The Spanish capital and largest city in Spain, Madrid is a vibrant metropolis, full of significant art and architecture that’s changed the face of the modern world. Cultural and artistic heritage, restaurants that make saliva run embarrassingly from your mouth, and some of the liveliest nightlife in Europe mix together to create a blur of a memory, bringing a tear to your eye for the rest of your life. 

The grandeur that creates the green spaces within the city is refreshing – allowing you breathing space away from anything that may deem overwhelming all at once. Museums open our tiny minds, packed with world-famous masterpieces.

I swayed through bustling outdoor markets, and somehow found myself with varying cervezas and tinto veranos after dark. I’m still, to this day… not toooo sure how. It’s pretty magical. 

Madrid has enough to keep anyone busy for years! Although, with 128 distinct neighborhoods, it can be overwhelming to decide where to stay in Madrid.

Fear not. In this neighborhood guide on where to stay in Madrid I will break up my 5 FAVORITE neighborhoods by interest, and include the top things to do in each area.

Vamos chicos! Let’s find you the best place to stay in Europe’s sweetheart. 

Best Places to Stay in Madrid

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are my top recommendations for places to stay in Madrid!

Yo, where we at?
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

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Europa Hotel Madrid | Best Hotel in Madrid

This boutique hotel is perfect for first-time visitors to Madrid. While staying close to all of Madrid’s top

tourist attractions and top tapas bars, this centrally located little beauty is my top recommendation for where to stay in Madrid, with a skyline view of the Spanish Capital from a rooftop terrace.

Ok Hostel Madrid | Best Hostel in Madrid

Ok Hostel Madrid is a fun and social hostel located at the heart of Lavapies, and located in one of the best areas to stay in Madrid. A short walk from Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol, this is my favorite hostel in Madrid. It has an outdoor terrace, a book exchange, a small kitchen and a common room. If you ask me, it’s one of the best hostels in Madrid.

Sun Door Studio | Best Airbnb in Madrid

The best Airbnb in Madrid

This spectacular apartment located on the fifth floor of a 19th century historical building, has sun clashing through the doors with an amazing balcony view close to Plaza Mayor. The apartment can accommodate up to three guests but it’s really perfect for two to get to know Madrid. It has all the modern amenities to give you the feeling of home in this fantastic location.

Madrid Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in Madrid

FIRST TIME IN MADRID
Centro, Madrid
FIRST TIME IN MADRID

Centro

Centro Madrid is the heart of the city making it the best area to stay in Madrid for first-timers. This downtown neighbourhood is where you’ll find grand avenues, stunning architecture, delicious restaurants, and a constant buzz of excitement and activity.

ON A BUDGET
Lavapiés, Madrid
ON A BUDGET

Lavapiés

Lavapies is one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in the city. An enclave for artists and creatives, this central neighbourhood is home to a myriad of international cuisines, hip street art, trendy bars and rustic cafes.

NIGHTLIFE
Chueca is where to stay in Madrid for all-night fun!
NIGHTLIFE

Chueca

For the hottest party in the city, look no further than the Chueca neighbourhood. Located east of the city centre, Chueca is home to trendy bars, lively clubs, charming pubs and funky cafes, making it one of the best places to stay in Madrid for nightlife.

COOLEST PLACE TO STAY
Malasaña, Madrid
COOLEST PLACE TO STAY

Gran Vía

Gran Via has played a role in developing modern-day Madrid’s diverse history. It connects you to many of the best places in Madrid as well as the cool Chuleca and Malasaña neighborhoods, so it’s great for a short weekend trip.

FOR FAMILIES
Paseo del Prado, Madrid
FOR FAMILIES

Barrio De Las Letras

Barrio De Las Letras is one of the best places to stay in Madrid for families. Here, you’ll find a great number of attractions, from the city’s important art museums to the lush and expansive El Retiro Park just a few blocks away. This downtown neighbourhood is packed with activities that the whole family will love.

One of the biggest and most cosmopolitan cities in Europe, Madrid is divided into 21 districts, which are further divided into 128 distinct neighborhoods or barrios. I always recommend Madrid anyone’s traveling to Spain but within each different neighborhood, you can also change your experience completely.

From sampling traditional Spanish foods to dancing the night away on Madrid’s busy streets to exploring its history and heritage at one of its many brilliant museums, I’ll help you plan your trip to Madrid with this guide that breaks down the “must-sees” by area. There’s plenty to see and do in Madrid – in Madrid, you want to base yourself in the perfect place.

Centro is the neighborhood at the heart of Madrid. My top pick for where to stay in Madrid for the first time, Centro is where you’ll find a myriad of historic and cultural attractions, including Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol.

North of the city center is the lively and exciting neighborhoods of Malasana and Chueca. Both are the best areas to stay in Madrid for vibrant nightlife. Famous for their exciting bars and wild clubs, these two districts are where you’ll find a good deal of fun after the sun goes down.

Continuing north you’ll pass through the charming and residential neighborhoods of Chamberi and Salamanca. Filled with tree-lined streets and expansive boulevards, these neighborhoods are perfect for shopping, relaxing and enjoying a slower pace of life.

South of the city center is the Huertas, La Latina, Lavapies, and Paseo del Padro neighborhoods. Some of the oldest areas of the city, these central neighborhoods are packed with cultural activities, exquisite museums, lush parks, and bustling bars. All four are among the best places to stay in Madrid.

Still not sure where to stay in Madrid? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!

Madrid’s 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

Madrid is a sprawling city that boasts a robust public transportation network – one of the best in Europe. Comprised of efficient and inexpensive buses and subways, it’s relatively easy to move throughout the city.

However, if you’re travelling to Madrid for a specific purpose, some areas might be better suited to you. Do you want to dance the night away at the city’s hottest clubs?

Maybe you want to enjoy the historic and cultural sights. Or, perhaps you want to be within walking distance of the trendiest district. All of these things are possible if you stay in the right area.

Here are the best places to stay in Madrid, broken down by interest.

1. Puerta Del Sol Neighborhood – Best Place in Madrid for First Timers

Centro Madrid – Puerta Del Sol is the heart of the city. This downtown neighborhood is where you’ll find grand avenues, stunning architecture, delicious restaurants, and a constant capital city of Europe buzz as life flies past everyone. Thanks to its great location, Centro is the perfect jumping-off point for exploring the city and beyond.

This colorful and vibrant neighborhood is my top choice for where to stay in Madrid for the first time. Experience everything from expansive squares and detailed buildings to charming street performers and upscale shopping in this downtown Madrid barrio. There are a lot of Madrid Airbnbs in and around centro if you fancy an apartment.

The Royal Palace is pretty darn regal.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Europa Hotel Madrid | Best Hotel in Puerta Del Sol

This boutique hotel is perfect for first-time visitors to Madrid. While staying close to all of Madrid’s top tourist attractions and top tapas bars, this centrally located little beauty is my top recommendation for where to stay in Puerta Del Sol, with a skyline view of the Spanish Capital from a rooftop terrace.

Sungate One | Best Hostel in Puerta Del Sol

Bright and airy and full of life – this hostel is also one of Spain’s best hostels! Easily accessible by public transit, this hostel is close to all Madrid’s top attractions, best shopping, and trendiest nightlife spots.

It has a full kitchen, spacious common room, a book exchange for travellers, and best of all, no bunk beds!

Sun Door Studio | Best Airbnb in Puerta Del Sol

This spectacular apartment located on the fifth floor of a 19th century historical building, has sun clashing through the doors with an amazing balcony view close to Plaza Mayor. The apartment can accommodate up to three guests but it’s really perfect for two traveling together to get to know Madrid’s city center. It has all the modern amenities to give you the feeling of home in this fantastic location.

Top Things to See and Do in Puerta Del Sol

Of course, it’s always sunny here, unlike Philly!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short
  1. Tour the iconic Museo Del Prado.
  2. Walk over to the Literary district, Barrio de Las Letras, and check out Lope de Vega house (now a museum) to learn about Spanish literature.
  3. Take in stunning views of the city from the terrace of the El Corte Ingles Gourmet Experience in Callao.
  4. Savour delicious Spanish fare at Sobrino de Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world.
  5. Take a tour of the Palacio Real and the Spanish Royal Palace, one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, and the nearby Plaza de España.
  6. Explore the maze of bushes, flowers and trees at the Jardines de Sabatini.
  7. Snack on delectable and delicious churros and chocolate at Chocolatería San Ginés.
  8. Visit the Cathedral de la Almudena and stare up at the stunning and detailed square cupola.
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2. Lavapiés Neighborhood – For those Visiting Madrid on a Budget

Lavapies is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city. An enclave for artists and creatives, this central neighborhood is home to a myriad of international cuisines, hip street art, trendy bars and rustic cafes.

In addition to great sights and cultural attractions, Lavapies has a high concentration of good value accommodations. From cosy hostels to quaint boutique hotels and budget hotels, this neighborhood is overflowing with comfortable and modern accommodation options at affordable prices.

It should be noted that some of Lavapies smaller side streets can be a little seedy at night. When picking accommodations, stick to the main streets and squares to ensure a safe and enjoyable stay.

A Dick and a posing knob ‘ed!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Artrip Hotel | Best Hotel in Lavapiés

Airtrip Hotel is a modern and luxurious boutique hotel – and one of my top picks for Lavapies. Its central location makes it a great base for exploring Madrid. 

It has spacious modern rooms and minimalist décor with a lobby splashing out onto the stunning Madrid streets. Relax in the library or grab a drink at the stylish bar. Within walking distance of Puerta del Sol and the centre of Madrid, this is one of the best hostels in Madrid for its location, close to Lavapies top attractions.

Ok Hostel Madrid | Best Hostel in Lavapiés

Ok Hostel Madrid is a fun and social hostel located at the heart of the city. A short walk from Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol, this hostel is my top pick for where to stay in Lavapies. It has an outdoor terrace, a book exchange, a small kitchen and a common room.

Stylish Spacious Loft | Best Airbnb in Lavapiés

This spacious apartment is stylishly furnished and has two beautiful balconies with a precious view of the charming streets. Hang out with friends, with every amenity you could need including a full kitchen.

With a Metro station and Atocha train station close by, this is great if you’re not staying too long in Madrid. You can easily get to Plaza Major and La Latina.

Top Things to See and Do in Lavapiés

The tile work on these old shops is something else.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short
  1. Visit La Tabacalera de Lavapies for an off-the-beaten-path afternoon of art, culture, music, and underground style.
  2. Hunt for treasures at El Rastro, a weekly open-air flea market that’s one of the most popular markets in Spain.
  3. Admire the architecture and exquisite décor at Palacio de Fernan Nunez.
  4. Experience an authentic Spanish market at Mercado de San Antón.
  5. Wander throughout the bustling Plaza Lavapies, the city’s largest flea market.
  6. Try typical tapas at Bar La Mina, where the food is good and the prices are even better!
  7. Take a tour of the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, Madrid’s iconic bull ring.

3. Chueca Neighborhood – Best places to stay in Madrid for Nightlife

For the hottest party in the city, look no further than the Chueca neighborhood. Located east of the city centre, Chueca is home to trendy bars, lively clubs, charming pubs and funky cafes, making it one of the best places to stay in Madrid for nightlife.

It is the epicentre of Madrid’s LGBTQ community and a magnet for Madrileños of all ages. Chueca is colourful and exciting and known for its fun atmosphere both day and night.

Cheuca is also a great destination for those who like to shop. Lining the small and narrow streets are everything from independent shops to upscale boutiques and big brand-name stores.

A highly decorated traditional bar in Madrid
Significantly better than the pubs in Rochdale!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Hotel Sardinero Madrid | Best Hotel in Chueca

This modern hotel seamlessly blends historic charm and modern cool within a central location – which is why it’s one of my top choices for where to stay in Chueca. A short walk to the city centre, Madrid’s best shopping and hottest bars are just steps away, located right in the heart of Madrid’s entertainment district.

It’s a four-star hotel with spacious rooms, modern décor, and a fitness centre for guests. Some rooms even come with a private rooftop terrace!

Room007 Chueca Hostel | Best Hostel in Chueca

This hostel is my top choice for where to stay in Chueca. Located at the heart of this fabulous and fashionable neighborhood, this hostel is within walking distance of the hottest bars and trendiest nightclubs. It has an attic lounge, open terrace, and large self-service kitchen.

Autumn Boho Chueca | Best Airbnb in Chueca

This beautiful apartment is has the bohemian interior that perfectly matched the chic neighborhood it lives in. Whether you want a base to head off to trendy tapas bars or play house in a dreamy Spanish home, you can soak in the colours of Chueca from here. 

It is within walking distance to attractions like Sol neighborhood, Plaza Mayor, Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, Prado Museum, and Museo Reina Sofia Museum. Drop into Atocha train station and see for yourself. 

Top Things to See and Do in Chueca

Madrid is full of unique architecture and sights.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short
  1. Sip sophisticated cocktails and enjoy the view from the rooftop bar at Mercado San Anton.
  2. Sample sweet treats at Mama Framboise.
  3. Dance the night away finally watching a Flamenco show.
  4. Dance, drink, and laugh the night away at Black and White, a large and lively club known for its fun and raucous drag show.
  5. Explore the bustling Calle de Hortaleza, a hotbed of upscale shopping, dining and nightlife options.
  6. Be thoroughly entertained and listen to great music at Toni 2 Piano Bar.
  7. Dance until dawn (and even beyond) at the Thundercat Club.
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4. Gran Vía Neighborhood – Coolest Place to Stay in Madrid

Gran Via has played a role in developing modern-day Madrid’s diverse history. It connects you to many of the best places in Madrid as well as the cool Chuleca and Malasaña neighborhoods, so it’s great for a short weekend trip.

In the mid-20th-century, Malasaña was the centre of the counterculture democracy movement that Movida Madrilena helped usher in following the death of dictator Franco. It was a little rough around the edges then, but it’s now best known for its bar hopping and bad boy reputation.

Today, Gran Via is by far the coolest neighborhood in Madrid. Revamped and rejuvenated in recent decades, you get the most diverse view of Madrid starting from cool boutiques, rustic bars, vintage shops, and hipster hideaways, then working your way up.

A metro sign in Madrid, Spain
I’m a sucker for public transport signs… move over London!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Espahotel Gran Via | Best Hotel in Gran Vía

Espahotel Gran Via is perfectly situated for exploring the city. It’s close to Malasaña, Centro, and well connected to the rest of the city. Close by are hip bars, trendy restaurants, and cultural and historic tourist attractions.

Charming and comfortable, this three-star hotel has a coffee bar, a lounge bar, and an on-site tour and ticket desk. You can head back and enjoy food served in the on-site restaurant at this delightful Madrid hotel.

MuchoMadrid | Best Hostel in Gran Vía

Sitting right next to Plaza De España is my best recommendation for where to stay in Gran Via for budget travelers. The friendly staff members, fantastic location, and super clean service make MuchoMadrid one of the highest-rated hostels in the central neighborhoods.

Safe and secure with round-the-clock security, lockers, and female-only dorms. More, there’s a lounge where you can meet other travellers, a kitchen to get cookin’, and laundry facilities so you can stay a while longer.

Striking Simplicity in Spain | Best Airbnb in Gran Vía

This bright and cozy Airbnb is located in a trendy neighborhood just off Gran Vía. With lots of light inside this 19th-century building, you get one of the best glimpses into Madrid life.

Wake up next to the city’s top attractions – or head out into the amazing nightlife scene! You’re close enough to all the action but perfectly placed to rest.

Top Things to See and Do in Gran Vía

It’s big, it’s fancy, it’s in Madrid, what more do you want?!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short
  1. Delight your senses by dining at La Musa, a great restaurant that serves up awesome Spanish fusion fare.
  2. Explore the historic Plaza del Dos de Mayo.
  3. Sip on an afternoon vermouth at Bodega la Ardosa, one of the best and oldest bars in the city.
  4. See great works of art at the ABC Museum of Drawing and Illustration.
  5. Enjoy good beer and a great atmosphere at La Via Láctea, a rock’n’roll bar with pool tables and great people-watching.
  6. Take the Urban Safari tour with the Madrid Street Art Project and see amazing murals and works of art by Spanish street artists.
  7. Visit the best tapas bars in the city such as El Puerto de Cabreira.

5. Barrio De Las Letras – Best Area to stay in Madrid for Families

The literary quarter of Madrid is today an elegant and picturesque neighborhood in the centre of Madrid. Located east of Centro, this neighborhood is well-connected via public transit and is a great base for exploring the city.

Barrio De Las Letras is one of the best places to stay in Madrid for families. Here, you’ll find a great number of attractions, from the city’s important art museums to the lush and expansive El Retiro Park just a few blocks away. This downtown neighborhood is packed with activities that the whole family will love.

Yeah, there’s a random legit ancient Egyptian temple in Madrid!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Room Mate Alba | Best Hotel in Barrio De Las Letras

You won’t forget this – one of the best hotels in Madrid is easily Room Mate Alba. This stunningly decorated hotel is close to restaurants, parks, and top tourist attractions. Enjoy a day out at world-class museums then come back to live like the royal family. Its luxury, with extra comfy beds and beautiful rooms. So rest up then head downstairs to the cocktail bar!

Barbieri Sol Hostel | Best Hostel in Barrio De Las Letras

Located in the city centre, it’s easy to walk to major attractions from one of Madrid’s best affordable hostels. You’ve got Plaza Mayor, Prado, Reina Sofia Museum, El Retiro Park, the amazing neighborhoods of La Latina, Lavapies, and Malasaña, ALL within a few minutes. You get to enjoy nights on their rooftop terrace and enjoy a drink in true Spanish style with and new traveler friends to explore Madrid with.

LIVE IN MADRID | Best Airbnb in Barrio De Las Letras

While you’re here, you may as well enjoy yourself. Experiences like this beat out all the best hotels in Madrid. This Airbnb takes your trip to Madrid and turns it up with skyline views from your rooftop terrace. Take in some Spanish sun, treat yourself at all the tapas bars, then come back and get cosy.

Top Things to See and Do in Barrio De Las Letras

Paseo del Prado ttd Madrid
Just me on my way to the airport.
  1. See works of art by Velasquez, Goya, El Greco and more at the Prado National Museum. Visit after work when admission is free.
  2. Climb to the top of Palacio de Cibeles and enjoy an amazing view over Madrid.
  3. Browse an extensive collection of 20th-century modern art at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.
  4. See nearly 1,000 pieces of art from the 13th- through 20th-century at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza.
  5. Explore Spain’s naval history at the Naval Museum.
  6. Visit the Palacio de Cristal, located deep in the heart of El Retiro Park.
  7. Drink a cold beer in Plaza Santa Ana.
  8. People-watch on Calle Huertas.
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FAQs about Finding a Place to Stay in Madrid

Here’s what people usually ask us about the areas of Madrid and where to stay.

What To Pack For Madrid

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Product
Description
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
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Hanging Laundry Bag

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Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
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Combining my love of heavy metal and football.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Madrid

Madrid is a sprawling metropolis teeming with a buzzing atmosphere. There is so much to do in Madrid surrounding its art, architecture, cultural events, cozy cafés, and awesome restaurants and nightlife.

I created this neighborhood guide to help you choose the best places to stay in Madrid based on your travel interests, whether you’re visiting Madrid with family, friends, or on a solo trip!

If you’re still unsure about where to stay in Madrid, I recommend Ok Hostel Madrid for my top hostel pick, and my top hotel pick is Europa Hotel Madrid!

Did I miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.

Looking for more info on travelling to Madrid and Spain?