5 Unique Neighbourhoods in Madrid You Can't Miss
Updated: Jun 19, 2022
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Madrid is a beautiful city in Spain to visit, packed with a unique blend of modern and historical buildings. It’s unlike any other city in Europe. But despite there being so many unique things to do in Madrid, it’s often overlooked by tourists in favour of cities such as Barcelona, Seville, and Granada. World-class museums, bustling nightlife, historical attractions, and incredible markets are just some of the many reasons why Madrid is one capital city in Europe that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
There are plenty of unique neighbourhoods in Madrid to visit, some of which are missed by visitors who only have enough time to see the city’s main attractions. The heart of Madrid’s city centre is known as Centro, where points of interest such as Gran Vía and the stunning Royal Palace are located. But beyond that, branching off of Centro, are a number of incredible neighbourhoods in Madrid, each with their own charm and reasons for visiting. If you’re spending more than a day in Madrid, you definitely won’t be disappointed by adding one of these areas in Madrid to your itinerary.
One of the most popular neighbourhoods in Madrid, for people of all ages, is Malasaña. It’s located only a short walk from Gran Vía and is a great place to visit if you like to explore artsy and alternative areas. In the 1980s, Malasaña was home to an underground movement that revolutionized Spanish art and culture. But, despite it being a relatively new area of the city, it’s not without its history. The area played an important role in 1808 during the famous rebellion against Napoleon’s occupation, and today Plaza del Dos de Mayo is a reminder of that. And if you’re looking for bookstores in Madrid, Libros para un Mundo Mejor is one of the most picturesque in the city and worth stopping by, if only for a quick photo.
If you want to visit the best area in Madrid for nightlife, look no further than Chueca. But Chueca isn’t all about partying. This neighbourhood in Madrid boasts a few unique museums of its own, including the Museum of Romanticism and the History Museum (one of the best free things to do in Madrid). It’s also the designated LGBT quarter in Madrid, so you can expect a lot of vibrant colours, especially if you visit in the summertime. What we loved most about this quarter in Madrid were the numerous artisan shops and cafes lining virtually every street, each with a unique storefront and decor that really catches your attention. It’s definitely one of the cool places to eat in Madrid, so you’ll have a lot of restaurants and cafes to choose from.
Where To Eat in Chueca
You can’t visit Madrid without visiting at least one tapas restaurant, which is why you need to dine at PerretxiCo. It’s located along Calle de Augusto Figueroa, not far from Chueca’s metro station, and boasts a unique menu offering a taste of the Basque country in the north of Spain right in the heart of Madrid. Many of their dishes have been up for awards in recent years, including their pintxos and famous cooked doughnuts (with meat inside). PerretxiCo has even found itself in the Michelin Guide, so you know the food is going to be great. We visited for dinner and ordered a selection of various plates to share, with my favourite being their delicious seasonal mushroom dish. You won’t leave hungry after eating at PerretxiCo, that’s for sure.
La Latina is one of the most authentic neighbourhoods in Madrid you can find. Its medieval streets twist and turn, presenting picturesque streets filled with tapas bars, beautiful plazas, and churches. It’s a big hit with locals and tourists alike, and there is a lot to unpack here. It’s named after a 15th century female writer who was very skilled in Latin, and was also the tutor of Queen Isabella and her children. La Latina is home to Sobrino de Botín which is the world’s oldest restaurant, the Sunday market known as El Rastro, and the Basilica de San Francisco El Grande. At any time of the day you can expect this neighbourhood in Madrid to be packed with people sightseeing, eating, or hopping between the shops. Don’t forget to bring your camera, because there are a lot of Instagrammable places here.
Where To Eat in La Latina
Looking for a unique cafe in La Latina? Café del Art is a modern coffee shop exploring a variety of new and exciting flavours of coffee using techniques you may not have seen before. We stopped by on our way to the Mutua Madrid Open after seeing their colourful latte designs on Instagram. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I really wanted to try their beetroot latte. It had a milky flavour to it, which was nice for me since it wasn’t too strong. Café del Art also offers a selection of breakfast items as well as pastries which are nice to snack on if you’re in a rush. Take some time to appreciate the interior design before leaving - it’s stunning.
Barrio de Las Letras
The Literary Quarter of Madrid is known as Barrio de Las Letras, and is where many writers, such as Cervantes and Hemingway, lived and frequented. Plaza de Santa Ana is one of the main attractions in this area. It was built in 1810 to help create an open space for the otherwise narrowly packed neighbourhood, and is now dominated by tapas bars and the famous Teatro Español. If you have time during your trip to Madrid, this is a beautiful area to walk around when the weather is nice. You’ll also find that quite a few walking tours in Madrid will stop by here and provide you with a little bit of background and history of the area. Don’t forget to walk along Calle Huertas and read some verses on the pavement from famous writers who lived on the street.
Moncloa-Argüelles is the type of neighbourhood that many people walk through on their way to popular attractions, but don’t take the time to explore fully. It’s a relatively quiet area of Madrid which is mainly residential, and is close to both the university as well as the city centre. Of course, the big attraction here is the Temple de Debod, which is an ancient Egyptian temple dating back to the 2nd century BC that was gifted to Spain. If you haven’t visited it before, you’ll definitely recognize it. You also can’t miss Plaza de España which has a beautiful monument to Cervantes in it set against a backdrop of skyscrapers. Moncloa-Argüelles is one of the best neighbourhoods in Madrid to explore on foot, so get your walking shoes on!
There are many other unique neighbourhoods in Madrid to explore, such as the Retiro Park area, but these are just a few of our favourites from our recent trip to the Spanish capital. The great thing about Madrid is that it’s very easy to get from one location to another by metro, and if you want some exercise it’s just as easy to walk between the different areas of Madrid as well. Wherever you go in this amazing city, you’re sure to see some fantastic historical attractions and get a taste of what Madrid’s all about.
If you have a favourite neighbourhood in Madrid, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. We spent five days in Madrid and tried to see as many parts of it as possible, but we couldn’t manage to see them all of course. Don’t forget, you can also follow my travels on Instagram too.