9 Best Areas to Stay in Madrid For Tourists

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by Maggie Turansky

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As one of the largest cities in Europe, finding the best area to stay in Madrid can seem a bit daunting.

There are countless distinct neighbourhoods – barrios in Spanish –in the Spanish capital that all bring something a little different to the table (sometimes literally, when you consider all of the great bars and restaurants in the city) that finding the best neighbourhood for you and your travel style can really make or break your trip to Madrid.

So whether you’re looking to be within spitting distance of all of the top sites, whether you want to be in the best area for food or nightlife or you’re looking for a truly local Madrileño experience in a barrio where few tourists venture, this is the guide for you.

We’ve outlined a number of different neighbourhoods to stay in that are great for first-timers and return visitors alike.

9 Best Neighbourhoods to Stay in Madrid

Sol – Best Area for Sightseeing

If you’re looking for the best area to stay in Madrid for sightseeing and first-time visitors to the city, then staying in the Madrid Centro or Sol neighbourhood is an excellent option.

So-called because of its proximity to the Puerta del Sol, this is the absolute centre of the Spanish capital and is within easy walking distance to the vast majority of the top tourist sites.

Though this is an area that is going to be fairly packed with tourists and visitors, Sol’s location is unbeatable if you want to be very close to sites like the Plaza Mayor and the Mercado de San Miguel and within a 10-15 minute walk from places like the Palacio Real and the famed Prado Museum.

Even the famed Chocolatería de San Gines (the most well-known place for churros and chocolate in the city) is located in this neighbourhood.

For those after one of the most central places to stay in Madrid for tourists, then you absolutely cannot go wrong with Sol.

Plaza Mayor in Sol, Madrid
Plaza Mayor in Sol

Where to Stay in Sol

Ii Castillas Madrid – For mid-range travellers in the Spanish capital, this boutique hotel is a fantastic option. Located close to the Plaza Callao, it is within walking distance of several Madrid’s top sites. They have a range of clean and comfortable rooms on offer and daily breakfast is available.

Pestana Plaza Mayor Madrid – Those looking for luxury in central Madrid will love this plush hotel. Located right off Plaza Mayor, it is as central a location as you can get. They have beautiful rooms available and plenty of amenities to ensure you have a great stay.

MH Apartments Central – If you’re after the convenience of your own flat with the amenities of a hotel during your time in Madrid, then this aparthotel is a great choice. Situated only 500 metres from Puerta del Sol, they have a range of apartments available to suit plenty of group sizes.

The Hat Madrid – As one of the top-rated hostels in Madrid, this is a great place to stay for those travelling solo or on a tight budget. Located off of Plaza Mayor, it’s perfectly situated for exploring the city and makes it easy to meet other travellers. They offer both dorms and private rooms.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Sol!

Lavapiés – Best for Market Culture

If you want to be in one of Madrid’s coolest neighbourhoods, and get a real local feel but still be in easy walking distance of the city’s top sites, then multicultural Lavapiés is a great choice for you.

Located just south of central Madrid, the neighbourhood is within a stone’s throw of all of the city’s top sites, however, it has a far more “local” feel than somewhere just a bit closer to Plaza Mayor.

Lavapiés was named by Time Out to be the coolest neighbourhood in the world in 2018 and there is a lot to like about this hip area. There is lots of street art, there are fantastic bars and restaurants — both of the traditional and innovative ilk — and it is also a multicultural hub in Madrid.

Because of its location so close to the top tourist sites, Lavapiés makes for an excellent base in Madrid if you do want a more “neighbourhood-y” feel while still being within walking distance of many of the best things to do in Madrid.

Lavapiés is also a great neighbourhood to explore proper Spanish market culture, with markets like the Mercado Antón Martín and the Mercado de San Fernando offering a much more “authentic” experience than the tourist-centric Mercado de San Miguel.

Lavapies Street Art
Lavapiés Street Art

Where to Stay in Lavapiés

Catalonia Atocha – This is an excellent hotel to base yourself when exploring Lavapiés. Located close to Madrid’s Puerta de Atocha train station, it’s also a great choice if you have a day trip to Toledo in your itinerary. They have a range of lovely rooms to choose from and there is even a swimming pool on site.

Artrip Hotel – This boutique hotel in Madrid is an excellent choice in Lavapiés if you’re after something a bit more upmarket. They have clean and comfortable rooms on offer (all are air-conditioned) and it’s located in the heart of Lavapiés is fantastic for exploring both the barrio and Madrid as a whole.

Limehome Madrid – This aparthotel is an excellent choice for those wanting to experience Lavapiés like a local. They have a range of fully furnished flats available that can suit lots of group sizes and a perfect location for seeing the city.

The Central House Lavapiés – If you’re travelling solo or on a budget, this highly-rated hostel is an excellent option. Located in the heart of Lavapiés, they have both private rooms and dorms available along with excellent common areas and self-catering facilities.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Lavapies!

La Latina – Best Area for Tapas

Another Madrid neighbourhood in the centre of the city and a neighbour to Lavapiés is bohemian La Latina. In fact, if you’re looking for the best area for tapas, you really cannot go wrong with this fantastic neighbourhood.

Known for being home to the famed Calle de la Cava Baja (a street with no fewer than 50 bars in a 300-metre stretch), there is more than just this one (incredibly busy) street.

If you’re looking to do a tapas crawl in La Latina, check out bars like La Paloma for seafood, Las Caracoles for snails or Taberna Sanlúcar for Cádiz-style home cooking.

La Latina is also centrally located to explore all of the sites Madrid has to offer, is quite walkable and tourist-friendly without being packed with visitors, allowing for a more “local” feel not far from the tourist centre.

Cava Baja in La Latina
Cava Baja in La Latina

Where to Stay in La Latina

Posada del León de Oro Boutique Hotel – Located in the heart of La Latina, this boutique hotel is an excellent place in Madrid to base yourself in this dynamic barrio. They have bright and comfortable rooms on offer and plenty of great amenities to ensure you have a great stay.

L&H La Latina Selection – This lovely hotel in La Latina offers both comfortable rooms and suites and fully-furnished apartments, should that be something you’re after. Well-located for exploring the city (or crawling between tapas bars), all rooms are air-conditioned, they have a 24-hour desk and even offer an airport shuttle.

Ok Madrid Hostel – For those looking for a hostel in La Latina, then this is a great option. Offering both dorm beds and private rooms, they also organise social events daily making it easy to meet other travellers and have an excellent time exploring Madrid.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in La Latina!

Malasaña – Best for a Local Feel

Situated just north of the centre of Madrid, hip Malasaña is a very sought-after neighbourhood in Madrid and it makes for an excellent base for tourists. Though there aren’t a lot of tourist sites in this barrio itself, it is very well-located for exploring the sites of the city while still having a nice atmosphere around you.

The streets of Malasaña are incredibly picturesque and are lined with countless cool bars, cafes and shops to enjoy. This is a great neighbourhood to simply wander through and get lost, as it is one of the prettiest in the city.

Malasaña also has a lot of fantastic tapas bars to enjoy that have a more local focus (and, therefore, better prices) than a lot of similar bars closer to the city centre. Though it’s not a neighbourhood typically known for its bars, this is Madrid, after all, and there are always great places to eat.

Street in Malasaña
Street in Malasaña

Where to Stay in Malasaña

7 Islas Hotel – This bright, swish hotel is an excellent base in hip Malasaña. They have an excellent location within the neighbourhood for exploring all the top sites in Madrid and they have wonderful rooms to choose from. There is also an on-site restaurant & bar and they offer an airport shuttle.

Hostal Foster – Those travelling on a budget in Madrid but who want some privacy and comfort will love this quaint guesthouse. They have a handful of clean and comfortable en suite rooms available (all with air conditioning) and an excellent location just of Gran Vía.

Sonder Malasaña – This aparthotel is the perfect choice for those who want the comfort and convenience of their own flat while in the Malasaña neighbourhood.

MuchoMadrid – With both dorm beds and private rooms available, this highly rated hostel is an excellent choice for budget travellers or those looking for a social atmosphere. They also have great common areas, self-catering facilities and an excellent location in Malasaña.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Malasaña!

Chueca – Best Area for Nightlife

Located right next to Malasaña, cool Chueca is arguably the best area to stay in Madrid for nightlife and for LGBTQ+ visitors. Reminiscent of the Castro neighbourhood in San Francisco, this hip barrio is one of the best in the city.

Incredibly gay-friendly, you will notice rainbows all over the place in this inclusive neighbourhood – even on the sign of the metro. However, this barrio is accommodating to all communities and it is packed with cool cafes, restaurants, shops and bars to enjoy.

This is also a wonderful neighbourhood to go out in at night, as there are lots of bars and clubs open until the wee hours of the morning and you will have no problem finding a great place to party the night away in Chueca, should that be what you’re after.

Chueca Metro Sign
Chueca Metro Sign

Where to Stay in Chueca

Petit Palace Chueca – This pet-friendly 3-star hotel is an excellent choice in the happening Chueca barrio. They have lovely rooms available, an unbeatable location, an on-site bar and a 24-hour front desk.

Only YOU Boutique Hotel – This boutique option is one of the best hotels in Madrid for those looking for a luxury choice in the Spanish capital. Located in the cool Chueca neighbourhood, they have a ton of great rooms available and a perfect location for seeing all Madrid has to offer.

Room007 Chueca Hostel – This boutique hostel is a good option for budget travellers in Chueca. They have a number of both dorms and private rooms available and a fantastic location for exploring the Spanish capital.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Chueca!

Salamanca – Best for Luxury Travellers

For the upscale among us, look no further than finding a base in posh Salamanca. Located north of Retiro Park, Salamanca is not in central Madrid, but the tourist centre is very easily reached by bus or metro in only a few minutes.

As one of the fanciest and most exclusive neighbourhoods in the city, the streets of Salamanca are lined with designer shops and upmarket cafes and bars.

People are noticeably better dressed in this barrio – you will see lots of power suits – and it is the perfect place to stay for those who love a little bit of luxury.

You can still get an authentic Madrileño experience in this neighbourhood, however, especially if you want to explore a local market – make sure to head to the Mercado de La Paz.

Salamanca can also be one of the best neighbourhoods in Madrid for families, because of its quieter vibes and proximity to the lush and beautiful Retiro Park.

Retiro Park near Salamanca
Retiro Park near Salamanca

Where to Stay in Salamanca

Hotel Serrano – This 3-star hotel in Salamanca is an excellent choice in this posh neighbourhood. Located within easy reach of Retiro Park, they have clean and comfortable rooms available and a buffet breakfast is available each morning.

Wellington Hotel & Spa – If you’re looking for luxury in one of Madrid’s most luxurious neighbourhoods, then this 5-star hotel is the perfect choice. They have countless gorgeous rooms available, an on-site spa and plenty of other amenities to ensure you have the perfect stay.

Feelathome Goya Apartments – For those who want to pretend they live in this swish neighbourhood, these fully-furnished apartments are a good choice. They have a range of apartments available and a great location in the heart of Salamanca. They even have a seasonal outdoor swimming pool for guests to enjoy.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Salamanca!

Atocha – Best for Transport Links

Another central Madrid barrio, Atocha is one of the best neighbourhoods to stay in Madrid for those looking to go on some day trips from the city – especially to nearby Toledo!

Atocha is so-called because of its proximity to the Puerta de Atocha train station, one of the main train stations in the city. It is rare that I would recommend staying close to the train station in many European cities, however, Atocha doesn’t have the seedy vibes that many cities have close to their transport hubs.

The neighbourhood is very central and well-connected to sightseeing in Madrid, however, it is also far enough away from the top tourist sites that you can get a more local feel of the city, as well.

Like countless other barrios in Madrid, there are many wonderful bars and restaurants to enjoy and a great energy on the streets.

Inside Atocha Train Station
Inside Atocha Train Station

Where to Stay in Atocha

Hotel Mediodia – Located only 100 metres from Madrid’s Atocha station, this hotel is perfect for mid-range travellers in the Spanish capital. They have great rooms to choose from (including family rooms available) and a continental breakfast is on offer in the mornings.

Only YOU Hotel Atocha – This hip, 4-star hotel is a great option in the Atocha neighbourhood of Madrid. Located very close to the train station and also within easy reach of Madrid’s top sites, they have lovely rooms available and there is even a café/bakery on site!

Genteel Home Reina Sofía – If you’d like your own holiday home in the Atocha neighbourhood, then these apartments are a good option. They have a great location and several different apartments — ranging in size — to choose from.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Atocha!

Huertas (Barrio de las Letras) – Best Alternative Central Area

Moving back into central Madrid, if you want to stay very close to all of the action but are after a bit of peace and quiet then Huertas is a great option – in fact, this is an excellent contender for the best place to stay in Madrid for sightseeing.

More properly known as the Barrio de las Letras or the Literary Quarter, this barrio is colloquially known as Huertas because of its eponymous main thoroughfare, Calle de Huertas. Centring around the tranquil Plaza Santa Ana, it is only about five minutes walk away from the Puerta del Sol but feels miles away.

Huertas is known for being home to some Spanish literary greats – most notably, Miguel de Cervantes, author of the famed novel Don Quixote. In fact, you can see the house in which Cervantes died in this very neighbourhood.

And, like other Madrid barrios, there is no shortage of fantastic bars and restaurants to enjoy in this fab neighbourhood, either.

Plaza Santa Ana
Plaza de Santa Ana

Where to Stay in Huertas

Casual del Teatro Madrid – Located just off Plaza de Santa Ana, this is a great place to base yourself in Barrio de las Letras. They have cosy and quaint rooms available, an unbeatable location in Central Madrid and plenty of other great things on offer.

Vincci Soho – This beautiful luxury hotel is the perfect option if you’re looking to stay in Huertas. They have countless lovely rooms available, a hearty breakfast on offer each morning and a gorgeous terrace and on-site bar to enjoy.

Oboe Madrid Santa Ana – These apartments overlooking Plaza Santa Ana are a great option in the Huertas neighbourhood. They have a range of flats to choose from that can accommodate all kinds of group sizes and they all come fully furnished with everything you may need.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Huertas!

Chamberí – Best for a Residential Stay

Though this is certainly not the best contender for where to stay in Madrid for the first time, the swish Chamberí neighbourhood can be a good option for those who’ve been to the Spanish capital before and are looking to see a more residential side of the city.

Located to the north of the city centre, Chamberí is one of the best places to stay in the Spanish capital for tapas, being home to the famous Calle de Ponzano. A more local alternative to La Latina’s Cava Baja, there are countless bars on this street – though some of the more experimental and high-end sort.

Though this is a more local neighbourhood, this is also a relatively upscale place to stay (and live) in Madrid and it definitely shows. Though it’s not quite as posh as Salamanca, it is a fancier neighbourhood and it’s a great place to base yourself if you want to be a bit further out from the city centre.

Chamberi District
Chamberí District

Where to Stay in Chamberí

Leonardo Boutique Hotel – This boutique hotel is an excellent choice for mid-range travellers looking to stay in Chamberí. They have a range of nice rooms available and a good location for exploring a quieter and more residential area of Madrid.

NH Collection Madrid Abascal – For those after a luxury option in upmarket Chamberí, you can’t go wrong with this lovely hotel. They have countless plush rooms available, swanky amenities, and a wonderful location for exploring the neighbourhood and the city at large.

Bonavista Apartments – These apartments are a great option for those who want to “live like a local” while staying in the Chamberí neighbourhood in Madrid. There are several flats available and they all come fully furnished with everything you need to make your trip a great one.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Chamberi!

With so many different barrios to choose from, finding the best area in Madrid can be an overwhelming task. Hopefully, this guide has helped you choose the best neighbourhood for your wants and travel style. No matter where you choose to base yourself, there is no doubt that Madrid is one of Europe’s most interesting and dynamic cities!

Are you wondering which neighbourhood to stay in Madrid? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie


  1. Hey Maggie,

    Thank you so much for your travel blogs. This will be our first trip to Spain (from Australia) and your guides are awesome and so helpful. Kind regards, John


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