / Paula Galindo

Built on a medieval Islamic fort, La Latina is one of Madrid's oldest and liveliest neighborhoods. While La Latina is picturesque, with narrow streets lined with tapas bars, restaurants, 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, you could spend your whole trip to Madrid in the dazzling La Latina.

01 of 11

Eat at the World's Oldest Restaurant

Exteriror view of Sobrindo de Botin

Samuel de Roman / Getty Images

Sobrino de Botín has been serving customers since 1725, without once closing its doors, making it the world's oldest restaurant according to Guinness World Records. The restaurant's original features include its 18th-century interior and the wood-burning oven. Not only does the restaurant earn serious bragging rights for its world record, but it is also one of the best places to eat in Madrid, serving up signature Spanish dishes like suckling pig and Castilian soup. Reservations can be made on the restaurant's website.

02 of 11

Shop at the Mercado de la Cebada

Customers shop at the Cebada market in Madrid

Samuel de Roman / Getty Images

Pl. de la Cebada, S/N, 28005 Madrid, Spain
Phone +34 913 66 69 66

If you want to sample all the delicious flavors Spain has to offer, you can take a whirl around the bustling Mercado de la Cebada, where you'll find food stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables, cured meats, cheese, wine, sweets, and more. The market originally opened in 1875, but its most recent renovation in 2013 introduced a colorful exterior that is considered a work of public art, topping the market with six colorful domes.

03 of 11

Eat Tapas on Calle Cava Baja

The exterior of a traditional style restaurant on Cava Baja

TripSavvy / Paula Galindo

C. de la Cava Baja, 30, 28005 Madrid, Spain
Phone +34 913 65 08 04

If you're looking for authentic Spanish cuisine, this street is the spot to be. 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 this lively, colorful setting.

Loaded with character, Calle Cava Baja also has plenty of different restaurants suitable for various budgets. Casa Lucas, for instance, is a highly-regarded wine bar that stays packed until late into the night, and Taberna Txakolina, a Basque-inspired bar, serves immensely addicting pintxos, or bar snacks. 

04 of 11

Step Back in Time at the Iglesia de San Andrés

 Paula Galino / TripSavvy

Pl. de San Andrés, 1, 28005 Madrid, Spain
Phone +34 913 65 48 71

This landmark church dates back to the 1600s and 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 an easy addition to any travel schedule. Afterward, you can take a coffee break in the charming plaza adjacent to the church.

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05 of 11

Visit the Basilica de San Francisco El Grande

Exterior of the Basilica de San Francisco El Grande

TripSavvy / Paula Galindo

C. San Buenaventura, 1, 28005 Madrid, Spain
Phone +34 913 65 38 00

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 that has a remarkably large dome. The main draw here is the massive paintings inside, created by Spanish painters Francisco de Zurbarán and Francisco Goya. However, enjoying street performers and people watching outside are also great ways to spend an afternoon at the Basilica.

06 of 11

Relax in Plaza de la Paja

Wide shot of people siting at cafes around Plaza de la Paja

TripSavvy / Paula Galindo

Pl. de la Paja, 28005 Madrid, Spain

The name comes from the Spanish word for "straw" (paja), which was sold for the mules who pulled carts back in the 13th and 14th centuries when the Plaza de la Paja was one of the city's main marketplaces. However, the shady, picturesque square is more of a peaceful place to take a break from the city these days. Also, the square is home to one of the best dining options around for vegetarians and vegans, Viva Burger.

07 of 11

Shop the El Rastro Market

People walking among the different tents selling goods in the Rastro Market

 TripSavvy / Paula Galindo

El Rastro is Madrid's Sunday morning market and one of the most famous in the whole country. However, El Rastro is more than just a market; it's a day out. With restaurants offering good menus and street performers that entertain the shoppers, you can easily spend your entire Sunday here shopping, eating, and enjoying the day. 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. The market gets quite crowded, which makes it a hotspot for pickpocketers, so keep your valuables tucked away.

08 of 11

Explore the Calle de Segovia

 Paula Galindo / TripSavvy

C. de Segovia, 28005 Madrid, Spain

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 restaurants 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, though, as it's very steep.

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09 of 11

Visit the San Isidro Museum

 Paula Galindo / TripSavvy

Pl. de San Andrés, 2, 28005 Madrid, Spain
Phone +34 913 66 74 15

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 site is marked and serves as a focal point for visitors.

10 of 11

Go Out for Beer at Los Barrios

Craft beer bar

Maskot / Getty Images 

Cost.ª de San Andrés, 12, 28005 Madrid, Spain
Phone +34 913 54 02 55

Going to the bar, known as el barrio in Madrid, is a time-honored tradition and popular pastime for the locals, and the La Latina neighborhood is home to some of its finest drinking establishments. Before you go out for a night of dancing, consider embracing the Spanish tradition of tapas and beer at one of La Latina's best barrios. La Musa Latina is a typical tapas bar near the Basilica de San Miguel with outdoor seating while Lamiak on Calle Cava Baja is a Basque-style restaurant, popular among locals.

11 of 11

Breathe In Fresh Air at the Garden of the Prince of Anglona

Photo of shrubs and fountain in the Garden of the Prince of Anglona

Concepcion AMAT ORTA… / CC BY 3.0 / via Wikimedia Commons

Pl. de la Paja, 6, 28005 Madrid, Spain

This is a small and hidden gem in the La Latina area, but it's the perfect place to stop when you need a moment to clear your head. The Marquises of La Romana commissioned the garden in the 18th century, and it was updated and renovated in the early 20th century. This 8,610 square foot park is an excellent place to appreciate the city. If you get hungry, you can pop into the Palacio de Anglona next door, a Madrid-style restaurant that was once an actual palace.

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11 Things to Do in Madrid's La Latina Neighborhood