The best area to stay in Madrid

The best area to stay in Madrid

Go to the spanish capital and explore the best possibilities to stay in Madrid. Here is our neighborhoods & area guide for Madrid!

The Capital of Spain and the country’s largest city, Madrid is one of the most visited cities in Europe. The economic, political, and multicultural beating heart of Spain, this metropolis of 3.15 million inhabitants is seductive in a number of ways. Offering a whirlwind of history, culture, gastronomy, nature, and buzzing nightlife, Madrid’s tourist attractions and landmarks are so numerous that you won’t have time to visit everything!

Stretching over an area of 608 km² – six times bigger than Paris! -, Madrid is subdivided into 21 districts and 129 neighbourhoods. While planning your stay in Madrid, make sure you choose the right district corresponding to your desires and needs. Here is a guide of the main districts of Madrid’s city center: Malasaña, Chueca, Sol, Latina, Salamanca, Retiro, Lavapiés.

Malasaña, rock’n roll and alternative

Malasana, best area to stay in Madrid

Photo credit: Flickr – Luis

Malasaña is the Spanish equivalent of SoHo in New York: at once young, festive, lively, dynamic, with a hint of craziness, it offers anything you need at any time. Here, strolling means taking a break between two tapas bars. This district will offer you a curious blend of ambiances: from its maze of cobbled streets are filled with an array of shops and boutiques, to thrift stores, art galleries, and alternative cafes. Malasaña’s unique atmosphere gathers a range of influences from rock music, to punk culture, somewhere between hipster and working-class: in short, a neighbourhood that never sleeps! Here you will find the Museum of the History of Madrid. Accommodations in this area is rather inexpensive, however it’s not the best place to stay in Madrid if you are in the mood for idleness, luxury, calm, and delight.

Chueca, festive and trendy

Chueca, best area to stay in Madrid

Photo credit: Flickr – Delaina Haslam

To the northeast of the city centre, Chueca is the favourite haunt of night owls and the local gay community. Following gentrification, the neighbourhood has come a long way from its former reputation as an ill-famed area to becoming THE place where cool hipsters like to party until dawn. The place is often nicknamed “Las noches locas de Chueca” (the crazy nights of Chueca), with its many nightclubs where young party-goers come to have a good time. If you are heading to Madrid to enjoy a blend of shopping, culinary, and party experiences, look no further than Chueca for a good place to stay in Madrid: all generations come together in the neighbourhood’s many cafes, restaurants, and shops. If you plan to stay in Madrid, it’s a good idea to rent an apartment in this area, as rates are rather affordable.

Sol (Ground), zero point of Spain

Sol, best area to stay in Madrid

Photo credit: Flickr – Tomás Fano

You can hardly be more centrally located than in the area that surrounds the Puerta del Sol, whose name might ring a bell to some. It was from this public square that emerged the now famous movement of the Indignados in 2011. It serves as the kilometre zero from which all radial roads in Spain are measured, and is also the most shopping-friendly and touristy area of the city. A must-see neighbourhood during a stay in Madrid, it is home to the Plaza Mayor, the Puerta del Sol, the Casino of Madrid, and the famous Gran Vía, the main street of the city. An ideal area for shopping, though you should avoid it if you dislike overcrowded places. This area is a bit more expensive to stay in Madrid, but the homestay rates remain reasonable.

Latina, the traditional Madrid

La latina, best area to stay in Madrid

A very nice area, offering a wealth of breathable air thanks to its many green spaces. The Latina is Madrid’s most traditional area, a Moorish district infused with a romantic atmosphere where the old narrow streets and squares still bear witness to the history of the country. This is the ideal place to bask in and enjoy a cafecito – the Cuban espresso – on the terrace. Latina is a very lively area, especially on market days – El Rastro, the flea market – and in the evening: the Cava Baja street in the north, is packed with bars. A great place to stay in Madrid: lively, festive, central, and cheap!

Salamanca, upscale neighborhood

Salamanca, best area to stay in Madrid

Photo credit: Wikimedia – Luis García

If you’re all for luxury, elegance, and high-end products, the neighbourhood of Salamanca is for you! The area houses numerous landmarks, including the National Library Museum, the Prado Museum, the Thyssen Museum and the National Archaeological Museum. In Salamanca you will find gourmet restaurants, luxury boutiques, and trendy nightclubs for well-heeled Madriders. The area is expensive, so don’t forget to go out in your best outfit, the area is all about the glitz and glamour. Having said that, Salamanca is the place where you will find peace and tranquility. Staying in Madrid is not too expensive, except in Salamanca: plan a high budget if you want to stay here!

Retiro, green and calm neighborwood

Retiro, best area to stay in Madrid

Photo credit: Flickr – Curtis Simmons

Located east of the city centre, the Retiro neighbourhood hosts the green lung of Madrid: the palace of Velasquez, the Crystal Palace and the eponymous park of 118 hectares, the most popular haunt for families in Madrid. More casual and less upscale than Salamanca, Retiro is a neighbourhood where life is good for travelers and middle-class dwellers. Since there is little entertainment or nightlife in the area, Retiro is a haven of calm and tranquility. To stay in Madrid, Retiro offers a good compromise between nature and urban life, though accommodation rates are rather expensive.

Lavapies, bohemian and cosmopolitan

Lavapies, best area to stay in Madrid

Photo credit: Flickr – r2hox

If you like to wander off the beaten track and visit art-minded places, you should definitely choose to stay in Lavapiés. The neighbourhood is quite popular, and its remote location means that accommodation rates remain quite low. Populated by African and Asian communities, the area is very lively day and night. The small shops on Plaza de Lavapiés are very popular with visitors. In contrast to the all-inclusive offers of travel companies, Lavapiés is all about experiencing down-to-earth pleasures, listening to music, and tasting new flavours from all over the world. Café-theatres and small concerts punctuate the neighbourhood’s nightlife.

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I grant myself at least 3 to 4 trips each year to the four corners of the world, whether it is very close to my home, as in South America, Europe or Southeast Asia. A question about a destination, a visit, a deal? I answer them in the comments.

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