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Malasaña is synonymous with La Movida Madrileña, when life after Franco’s dictatorship saw the rise of dozens of Spanish creatives including Oscar-winning director Pedro Almodóvar. Today it’s hipster central, with some Movida hotspots still going strong over 25 years later. For more on where to find the best brunches, beard trims, and bookstores, take a look at our handy guide.
Check out Malasaña’s street art by going on an Urban Safari tour with Madrid Street Art Project. Guides will clue you up on local graffiti artists, as well as their methods and inspiration – prepare for some great photo opportunities. Alternatively, you can try your hand at mug painting at Pinta en Copas, where you can paint mugs, plates, egg cups, and much more besides for a unique souvenir from Madrid.
Malasaña has fully embraced the recent trend for artisanal ice pops at Lolo Polos, which offers freshly made lollies in a range of unusual flavours including pink mojito, chocolate and banana and strawberry lemonade. Ingredients are 100% natural – the perfect way to cool down in Madrid’s scorching summer temperatures.
It might be completely landlocked and over 300 km (186 miles) from the nearest coast, but that doesn’t stop Malasaña’s hipsters from bringing the beach to Madrid. Head downstairs in Ojalá, a modern tapas restaurant, and enjoy some cocktails on its ‘la playa’ beach, complete with sand-covered floor and low tables. Nearby, Vacaciones cocktail bar is decked out like a beach hut, showcasing wooden furniture, fairy lights and laid-back vibe.
Malasaña is home to some of Madrid’s best vintage shops, and is a great place to browse if you’re looking for unique clothes and accessories. From 1960s-style dresses through to American denim, the neighbourhood’s vintage stores will have you covered.
La Vía Láctea (‘The Milky Way’) opened its doors in 1979 and saw many of La Movida’s movers and shakers hit its dance floor. These days, expect a cool crowd of both young and old (but definitely young at heart) enjoying the indie records, pool table and flowing beers.
Malasaña’s young residents like to rub shoulders with its oldest in the neighbourhood’s traditional taverns. Casa Camacho is heaving every evening, with people spilling out onto the streets. For true hipster style, order a vermut de grifo (vermouth on tap) and enjoy the free tapas. Another of Malasaña’s best old bars is Bodega la Ardosa, famed for its tortilla de patatas. Grab a slice and soak up the decades of history around you.
Any good hipster (man) should be sporting some variety of facial hair, be it a bushy beard or a handlebar moustache. Luckily, Malasaña has some great barbers that can help prune your prized facial hair to perfection. The 1930s-inspired Barbería Malayerba, just off Plaza Dos de Mayo, has old-fashioned charm and modern style, while Malditos Bastardos (‘Damn Bastards’) has a rocker edge and offers beard grooming alongside traditional haircuts.
Malasaña is a great place to browse some record shops and stock up on books. Head to Plaza Dos de Mayo on a weekend and check out the stalls selling collectables including old records and film posters. Radio City stocks a good range of records, while El Almacén de Discos is a local favourite.
Bookworms should visit J&J Books and Coffee, with its basement full of second-hand books in English and an upstairs bar that holds pub quizzes, language exchanges and brunches on a weekend. Libros Para Un Mundo Mejor is a cute bookshop that sells mainly Spanish titles, as well as some beautiful literary-themed stationery. Comic book fans should check out Madrid Comics, one of the capital’s oldest comic book stores, and Elektra Comics, another classic store beloved of locals.
Brunch – a decidedly hipster concept – is big in Malasaña. Carmencita Bar offers one of the neighbourhood’s most legendary brunches, available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm-4.30pm (booking definitely recommended). Brunch items include Eggs Benedict and French Toast and – best of all – mimosas are a bargain €1 (US$1.12).