Heading to Madrid but don’t know where to put down your bags? We’ve been there, Cheapos. After all, how can you know where to book a room without having a feel for the different areas in town? After reading our rundown of Madrid’s most central and vibrant hoods, you should have more of an idea of where to stay, be it Atocha or Salamanca.
Art junkies and outdoor lovers cross paths in this area. On one side is the Reina Sofia Museum, where you can spend the day admiring paintings by Picasso, Joan Miro, Salvadore Dali Juan Gris and more. And on the other side is the Retiro Park, which is a great spot for a run, walk, bike ride or picnic.
The Chamberi area is best for those who want to experience less of a scene and more of a laid-back, local feel. One of the most popular spots here is the Plaza de Olavide. Gather with a group of friends and while away the hours at one of the many outdoor cafés.
A young downtown vibe, boutiques, hip restaurants and clubs await you in Chueca. Pick from any number of bars in the area, but don’t worry when they close because that means the nightlife is just getting started. There are many clubs and after-hours locations in this neck of the woods.
Madrid’s main street is great for basic shopping and theater-goers. Hemmingway used to call Gran Via “Little Broadway,” which is no surprise as this is where the majority of theaters are located. Aside from stores and show business, this area sports many hotels and some famous bars. Museo Chicote draws an older, sophisticated crowd and is a great place to spot local celebrities.
The literary neighborhood of Madrid, this area is relaxing during the day and crowded with 20-somethings at night. Calle Huertas overflows with bars, restaurants, jazz and flamenco venues. Here you’ll find street vendors selling fedora hats and jewelry.
The touristy area in Madrid is at the heart of the city, Sol. The area is always crowded with visitors taking pictures or young foreigners searching for hostels. At night, you’ll find lots of people handing out fliers for free drinks at nearby bars. This is a well known area for sports bars, so if you’re looking to watch American football, soccer, rugby, or baseball, you’ll find it here.
Do you like showing off the latest designer fashions, dining in celebrity chef restaurants or mingling with the wealthy crowds? (Admit it, “Cheapo”!) Calle Serrano and the close by Calle de Jose Ortega y Gasset are for the seasoned fashionistas out there, featuring designer labels and international styles. Dining in the area requires reservations and the popular nightclubs (including Gabana 1800 and Serrano 41) draw a highbrow crowd.