The 17 Trendiest Neighbourhoods in Madrid

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Jessica Jones

Madrid is a beautiful city with no shortage of stylish boutiques, restaurants and cafés. But which are the coolest areas to stay in and explore? Follow our guide to the trendiest Madrid neighbourhoods, from the best places to hit the designer shops to the hippest late-night bars and restaurants.

Madrid’s Coolest Neighbourhoods

1. Chueca

Architectural Landmark

Chueca station
© Borja Stark / Getty Images
Chueca is one of the most stylish and vibrant neighbourhoods of Madrid. Known as the LGBTQ neighbourhood, it is home to a whole host of trendy bars, cafés and shops and is the epicentre of Madrid Pride, which takes place at the end of June each year. It’s a magnet for Madrileños of all ages, gay and straight, and is known for its fun atmosphere and range of great restaurants, cocktail bars and clubs. Channel old Hollywood glamour in a booth at legendary cocktail bar Museo Chicote or spend an afternoon perusing the stalls and enjoying a drink on the rooftop terrace of the popular San Antón Market.

2. Malasaña

Historical Landmark

Just west of Chueca is the neighbourhood of Malasaña, which was the centre of the Movida Madrileña, a countercultural movement that developed after the death of dictator Francisco Franco and Spain’s return to democracy. In the 80s, Malasaña was a rough-around-the-edges hotbed of bars, drugs and nightlife. Today, it has cleaned up a lot and is perhaps Madrid’s hippest neighbourhood. It’s a treasure trove of vintage shops, cool boutiques run by young local designers and laid-back bars and restaurants.

3. Barrio de las Letras

Historical Landmark

Vibey street in Barrio de las Letras, Madrid, España
Josefina Di Battista / Unsplash
Barrio de las Letras, also known as Huertas after its main thoroughfare, has for centuries been Madrid’s literary neighbourhood. It was here that Miguel de Cervantes lived and worked, alongside other Golden Age greats such as the playwright Lope de Vega, whose home you can visit. Later, it was the favourite stomping ground of Ernest Hemingway, who had several favourite bars in the neighbourhood. Today, it’s a lovely area full of cool bars, restaurants and shops. Plaza Santa Ana is a busy hub at most times of day, and a good place to indulge in a drink and some people-watching.

4. La Latina

Architectural Landmark

La Latina is one of the oldest areas of Madrid and these days is famous for its many tapas bars. Head to Calle de Cava Baja for the ultimate tapas bar crawl, then spend a leisurely afternoon on the beautiful Plaza de la Paja, a lovely square lined with restaurants and bars. La Latina is also a good place to explore Madrid’s fascinating history; the free San Isidro Museum has interesting interactive displays that chart Madrid’s growth over the years.

5. Lavapiés

Architectural Landmark

Madrid’s most multicultural neighbourhood, Lavapiés, is full of international cuisine, cool street art and hip bars and cafés. It’s a great place to check out local artists, either by taking a street-art tour or by visiting local spaces such as the Tabacalera. On Sundays and public holidays, the streets around Ribera de Curtidores are packed with the Rastro, the city’s largest flea market. At night, check out traditional old bars and cool new openings, or catch a classic film (for a bargain €3) at the Cine Doré.

6. Retiro


Took this photo while walking through the beautiful El Retiro Park in Madrid. The garden area is amazing to see.
Jacob Thomas / Unsplash
Home to a tree-lined boulevard, Madrid’s most famous park and some world-class art galleries, the area around Retiro Park is a great base for those wanting to explore Madrid’s world-renowned art scene. It’s also home to some of the city’s most exclusive hotels, from the Westin Palace (a favourite of Ernest Hemingway) to the Ritz. It is the ideal location for those wanting to combine culture and activities on their city break. Visit Picasso’s Guernica in the Reina Sofia in the morning and rent bikes or rowing boats in Retiro Park in the afternoon. The museums in Madrid’s ‘Golden Triangle’ of galleries – the Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza – are all located in the district, along the Paseo del Prado. Other sights include the Caixa Forum museum, which holds regular sociocultural exhibitions and has a serene outdoor garden wall. You can also explore Madrid’s botanical gardens and the Palacio de Cibeles – home to Madrid’s City Hall where you can find impressive views of the city from the viewing platform.


Salamanca is one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Madrid, where you can find the most exclusive international and Spanish designer brands all centred around the area’s ‘Golden Mile’. It’s a great area for people-watching, and if you’re looking to treat yourself to a Michelin-starred meal or a designer cocktail, this is the place. You don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy Salamanca, though. Mercado de la Paz is a bustling neighbourhood market that is home to one of Madrid’s most popular little bar/restaurants, Casa Dani. It is famous for its gooey tortilla de patatas and its bargain menu del día (fixed-price lunch menu). Platea, meanwhile, is a converted 1950s cinema that is now home to bars, food stalls and entertainment.

Las Salesas

Such is the popularity of Chueca that the northern part has split off into its own neighbourhood, Las Salesas, which runs from Chueca northwards towards Salamanca. Packed with cute designer boutiques and tempting cafés and restaurants, the area is the ideal spot for a leisurely weekend stroll. Don’t miss the tempting treats at Mama Framboise, a cool local bakery, and come evening, try some craft cocktails at Macera.

Church of Santa Barbara, Salesas, Madrid

The most up-and-coming neighbourhoods in Madrid

7. Arganzuela

Architectural Landmark

Located just south of the centre on the banks of Madrid’s Manzanares River, Arganzuela is the best of both worlds: an easy walk into central Madrid and far enough away to have a local atmosphere and none of the crowds. It is also home to some great attractions including Madrid Rio park, a huge renovation of the river banks that was completed in 2011. It includes play parks, kiosks and terraces, football pitches and lots of space to walk, cycle or rollerblade. Another key sight is the Matadero, Madrid’s former slaughterhouse that is now a thriving cultural space with regular exhibitions, markets and its own cinema.


With a handy location close to both Madrid’s main train station, Atocha, and Retiro park, the city’s most famous green space – Pacifico is a popular area that in recent years has also seen an explosion of many cool new bars and restaurants. It has a trendy, local feel but is on the higher end of the rent spectrum compared to some of the other neighbourhoods on the list. Interesting sights in the area include part of Anden o, which holds the original motors and machinery that powered the city’s metro and the Neomudejar modern arts centre.


Known as Madrid’s Chinatown, Usera is home to much of the city’s Chinese community and is – unsurprisingly – where the best and most authentic Chinese restaurants can be found. It is also becoming one of Madrid’s most trendy areas for its green spaces and reasonable rents. Located just south of the River Manzanares, a new riverside shopping centre, Plaza Río 2 has also helped attract more attention to the area. In 2017, Airbnb named the area one of the “17 neighbourhoods to watch in 2017”. Usera is also home to the Manzanares Linear Park, a riverside park with a manmade hill topped by the impressive sculpture La Dama del Manzanares, by Valencian artist Manolo Valdés.


Technically part of the wider district of Arganzuela, Delicias stretches from just south of Atocha train station down towards the river. It’s a pleasant residential area that has a local vibe which can sometimes be lacking from the tourist-heavy centre. It is also home to one of Madrid’s coolest activities, the monthly Mercado de Motores, a huge market of products by local designers inside Madrid’s Railway Museum. There are clothes, accessories, artwork, food and outside, lots of food trucks where you can stop for lunch.


This traditionally working-class neighbourhood, south of the river, is attracting attention for its small-town feel and reasonable prices. Vallecas was a separate town (until it was annexed by Madrid in 1950) which contributes to its neighbourhood atmosphere. In Vallecas Old Town, the Church of San Pedro ad Víncula was built at the beginning of the 17th century by the architect Juan de Herrera. Vallecas is also home to the Cerro del Tío Pío, a hill from which you can see across the whole city – a very popular spot to watch the sunset.


Another neighbourhood just to the south of the River Manzanares, Carabanchel was first mentioned in historical documents in the 12th century. The area is known for its green spaces, especially San Isidro Park, the epicentre of the week-long Festival of San Isidro in May, dedicated to Madrid’s patron saint.

The best neighbourhoods for students in Madrid

8. Centro/Sol

Architectural Landmark

Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain
Moiz K. Malik / Unsplash

If you really want to be in the heart of things, then opt for Sol, the centre of the city and its most touristy area. It is home to many of Madrid’s major sights, including the Plaza Mayor, Royal Palace and Almudena Cathedral. There is a lot of accommodation available here, but be aware that the area can be very busy with tourists and good local joints take a bit more searching out – but they do exist. Transport links are very good from Sol, which itself is a central metro and cercanía (commuter train) station.

9. Moncloa-Argüelles

Architectural Landmark

This area to the north of the centre is Madrid’s university district, and is home to the Ciudad Universitaria (University City) which includes the campuses of the Complutense University of Madrid and the Polytechnic University of Madrid. It is also home to Madrid’s Egyptian temple, the Templo de Debod, and the huge Casa de Campo park. The area is quite residential, with pleasant, tree-lined streets. There is a lot of student accommodation available, but try to look early – September is notorious for thousands of students suddenly arriving and looking for places to stay.


Just north of the centre, this residential area is a breath of fresh air compared to the sometimes manic crowds in the centre. Shared apartments are common; students can find a room or club together and rent a whole place as a group. Chamberí is a good choice for those who prefer a quieter area with a real neighbourhood feel.
Still looking for inspiration on where to stay in Madrid? Check out our guide to the best and cheapest hotels in Madrid.

This article was co-authored by Harry Morrell.

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