Friday, 23 Aug 2019

Where to stay in Madrid – An insider’s guide

Madrid is the vibrant and charming capital of Spain and a must visit location for every traveller! From its eclectic bars and restaurants to its amazing architecture and cultural activity, we’ve got you covered on the best area to stay in Madrid!

This guide will be helpful if you are planning your visit to Madrid or maybe starting to consider the possibility of travelling to the Spanish capital. Madrid is a very diverse and beautiful city with more stuff to do than you’d imagine! My main tip would be for you to immerse yourself in the Spanish culture with an open mind, enjoying cervecitas (beer) and tapas (the famous – not always small – food portions) whenever possible and taking siestecitas (mid-afternoon naps) to recover from all that intense exploring. Try different types of food, visit historic monuments and buildings, listen to some flamenco music and meet with locals and travellers while exploring!

Below you will find a practical list of the best neighbourhoods to stay, eat and visit, in Madrid. There are many incredible neighbourhoods in the city, and most of them are very different from each other! Each area has its own personality, activities and overall vibe. Regardless of where you end up choosing to stay, you are guaranteed to have a good time, but it may be worth reading about the different neighbourhoods to choose the one most appropriate for your travelling tastes.

That being said, Madrid has a lot to offer: Great food, breath-taking sights, amazing hostels, friendly locals, cultural activities and great atmosphere, usually accompanied by sunshine.

Jump straight to:

La Latina: the best area for socialising over beer and tapas!

  1. What to do in La Latina
  2. Places to eat in La Latina
  3. Best hostels in La Latina

Malasaña: the best area for a hipster atmosphere

  1. What to do in Malasaña
  2. Places to eat in Malasaña
  3. Best hostels in Malasaña

Lavapiés: the best area for cultural activities

  1. What to do in Lavapiés
  2. Places to eat in Lavapiés
  3. Best hostels in Lavapiés

Chueca: the best area to celebrate diversity

  1. What to do in Chueca
  2. Places to eat in Chueca
  3. Best hostels in Chueca

Los Austrias: the best area to explore Madrid’s most famous landmarks

  1. What to do in Los Austrias
  2. Places to eat in Los Austrias
  3. Best hostels in Los Austrias

La Latina: the best area for socialising over beer and tapas!

If you’re looking to stay in an area that’s surrounded by stunning architecture and full of bars and restaurants, then La Latina is where it’s at. Famous for its many terrazas (outdoor terraces where you can enjoy the fresh air while drinking and eating): this area is great for socialising and people watching as the terraces are always full of a vibrant crowd. The typical majestic buildings in this area, are the cherry on top of the cake.

La Latina is also home to what is considered the most famous street for tapas in the city: Cava Baja street, with the highest number of bars per square meter, in the whole of Madrid! So, if you are looking to immerse yourself in a more social – but also beautiful – Madrilenian experience, this is the place to go. You will never get bored here as there will always be something to do and somewhere to go within a few steps from your hostel. But bear in mind the whole neighbourhood gets very busy, especially during weekends. The atmosphere is always vibrant and rarely feels overwhelming, and regardless which area you decide to stay in, La Latina is definitely worth a visit, being one of the main meeting points for both locals and visitors.

What to do in La Latina

On Sundays, head to El Rastro market, simply the most popular and oldest street market in Madrid. You will find everything in here, from vintage clothing to furniture and other curious objects. It’s well worth a visit, even if you don’t buy anything. The market is open from 9am to 3pm on Sundays.

More interested in food than the vintage stalls? Go to Mercado de la Cebada (Cebada market), located at Plaza de la Cebada. Here you’ll find a very traditional indoor market for fresh food, fruit and veggies as well as sea food and meat. You can also come here to have tapas and drink at its food stalls or to grab a coffee with pastries. It’s open Monday to Friday 9am to 2pm and then again at 5:30pm – 6:30pm. Open on Saturdays from 9am to 5pm.

La Latina is also known for its charming squares, such as Plaza de la Cebada. Other squares to look out for are Plaza de San Andrés, Plaza de Puerta Cerrada, Plaza del Humilladero and Plaza de La Paja – all in this neighbourhood! It’s worth walking around the area exploring the squares and old buildings to do some Instagram material sight-seeing!

Feeling cultured? Head to La Latina theatre, and watch plays for affordable prices (prices start from 12 euros, book online) The theatre is a 100 years old and has a very nice bar and cafe in its basement, named La Tournée with brick walls and charming theatre decoration which is a perfect place for breakfast, coffee and drinks.

Of course, don’t forget to visit La Latina’s most popular street, La Cava Baja, with the highest number of bars per square meter of Madrid! It’s a Madrilenian tradition to grab a beer in this neighbourhood, and Cava Baja street is a great place to start!

I also recommend you go to Sala Equis, a very cool cinema-bar where you can grab a beer and watch a film in an unpretentious but different setting. It’s a great place for coffee also! Check their listings online.

Places to eat in La Latina

At Calle Cava Baja, you’ll find restaurant and bar Taberna Lamiak. They serve traditional tostas (open sandwiches) and delicious tapas for around 2 euros each and they also have a great wine selection. It’s vegetarian friendly, so there’s something for everyone!

Address: Calle de la Cava Baja, 42, 28005 Madrid

For more tostas try Taberna Almería, a simple tavern style bar serving beer for 1 euro and a nice portion of traditional tostas for 3,50!

Address: Calle de las Aguas, 9, 28005 Madrid

La Musa Latina is a must-visit restaurant. They have excellent food at reasonable prices to choose from with plenty of vegetarian options and a great beer selection. Try the fried green tomatoes with goats’ cheese and the roasted turmeric cauliflower if you can, you’ll thank us later! The place itself is also very cool, with an outdoor terrace and great views of the neighbourhood, it’s also spacious and stylish inside.

Address: Costanilla de San Andrés,12, 28005, Madrid.

La Musa Latina – Fried green tomatoes with goat’s cheese

Best hostels in La Latina

Just a few steps from the Latina metro station, you’ll find OK Hostel, a historical building with a modern twist in its interior. Here you’ll find shared dorms as well as private dorms for a very reasonable price (female only dorms also available). The staff are super friendly and helpful and if you feel like socialsing every night, they hold events such as dinners, pub-crawls and beer pong. Perfect whether you’re travelling solo or with friends. Also, if you want delicious unlimited breakfast, it is available for an extra 5 euros.

If you want to enjoy La Latina neighbourhood but prefer to stay in a quieter street, 2060 The Newton Hostel is a great choice. Although the nearest metro stop is actually Tirso de Molina, this hostel is only a 6 min walk from La Latina metro station, so the location is very central and accessible. They have an amazing roof top terrace where you can admire a great view of Madrid! They also offer very interesting events such as flamenco nights, bar crawls, day trips to nearby cities and tours of Madrid. Apart from that there are plenty of dorm options available, including private and female only dorms.

Just a few steps away from this hostel you’ll also find Way Hostel, perfect if you’re looking for a homier feel as some of the facilities such as the common lounge and kitchen will have you feeling very much at home. They have private, shared and female dorms, and they also offer several events like flamenco nights, bar crawls and day trips to nearby cities. Perhaps the most popular event available is the nightly sangria party, which offers unlimited open bar sangria for no more than 3 euros! It’s the perfect excuse to make a few new friends and relax after a long day exploring the city.

2060 The Newton Hostel

Malasaña: the best area for a hipster atmosphere

This neighbourhood is known for being one of the trendiest and most hipster areas of Madrid. Full of coffee shops, graffiti street art, stunning architecture and a booming night life, the bohemian Malasaña keeps gaining popularity amongst locals and visitors. It is where Madrid first witnessed the underground movement called movida madrileña, at the end of Franco’s dictatorship, which revolutionised the culture and arts in Spain during the 80s. It was during this period that Madrid saw the rise of many Spanish artists, including film director Pedro Almodóvar.

If you are looking for a trendy hipster vibe, you’ve found the right place. From bohemian bars and old markets that have been there since forever to new modern restaurants and recently opened vintage shops, this neighbourhood is a great combination of old and new! The whole Malasaña area surrounds the famous square Plaza del 2 de Mayo and it’s so central you’ll hit many famous destinations within a short walk. The central Sol area of Madrid for example, is just around 15 minutes’ walk away.

What to do in Malasaña

There’s plenty to do in this neighbourhood, and if you’re looking for culture you can start by exploring the History Museum, which offers an insight into history and life in Madrid from when it became the Spanish capital in 1561 to present days. It is housed in an impressive building, which used to be known as The San Fernando Hospice and is now home to 60.000 historical objects from the city such as sculptures, furniture, paintings and photographs. Perfect if you’re looking to explore more of the history of Madrid and have an insightful journey into its past (and present). PS: Entry is free! Hard to resist, isn’t it?

If you feel like exploring the historical roots of the city and also to admire some beautiful architecture, head to San Martín de Tours Church to see some of the classic construction style from ancient Madrid, belonging to the XVII century.

Street art can be found around the entire neighbourhood, but you’ll find many pieces around Plaza Callao square.

Want to do some shopping? Near Dos de Mayo Square you can find plenty of vintage clothing shops that are well worth exploring. Also, during the weekend you can shop vinyl records and film posters at the stalls in the square.

Make sure you visit J&J books and coffee for second-hand books in English and yes you guessed it right, coffee! They have a cool bar and coffee shop which serves brunch on weekends, so this is a place that will make you feel like a local hipster.

For nightlife, if you feel like exploring the roots of the so called movida madrileña, the underground movement that changed Spain’s culture and arts in the 80s, head to bars El Penta (where you can enjoy some Spanish music from the 80s and 90s) and La Vía Láctea, pretty much a rock n’ roll place, with some great tunes and reasonable priced drinks. These usually get busy around 12 am only, so make sure you have a nice pre-drink session first or arrive early to enjoy some chilled time at the bar!

Finally, go to Temple of Debod, which is not far from this neighbourhood (around 15-20 min walk) to see an authentic Egyptian temple, brought to Spain from Egypt, as a gift for helping save the Abu Simbel temples, threatened after the construction of a dam. This temple is 2.200 years old and is free to enter! Watch the sunset here if you can, to catch some stunning sights.

Temple of Debod

Places to eat in Malasaña

If you’re staying in or visiting Malasaña because of the hipster vibe, you will not be disappointed by its many amazing restaurants. Superchulo restaurant (which means super cool in Spanish and does not disappoint) stands out from the many restaurants in the area as a plant based vegetarian and eco-friendly restaurant with a conscious positive philosophy. For them, it’s all about creating beautiful, delicious and healthy dishes that are also sustainable for the environment. Here you can have breakfast, lunch or dinner, and even head to the downstairs club for some equally awesome natural cocktails and live DJ sessions – an underground music place they named La Caverna (it means the cave in Spanish). It really is more than just going to eat at a restaurant!

Address: Calle de Manuela Malasaña, 11, 28004 Madrid

If you want to try something more traditionally Spanish, head to Pez Tortilla whose menu revolves around two of the most famous dishes from Spain: Tortilla de patata (potato and egg omelette) and croquetas (croquettes). You can get these two dishes in several different flavours, including vegetarian and meat options, and quite honestly, it goes great with some of their craft beer. It’s simply delicious.

Address: Calle del Pez, 36, 28004 Madrid

For some tapas, go to Casa Julio which is also another good choice for traditional Spanish food. Open since 1921, this place offers classic tapas such as patatas bravas, tortilla, croquettes and meatballs in what truly feels like an authentic Madrilenian place.

Address: Calle de la Madera, 37, 28004 Madrid

Best hostels in Malasaña

Right in the heart of Malasaña, a few minutes’ walk from Tribunal metro station and around the corner from Plaza 2 de Mayo square, you’ll find Mad4 You Hostel. Here you can book private rooms for affordable prices as well as mixed shared and female only dorms. The hostel is in a typical 15th century charming Madrilenian building and offers private lockers that can be used with your own room key at no extra cost as well as free breakfast. Every Sunday they host movie screenings if you fancy to have a restful lazy day in!

Hostel Bastardo is another great choice for those who want to stay in this bohemian neighbourhood. It’s also just a few steps away from Tribunal metro station and it has a modern look. It offers shared, private as well as female only dorms. Some private rooms come with their own terrace, so you can enjoy some fresh air and get some sunshine from the privacy of your own room! Otherwise just head upstairs to find a massive roof top terrace bar, where you can grab a drink and chill in the sun!

You can also stay at Generator Madrid, only a few minutes’ walk from the Malasaña area, located just off iconic street Gran Vía. This hostel, located in a building built in 1930, also offers private and shared (including female only) dorms. It has a bar, restaurant and a roof top terrace with great views!

Generator Madrid

Lavapiés: the best area for cultural activities

Lavapiés is a multicultural neighbourhood in Madrid, so if you’re planning to stay in this area you will benefit from having a diverse range of cafes, bars and restaurants. You’ll also be very close to Reina Sofia, one of the best museums in Madrid, home to the stunning Guernica, one of Picasso’s most famous paintings!

If you love Indian food, Lavapiés has many Indian restaurants that are cheap and good. But don’t worry, there are many traditional Spanish restaurants to choose from too. Every year there’s a tapa route festival in this area, cleverly named Tapapiés, which is definitely worth checking out if you’re in Madrid around October!

This area is known for its medieval looking narrow streets and its cultural centres such as Tabacalera and Casa Encendida where you can find exhibitions and attend artsy events. If you’re looking for a multi-cultural area in Madrid, close to the best museums and galleries, this is the place for you!

Retiro Park

What to do in Lavapiés

Let’s start by giving Reina Sofia museum another strong mention. This museum is home to stunning art from Spanish artists such as Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Antoni Tàpies and of course, Picasso. The historic interior is also admirable, as it used to be a hospital in the 18th Century.

Just a few minutes’ walk away is the famous Prado Museum, with Art from other Spanish artists such as El Greco and Goya. Both museums have free admission hours: at Reina Sofia you can get in for free every day (except Tuesdays, as they are closed) after 7 pm, giving you two hours to explore or on Sundays from 1:30 pm to 7 pm. At Prado Museum you can get in for free every day Tuesdays to Saturdays from 6pm to 8 pm or on Sundays 5pm to 8 pm (it is closed on Mondays).

Reina Sofia Museum

Apart from the museums, you can explore the cultural centres. Tabacalera, a historical building which was built in 1790 and used to be home to a tobacco factory during the 19th and 20th centuries, is now a cultural space filled with graffiti art, music performances, art workshops and a quite diverse range of events and exhibitions. Entrance is always free as this centre belongs to the community and is entirely run by the locals, making it a very authentic experience. Opening times are Tuesday to Friday from 12 pm to 8 pm and 11 am to 8 pm on weekends.

Another cultural centre is Casa Encendida, with a large showcase of contemporary art. Here you can find art exhibitions, concerts, film screenings and workshops. Entry (including exhibitions) is free, but film screenings are (only!) 3 euros and concerts and performances are 5 euros. It’s a good idea to have a look at their official website for a full list and schedule of all the events and activities. The opening hours are Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 am to 10 pm.

If you are lucky to find yourself in this area during the last third of October, make sure you attend Tapapiés, a cultural tapa festival featuring over 90 tapas bars as well as hosting more than 60 musical performances. The route lasts 10 days and is a great option if you want to gorge on delicious tapas which range from 1.50 to 2.50 euros. Very tempting, to say the least. This festival has become so popular (every year they attract more people) that you can even download their official TapaPiés app, where you can check out the route map as well as keeping track of all the concerts and events taking place in the area.

Otherwise, just head to San Fernando market, where you can: Eat, drink, have a coffee, buy some cheese, shop fresh organic food, read and buy books and try different types of craft beers! Not necessarily in this order, but we think it sounds great, don’t you?

This neighbourhood is also within walking distance to Atocha Train Station (which is worth the visit because of its beautiful indoor botanical garden) and Retiro Park, the most famous (and a must-visit!) park in Madrid.

Places to eat in Lavapiés

For some traditional Spanish home cooking, try Badila Restaurant. Here you can have a 3-course meal with a glass of wine for around 12,50 euros (a little bit more expensive during the weekends and evenings). The menu changes every day as the owner shops for fresh ingredients around the neighbourhood every morning and comes up with the dishes depending on what food is fresher or more seasonal. What better way to celebrate being in Madrid than to have a traditional (but with a modern touch) Spanish meal which will feel like it was cooked by lovely Spanish grandparents? We like that the glass of wine comes included in this deal, and the location won’t disappoint either: you can find this restaurant just behind Tirso de Molina Square.

Address: Calle San Pedro Mártir, 6, 28012 Madrid

If you want to give Spanish food a break and try some of the famous Indian restaurants from this area, thanks to the diverse Indian communities living here, you can head to Moharaj Restaurant, which can be found at Ave Maria Street. Here you’ll find plenty of Indian dishes such as tikka masala, curries, samosas, lamb, etc… A lot of options are available for both carnivores and vegetarians. As is common in Spain, the place has a little terrace where you can seat outside and enjoy the neighbourhood’s lively atmosphere.

Address: Calle del Ave María, 18, 28012 Madrid

Looking for some vegan food? Go to Distrito Vegano Restaurant for all things vegan. Menu of the day is 9,90 euros and includes a starter and main course. But make sure you try their delicious croquettes, made with spinach, mushrooms, caramelized onion and pistachios for 1,50 each and cleverly named ‘’Grandma Croquetones’’! The place is very cool and unpretentious and has a perfect Lavapiés vibe. Here you can have salmorejo (traditional cold tomato soup) vegan Spanish tortillas (because vegans should also be able to eat this beautiful dish!), a variety of vegan burgers such as quinoa lentil burger with caramelised vegetables and much more. It is also an Art space and a bar, offering a diverse range of craft beers. Last but not least, they also make coffee which goes perfectly with their desserts. Hard to resist, I would say.

Address: Calle del Dr. Fourquet, 32, 28012 Madrid

 

Best hostels in Lavapiés

Cats Hostel Madrid Lavapiés is known for having a chilled atmosphere. It is 7 minutes’ walk from Lavapiés metro station (even closer is Antón Martín metro, which is a 5 min walk). What stands out here is its lovely rooftop, where you can enjoy some well-deserved sunshine. You can book shared and private rooms (including male or female only dorms) and breakfast is included. The activities include city tours and pub crawls as well as drinks at its gorgeous rooftop bar.

 You can also stay at its twin hostel, Cats Hostel Madrid Sol (closest metro station is also Antón Martín but it’s only an 8 minutes’ walk from Lavapiés metro station) which used to be a 17th century palace! It has a bar/night club inside which is a great place to socialise and meet other travellers. This hostel is quite proud of its social events, activities and party vibes. Here you can book shared and private rooms (including male or female only dorms) and enjoy activities such as the paella parties on weekends. They have a beautiful Andalusian courtyard which really stands out as the most ‘instagrammable’ meeting point in the hostel!

Chueca: the best area to celebrate diversity

Chueca is one of the most central and trendiest areas in Madrid – full of restaurants, independent coffee shops, cafes as well as boutique shops with reasonable prices – this area is always full of life during the day and night.

Chueca is also known as the LGBT neighbourhood of Madrid, with many lgbtq+ venues such as shops, cafes and bars. Everyone is welcome, and the diversity is what really stands out in this area. The general atmosphere is of acceptance and respect towards everyone and it’s very common to find tourists, families, straight and lgbtq+ crowds, retired Spanish locals walking with their dogs and people drinking coffee and beer in the many terrazas all co-existing in a friendly vibrant neighbourhood.

The best way to enjoy this area is simply by walking around, admiring the still intact 1900’s architecture, or hanging at its popular squares, one of which is considered the main gathering point: Plaza Chueca, where you can grab a beer, coffee or have some tapas sitting in its outdoor terraces.

The perks of staying in this area – apart from never getting bored – is that it’s close to almost everything and within walking distance to many famous must-see spots in the city! It’s only a few minutes’ walk to the iconic street Gran Vía and around 15 min walk to Puerta del Sol, famous central square of Madrid.

If you’re looking for a diverse, fun and outgoing area, this is the area to stay!

PS: This neighbourhood is famous for having the best LGBTQ+ parties and events during Gay Pride!

Gran Vía

What to do in Chueca

Apart from hanging at Plaza Chueca, the main square and meeting point of the neighbourhood, there’s plenty to do in this area.

For food and drinks head to San Antón market, which has many different food stalls to choose from. If it’s a sunny day (as it is most of the year) the market has a rooftop terrace restaurant/bar. It’s easy to fall in love with Madrid when you’re sunbathing, having food and drinks while sitting at a roof top terrace which just happens to have a great view of the area.

As nightlife is huge in this neighbourhood, here goes some tips on where to go. There is a wild variety of bars and clubs for every kind of person and style, and each place will give you a different vibe and experience.

For all the jazz lovers out there, just around 4 min walk from San Antón market, you’ll find a jazz venue called Intruso (intruder in Spanish) which is open every day till 5:30 am and offers a large range of different events. Here you can enjoy jazz and soul jams, concerts and performances for very good prices (and sometimes free). Just so you have an idea, checking their schedule for the next few days, they are holding comedy night performances (including some LGBTQ+ themed comedy nights) for just 1 euro (2 euros at the door) followed by free entry to jazz and soul concerts.

Lesbian bar Fulanita de tal, also has musical performances like concerts and open mic nights and it’s a great place to go dancing, open to everyone. The bar is quite cool, with retro sofas and a lively atmosphere.

Other lgbtq+ places worth checking are the popular and friendly gay bar Why Not – which is under street level and has Spanish and international music (mainly pop) with a mixed age crowd – and also Gris gay bar which has more of an indie vibe, offering cheap drinks every day and live music on Saturdays. Both places stay open till around 3:30 am every day.

If you feel like doing some shopping, head to Fuencarral Street, near Puerta del Sol, for shops which are open late, 7 days a week in a completely pedestrianised street full of bars and coffee shops.

Plaza Chueca

Places to eat in Chueca

If you want to try some traditional Spanish dishes done in a spectacularly unusual way, head to restaurant Celso y Manolo. The very long menu offers many famous options such as patatas bravas (fried potatoes with a hot sauce), huevos revueltos (scrambled eggs), red tuna, calamari sandwiches, croquettes and ensaladilla (Spanish classic potato salad) all done to perfection in what looks like a very stylish well decorated tavern. This is a great place whether you want to have main meals, tapas or plates to share. It’s better to make a reservation if you’re planning to go over the weekend.

Address: Calle Libertad, 1, 28004 Madrid

Feeling more casual? Go to El Tigre bar where every beer you order comes with a free tapa. It’s usually packed so arrive early or expect to drink and eat standing up by the bar, which is totally socially acceptable here. Some of the free tapas they serve are patatas bravas, jamón serrano (traditional cured ham) and tortilla (the famous Spanish potato and egg omelette). Beer is around 2,50 euros which pretty much means you can have lunch or dinner for almost free.

Address: Calle de las Infantas, 23, 28004 Madrid

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, La Hummuseria Restaurant is a great option. As you may have guessed by the name, hummus is the main star of this healthy Mediterranean-inspired restaurant. Their hummus is freshly made several times during the day, with completely natural ingredients and it’s served warm. They have great variety of salads and a three tapas selection which changes every day. All dishes are made with fresh, natural and healthy ingredients.

Address: Calle Hernán Cortés, 8, 28004 Madrid

Best hostels in Chueca

Located in the heart of the Chueca neighbourhood, you’ll find Room007 Chueca Hostel on Calle Hortaleza, 74. The hostel has a modern and cool look (but it’s also very homey) and offers shared and private dorms including female only dorms for reasonable prices. You can help yourself to some continental breakfast for only 3,50 euros per person and the hostel also offers free walking tours around Madrid daily, as well as flamenco shows, tapas tours and pub crawls (some free and others for a small fee). The hostel has its own bar and restaurant, which is great when you want to grab that cheeky drink and socialise with other travellers after a long day exploring the city!

Previously mentioned Bastardo Hostel is also a great choice. It’s located between Malasaña and Chueca, and although the closest metro station is Tribunal, it is only an 8-minute walk from Plaza Chueca and Chueca metro station. The hostel has a modern look and offers private, shared mixed and female only dorms. As mentioned previously, some private rooms come with their own terrace, which is definitely a plus, and the hostel also has a massive roof top terrace bar, perfect for grabbing a drink, socialising and chilling in the sun while admiring the Madrilenian view!

Los Austrias: the best area to explore Madrid’s most famous landmarks

This neighbourhood is named Los Austrias because of the time the Habsburg dynasty reigned in Spain. This period started with Charles I, who reigned and enriched the city with palaces and monuments, then came Filipe II, who turned Madrid into the Spanish capital.

This historic area begins at square Plaza Opera, with the Royal Theatre of Madrid just in front and the Royal Palace to the left, then continues along the street Calle Mayor which leads to the famous and historic square Plaza Mayor, and also Plaza de la Villa. Between these two squares is San Miguel market which has recently been restored and has now become a great place to go for tapas and drinks. After Plaza Mayor, Los Austrias area ends at Puerta del Sol, one of the most emblematic squares of Madrid and famous meeting point amongst Madrilenians and visitors.

Regardless of which area you’re staying, it’s worth visiting these historic landmarks, buildings and monuments from old Madrid, dating back from the 16th century and still standing strong today.

Plaza Mayor

What to do in Los Austrias

Walk the route I mentioned above if you can. For entry to the Royal Palace, the price is dependent on the season. It costs 11 euros before 31st March and after this date is 13 euros. Entry is free Monday to Thursdays 4pm to 6pm (October to March) and 6pm to 8pm (April to September) for European Union citizens.

Make sure you visit Plaza Mayor, one of the most historic and popular squares in Madrid, to admire its beautiful architecture and atmosphere. While at the square, try some of their iconic calamari sandwiches (bocata de calamares), a true Madrilenian tradition with many cheap places to choose from.

Just next to Plaza Mayor, you’ll find the colourful San Miguel market. It’s the perfect place for some drinks and tapas, and it also has quite a cinematic vibe – the structure was built in 1916, so the market has an old vintage feel.

Visit San Nicolás de los Servitas, simply the oldest church in Madrid, to enjoy some of its stunning architecture. Also check out Thyssen Bornemisza Museum if you can, with a historic art collection containing over 1.600 paintings. Entry to the museum costs 13 euros but it’s free every Monday from 12 to 4pm.

For night life, there’s a cocktail bar called Joséalfredo just off Gran Vía which offers great drinks and vintage decor, with jazz and soul music playing in the background. Very recommendable for a chilled social night out.

And if you feel like enjoying some live music, Café Berlín at Calle de Costanilla de Los Ángeles, 20 is a charming jazz/soul music club featuring live performances, including flamenco jam sessions (check their website for tickets and full list of events.

Places to eat in Los Austrias

As mentioned above, head to Plaza Mayor to try some of the famous calamari sandwiches. There’s a little place called La Campana, where you can have it for only 3 euros and it even comes with a free tortilla slice (the potato and egg omelette I mentioned around 20 times, because it’s that good) You can’t get more Spanish than this!

Address: Calle Botoneras 6, 28012 Madrid, Spain

 

Also, you should definitely try some Spanish churros while visiting Madrid! Deliciously and freshly made, these go great with some creamy hot chocolate or a cup of coffee. Make sure you visit the charming Chocolatería San Ginés, located next to Plaza Mayor, it opened in 1894. It’s open 24 hours, so it makes a perfect visit anytime of the day and nobody will judge you whether you go for churros in the middle of the day or late at night!

Address: Pasadizo de San Gines 5, 28013 Madrid, Spain

For veggies, vegans or simply veggie enthusiasts, head to Sanissimo for a delicious healthy breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. They serve veggie burgers, wraps as well as Mediterranean gourmet dishes in a cool and unpretentious environment. They also serve coffee and natural juices!

Address: Saníssimo Ópera: Calle Campomanes  5, Madrid.

Saníssimo Gran Vía: 8 Calle del Barco, Madrid, 28004

 

Best hostels in Los Austrias

Despite being more of an upmarket neighbourhood, there are many budget friendly places to stay in this area. A good option is Mola Hostel, which is very close to Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol squares, offering private rooms and mixed and female dorms. They have great social events such as flamenco nights and pub crawls.

There’s also an incredible boutique hostel called The Hat Madrid which is just 3 minutes’ walk from Plaza Mayor. This homey but trendy place has an amazing roof top terrace with a beautiful view of Madrid!

Toc Hostel, only 4 minutes’ walk from Puerta del Sol is a stylish and friendly hostel: perfect for couples or for those who want a slightly quieter vibe. This hostel also offers private rooms, mixed and female dorms, with great communal facilities and a game zone room!

Well, that’s it for now! We hope this guide helps you find the most suitable area for you to stay in Madrid! Have you stayed in one of our recommended neighbourhoods or would you like to share with us your experiences in different areas of Madrid? Let us know in the comments and share your personal recommendations! Madrid has a lot of love to give us all.

 

About the writer:

Edison Alcaide is half Spanish half Brazilian, but currently resides in London, and he appreciates all the plot twists from the universe which have made him end up in British soil. He works as an actor and model, and also writes and photographs in his spare time, which he considers therapeutic. He’s a world traveller who’s in love with the Planet Earth as well as with food, coffee, books, cinema, dogs and humans of an open heart and soul. Edison is always ready for the next adventure. His Instagram account’s name is @edison_alcaide which he considers not very original although a very functional name.

 

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