Hello! Today I will give you some tips for exploring the neighbourhoods of Madrid, with a fail-safe guide to quickly locate everything and take advantage of this magical city to the fullest. There are plenty of places to visit in Madrid: from the neighbourhoods of Chueca and Malasaña, to others less known, they all deserve to be discovered for their secrets and attractions. In addition, all areas of Madrid have many sights and scenes to explore, so you’ll immediately feel immersed in their culture. At least that’s what happened to me from the minute I arrived! Madrid will always welcome you, and enjoying the city is very easy. Without a doubt, it is a city that never sleeps and never bores.
What should you know about Madrid?
To familiarise ourselves a little with te city, we should know that it is divided into 21 zones and each zone is divided into smaller neighbourhoods. The starting point is Puerta del Sol. Here is the famous kilometer zero: all roads in Spain start from that point. It is also the main meeting place for people in Madrid. The most desirable neighbourhoods in Madrid are all located around Puerta del Sol: Sol, Huertas, La Latina, Chueca, and Malasaña. Then, a little further south, we have the colourful Lavapiés and further north, the student neighbourhood Moncloa / Argüelles.
Sol, the centre of Madrid:
Sol is the area right next to Puerta del Sol, and Huertas is the street that goes from the south of the city to Sol. Sol is vibrant and full of commercial and social life, being located in the heart of Madrid. You can find different types of bars around here; some are very touristy and others typically Spanish. If you are interested, I can write a guide of my favorite bars soon!
Metro: La Latina
I fell in love with La Latina from the very first time I visited. It is south-west of Sol and one of the main features of this neighbourhood are its narrow streets, its beautiful old buildings and its squares with multiple places to eat or drink. On Sundays, the famous open-air “El Rastro” antique market happens here, full of stalls of treasures, starting on Ribera de Curtidores street.
If, like me, you have a somewhat bohemian spirit, Lavapiés is a must-go on your list. It is probably the most multicultural neighbourhood in Madrid. Lavapiés Square is the center of the neighbourhood. If you walk a little further south, you will find some very interesting places to explore, with many musicians playing in the street, or bars and stalls selling drinks and food. All the bars here have an artistic, boho atmosphere. In addition, there is a large selection of restaurants serving African, Arabic and Indian cuisine.
Tip: Lavapiés is not the safest neighbourhood in Madrid… be careful with your belongings!
Salamanca / Serrano / Goya
Metro: Goya/ Serrano/ Velázquez
The main roads for access to this area are Velázquez and Serrano, going from north to south, and Goya street going from east to west. It is one of the most elegant residential areas of Madrid, with many well-known designer shops lining the streets. Also, Salamanca is the neighbourhood where AIL Madrid is located!
Metro: the main station is Tribunal. You could also go to San Bernardo / Noviciado / Alonso Martínez
My favorite neighbourhood, and the one which I’m never bored of returning to is Malasaña; it is full of life, with so many things to do, day or night. I recommend starting in the afternoon, by walking along Calle Fuencarral, which goes from Gran Vía to Malasaña. Fuencarral has a similar vibe to London; there is a great variety of shops selling contemporary and street fashion. It is easily the most alternative neighbourhood of Madrid. You can also find a wide range of bars and restaurants to choose from. Although the epicenter of Malasaña is Plaza del Dos de Mayo, it is definitely worth walking down Calle de La Palma and Calle Velarde as well.
Chueca is known for being the LGBTQ neighbourhood of Madrid: the rainbow flags of pride hang from so many windows. During the day you can find many very good bars and restaurants to go out. The center of the neighbourhood is the Plaza de Chueca. At night the area becomes a hub of people partying and dancing in the bars and streets.
Metro: Argüelles / Moncloa
Right next to the Cuidad Universitaria, you will find the districts of Moncloa and Argüelles. Among all of Madrid neighbourhoods, this is the one which welcome students the most, especially at night. Argüelles is especially known for the Bajos de Argüelles, where you can find a variety of different discos, bars and clubs. There is also an alternative or “underground” culture, as well as the most famous nightclubs. Near this area are the Parque del Oeste and the Museum of America.
Madrid de los Austrias
The name “Madrid de los Austrias” refers to the period in which the Habsburgs were in Spain, and many of the buildings with their beautiful architecture still tell stories of that time. It is one of the most stylish neighbourhoods, and the houses have some of the best postcodes in the city.
Main reference points in Madrid:
The most important road in Madrid goes from north to south and divides the city into two parts. The road begins in the south, in Atocha (the most famous train station in Madrid) where it is called the Paseo del Prado. After travelling up to Plaza de Cibeles, it becomes the Paseo de Recoletos.
Leaving Atocha, we first reach the famous Reina Sofía Museum and the Botanical Garden. This is immediately followed by the Prado Museum and Retiro Park. Then, before Plaza Cibeles, is the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum.
In Plaza Colón, the road changes its name to Paseo de la Castellana, which passes through Nuevos Ministerios, to the north, where the Real Madrid Santiago Bernabeu football stadium is located.
Leaving Moncloa on Princesa Street you will first arrive at Argüelles and then Plaza de España. There, the street becomes Gran Vía and leads to Callao and the Cibeles fountain, as well as to the elegant Post Office, Correos, building. There, the street becomes Alcalá Street, and when you reach Puerta de Alcalá you’ll find one of the main entrances to Retiro Park.