Spain is a beautiful and historic country with so much to see that it’s usually impossible to squeeze all into one trip. Most travelers start their journey in the large capital city of Madrid because this is where most international flights come into. Madrid is a popular city in Spain, wonderfully situated in the middle of the country, making it the perfect launching point to travel north, south, east, or west from here. But before you venture out, make sure to spend a few days in Madrid and stay in one of these great neighborhoods.
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Why Stay Here: Nightlife and trendy restaurants.
Madrid is a city known for its nightlife, and to be in the center of all the action, consider staying in Malasaña. This popular neighborhood has lots of bars and is a favorite spot among young adults. Al fresco dining is also plentiful here to enjoy Madrid’s pleasant weather. During the day, you can check out the Plaza Dos de Mayo, the main square in the area, and learn about its history. Malasaña has undergone a lot of changes in recent years and is a particularly trendy place to stay right now with lots of new restaurant openings and interesting street art.
Why Stay Here: Amazing tapas and a hipster vibe.
For nightlife and some of the most amazing food you’ll ever taste, stay in the La Latina neighborhood of Madrid. Calle Cava Baja is the place to go for tapas in this neighborhood and exploring Madrid with your taste buds. La Latina has a hipster, bohemian vibe that travelers from all over the world gravitate to. The bars and restaurants are packed with people here, while other things to do are the Rastro Market on Sunday mornings and simply wandering down the narrow streets.
Why Stay Here: Convenient location to tourist attractions and easy access to local events.
If you want to be in the most central and convenient location for sightseeing in Madrid and transportation, the Sol-Gran Vía and Centro neighborhoods are your best bet. This is around the famous Puerta del Sol and by all the iconic landmarks. When you stay here, you’ll have very easy access to shopping and local events. This is a big touristy area so expect to be surrounded more by tourists than locals.
Why Stay Here: Calm residential area that’s still close to top attractions.
For a good location but less busy vibe than the neighborhoods described so far, book a hotel in Chamberí. This is a residential area that is also home to numerous businesses and bit off the beaten path for tourists. However, it is still conveniently located to the center of town. People who stay here love the great cuisine served at traditional taverns and restaurants, as well as the theaters and art exhibitions.
Why Stay Here: LGBT culture and boutique shops.
Chueca is home to much of Madrid’s LGBT community, and it has a fun vibe that welcomes anybody and everybody. This is where LGBT pride festivities take place each year. This Madrid neighborhood is north of Gran Vía, so it’s also in the heart of Madrid and in a very convenient sightseeing location. When you stay in Chueca, you can spend your days browsing the boutique shops, checking out smaller museums, and enjoying the vibrant nightlife scene. The Plaza de Chueca has a metro stop and is a common meeting place.
Why Stay Here: A diverse community and international eateries.
The Lavapiés district of Madrid is home to much of the city’s diverse immigrant community, so the whole area has an international vibe that sets it apart from the rest of the city. Come here to take a break from tapas and enjoy a variety of international cuisine instead. This is a neighborhood that has gone through gentrification and has an interesting mix of long-standing locals and young newcomers today.
Why Stay Here: Upscale residential neighborhood that’s great for shopping.
Although Salamanca is the name of its own city in Spain, there is also a neighborhood called Salamanca in Madrid. This is a residential part of the city that it upscale and known for its shopping. You can find a wide variety of shops here but considerably fewer hotels than in other parts of town that are more touristy. Instead, this is a place where you can be among local families and get an authentic view of local life. You’ll get a relaxing and laid-back vacation experience in a very chic and fashionable atmosphere.
Why Stay Here: Peaceful and family-friendly area near the park.
If you’re looking for a peaceful escape that’s family-friendly in Madrid, stay in the Retiro neighborhood. It is by the city’s famous Retiro Park, which is an awesome green space for exercise, recreation, and relaxing. The Retiro neighborhood is just east of the park and is known for being quiet and residential. This is an area to be to live like the locals and frequent non-touristy eateries in the area. However, it is quiet in the evenings and not an area with much of a nightlife scene.
Why Stay Here: A historic area and close to art attractions.
Las Letras is known as the literary quarter in Madrid and is charming and historic. Many famous literary masters lived in this part of Madrid over the past centuries, including Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes. As with the other neighborhoods in Madrid, Las Letras is in no short supply of bars and restaurants. People also come to Las Letras for the art because several big-name museums are close to each other nearby.
Why Stay Here: Bohemian vibe with independent shops and a mix of accommodations.
The Huertas area is right by Las Letras and named for the main street that runs through it. Huertas is a small neighborhood north of Lavapiés. It has a diverse and bohemian vibe and lots of al fresco spots for dining and drinking. You can visit numerous art galleries and independently owned shops when you stay in this area. Meanwhile, it’s very possible to walk to Plaza del Sol from here. You’ll find a nice mix of budget-friendly hotels and high-end hotels here.