Madrid areas and barrios

madrid areas

As soon as you start exploring some of the Madrid areas, you will discover that Madrid is a lively, cosmopolitan city that will always welcome you with open arms, taking you in as one of its own, without questions or distinctions.

Here is a short description of what we consider the most interesting areas of the city. Please note that these are not the official municipal neighborhoods, but rather areas of interest that you shouldn’t miss while you are here.

We have listed them in alphabetical order and it comprises both old and modern neighborhoods.

Argüelles. This area, traditionally full of students because of its proximity to Universidad Complutense, is a compact barrio of narrow crisscrossing lanes. There’s a fascinating contrast between the surviving rationalist buildings from before the Spanish Civil War and the triumphalist architecture of the post-war period.

Austrias. Madrid became the country’s capital in this labyrinth of narrow streets named after the 17th century kings of Spain. This area where the pedestrian reigns, the opera plays and haute cuisine can be sampled at San Miguel market, also contains the city’s most evocative churches.

Barrio De Las Letras (Literary Quarter). This chic bohemian zone has so much to offer in art, entertainment and culture, original shops and a rich gastronomic tradition that you will be often surprised. You will certainly feel like a local thanks to its unique character marked by a philosophy of continual fusion of new and old.

Casa De Campo. It’s the perfect place to take a break from the city. Spend a day out, whether it’s cycling, picnicking by the lake, checking out the amazing Aquarium inside the Zoo or facing the roller-coaster loops at the Parque de Atracciones.

Castellana. Madrid’s longest and most elegant avenue, Paseo de la Castellana, is a vibrant business center that houses the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, a choice of top hotels, and expensive shops.

Chamberí. This distinguished neighborhood is set among wide avenues with historic mansions. Built in the late 19th century, this is now one of the most exclusive areas of Madrid. People only start discovering the plazas of Chamberí when they really get to know Madrid. They maintain a truly authentic local feel.

Chueca. The efforts of the LGBTI+ community helped to restore this neighborhood in the 90s and transform it into a shining example of diversity and integration for the whole world. Today it is one of the most cosmopolitan and vibrant districts in Madrid. In addition to this, Chueca boasts some of the best nightlife in the city.

Conde Duque. It is like microshopping heaven – a stronghold of small independent businesses. But more interestingly, many newer shops run by young people coexist in perfect harmony with these long-standing traditional businesses. Its streets lead to plazas, which lead to curious little tucked-away spots, which lead to grand doorways, which lead to sculptures…

La Latina. In this Madrid neighborhood tradition and bohemia live side by side. It is one of the most vibrant areas of the city and offers some incredibly romantic corners. Don’t miss El Rastro flea market that goes on every Sunday, where anything can be bought or sold.

Lavapiés. Its streets are filled with a rich ethnic diversity and in the recent years it has become Madrid’s most globalized neighborhood. The overall blend of the international and earthy bohemian has transformed the area into one of the most evocative and stimulating in the city. It is also one of the best gastronomic areas where authentic Indian food mixes with old tabernas and Moroccan tearooms.

Madrid Río. Despite it is hard to believe, this new recreational area used to be a hideous and congested road. Historical gardens located on the banks of the Manzanares River can now be accessed on foot and are perfect for a walk or biking. On top of it, the Neomudéjar abattoir from the early 20th century that used to be broken down and disused is now one of the liveliest cultural centers in Madrid.

Malasaña. The neighborhood is named after Manuela Malasaña, a 15-year-old seamstress who, among dozens of others, lost her live during the May 2, 1808 uprising against the troops of Napoleon. After decades of abandonment, the area was recovered in the 1980s. Nowadays it is a rebel and hectic area full of cutting edge and innovative initiatives.

Paseo Del Arte (The Art Walk). There are so many monuments, museums and cultural centers to visit in Madrid that you’d better organize your time if you want to avoid suffering from Stendhal syndrome. Ideally, you should make a few visits to this area and choose your museums carefully. Did you know that the Madrid Card gives you access to 50+ museums, monuments, recreational centers and other discounts?

El Retiro. Designed for the pleasure of Kings, El Retiro’s Park is perfect to escape from Madrid’s urban life. Stroll around to find rose gardens, wide walkways, terrace cafes, fountains, statues (including the only one in the world dedicated to the devil), musicians and entertainers, and a rowing lake known as El Estanque.

Salamanca. Here, the finest boutiques are in a unique setting. Wide pavements lined with trees make going shopping even more enjoyable. The Barrio de Salamanca is a meeting point for locals and you, provided you are a shopping lover. Explore the Golden Mile located in Calle José Ortega y Gasset and the lively Calle Jorge Juan, among others.

Salesas. Fashionistas and trendsetters gather here for the latest in fashion and art. Salesas is the neighborhood of fashion showrooms, shops frequented by trade experts and style labs. You can also find more than 70 Modernist buildings here while enjoying a delightful gastronomic tour on streets filled with hundred-year-old shops.

Sol. Better known as the geographical heart of the city, if you haven’t been here, you haven’t been to Madrid. This lively and popular area has a little bit of everything: restaurants, shops, theatres, and hotels… You’ll also find all sorts of public events and massive parties like New Year’s Eve.

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