Madrid has something to offer everyone. It is home to a trio of world-class art galleries, an atmospheric historic core and the most successful club in the history of football. It hosts some of the best tapas, bars and nightlife in the whole of Spain. The Spanish capital is sure to wow; here's the Rough Guide to where to stay in Madrid.
If you are looking at where to stay in Madrid for luxury - exclusive Barrio de Salamanca is renowned for smart apartment blocks, designer emporiums and its pijo residents. There are no qualms about flaunting wealth here. This is also the home of the wonderful Museo Arqueológico, Sorolla and Lázaro Galdiano collections, as well as Real Madrid’s magnificent Santiago Bernabéu stadium.
One of the best areas where to stay in Madrid is the Puerta del Sol. This square marks the epicentre of the city – and, indeed, of Spain. It is from this point that all distances are measured, and here that six of Spain’s Rutas Nacionales officially begin.
The area around Sol and Plaza Mayor is the beating heart of the Spanish capital. Packed with people, bars, restaurants, clubs and cafés, this is the place to be if you share the madrileños’ zest for life.
This unique tailor-made Spanish discovery trip is ideal for everyone wanting to get a real taste of Spain. Private guides or small group tours await to show you Barcelona, Figueres, Seville, Cordoba, Toledo, and Madrid. Stay in luxurious Boutique Hotels conveniently located so you can explore the cities on your own as well.
The Plaza de Santa Ana/Huertas area lies at the heart of a triangle. It is bordered to the east by the Paseo del Prado, to the north by c/Alcalá and along the south by c/Atocha. Puerta del Sol can be found at the western tip. The city reached this district after expanding beyond the Palacio Real and the Plaza Mayor.
Want to spend a couple of days in Madrid but don't know where to start? Our guide to things to do in Madrid: a day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend will help you plan your time to the full.
The heart, in all senses, of Malasaña is the Pza. Dos de Mayo, named after the insurrection against Napoleonic forces on May 2, 1808. The rebellion and its aftermath are depicted in Goya’s famous paintings at the Prado.
The streets have an interest of their own and are home to some fine traditional bars, while on C/Manuela Malasaña you can take your pick from some of the trendiest cafés in town. There are also some wonderful old shop signs and architectural details, best of all the Antigua Farmacia Juanse on the corner of C/San Andrés and C/San Vicente Ferrer.
Once rather down at heel, Chueca is now one of the city’s most vibrant barrios and the focal point of Madrid’s LGBTQ+ scene. At the centre is the lively Pza. de Chueca (MChueca), which is fronted by one of the best old-style vermút bars in the city, Taberna de Ángel Sierra.
If you are looking for where to stay in Madrid for a cultural experience, choose Paseo del Arte. Madrid’s three world-class art museums, The Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza, are wedged into the Paseo del Arte. This stretch has the added advantage of being adjacent to the tranquil botanical gardens, while nearby is the stately Parque del Retiro. These are the perfect places to visit if you need a break from the frenzied city centre.
On this tailor-made trip to the tales of two cities, you will explore the capital of Spain Madrid with a unique city tour before heading about an hour outside of the city, to visit Europe's longest zip-line in historic Toledo. Afterwards, board a train to explore the second-largest city in Spain, Barcelona.
If it is atmosphere you are looking for, then the historic districts of Madrid de los Austrias and Ópera are the places to be. Tangled streets, Flemish-inspired architecture and the extravagant Plaza Mayor dominate the former.
Ópera on the other hand is a more refined, stately quarter, defined by the imposing Palacio Real and the elegant Plaza de Oriente. Ópera is one of the most pleasant and relaxed barrios in the city.
One of Madrid’s great avenues, Gran Vía cuts a swathe through the city from east to west. Be sure to look up to feast your eyes on a panoply of architectural styles, sculptures and facades. To the north lie the bars and clubs of Chueca and Malasaña; to the south the sights and sounds of Sol and Huertas.
On this tailor-made Madrid getaway, you will spend four days discovering the wonders of Spain's capital Madrid. From fascinating museums like El Prado and Reina Sofia to exploring unknown corners with your private guide to a day trip to the surroundings, this itinerary packs the best of Madrid.
When you get tired of sightseeing, Madrid’s many parks are great places to escape for a few hours. The most central and most popular of them is El Retiro, a delightful mix of formal gardens and wider open spaces. Nearby, in addition to the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofía galleries, are a number of the city’s smaller museums, plus the startlingly peaceful Jardines Botánicos.
Take to the Spanish capital for art, culture and a taste of life in the city on this tailor-made trip to Madrid. Explore age-old churches and pretty plazas, stroll through the lovely Buen Retiro Park and visit captivating Toledo. Then, come sundown, discover the city's vibrant barrios and lively nightlife.
La Latina is a short walk south from Pza. de la Villa. If you’re exploring Madrid de los Austrias, it’s a natural continuation, as some of the squares, streets and churches here date back to the early Habsburg period. One of the most attractive pockets is around Pza.
De la Paja is a delightful square behind the large church of San Andrés, and once home to one of the city’s medieval markets. In summer, there are a couple of terrazas here, tucked well away from the traffic. The streets in and around Cava Baja and Cava Alta in La Latina include some of the city’s most popular bars and restaurants.
Another good option where to stay in Madrid is Lavapiés. From here, you can follow C/Mesón de Paredes, stopping for a drink at one of the city’s most traditional bars, the Taberna Antonio Sánchez at no. 13, past rows of wholesale clothes shops to La Corrala, on the corner of C/Sombrerete.
Are you looking for a budget-friendly way to spend your time in Madrid? In our guide to things to do in Madrid for free you will find a couple of interesting ideas.
If you prefer to plan and book your trip to Madrid without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.
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Top image: Cibeles fountain Madrid, Spain © Shutterstock.
Simon Baskett has lived and worked in Madrid for the last 30 years. He has written the Rough Guide to Madrid, the Pocket Rough Guide to Madrid and has been a long time contributor to the Rough Guide to Spain. A former Reuters sports correspondent for Spain, he has also worked for a variety of British newspapers and magazines, a flamenco website and and has written and contributed to history books for children. Follow him on Twitter