The 10 Best Neighborhoods in Madrid

Plaza Mayor, Madrid

TripSavvy / Paula Galindo Valle

No matter who you are or what you love, there's a Madrid neighborhood that will make you feel at home. From chic, sophisticated shopping havens to colorful streets with an international flair, each of the capital's barrios offers its own unique flavor.

Here are 10 of the best Madrid neighborhoods worth exploring. Choose one as your home base during your time in the Spanish capital, but be sure to check out the rest as you explore the city, too.

01 of 10

Sol

 Puerta del Sol in Madrid

TripSavvy / Paula Galindo Valle

Address
Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain

If you know anything about Madrid already, it's that the emblematic square Puerta del Sol is one of the city's biggest draws. It should come as no surprise, then, that the surrounding area—also called Sol—is the Spanish capital's most happening neighborhood.

The Puerta del Sol, which translates to "Gate of the Sun" in English, served as one of the gates to the city in the 15th century. Today, there is plenty to see in this area, including the Real Casa de Correos (House of the Post Office), which now houses the office of the President of the Municipality of Madrid, and the iconic El Oso y el Madroño statue. Depicting a bear eating from a strawberry tree, the 4-meter-tall statue represents Madrid's coat of arms.

If you book a stay here, prepare for high accommodation prices. It also tends to feel more populated by tourists rather than locals.

02 of 10

Chueca

A rainbow metro sign in Chueca

TripSavvy / Paula Galindo Valle

Address
Chueca, 28004 Madrid, Spain

Known in English-speaking circles as Madrid's unofficial "gayborhood," Chueca is home to a thriving LGBTQ community. Its welcoming atmosphere means that anyone who ventures through here will immediately feel at home.

Chueca offers great boutique shopping and an impressive assortment of small museums, including the Museo del Romanticismo (Museum of Romanticism) and Museo de Historia de Madrid (History Museum of Madrid). You'll also find plenty of tapas bars, with Le Cocó and El Tigre being top contenders for the neighborhood's best. Located just north of Gran Vía, its location in the heart of Madrid couldn't be more perfect.

03 of 10

Malasaña

People dining on an outdoor terrace in Malasaña, Madrid

Alex Segre/Getty Images

 

Address
Malasaña, Madrid, Spain

Head a little way west of Chueca and you'll hit Malasaña, another one of Madrid's most vibrant and exciting neighborhoods that's a popular barrio of choice for Spanish and foreign young people. Malasaña offers a fantastic nightlife scene, and you can find everything from '60s jams at La Vía Láctea to punk music at Madklyn to late-night bites at Bocadillos Oink.

Despite its modernity, Malasaña still has a rich history worth exploring. Its main square, Plaza Dos de Mayo, was the site of an epic battle in which madrileños defeated Napoleon's forces on May 2, 1808. Today, the plaza is one of Madrid's most-visited thanks to its status as an al fresco dining hotspot.

04 of 10

Salamanca

People walking down the street in Salamanca

TripSavvy / Paula Galindo Valle

Address
Salamanca, Madrid, Spain

Not to be confused with the nearby city of the same name, Madrid's Salamanca neighborhood is a shopper's paradise. The area's wide, gleaming avenues—Calle de Serrano, Calle de Goya, and Calle de Velázquez—are home to major international fashion brands, particularly high-end top designers like Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton.

Despite being undeniably upscale and chic, Salamanca is, at its heart, a residential neighborhood. Here, you'll find local families going about their everyday lives in a way that's hard to scope out in the more tourist-heavy city center.

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

La Latina

Shot of a small street lined with restaurants and shops

TripSavvy / Paula Valle

Address
28005 Madrid, Spain

La Latina is at once both traditional and modern, combining a classic Spanish vibe with a touch of hipster, bohemian flair. Its myriad picturesque plazas are perfect for sitting and enjoying a cup of coffee while reading a good book or people-watching.

Of course, there is arguably no better place for a tapas crawl in Madrid than La Latina, especially down the iconic Calle Cava Baja. You could easily spend an entire afternoon or evening eating your way through each of the fabulous tapas bars that line the street—and you'd still have plenty of places left to hit. You can't go wrong anywhere you go, but if you need suggestions, we recommend Casa Lucas and Taberna La Concha. If you're looking for something more substantial, consider booking a table at Sobrino de Botín, the oldest restaurant in the world.

06 of 10

Lavapiés

Neighborhood celebration in Lavapiés, Madrid, Spain

 Borja Stark/Getty Images

Address
Lavapiés, 28012 Madrid, Spain

Part of what makes Madrid so great is its thriving immigrant community, a large part of which lives in the Lavapiés district. International influences can be seen everywhere, particularly in the neighborhood's diverse array of multicultural restaurants, making this a great destination if you're looking for something beyond typical Spanish fare. Within the neighborhood, you will also find some of the world's best museums—Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Museo Reina Sofía—which together comprise the city's acclaimed Golden Triangle of Art.

Lavapiés feels a bit more gritty and rugged than some of the other Madrid neighborhoods listed here, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Its staunch resistance towards gentrification makes it one of the city's last remaining neighborhoods where you can truly get a sense of how locals live.

07 of 10

Huertas/Barrio de las Letras

Calle Huertas, Madrid, Spain

TripSavvy / Paula Galindo Valle

Address
Barrio de las Letras, Madrid, Spain

Known by either of two names—Huertas after its main street and Barrio de las Letras (the Literary Quarter) as a nod to its past—this neighborhood just about has it all. It's centrally located, but doesn't draw as many tourists as nearby Sol, and is steeped in history and charm, making it one of Madrid's most picturesque areas.

The area gets its name thanks to the countless literary minds who lived and worked in the area throughout the centuries. In fact, the house where Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes (of "Don Quijote" fame) died remains one of the neighborhood's most interesting historical sights. To find it, head to Calle de Cervantes, 2.

08 of 10

Moncloa/Argüelles

Architecture in Moncloa neighborhood

TripSavvy / Paula Galindo Valle

Address
Argüelles, 28008 Madrid, Spain

Another area that is referred to locally by two names, the neighborhood known as Argüelles or Moncloa is situated west of the city center. But that doesn't mean it's far from the action—quite the opposite, actually. The area is home to some of the Spanish capital's biggest draws, such as the Royal Palace and the Temple of Debod.

Aside from its main attractions, the neighborhood remains a generally quiet, friendly place, and is particularly popular among young people and families. It also offers some beautiful parks (including easy access to the sprawling Casa de Campo green space) and an under-the-radar dining scene that could give some of Madrid's better-known barrios a run for their money.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Retiro

People rowing small boats around the lake in Buen Retiro Park

TripSavvy / Paula Galindo

Address
Retiro, Madrid, Spain

If the name Retiro sounds familiar, it's likely because Madrid's most famous park of the same name has come to mind. But the area surrounding this lovely green space is worth checking out as well.

Many tourists who visit the park don't generally head east of it into the Retiro neighborhood itself, and they're missing out. This quiet residential area is one of Madrid's most charming. It's here where you'll find some of the most delicious and authentic tapas in town, to be enjoyed in emblematic neighborhood bars where you can rub elbows with locals while you eat.

10 of 10

Chamberí

Chamberí Metro Station in Madrid

TripSavvy / Paula Galindo Valle

Address
Chamberí, Madrid, Spain

Sandwiched between Moncloa and Salamanca, Chamberí is a residential and business district that hasn't changed much over the years—and that's a good thing. If living like a local and getting off the tourist-beaten path is what you're after, this is the place for you.

Chamberí offers several lovely plazas where you can enjoy drinks or a meal, and its well-groomed streets are perfect for a relaxing walk away from the hustle and bustle of the city center. If offbeat sights are of interest, check out the formerly abandoned Chamberí metro station, which has since been restored to its former glory from the 1920s and allows visitors to experience what public transportation in Madrid was like in the past.

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The 10 Best Neighborhoods in Madrid