El Rastro takes place every Sunday and public holiday from 9am-3pm and is centred around the street Ribera de Curtidores in Lavapiés. Make sure you weave in and out of the side streets, though, because here lie the best secret little stalls and shops, some of which open only on Sundays especially for the market.
Head off the main thoroughfare of Ribera de Curtidores onto the Plaza del General Vara del Rey, a square mainly filled with antiques stalls. From vintage tea sets and mirrors to badges, jewellery, books and candlesticks, this is the place to root for some antique finds. The square can get packed, so aim to head to the market for 9.30am-10am to beat the rush of people that tend to arrive at around midday.
They might look slightly cheesy, but flamenco-themed souvenirs (ruffled apron, anyone?) are a popular choice with tourists visiting Madrid. If you’re looking for flamenco items, you won’t be disappointed at the Rastro. From aprons, fridge magnet fans to dresses and guitars, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to stocking up on flamenco finery.
Spain is renowned for its good-quality leather, and several stalls at the Rastro specialise in leather items, from wallets to cross-body and satchel bags. Most are relatively reasonably priced and make a souvenir that you can use again and again back home.
It might seem a bit of a strange one, but once you’ve started browsing the vintage photos for sale at several Rastro stalls, you’ll find it hard to stop. The photos transport you back in time, many come from the mid-20th century and are fascinating to get an idea of the fashions of the day, as well as what Madrid looked like over a century ago. Many of the same stalls also sell vintage postcards, which make an unusual memento to take home.
The Rastro seems to have a roaring trade in creepy toys, with seemingly every other stall being home to some crazy-eyed doll or sinister-looking puppet. There is a shop that specialises in broken and old toys (we can guarantee you’ll have never seen a shop like it) while just walking around, you’ll see plenty of candidates for a distinctly Spanish remake of Chucky.
From slogan T-shirts to vintage leather jackets, the Rastro has it all when it comes to clothing. For newer, more touristy items, stick to the main drag on Ribera de Curtidores, and for quirkier, vintage items, make your way into the side streets where both stalls and little shops have a wide variety of clothing on offer.
While many stalls have a box or two of old records lying around, for guaranteed quality and a range of new and used records, head to Satanasa, a cool record and clothing shop at Calle Mellizo, 6.
There are several furniture shops dotted around the market that specialise in vintage and upcycled sofas, tables, armchairs, lamps and more. IKB191 is a warehouse-like space packed with items from across the decades, while the nearby Old School Rastro has selected hip pieces that would not look out of place in any cool loft apartment. And for some unique lighting ideas, check out We Love Neon, which specialises in – you guessed it – neon lighting.