Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Madrid | Where To Stay in Madrid
For too long, Madrid was overshadowed by its eternal competitor Barcelona. However in the last years Madrid has become increasingly popular among travelers for city breaks, shopping sprees, cultural visit or outdoor activities. Madrid is huge in size and it might be overwhelming when looking for the best neighborhoods to stay in Madrid.
Madrid is not only to the perfect weekend city trip but also perfectly suited for extended stays which include day trips to the surrounding gems like Toledo, Avila or Segovia.
Even though Madrid hasn’t the beaches of Barcelona, it has tons of other attractions that make the Spanish capital the perfect getaway. Often at much more competitive rates than its Catalan competitor on the coast.
After living in Madrid for almost 2 years, in several neighborhoods, I want to show you my favorite neighborhoods and places to stay in Madrid according to the expectations of your visit.
Well, here it goes: The Ultimate Guide on The Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Madrid, one of most vibrant European capitals out there.
After living and working for 2 years in Madrid, I get frequently asked about the best places to stay in Madrid. I’d say that it largely depends on the type of traveler you are and the expectations on your visit to Madrid.
Indeed there are countless reasons why to visit Madrid: visit the numerous museums, go for artisan shopping, the tapas gastronomy or even hiking.
In order to give those queries a detailed answer, I decided to write this in-depth guide on where to stay in Madrid. Accommodation places are categorized location-wise and budget-wise.
So before you head to Madrid, first you need to decide if you want a cultural city trip, a quiet city break, luxury holidays or outdoor adventures. Because you can even go skiing in Madrid!
The opinions of this post are based upon my professional experience in the Spanish tourism sector and upon my stay in Madrid during which I visited numerous hotels. In total, I lived 2 years in a row in Madrid, but visited several times before and after. Altogether I stayed in Madrid during minimum 3 years. Read here about Madrid’s less known highlights
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My favorite time to visit Madrid is in spring (early March – beginning of June). After a long and cold winter, the entire town starts to bloom and people invade the terraces on the quaint plazas. On top, these months are full of sunshine and relatively warm temperatures whereas Northern Europe is still freezing.
Another option to visit Madrid is in autumn. Again, the town boasts long days filled with sunshine and warm climate whereas it’s getting cold again in Northern Europe.
I wouldn’t recommend visiting Madrid in summer as temperatures can easily reach 33-40 degrees. On top, during the afternoon many shops will close and the streets are empty until 7 pm. Most madrileños travel to the coast in July/August in order to escape the heat. In spring and autumn, the temperatures are bearable.
Even in winter, Madrid is a nice getaway. Even though it might get quite cold (Madrid has a continental climate) you have a broad cultural and leisure offer. You might even consider going skiing in the mountains surrounding Madrid (like in Puerto de Navacerrada).
Other perfect occasions to visit Madrid are its traditional festivals like San Isidro (15th May), La Paloma (12-15th August) or San Lorenzo Verbena (9-11th August).
Almudena Cathedral at Sunset
What To Do in Madrid
Debod Temple at Sunset
There are loads of things to do in Madrid and I hope to publish an in-depth guide on things to do in Madrid very soon.
The main reasons why you should definitely visit Madrid are the following:
- Museums: Madrid boasts a mere infinite number of museums. Even in the 2 years, I lived there, I didn’t manage to visit them all. The most famous one is the Museo Nacional El Prado. If you visit only 1 museum in Madrid, El Prado is the one! The permanent collection includes the most important names of the Spanish history of art: El Greco, Velázquez, Hieronymus Bosch, Goya… to name only a few. Read more about the best museums in Madrid.
- Food: Madrid is the ultimate travel destination for foodies. Read more about traditional food to eat in Madrid here.
- Theaters: Madrid has one of the most lively theater scenes in the Spanish-speaking world. You should have a decent level of Spanish in case you want to assist one. There is a very broad range of spectacles that you can assist. The Teatro Real, opera of Madrid is probably the most spectacular building, Teatro de la Abadia (a former church converted into a theatre in Chamberí), Teatro de la Zarzuela (best place to enjoy Spanish lyrical tradition) and many more. You should also look for the small, private theaters in La Latina and Malasaña neighborhood.
- Shopping: Shopping in Madrid is an experience on its own. The best is that the shops vary with the neighborhood. Luxury shopping is in Salamanca, hipster shops are in Malasaña, edgy designer shops in Chueca… What I particularly liked about Madrid, was that you can still find traditional, very ancient shops.
- Football: Some only visit Madrid for its infamous football clubs, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. Indeed assisting a football match of one of Madrid’s legendary clubs is a spectacle on its own. The entire town is in tension and following the football match from TV screens in crowded bars or directly from the football stadium Bernabeu. If possible, even if you’re not a football fan, include a Real Madrid football match to your visit to Madrid. It will be a once in a lifetime experience. Get here your Bernabeu Stadium Tickets
- Hiking: Not many associate Madrid with hiking or outdoor adventures. Well, Madrid is surrounded by high mountains in the north and has an extended network of great hiking trails. There are trails for every level and the Mediterranean nature in simply gorgeous. Book Here Your Hiking Day Trip from Madrid
- Day trips from Madrid: You could easily travel to Madrid and spend your entire trip visiting the quaint and historically important surrounding towns.
- Toledo, only 1 hour by train, was the former capital of the Spanish empire,
- El Escorial has one of the most important abbeys in Europe,
- The Royal Palace of Aranjuez
- Segovia is world-famous for its fortress and Roman aqueduct,
- Avila, with its perfectly maintained medieval city walls…
- Cuenca famous for its Hanging Houses
- Highlights from Don Quijote in Castilla La Mancha
- a day trip to Cordoba by high-speed train
Best Neighborhood To Stay in Madrid If You Are A Party Animal
Malasaña is the hipster neighborhood of Madrid, located just behind the most important avenue Gran Via. It boasts numerous trendy bars and its quaint cobbled streets invite for long walks in the afternoon.
For ages, Malasaña has been the creative and youngest neighborhood. By far, it’s my favorite neighborhood and a visit to Malasaña is a MUST when I visit Madrid. It just has such positive, creative energy!
However, Malasaña is also a great location to party. There are countless bars and clubs which attract a wide range of music styles. And it’s mandatory to taste some of the new tapas creations in the bars of Malasaña before clubbing.
Malasaña is definitely one of the coolest neighborhoods in Madrid and for party-lovers the best neighborhood to stay in Madrid.
Some of the most popular clubs in Malasaña are:
Best Places To Stay in Malasaña, Madrid
2. La Latina
La Latina has a long tradition of nightlife. The barrio (neighborhood) is not only famous for its delicious and affordable tapas, but also for its vibrant clubs. For those who love to be out, La Latina is one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Madrid.
The best way to discover the pleasures of La Latina is to change bar after each drink. Indeed every bar has a very different mood, different tapas and drink creations…
It would be such a shame to stay only in one bar. (When I moved from Madrid, I took this impulsion with me: never more than 1 drink in the same bar).
The bests streets for tapas are Cava Baja and Cava Alta. You can’t skip La Latina while looking for the best area to stay in Madrid.
Some of the most popular clubs in La Latina are:
Tapas Time in La Latina
Best Places To Stay in La Latina, Madrid
Best Neighborhood To Stay in Madrid for Luxury Holidays
1. Barrio de Salamanca
Salamanca is Madrid’s “poshest”, more exclusive neighborhood. It was originally designed for Madrid’s aristocracy and bourgeoisie.
You’ll see the most beautiful mansions sharing the quarter with international, luxury and designer brands. Some of Madrid’s finest restaurants are at home in Barrio de Salamanca which offers very chic dining options with the finest Iberian products.
The most expensive and exclusive streets are Calle de Serrano, Calle de Goya, and Calle de Velásquez. You’ll easily find an upper-scale hotel for a perfect luxury trip in Madrid.
Streets of Madrid
Best Places To Stay in Salamanca, Madrid
2. Paseo del Prado
Madrid’s other exclusive quarter is the historic area of Paseo del Prado. It is one of the main boulevards of Madrid and particularly famous for its great museums such as Prado Museum, Caixa Forum Madrid, Maritime Museum Madrid, or Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. No wonder that the area is also known as “Triangle of Art”.
It’s perfect for a stroll under its tree-lined promenade on a lazy afternoon and you’ll be amazed by the intriguing, historic house fronts. Most of them are of major artistic and historical interest, being erected in the eighteenth century.
Some of Madrid’s most renowned and prominent hotels are located at or near the Paseo del Prado. It’s the perfect location to enjoy a more exclusive side of Madrid.
Best Places To Stay near Paseo del Prado:
Westin Palace Hotel ***** (check out their Opera Brunch on Sundays!)
Neptune’s Foutain at Paseo del Prado
Best Neighborhood To Stay in Madrid for a Quiet City Break
Even though Madrid is one of the liveliest and vibrant cities I visited in Europe, it also has more quiet areas which are perfect to unwind and relax.ago
1. Retiro Neighbourhood
The Retiro neighborhood is, obviously, located right next to Madrid’s most famous park. It is a rather traditional, a bit chic neighborhood, which is particularly liked by families.
As it’s close to one of Madrid’s largest green areas, it is quite a coveted quarter. The area is mostly residential but has gorgeous historic house fronts.
Even though hotels are a bit outside from the center, but easy to reach by public transport, it will provide you the retreat from the buzzing streets of Spain’s capital. For those who love a relaxing stay, El Retiro is one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Madrid.
Best Places To Stay in Retiro, Madrid
Chamberí used to be the quarter for the older, more traditional Madrileños. Not many visitors included Chamberi into their Madrid itinerary. However in the last years, countless new eateries popped up, little designer shops are opening… which make Chamberí the new place to be.
Some of the places you can’t miss in Chamberí are:
- Perrachica: famous all over the town for its brunch
- Cine Verdi: nostalgic, vintage cinema
- La Maquina de Chamberi: amazing seafood and warm atmosphere
- La Vaquería Montanesa: local, organic food, a local’s foodie hotspot
However, the quarter still preserved some of its traditional, bourgeois atmosphere which makes Chamberi the perfect place to spend a relaxing city break. Definitely keep an eye on it when looking for the best neighborhoods to stay in Madrid.
Best Places To Stay in Chamberí, Madrid
Best Neighborhood To Stay in Madrid for Shopping City Break
Royal Palace in Madrid
1. City Center Madrid
I love shopping in the city center of Madrid Not only will you find here all the international brands (around Gran Via, Callao, Puerta del Sol…) but you’ll also find some very old, historic shops which have a long tradition in Madrid. If you fancy a shopping trip, El Centro (city center) is one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Madrid.
They mostly sell artisan, handmade products and are thus the perfect, valuable souvenir from your stay in Madrid. The city center is also the best place to stay in Madrid when you only have 1 day in Madrid.
Some of these traditional shops that can’t be missed are the following:
- Casa de Diego: Puerta del Sol, selling and producing fans for over 150 years
- Justo Algaba, Sastrería Torera: Bullfight tailor
- Sombrerería Medrano: oldest hatter in Spain, hats made in Spain since 1832
- Juan Alvarez: Luthier making Spanish guitars since 1945
- Casa Hernanz Alpargateria: a must when I visit Madrid. Get canvas shoes at the legendary shop operating since 1840. Beware of the queue!
Best Places To Stay in City Center of Madrid
2. Salamanca & Malasaña
Malasaña is definitely my favorite place to shop! There are so many quirky, original and creative shops that it will be very hard to choose where to start. On top the area is changing a lot, thus you’ll find different stores than in your previous visit.
The location, the narrow streets of Malasaña provide as well a great setting for shopping. Thus you should definitely consider Malasaña when looking for the best neighborhoods to stay in Madrid.
Some of my favorite shops in Malasaña are:
- Vintage Shopping: Miss Vintage, Flamingos Vintage Kilo, El Templo de Susu, Magpie, La Mona Checa, Ekeko
- Antigua Casa Crespo: traditional Spanish shoe shop since 1863 (made in Spain)
- Modetheque: handmade clothes
- La Intrusa: original gift shop
Malasaña might get a bit loud during the weekends, thus I recommend to stay in Salamanca neighborhood.
Shopping in the chic quarter of Salamanca is definitely an exclusive experience. It’s one of the most stylish districts, featuring many international designer brands. However, you’ll also find luxury Spanish brands.
The best streets in Salamanca neighborhood for luxury/fashion shopping are:
- Calle Serrano (Tesla, Kenzo, ZARA ( Flagship store), Prada, Loewe, Armani , Chopard , Yusty, …)
- Calle Ortega y Gasset (Christian Dior, Tiffany & Co. Hermès Chanel…)
- Calle Jorge Juan
- Calle Ayala
Best Places To Stay in for Shopping in Madrid
Best Neighborhood To Stay in Madrid For Hiking & Outdoor Holidays
1. El Escorial
Only a few people that travel to Madrid include going hiking or doing outdoor activities as their first plan. Indeed most see Madrid as a huge city, being impossible to feature outdoor leisure activities. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong.
El Escorial is the departure point of many hiking routes. Not only is it a perfect day trip from Madrid due to its monumental monastery and delicious gastronomy, but due to its natural setting in the mountains, El Escorial is a coveted destination for hikers, trekkers, birders, and climbers.
El Escorial is about 1h ride with the cercanías train departing from Madrid City Center.
And the perfect reward for your physical efforts will be a delicious, traditionally Castilian meal.
Best Places To Stay in El Escorial, Madrid for Outdoor Activities
Mountains of Guadalajara
Guadalajara is a town located east from Madrid which is easy to reach by cercanías railway from Madrid. Guadalajara is close to the mountains and surrounded by protected natural spaces. It’s thus the perfect departure point for excursions and treks.
Guadalajara is perfectly connected with the city center of Madrid by the cercanías railway.
If you stay in Guadalajara, you can’t miss visiting the famous Black Villages. Those villages are the cutest and it looks like time stands still in them. Other places worth to visit are the villages of Brihuega, Atienza and Sigüenza.
As usual, food in the rural places of Spain is delicious and the province of Guadalajara is particularly famous for its roast lamb or kid.
Best Places To Stay in Guadalajara, Madrid
3. Manzanares El Real
Manzanares El Real was one of my favorite weekend excursions. The village itself is very cute (again, amazing food here!!) and boasts a gorgeous castle which is considered the bbest-preservedone in the Community of Madrid.
The surroundings of Manzanares El Real are a declared Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO. The nearby La Pedriza area, dotted with unique granite peaks, is perfect for hiking and climbing activities.
Another great hiking area is Cuenca Alta Manzanares Park. The lake next to the village, Santillana Reservoir is perfect for fishing and cycling.
Castle of Manzanares El Real
Best Places To Stay in Manzanares El Real for Outdoor Activities
Best Neighborhood To Stay In Madrid as a Backpacker
1. La Latina
Even though Madrid is the capital of Spain, one of the most touristy countries in the world, the town remains a very affordable destination. As long as you pay attention to where you stay. Indeed the neighborhoods of Madrid and its prices vary a lot. If you are traveling on a budget, La Latina is one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Madrid.
Since many years La Latina neighborhood is known for the good price-quality relationship. It’s not only a very young neighborhood with many historic monuments, but it’s also close to the city center and has some of the best tapas restaurants in Madrid.
The area hosts many hostels which make it the best place to stay in Madrid for backpackers who want to make the most of their trip and their money.
Best Hostels To Stay in La Latina, Madrid
Lavapies neighborhood is located further south from La Latina, but still in what is considered the city center of Madrid.
Historically Lavapies was inhabited by the lowernowadays Lavapies is probably the most multicultural neighborhood in Madrid and you can easily find shops selling typical products from very specific African countries. When looking for a quirky side of Madrid, Lavapies is one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Madrid.
I particularly liked Lavapies for its eclectic energy and having the best food (for cheap money) from all over the world. Due to its affordable prices, Lavapies is the perfect place to stay in Madrid for those traveling on a budget.
Best Hostals To Stay in Lavapies, Madrid
Bull Ring of Las Ventas, Madrid
Site & Accommodation Map
I hope this article helps to familiarize with the best neighborhoods to stay in Madrid.
You still have doubts? Please do not hesitate to contact me, I am sure there will be a place in Madrid that perfectly meets your needs.
Have you already been in Madrid? I would love to hear about your favorite places to stay.
Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip
- You’ll snap tons of photos and I love to take my GoPro in order to shoot even in extreme situations.
- Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and hiking sandals when traveling to warm countries.
- Sunscreen is key! I always take with me my eco-friendly sunscreen by Thinksport. Buy here your eco-friendly sunscreen + free shipping.
- I always carry a light rain jacket, just in case.
- Travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected against all odds with World Nomads.
To make the most of your trip, I recommend Lonely Planet Madrid (get -10% off with code “PAULINA10”)
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. In case you purchase one of the items, I’ll receive a small commission which helps me running this site at no extra cost for you.