Where to Stay in Madrid for a first time visit? An insider's guideWhat is the best location to stay in Madrid? This is a question we always receive. Therefore, we created this guide on where to stay in Madrid.

It includes the best areas for first-time visitors, families, couples, luxury travelers, design travelers, groups, solo-travelers, nightlife-seeking travelers and budget travelers.

We even included a big map with the top 10 sights in Madrid, so you can organize your trip to don’t miss anything!

(This guide is always up to date, the last updated August 2020.)

But, first things first:

Question: Where to stay in Madrid for a first-time visit?

Answer: The center of the city is the best option. Staying central will help you in easy access to the major tourist destinations in the city.

The very city center includes:

  • Centro
  • La Latina
  • Las Letras
  • Malasaña

These are the most central and historical areas of Madrid, and probably those are the most convenient areas to stay because they have direct access to the airport, public transport and many of the major sights nearby.

Why do I recommend these areas?

The transport usually works very well in Madrid, the metro service starts at 6 am and ends at 1:30 am; and the train service starts at 5:30 am and ends at 23.30 am.

This means that the last metro or train departs at that time, so you can find service later, but I don’t recommend you to wait so late, just in case. The bus service starts at 6 am and ends at 23 pm, but there are buses service all night, known as nocturnes buses and identified by an N (and the line number) on the bus.

Good to know: Make sure you read our handwritten guide to 7 days in Madrid – and how to prepare properly!

But remember that Madrid is a city that you can tour by walk. It is true that maybe the distances are long but sometimes I have walked so far and it is not weary at all.

Here’s a full map for you to understand the different areas.

We added our best places to stay in Madrid as well as the top sights. Read our guide on the best fun things to do in Madrid for more details.

1. Best areas and handpicked hotels for Madrid

As mentioned, the city center of Madrid is the perfect place for first-time visitors, it is not like a huge city, it is more like a big town, and that is its charm.

I also understand that different travel styles match different needs so I created an overview of this.

Here you will find some options for families, couples, luxury travelers, design travelers, groups, solo-travelers, nightlife-seeking travelers and budget travelers.

You will notice some areas are excluded or added to the previous recommendation.

Also, I would like to include an amazing discount on your stay: In case you prefer Airbnb, here you have a 35€ discount for your AirBnB stay.

Let’s see handpicked hotels.

Continue scrolling or pick your group and travel type on the menu:

1.1 Families
1.2 Couples
1.3 Luxury Traveler
1.4 Design Traveler
1.5 Groups
1.6 Solo-Traveler
1.7 Nightlife-seeking traveler
1.8 Budget Traveler

1.1 Families

As a historical neighborhood, Austrias and Las Letras are great places to stay for families. There are many things to learn (pieces of poetry written on the floor, the house of Lope de Vega and Cervantes…

But at Las Letras, there are many bars, so at night there is a lot of noise on the weekends. For this, I recommend you to stay in this neighborhood but near Paseo del Prado.

So you can stay in a beautiful area of Madrid but also near Museo del Prado (great if you want to learn about art and admire hundreds of artworks) and Parque del Retiro, where you can have a relaxing walk, a picnic… and cycling or skating, of course. Maybe the best option for families is an apartment.

For families we recommend the following districts:

  1. La Latina
  2. La Letras
  3. Malasaña

This map shows you the areas recommended for families:

Handpicked accommodations for families

Flexibility is a must while traveling with a family group, that is why the best option would be to look for an apartment centrally located or nearby the beach, depending on the family purposes.

Also, check if you need self-catering facilities, such as a kitchen. For me, this is always useful to have.

Barceló Torre de Madrid

Complete with amenities and activities for the whole family, Barceló Torre de Madrid is the perfect place to stay.

Enjoy the indoor pool and fitness center together with the whole family. They also have sauna baths and therapy rooms for amazing massages.

But what’s great about the hotel is that it is just beside the Plaza de España Metro Station which makes it very convenient to go around Madrid.

Book Barcelo Torre de Madrid here

Barcelo Torre De Madrid Indoor Pool Barcelo Torre De Madrid Living Area Barcelo Torre De Madrid Bar

Behap Madrid De Las Letras

These apartments in Behap Madrid De Las Letras are near Museo del Prado and the Botanic Garden. They offer familiar rooms, and all the rooms have TV, private bathroom and coffee maker.

You will also find the property very near Plaza Mayor, Retiro Park, and The Prado Museum. Mercado San Miguel is also conveniently located near the apartments.

Book Behap Madrid De Las Letras here

Behap Madrid De Las Letras Room Behap Madrid De Las Letras Bedroom

Suites You Zinc

Suites You Zinc apartments are in Calle Arenal, one of the streets from Puerta del Sol. There are no cars in these streets, so it is great to go with kids.

All the rooms have private bathroom, TV, coffee maker, balcony and views to the city.

And just like home, the apartments and studios have fully equipped kitchens you can use to make your meals.

Book Suites You Zinc here

Suites You Zinc Madrid Room Suites You Zinc Madrid Living and Dining Area

1.2 Couples

Love is in Madrid’s air too, of course. If you want to do a romantic picnic and see the sunset, you can do it! If you want to have a walk in the old streets of the city and then have a cold coffee (or a cold beer), you can do it, of course.

And what about rent a bike and cycling in the beautiful Parque del Retiro? Madrid offers a lot of plans for couples, and the best areas to stay are:

  1. La Latina
  2. Barrio de Salamanca
  3. Retiro

This map shows you the areas recommended for couples:

La Latina Apartment

La Latina Apartment is a great option for couples because there is a bedroom, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom.

You will find it near La Latina metro station. And there are so many squares to visit (Plaza de la Plaja, Plaza de Los Carros) and other romantic places as Jardin del Principe de Anglona.

Also, it is 15 minutes walking to Palacio Real and 10 to Plaza Mayor.

Book La Latina Apartment here

La Latina Apartment Madrid Living Area La Latina Apartment Madrid Room

Only YOU Hotel Atocha

Enjoy the romantic and wonderful views of Paseo Infanta Isabel and Calle Alfonso XII in Only YOU Hotel Atocha.

You can also expect a very sweet romantic dinner at the hotel’s rooftop bar with amazing views of the city.

Rooms have minibars and a flat-screen TV. Also, rooms are soundproofed for a more intimate and private stay at the hotel.

Book Only YOU Hotel Atocha here

Only YOU Hotel Atocha Rooftop Bar Only YOU Hotel Atocha Room

1.3 Luxury traveler

If you are a luxury traveler, I just can recommend you Barrio de Salamanca, where you will find all the shops like Chanel, Prada, etc in a street known as “Milla de Oro”.

This neighborhood was built in the 19th century and here you can find the embassies, and it is normally a place you can see politicians and bourgeois people.

So the best option to stay for a luxury traveler is:

  1. La Letras
  2. Malasaña
  3. Retiro

This map shows you the areas recommended for Luxury Travelers:

Eurostars Madrid Tower

One of the famous and sophisticated hotels in Madrid is the Eurostars Madrid Tower.

You can find this elegant hotel in the Cuatro Torres business area where it is a few minutes away from Real Madrid’s football stadium, the Santiago Bernabéu.

And since it is nestled in a skyscraper, expect wonderful views of the city from a bird’s eye view.

Book Eurostars Madrid Tower here

Eurostars Madrid Tower Indoor Pool Eurostars Madrid Tower Room Eurostars Madrid Tower Restaurant

Palacio de Los Duques Gran Meliá

Just a few walks from Madrid’s Royal Palace, the Royal Theater and the Cathedral is Palacio de Los Duques Gran Meliá.

Stay in elegant rooms with 49-inch LED TV, Nespresso coffee machine with private bathrooms which have heated floors, rain showers, and Clarins free toiletries.

And for a wonderful dining experience, the hotel gives you three restaurants that serve Spanish and French cuisines.

Book Palacio de Los Duques Gran Melia here

 

Gran Hotel Inglés

Set on a 19th-century that continuous to feature its original art and style up to this day is Gran Hotel Inglés.

The property is a 5-star hotel set in Barrio de las Letras which puts you close to Madrid’s main museums and El Retiro Park. On the other hand, the Royal Palace is just a 20-minutes walk from the hotel.

You will also find a cocktail-bar to grab a few drinks or enjoy Mediterranean cuisines at the hotel’s restaurant.

Book Gran Hotel Ingles here

Gran Hotel Ingles Madrid Jacuzzi Gran Hotel Ingles Madrid Room Gran Hotel Ingles Madrid Bar

1.4 Design-lovers

As a designer traveler, there are areas in Madrid that can be very interesting for you, like Barrio de Salamanca or Gran Via, where you will find incredible examples of architecture from the 19th and 20th centuries.

At Barrio de Salamanca there are all the shops like Chanel, Prada, etc. and at Gran Vi, you can find Swaroski and Loewe (in the intersection with Calle Alcalá).

For this reason, I recommend the following districts for a design traveler:

  1. Barrio de Salamanca
  2. Gran Ví
  3. Charmartin

This map shows you the areas recommended for Design Lovers:

Barceló Imagine

If you’re a music lover, Barceló Imagine is the perfect accommodation for you. Inspired by music, the hotel has created rooms that feature all types of music genres.

Rooms have themed rock, jazz or flamenco styles which music fans will love. Aside from music decors, the rooms are also installed with flat-screen TVs and tea and coffee machines.

And you will definitely find it amusing to see the wonderful panoramic view of Madrid from the hotel’s Sky Lounge. The perfect way to celebrate your tour and enjoy a lovely drink of your favorite cocktail.

Book Marcelo Imagine here

Barcelo Imagine Madrid Rooftop Pool Barcelo Imagine Madrid Sky Lounge Barcelo Imagine Madrid Piano Bar

Vincci Capitol

Vincci Capitol is on Gran Via, so it is a great location. In fact, there is a balcony at the top of the hotel where you can have great views from the city.

All the rooms have a minibar, private bathroom, and TV. They also serve buffet breakfast with a gluten-free option.

Book Vincci Capitol here

Vincci Capitol Madrid Bar Vincci Capitol Madrid Room Vincci Capitol Madrid Restaurant

Dormirdcine

All the decoration of the rooms and the whole Dormirdcine is inspired by the cinema, so it is a very original option to stay.

There is a cinema bar, and all da they serve a buffet breakfast. All the rooms have TV, private bathroom and minibar. The hotel is in Diego de Leon metro station, in line 5 (green), so it is very easy to reach places as Gran Via, Callao or La Latina, for example.

Book Dormirdcine here

Dormirdcine Madrid Room Dormirdcine Madrid Common Area Dormirdcine Madrid Dining Area

Eric Vökel Boutique Apartments – Madrid Suites

Located in Calle San Bernardo, near Gran Via, Eric Vökel Boutique Apartments – Madrid Suites are a great option for design travelers. Some of the apartments have a balcony with a view of the city, and the reception is open 24 hours.

You also got several bars and restaurant options located around the property which makes it great to explore.

Book Eric Vökel Boutique Apartments – Madrid Suites here

Eric Vökel Boutique Apartments - Madrid Suites Terrace Eric Vökel Boutique Apartments - Madrid Suites Room Eric Vökel Boutique Apartments - Madrid Suites Living Area

1.5 Groups

Traveling in a group sometimes can be difficult, because one wants to go shopping, others want to take a beer, others want just to take a nap at the hotel.

So the best option is to stay near the central areas, where all of you can easily reach the rest of the group in case some of you do something different.

And another thing to take into consideration is that the best option is the apartments, where you have a private kitchen and a private bathroom.

These districts are:

  1. La Letras (near Museo del Prado)
  2. Malasaña

This map shows you the areas recommended for groups:

Mola Hostel

Nestled right in the city center where they offer rooms and dormitories is Mola Hostel.

Warm colors cover the rooms and dormitories are installed with bunk beds. Each room also comes with a private shower.

They also have a very large dining area and vending machines available at any time of the day.

Book MOLA Hostel here

MOLA Hostel Madrid Dining Area MOLA Hostel Madrid Room

Roisa Centro

Roisa Centro is an apartment located in Calle San Bernardo, near Gran Via.

There are 5 rooms where can stay until 10 persons. There are a kitchen and a balcony, where you can relax with your friends after a long day. A great option.

Book Roisa Centro here

Roisa Centro Madrid Room Roisa Centro Madrid Kitchen

Santa Ana-Sol Apartment

Nestled in Calle Atocha, near 200 meters to Plaza de Santa Ana and 400 meters to Puerta del Sol is Santa Ana-Sol Apartment.

In this apartment, there is a kitchen, a living room, and 3 bedrooms. There is a courtyard too.

The property also puts you close to the San Miguel Market, the Plaza Mayor, and the Reina Sofía Museum. Which makes it convenient for you to explore the area.

Book Santa Ana – Sol Apartment here

Santa Ana - Sol Apartment Room Santa Ana - Sol Apartment Kitchen

Apartamentos Mayor Centro

You will find Apartamentos Mayor Centro situated between Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol. The area is great for food adventure and architecture.

The property offers 24 hours reception and has a fully equipped kitchen you can use.

Book Apartamentos Mayor Centro here

Mayor Centro Apartments Madrid Terrace Mayor Centro Apartments Madrid Room

1.6 Solo Travelers

The best neighborhoods to stay in Madrid for solo-travelers are Las Letras and Austria.

If you are a solo traveler, you know that it is not a sad trip and it is not necessary to stay in sad hotels. Madrid is a city full of people who love to do things alone because sometimes it is good to have time for ourselves.

But, at the same time, people of Madrid love to meet new people and talk to them in the bars, museums or wherever.

If you don’t want to miss a thing about Madrid, the best neighborhoods are:

  1. Las Letras
  2. Malasaña

This map shows you the areas recommended for solo travelers:

Sungate One

Situated right in the center of Madrid is Sungate One. Just a 15-minute walk away from Prado National Museum and Plaza Mayor Square.

The hostel organizes several activities in which guests are welcome to join. They also have tickets for tourist sites available at the reception.

You will also find a shared kitchen and TV lounge where you are able to socialize with other guests and win new friends.

Book Sungate One here

Sungate One Madrid Room

Sungate One Madrid Common Area

Casual Madrid del Teatro

Casual Madrid del Teatro is so original because its decoration is inspired by theatre located in Calle Echegaray.

I’m sure that being a solo-traveler will let you enjoy your stay in this hotel. It is near Plaza de Santa Ana and Puerta del Sol, and all the rooms have a private bathroom.

Book Casual Madrid del Teatro here

The Citadel by Pillow

You will find The Citadel by Pillow is so near to Mercado de San Miguel, Plaza Mayor, Palacio Real, and Puerta del Sol. All the rooms have private bathroom and TV.

Plus, the hotel’s location puts you close to food and architecture which you may find exciting to explore.

Book The Citadel by Pillow here

The Citadel by Pillow Madrid Room The Citadel by Pillow Madrid Two Double Room

1.7 Nightlife Traveler

If you are looking for a party may be the best option is Malasaña, where there are many options, like bars and nightclubs.

I also recommend you other areas like La Latina or Las Letras. La Latina is just for bars that close early, but in the neighborhood Las Letras, you can also find nightclubs as in Malasaña.

And when it comes the day you can do shopping or just relax in a square. Chueca is another good option for nightlife-seeking travelers.

This is why the best options for a nightlife-seeking traveler are these districts:

  1. Las Letras
  2. Chueca
  3. Malasaña
  4. Salamanca

This map shows you the areas recommended for nightlife:

TÓTEM Madrid

A Small Luxury Hotel of the World, TÓTEM Madrid is nestled in a historic building in Salamanca.

Rooms are modern and feature parquet floors. It also comes with black marble bathrooms. They also have a gym on site to keep track on your exercise routines.

Moreover, for a wonderful night to spend on, you can head up to the hotel’s cocktail bar to grab a few drinks and socialize with other guests.

Book TOTEM Madrid here

Enjoy the night at the Totem Madrid bar Rooms have natural light windows in Totem Madrid

ME Madrid Reina Victoria by Meliá

Situated in Plaza Santa An in a 19th-century building is where you will find ME Madrid Reina Victoria by Meliá.

The hotel’s  Radio Rooftop Bar offers not only great music and drinks but also a perfect view of Madrid at night.

Rooms are modernly designed and have adjustable lighting and climate control. They also have an iPod dock and bathrooms are installed with TV speakers and Apivita toiletries.

Book ME Madrid Reina Victoria by Melia here

ME Madrid Reina Victoria by Meliá Rooftop Bar

Hostal Ballesta

Hostal Ballesta is in Malasaña neighborhood, a great option for a night-life seeking travelers. It is located 200 meters from Gran Via metro station and it’s very near Callao metro station too.

All the rooms have a TV, a private bathroom and views of the city. There is free WIFi and the reception is open 24 hours.

Book Hostal Ballesta here

Hostal Ballesta Madrid Room Hostal Ballesta Madrid Lobby

1.8 Budget Traveler

If you are a budget traveler, the best option for you is the hostels or Albergues, where the bathroom is shared and often also the room.

The difference is that Albergue, hostel or pension usually means that the place is working for many years, and maybe it is a familiar business.

The hostel (known as backpackers’ hostel) is a better option if you travel with friends. So, you can find a hostel, a hostel, a pensión or an Albergue. Of course, all the options are cheap. There is no concrete area where a budget traveler can stay because there are many cheap places in all neighborhoods.

This is why the best options for a budget traveler are these districts:

  1. Centro

 

Hostel Era Alonso Martinez

If you don’t care to stay in a shared room, Hostel Era Alonso Martinez is a good option. This hostel is near Alonso Martinez metro station, but you can have a walk and arrive easily at other places in the city, like Chueca or Malasaña.

They offer free continental breakfast and the reception is open 24 hours.

Book Era Alonso Martinez here

Hostel Era Alonso Martinez Madrid Scooter Hostel Era Alonso Martinez Madrid Scooter Common Area

I Love Madrid Hostel

I Love Madrid Hostel is really near Puerta del Sol, the most central point of Madrid, so here you have all the facilities you need.

By day you can easily reach the monuments and museums, and by night you can go out and have fun. The reception is open 24 hours.

Book I Love Madrid Hostel here

I love Madrid Hostel Reception I love Madrid Hostel Room

But if you want your own room, there are other good options, of course. Here we find the hostel, Albergue or pension that I mentioned above. I recommend you two of them.

Abracadabra Suites

Abracadabra Suites is in La Latina neighborhood, just 700 meters from Plaza Mayor and 350 from Palacio Real.

The bathroom is shared but there are three of them and they give you all the stuff you need, like hair-dryer. The reception is open from 10 am to 6 pm.

Book Abracadabra Suites here

AbraCadabra Suites Madrid Room AbraCadabra Suites Madrid Terrace View

2. Top 10 Sights (and their locations)

Madrid has so much to offer to its tourists. With famous museums and wonderful architectures, you got a long list to explore.

But to help you prioritize what to see and what to visit, we have listed the top 10 sights yu should never miss when you visit Madrid.

Again, make sure you read our extended guide on 7 days in Madrid and 23 cool things to do in Madrid.

Check out the map below.

It shows you the locations of the 10 top sights in Madrid so you can save and use it during your Madrid trip.

The top 10 sights in Madrid are:

  1. Palacio Real
  2. Templo de Debod
  3. Museo del Prado
  4. Mercado de San Miguel
  5. Plaza Mayor
  6. El Retiro Park 
  7. Puerta del Sol
  8. Calle Gran Vía
  9. Cathedral de la Almudena
  10. El Rastro Flea Market

2.1 Palacio Real

Also known as Palacio de Oriente.

This palace was built by Filippo Juvarra between 1735 and 1764. It’s a great place to visit because a huge collection of artworks can be admired. It takes a lot of time to see all the palace, a minimum of 3 hours.

You can also visit the Jardines del Campo del Moro and the Jardines de Sabatini.

At noon on the first Wednesday of every month, it takes place the Changing Guard, except January, August, and September (or because there is an official act in the palace).

The play is long 1 hour, and almost 400 participate in the spectacle. But if you can’t see the Changing Guard, every Wednesday and Saturday there is another Changing Guard, so much smaller.

Location: Plaza de Oriente. (Metro Station: Opera)

Hours: 10 am-18 pm, from October to March; 10 am- 20 pm, from April to September.

Tickets: Basic ticket 13 euro. You can see other prices and buy the tickets here.

Royal Palace Madrid

2.2 Catedral de la Almudena

Catedral de la Almudena of Madrid it’s just in front of the Palacio Real.

It was built between 1883 and 1993, so it’s a very modern cathedral if we compare it with others in Europe. In some festivities the exterior it’s decorated with hundreds of flowers and it’s very beautiful to see. You can also have a guided visit to the crypt.

Location: Calle de Bailén, 10 (Metro Station: Opera)

Hours: 9 am-20.30 pm (10-21 July and August)

Tickets: Free; the ticket for the museum costs 6 euro and 3 euros for the guided visit to the crypt.

Almudena Cathedral Madrid

2.3 Museo del Prado

Museo del Prado is one of the most important museums in the world. The collection proceeds from the Royal Collection and that explains why there are so many works from artists like Velazquez, Tiziano or Rubens, great painters who worked for the Spanish kings.

The building was design by Juan Villanueva to be a museum of Natural History in 1785, but finally, it was opened as the Royal Museum of Painting and Sculpture in 1819.

Location: Calle Ruiz de Alarcón, 23 (Train Station: Atocha; Metro Station: Paseo del Arte, Banco de España)

Hours: 10am-20pm (Mondays to Saturdays); 10am-19pm (Sundays and Holidays); 18pm-20pm Free (Mondays to Sat); 17pm-19pm (Free Sundays and Holidays)

Tickets: Basic ticket 15 euro. You can see other prices and buy the tickets here.

Prado Museum Madrid

2.4. Templo de Debod

Temple de Debod is an authentic Egyptian temple from the Second Century b. C., which was given to the Spanish people for their help in the construction of the Aswan dam.

It’s so beautiful just to see its environment, a park where you can go for a picnic and admire the sunset. In fact, in summer a lot of people go there to do that and sometimes there is not a place to stay.

Location: Calle Ferraz, 1 (Metro Station: Plaza de España, Ventura Rodriguez)

Hours: 10am-20pm; 10am-19pm (from June 15th to September 15th). Mondays are closed.

Tickets: Free

Templo de Debod Madrid

2.5 Parque del Retiro

Built in the 17th Century for the king Philip II. Parque del Retiro is a great place to walk, doing sport, have a picnic, see the amazing Book Fair in June, or rent a boat at the lake.

At this park, you can also find the Palacio de Cristal and the statue of Ángel Caí The Palacio de Cristal is an amazing structure surrounded by a lake. This place is usually used for exhibitions, but when it’s empty, belief, it’s incredible.

The light of the sun illuminates all the structure and it creates a very special atmosphere. The statue of the Angel Caído (it means literally Fallen Angel) represents exactly that, an angel expelled from Heaven.

Location: Plaza de la Independencia, 7 (Train Station: Atocha; Metro Station: Retiro)

Hours: 6am-22pm (from October to March): 6am-00am (from April to September)

Tickets: Free

Parque del Retiro Madrid

2.6 El Rastro

El Rastro it’s a huge market where you can find everything you want, new or used. This market started in the 18th century as a market where you could buy and sell your things.

It was located near the slaughterhouse of the city, so there was always a trace (rastro in Spanish) of the animals’ blood on the floor. It is not a very nice name, I know, none of that exists at present.

There is always a lot of people, but the tradition is to go there and then drink a beer in some of the bars in the neighborhood. Stay calm if you don’t like people, there is a lot, everywhere.

Location: Ribera de Curtidores, Plaza de Cascorro, Plaza de Vara del Rey, etc. (Train Station: Embajadores; Metro Station: Embajadores, La Latina, Tirso de Molina, Puerta de Toledo).

Hours: Sundays from 9 am to 15 pm.

2.7 Gran Vía

One of the most important avenues in Madrid is Gran Via, with a lot of shops and amazing architecture. It was built between 1910 and 1931, and it was planned to organize and upgrade the center of the city.

Just taking a walk at Gran Via and see the architecture it’s a pleasure. At the intersection between Gran Via and Calle Alcala, there is the Metropolis building, a great example of modernist architecture from 1906.

At the top, there is a phoenix, a bird from Ancient Greek mythology.

Gran Via Madrid

2.8 Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor (in the past, Plaza del Arrabal) was the center of the city from the 16th Century. Here there was the principal market of the city, where you could buy bread, wine, fish… all you needed.

In fact, in the surroundings of the square you can find Calle de la Sal (Salt street, where the salt was sold); Calle de la Fresa (Strawberry Street, a tiny but charming street) and others like that.

The square as we see today it was built from 1580 to 1619, but there were three fires in 1631, 1670 and 1790, and it’s partially reconstructed. At the center of the square, there is a statue of Philipe II. Here it takes place public concerts and many activities for the people.

At Christmas, there is a market where you can find a lot of figures for the “Belén”.

Location: Plaza Mayor, 28012 Madrid, Spain (2 min walk from Mercado de San Miguel)

Plaza Mayor Madrid

2.9 Puerta del Sol

It really is the Plaza del Sol, because it’s a square, but nobody in Madrid says Plaza, but Puerta del Sol.

Here you can find the Km. 0, that is the point where start the Spanish roads; the statue of El Oso y el Madroño, that it’s a bear and a madroño, a typical tree in Madrid; the equestrian statue of Charles III; and the luminous ad of Tío Pepe.

Thousands of people reunite in this square all the December 31st to eat “uvas” (grapes) for the countdown to the New Year, a really special (and funny) Spanish tradition.

Location: Sol, Centro, Madrid

Puerta del Sol Madrid

2.10 Mercado de San Miguel

One of the most notorious markets in Madrid is Mercado de San Miguel. In the beginning, it was a normal market, but now it’s more “gourmet” and you can find many activities to do.

Near the market, there is a statue of an angel falling into a building, called Air Crash (yes, the people from Madrid likes the angels). You can see it from the Plaza de San Miguel, it’s at the Calle Mayor, at the top of a building.

Location: Plaza de San Miguel s/n

Hours: 10 am – 00 pm (Mondays to Thursdays and Sundays); 10 am-1 am (Fridays and Saturdays).

Tickets: Free, unless you want to buy, eat or drink 😊

3. Neighborhood guide (to understand the different areas)

There are some things that all central neighborhoods have in common. Let’s talk about them:

I recommend you look for yellow plaques in the buildings. There are 370 plaques explaining historic events or curiosities that took place at that point.

This can be a fun game you can play with kids, who will discover the next plaque?

It is surprising how many things you can discover if you look up when you walk, I mean, there are buildings that are artwork, like at Calle Arenal, Gran Via o near Plaza Mayor.

As you will see, sometimes there are names of the streets written until three times. This is simple: the conservation of the local. And this is something so particular from this city: the names of the streets on painted tiles.

For example, in the tile of Calle del Clavel, there is a carnation; and is the same thing at Calle del Biombo (folding screen) o Calle del Codo (yes, there is an Elbow Street).

And talking about the name of the streets… you will find names like Ribera de Curtidores (Tanners Street), Calle de Bordadoras (Embroidery Street), Calle (and arch) de Cuchilleros (Cutler Street)…

This occurs in the surroundings of Plaza Mayor, and it means that in that place worked the guild. But other examples, which are not guilds are Calle Carretas (where the carriage was parked, as in Plaza de Los Carros), or Puerta de Alcalá and Puerta de Toledo (the roads to Alcalá and Toledo).

And Puerta de Guadalajara was located in the square of Plaza de San Miguel, in Calle Mayor.

And finally, Madrid is not like a great metropolis, well it is, but you don’t feel like that. It is more like a big town, and that is something that people of Madrid really love.

So, some areas are more central than others, obviously, and here I tell you some of them that let you know how Madrid is.

3.1 Austria

This neighborhood corresponds to the medieval city, but it is called Austrias because in 1561 Madrid being named capital of Spain and it was the urbanistic demodulation by the Austrias‘ Royal House.

This area of Madrid has a particular architecture, which is characteristic of the Austrias‘ period: 1516-1700. You can find a lot of beautiful little streets that sometimes you don’t know where they take you, but it’s a pleasure to take a walk in this neighborhood full of history.

In fact, at Plaza de la Villa there is the oldest house in Madrid and from a tiny street in this square, you can find a way to discover those streets so typicals from Madrid.

The neighborhood includes Calle Mayor, Plaza Mayor, Plaza de la Villa, Calle Arenal, Plaza de Isabel II and the surroundings of Palacio Real.

In the last years, in August, a public dancing party is organized at Plaza de Oriente because of Veranos de la Villa (https://veranosdelavilla.madrid.es/es). So you can dance all you want in front of Palacio Real. Don’t tell me it’s not amazing!

3.2 Las Letras

In this neighborhood, you will find the history of the Spanish writers who live here, like Cervantes, Quevedo or Lope de Vega.

In this area you can find the Congreso de Los Diputados; Ateneo de Madrid opened in 1835 as a place to discuss about science and literature topics; Casa-Museo Lope de Vega, where the writer lives in Madrid; Convento de las Trinitarias, where Cervantes is buried; the Teatro de la Zarzuela, the first and only Spanish lyric theater; and the Teatro Español (before named corral de comedias del Príncipe), where the plays by those authors were released.

As you can see, this neighborhood is absolutely full of cultural and literary history.

There are so many activities to do in this neighborhood, one of the most interesting is the theatrical visits organized by the Casa-Museo Lope de Vega (http://casamuseolopedevega.org/)

3.3 La Latina

This neighborhood is called in that way because of Beatriz Galindo, known as La Latina, a humanist, and writer from the 15th century.

This area has medieval origins and here there was a lot of lodging because the area was in the limit of the city, so the merchants prefer to stay here.

The commercial activity explains the name of many of the streets and squares, like Plaza de la Paja, where the straw was sold; Plaza de Los Carros, where the merchants let their carriages; or Plaza de la Cebada, where it took place the food market (in fact there is a market at present).

There is a little garden, the Jardín del Príncipe de Anglona, in Plaza de la Paja, which is great to read or just to sit and have a good conversation.

Other things you can find in La Latina is the Basilica de San Francisco el Grande (this place was used to keep save the artworks in the Civil War); Museo de San Isidro, museum about the origins of Madrid; Puerta de Toledo (named in that way because it was the road to Toledo); Jardín de las Vistillas; Colegiata de San Isidro; Iglesia de San Andrés, etc.

Every year, along August, it is celebrated the popular verbenas o fiestas, festivities where you can do so many activities, go to concerts… so many people, but so much fun!

3.4 Chueca

Chueca is not a neighborhood itself because it has not an administrative center, and it belongs to a neighborhood named Justicia. But it is a very important area of the city.

But this is not just known as the LGTB neighborhood of Madrid.

Here you can find a lot of buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries, like Museo del Romansticismo and Museo de Historia, and Palacio de Longoria, an amazing modernist building that today is the headquarter of the Sociedad General de Autores.

3.5 Malasaña

Near Chueca, this neighborhood is full of vintage shops and trendy bars, it is known for its underground culture. Malasaña was the surname of Manuela Malasaña, heroin in the uprisings in the May 2nd, 1808 against the French troops.

4. Safest area to stay in Madrid

In general, I consider Madrid a safe city.

Just once my purse was stolen, but there is much police and they find the thief and I have all my stuff in return.

At night, the areas where there are many bars, there are many police wear as “paisano”, as it is said in Spanish. It means that they wear their own clothes, and not the uniform, in a way to go unnoticed for the thieves. So, if at first sight, you don’t see any police, don’t worry, they are there.

But we always can have some cautions. I leave you basic tips to avoid being pick-pocketed:

  1. First of all, do not leave your belongings unattended (at the bar, at the underground…)
  2. Don’t keep anything valuable in your backpack.
  3. Put locks on your zippers (this is optional, but it’s a good option)
  4. Don’t put anything in the back pocket.
  5. Keep bags in front of you when on public transit (please, keep this in mind if you go to the Rastro and the underground)
  6. Don’t carry all your money just in a pocket. Put your money in different places, like the glasses case.

Any Questions?

Do you have any questions? Doubts?

Please please please drop me a comment below or directly an email here.

In fact, your questions help me to make this article better. So I help you to help me. Therefore, bother me! 🙂