Where To Stay in Madrid in 2024 – The 9 Best Neighborhoods and Areas

Lewis Ogden
Last Updated: January 22nd, 2024

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Spain’s colorful capital is every bit as desirable a locale as Paris or London, though it’s not near as frequently visited. This is a boon for would-be tourists, as you’ll surely notice when you arrive.

Tourist attractions in Madrid are rarely overcrowded, lines don’t require hours of waiting, and public transportation is safe and inexpensive.

Madrid is a very historic, lively city that shouldn’t be overlooked. If you’re considering a vacation there, know it is a city that rewards every type of traveler, no matter what you’re looking for.

Best Places to Stay in Madrid

Just need the low-down on the best accommodations you will find in Madrid? Here are our quick picks for the best places to stay.

Now that we have your accommodations sorted, let’s take a closer look at where to stay in Madrid by checking out what their best areas have on offer.

9 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Madrid

1. Chueca

For LGBTQ+Travelers and late-night revelers

Chueca
Pride festivities in Chueca Image by: Ted Eytan / Flickr

Stylish and trendy, Chueca is definitely a place to see and be seen. Its bars and clubs are legendary and are more than accommodating to those who prefer to stay out late into the night.

If it’s your first time in Chueca, keep in mind that looks can be deceiving. It is home to some of Madrid’s most storied classic architecture and certainly displays an old-town vibe, but a closer look reveals that its community has imbued this neighborhood with new energy.

Independent shops, cafes, and new interpretations of Madrid’s famous tapas bars are scattered throughout, this effort primarily led by the city’s gay community.

Because Madrid’s gay community is so tight-knit, Pride festivities in Chueca are impressive and world-renowned. Like in many cities, Pride here occurs annually in June, and the entire neighborhood dresses up for the occasion. Rainbow-hued flags are common in Chueca, during Pride and the rest of the year.

Part of the revivification of Chueca was the restoration of the famed Mercado San Anton. This three-story market features many separate stalls with food, drink, and some of the best produce and fresh meats the city has to offer.

The top floor is dedicated to a single restaurant and terrace called La Cocina de San Anton, with incredible views of the Madrid skyline. The beating heart of this welcoming barrio is la Plaza de Chueca. This restaurant-ringed public square is conveniently home to a metro stop, providing easy access to the rest of the city.

Chueca Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for LGBTQ+Travelers and late-night revelers

2. Malasana

For folks who believe dining is the highlight of every trip.

Malasana
Dos de Mayo Square in the Malasaña neighborhood of Madrid Image by: Héctor Gómez Herrero / Flickr

Its central location and signature architecture signal that Malasana is one of Spain’s oldest neighborhoods. It’s also one of Madrid’s premier neighborhoods to experience all that is up-and-coming in Castilian culture.

If you visit Madrid frequently, this is the neighborhood where you’ll find the most innovation from year to year. Practically every week, a new restaurant, shop, or bar opens up along one of Malasana’s charming streets.

There’s something for everyone here, but the gastronomically inclined will feel particularly at home. From classic, quaint tapas bars to several trendy fine dining restaurants, dining here can easily monopolize all of your time while you’re in town.

While the menus at some of these restaurants might lead you to believe that they are reserved only for the well-heeled, most spots here actually eschew the trappings of status.

While some of the most famous chefs in Spain have opened shop in Malasana, these are not the black-tie establishments of fine dining’s past and generally have a more “take all kinds” approach to welcoming clientele.

Malasana has survived a swiftly changing landscape as a neighborhood, though the ideals of its namesake, Manuela Malasana, still hold true. Named for a pivotal figure in the 1808 uprising that culminated on the 2nd of May, this neighborhood honors this history with the bustling, sometimes outright rowdy, Plaza Dos de Mayo.

The 2nd of May is a public holiday in Madrid, so if your trip coincides with this auspicious date, grab some take-out and maybe a bottle or two and head to this lively square where you’ll likely find young people enjoying a day off from work and school.

Malasaña Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for folks who believe dining is the highlight of every trip

3. Salamanca

For lovers of elegant fashion and fare.

Salamanca

Designed in the 1800s specifically to house the most elite of Madrilenos, el barrio Salamanca still caters to a decidedly aristocratic crowd today. This is the neighborhood where the moneyed, both locals and tourists alike, congregate to enjoy finery, whether as food and drink or goods.

If you feel a trip isn’t complete without a day or two spent shopping, Salamanca offers the most options for lovers of clothes and fashion, particularly of the high-end variety.

While you’ll find plenty of shops helmed by some of the best Spanish designers and curators of fashion, you’ll also find the heavyweights of international design: think Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

Together with Calle Jose Ortega y Gasset and Calle Claudio Coello, they collectively create Madrid’s “Golden Mile.” Even if shopping doesn’t excite you at all, making some time to take a stroll through this part of the neighborhood can be an interesting divertissement.

While shopping is undoubtedly the main attraction here, as is common, fine dining is not far behind. Even neighborhood gastropubs display a bit more elegance than they might elsewhere in Madrid, and there’s no shortage of Michelin-starred dining.

Because of the wealth amassed by its traditional residents, Salamanca has, over the years, collected an impressive amount of art and other cultural objects that are dispersed throughout its many galleries and museums.

In this vein, the Lazaro Galdiano Museum houses a beautifully curated exhibition of what was once the private collection of its namesake, himself once a famed art critic.

Salamanca Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for lovers of elegant fashion and fare

4. Barrio de Las Letras

For culture connoiseurs

Barrio-De-Las-Letras

One of the most culturally significant neighborhoods in all of Madrid, el Barrio de Las Letras, or Huertas as locals often call it after its main drag, was once the home of some of Spain’s most famous Golden Age writers, like Quevedo and Cervantes; the latter is most widely known for penning Don Quijote.

During its heyday, it attracted writers and artists from all over Spain, sometimes even further. Notably, Hemingway took residence here for a time.

If you’re a massive fan of some of these writers, many of their former homes still stand in Huertas if you’d like to visit. Many tourists make it a point to see what was once the home of Spanish playwright Lope de Vega, and the building Cervantes lived in when he died.

Still a hub for all things creative, Barrio de Las Letras has been the home of El Teatro Calderon for over a hundred years. Though it recently underwent a complete restoration, it has not lost the classical atmosphere that drew visitors when it opened in the early 20th century.

Barrio de Las Letras Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for culture connoisseurs

5. La Latina

For those who want a glimpse of real Madrid

La-Latina
Cebada Market, Madrid Image by: Fred Romero / Flickr

One of the best parts of La Latina is the singular way it rewards the wanderer, as some of its best haunts are often tucked away down one of its many narrow, seemingly nondescript streets. Walking down an alley might lead you to one of Madrid’s smaller but historic churches, of which there are many.

La Latina is known to locals as being one of the last vestiges of a now-endangered Madrid. Like most European capitals, the exchange of culture, languages, and ideas has transformed the once somewhat homogenous town into one that is much more diverse in looks and ideologically.

In La Latina, more than any other neighborhood in the city center, you’ll find a populace still clinging to tradition and dutifully maintaining its historic architecture.

As you might assume from this description, activities here are quintessentially Castilian. You’ll likely find many traditional tapas bars on any major thoroughfare, though these will probably be without an extensive craft cocktail menu.

Instead, grab a crisp beer or a heady glass of Spanish red wine, and enjoy the parade of tiny plates of classic Spanish bar snacks that accompany your drink of choice.

If it’s a nice day, head to one of the neighborhood’s plazas; a seat at one of Plaza de la Pajas many outdoor cafes offers perfect people-watching on a nice day. Don’t get discouraged if you find La Latina’s bars and restaurants extremely busy (they usually are), as you can move on to the next one or wait a bit until a table clears.

You’ll want to ensure your stay encompasses at least one Sunday, as Madrid’s most iconic outdoor market, El Rastro, is held in La Latina weekly. It’s pretty large, with a vast number of stalls selling handicrafts, local goods, and vintage items.

If you plan to peruse the entire market, set aside at least half a day, and reward yourself with a beer afterward as the locals do.

Barrio de La Latina Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for those who want a glimpse of real Madrid

6. Lavapies

For street art enthusiasts

Lavapies

Home to Madrid’s aging citizens right alongside immigrants, artists, and counterculturalists of all stripes, what was once one of Madrid’s most run-down neighborhoods now boasts one of the most diverse, vibrant communities in the entire city.

People have moved to this neighborhood from all over the globe, so here is where you’ll find where those influences have augmented Spanish culture and a tremendous amount of world cuisine.

Because of its low cost of living, Lavapies has attracted scores of visual artists throughout the years. You’ll see this reflected in one of Europe’s best collections of urban street art splashed all around the neighborhood and inside a few eclectic independent galleries that have made their home here.

A real highlight of the local arts scene in Madrid is La Tabacalera, which, as the name might suggest, was originally a tobacco factory. After the cigar company moved its operations, a group of community street artists repurposed the building as a haven for all things art in 2003 after the Ministry of Culture acquired it.

With a decidedly DIY vibe, the rattle-can-painted walls of la Tabacalera houses studios, galleries, and performance spaces that support their regular programming of both local and international artists.

Lavapiés Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for street art enthusiasts

7. Sol

For those who need to be in the center of it all

Sol
Puerta del Sol, Madrid Image by: Jose Javier Martin Espartosa / Flickr

Sol is in the dead center of Madrid, and as you might imagine, it is the busiest and most bustling part of town. Whether or not you decide to stay in Sol, you’ll almost assuredly find yourself here at some point, even if only to transfer trains at its famously busy metro station.

Some of the finest examples of architecture that Madrid offers lie here, particularly the Casa de la Panaderia and the Palacio de Gaviria, the latter of which hosts some of Madrid’s best rotating international art exhibits.

The Puerta del Sol square might be the most iconic plaza in Spain and has been the go-to spot for congregating Madrileros since as early as the 16th century.

As well as the storied institutions that line its perimeter, Puerta del Sol is also home to the beloved public sculpture El Oso y el Madrono, which depicts a bear steadying itself on a strawberry tree.

Just across the way is a sign demarcating Madrid’s “kilometer zero” that has become an incredibly popular photo-op for tourists. This sign denotes where all roads in Madrid begin, or from a different point of view, where they all end.

Sol Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for those who need to be in the center of it all

8. Retiro

For those who like green spaces

Retiro

Its namesake city park, el Parque del Retiro dominates this neighborhood. This massive green space offers running trails, a boating lake, and even calm lawns, where you are welcome to create your own Spanish picnic if you are tired of tapas.

El Parque del Retiro seems impossibly massive, especially in relation to how close to the city’s center it lies: you can walk from kilometer zero to its western edge in less than 20 minutes. Once inside, the city beyond can feel a million miles away, so it’s the perfect spot for a morning jog or a stroll to accompany your coffee.

Some of the city’s most frequented museums are on Retiro’s western edge. A must-see when in town is the Prado Museum, which houses some seminal works of folks like Velasquez and El Greco. It is also home to Goya’s gruesome and evocative magnum opus, Saturn Devouring His Son.

The Prado, together with the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Museo Reina Sofia forms what is called the Golden Triangle of Art; these three museums represent the pinnacle of fine art in Madrid, and between them are held some of Europe’s most essential pieces of classical and contemporary art.

The latter is the home to what is possibly Picasso’s most famous work, Guernica, which alone draws thousands of pilgrims a month.

Retiro Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for those who like green spaces

9. Chamberi

For those who demand the finer things

Chamberi

The original Madrilenian home for all things refined and avant-garde, Chamberi is particularly welcoming to those who enjoy art museums and the theater. Its affluent residents meticulously maintain this barrio, and it has a very traditional Castilian vibe with a tableau to match.

Here you won’t find the crowds that you might just south in Sol or Malasana, though you’ll still be able to find everything you’ll need within walking distance. While green spaces are rare in Chamberi, plazas are plentiful. Many are ringed with lovely bars and cafes that beg for a visit.

Toward its eastern edge is the Museum of Natural Sciences, but the unique attraction here is an abandoned metro stop. The former Chamberi metro station was transformed into a museum for tourists to explore.

Chamberì Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for those who demand the finer things

FAQs About Where to Stay in Madrid 

What are the best places to stay in Madrid for tourists?

As the biggest city in Spain, Madrid has many areas that you could choose to stay in, each offering a slightly different experience. If you’re interested in seeing the most famous landmarks and points of interest in Madrid and immersing yourself in the midst of the city’s action-packed environment, then you should base yourself centrally.

The best neighborhoods to stay in Madrid when you want to explore a variety of areas in the city include Malasaña, Chueca, Barrio La Latina, and Barrio de las Letras.

What hotels in Madrid are best for families?

One of the best things about Madrid is that there’s an abundance of apartment complexes, which provide more space for larger groups traveling together and families. European hotel rooms tend to be less spacious than American hotels, so it’s a good idea to stay in an apartment when traveling with family.

Some of the best include Slow Suites Chueca and Arizonica Suites in Malasaña.

Where are the best beaches in Madrid?

Though Spain is known for its Mediterranean weather and beachy destinations, Madrid is sadly not one of the cities that has its own beach. However, there are several beaches nearby that you can enjoy while basing yourself in Madrid.
Be sure to check out La Malvarrosa Beach in Valencia and Playa de Langre in the Costa Trasmiera open area for beaches close to Madrid that are worth exploring.

What are the best hotels in Madrid?

As a major tourist city and one of the busiest cities in Spain, Madrid is home to many fantastic hotels. It’s impossible to choose just one amazing hotel, but I’ve pointed out several hotels that stand out above the rest below.

They include Boutique Hotel H10 Villa de la Reinain Chueca, The Walt Madrid in Malasaña, and Agumar in Retiro.

So, Where Should You Stay in Madrid?

  • Chueca — An ideal location for LGBTQ+ travelers, Chueca has a long history of supporting communities and a vibrant bar and dining scene.
  • Malasana — Central location in Madrid, Malsana is also a foodie paradise thanks to the constant rotation of trendy restaurants.
  • Salamanca — This area is perfect for those who love shopping, with Salamanca containing numerous high-end fashion stores and boutiques. If you want to travel elegantly, this area is ideal for your stay.
  • Barrio de Las Letras — Lovers of literature will adore this area of Madrid, as it cultivated some of the greatest literary minds, such as Quevedo and Cervantes.
  • La Latina — For those looking for an authentic Madrid experience, this neighborhood is one of the last areas in the city that emphasizes saving the past in architecture and culture. If you enjoy traveling and feeling like a local instead of a tourist, this area is an ideal home base for your visit.
  • Lavapies — A diverse community, Lavapies offers a similar authentic Madrid experience as La Latina. Still, the focus is more on art and counterculture among the young and ever-evolving neighborhood.
  • Sol — Right smack in the middle of Madrid, this area also offers easy access to various regions like Malsana. Still, it is generally more busy being the city’s central hub with multiple businesses and attractions within the area.
  • Retiro — Green spaces and the outstanding art museum make Retiro an ideal area for the more introverted traveler who needs to find moments of peace and contemplation to maximize their visit.
  • Chamberi — Another high-end area of Madrid, Chamberi offers shopping and museums in equal measure while being slightly less busy than other areas for tourism.

Madrid is a welcoming tourist location, with various communities built on diverse cultures and backgrounds. The city is also hip and fashionable and can be visited with the intention of shopping and fine dining. Either way, Madrid has a lot to discover, and picking your home base is only the start of your journey.

About The Author

Lewis Ogden

Lewis Ogden is a UK-based entrepreneur, travel enthusiast, dad, husband, and the founder and owner of WayToStay. He started his blog to share his own travel experiences and provide free EPIC travel guides. He caught the travel bug back in 2009 on a trip to Italy with his wife and has visited many different countries each year since. In 2018 he took an island-hopping trip to Greece (who doesn't love Greek food!) and loved the experience which made him eager to explore the rest of Europe!

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Lewis Ogden

Lewis Ogden

Lewis Ogden is a UK-based entrepreneur, travel enthusiast, dad, husband, and the founder and owner of WayToStay. He started his blog to share his own travel experiences and provide free EPIC travel guides. He caught the travel bug back in 2009 on a trip to Italy with his wife and has visited many different countries each year since. In 2018 he took an island-hopping trip to Greece (who doesn't love Greek food!) and loved the experience which made him eager to explore the rest of Europe!

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