Lavapies has traditionally been one of Madrid's least wealthy districts. But in recent years, the cheaper rent in this part of town has brought in a younger, trendier crowd that has complemented the existing immigrant community, creating one of Madrid's most diverse neighborhoods.
If you're looking for affordable lodgings for your stay, check out a list of cool hotels smack dab in the heart of Lavapies. And while you're walking around the city, here is a massive list of 100 Things to Do in Madrid, so you're never at a loss for fun activities.
See Picasso's Masterpiece at Reina Sofia
Centro de Arte Reina Sofia is Madrid's premier modern art gallery and home to La Guernica, Picasso's most famous work.
The Reina Sofia is just meters from the two other museums that make up Madrid's Golden Triangle of Art Museums: the Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza. If you want to get the most our of your visit to Reina Sofia, you can sign up for a private tour of the museum right here.
Try the Coffee at a Historic Café
The Cafeteria Barbieri is a hundred-year-old bar, where classical music accompanies an excellent menu of drinks, including a fine selection of teas (and of course, plenty of coffee). If you're not sure how to order coffee in Spain, or what kind of coffee is on offer, here's a handy guide.
Get Cozy in an Moroccan Tea Shop
Unless you're planning to make a detour through North Africa on this trip, you probably didn' have your sights set on sampling Moroccan tea. However, if spicy tea blends are your thing, Madrid has you covered. Check out one of the many Moroccan tea shops in Lavapies famous for their mint tea—or if you're feeling adventurous, how about a shisha (hookah pipe)?
Other than these Moroccan shops, Spain doesn't have many options for habitual tea drinkers. You can read more on tea consumption in Madrid here.
Have a Drink on Calle Ave Maria
The bars on Calle Ave Maria are small but inviting. Whether it's the music bar Taberna El Aguja, the intriguing former barber's shop La Peluqueria, or the sophistication of the quiet Inquilina, there is sure to be something that takes your fancy.
If you run out of bars and want some more, check out the nearby Calle Argumosa for more bohemian haunts.
See a Show at El Juglar
El Juglar is an intimate performance venue popular with the bohemian types of Madrid. You'll find with flamenco, DJs and other shows on throughout the week.
To soak up a bit more of the culture, you can take a walking tour through Lavapies as well, and discover local spots like this one (not to mention amazing tapas).
Fancy a Curry?
Most Spanish have an aversion to spicy food, so all the authentic Indian restaurants have been relegated to a corner of town that most can avoid. Their loss, because the food is genuine and top notch (although the restaurants themselves are basic beyond belief—just a few plastic tables outside a hole in the wall).
You'll stumble upon these inconspicuous restaurants on c/Lavapies and c/Ave Maria.
La Gatoteca is Purr-fect for Cat Lovers
Cat café's, where customers can cozy up to fuzzy felines while enjoying their drinks, started in (where else?) Japan, but are now a worldwide phenomenon. Madrid hasn't been left out of the trend, and the city's first cat cafe, La Gatoteca, opened a few years ago. Bonus, all the cats in the café are up for adoption!
Try a Bocadillo de Calamares at El Brillante
If you've never had bocadillo de calamares, or a fried squid sandwich, you're really missing out. is revered in Madrid, and the ultimate temple to this dish is El Brillante. The place may not look like much but nowhere will you get a fresher bocadillo.
While you're at it, find out more about Madrid's incredibly vibrant food culture.
Catch a Train at Atocha Station
OK, train stations may not be super action-packed, but this one has a little more going for it than most. The station boasts a tropical garden in the center, complete with tortoises!
There is also a moving tribute to those killed in the terrorist attacks of March 2004. Make sure to pause a moment and take it in.