Madrid is a huge city and you will have plenty of options when you visit. But some areas are better than others, and many areas have a specific vibe that appeals to some people more than others.
For those reasons, we are doing this guide: In here, you will learn more about the best areas to stay in Madrid if you are going here on a trip, or if you are moving for an extended period.
Best areas to stay in Madrid for tourists
If you are a tourist in Madrid, your main goal will be to visit the main sites and have some fun in the city. Therefore, it is best to stay as central as possible.
A good thing about Madrid is that most of the major attractions are placed very close to each other in the centre. Actually, they are usually within walking distance from each other, and in just one day, you can see a lot of great attractions.
Puerta del Sol is considered to be the centre of Madrid. If the aim of your trip is to visit a lot of attractions, and perhaps go to nice restaurants and bars at night, try to stay as close to Sol as you can. Any hotel or apartment that is within 15 minutes of walking distance to Sol is a very good location.
But: The best place to stay in Madrid also depends on your personal interests. So while staying close to Sol is best for most travelers, there might be areas that are particularly appealing to you based on your interests.
Best areas based on different interests
If you are into shopping and like the big city experience, then find a hotel on Gran Vía (the main street of Madrid).
If you love art, stay near to Atocha. They have “the triangle of art”, an area with world-class museums, all very close to each other. And Atocha is still a very central area, not that far from Puerta del Sol.
For a high class experience that is well suited to wealthy travelers, the Salamanca area is unbeatable. They have the cleanest streets, the most high-end stores with big fashion brands, not to forget many of the best and most expensive restaurants in Madrid.
Or perhaps history is your thing. If you love history, culture, classic architecture and famous old restaurants, there is no better place than La Latina, just a bit southwest of the deep centre. La Latina also have a lot of churches.
On the other hand, young people who are hip and want to go with the flow, perhaps finding some nice clubs: Try to stay in Chueca or Malasaña. Cool modern areas with plenty of likeminded young people to hang out with. Very progressive areas, especially Chueca.
Worst areas to stay in
Madrid is a safe city, so there are only a few areas to avoid. And those are all quite far away from the centre. But to name a few examples, Carabanchel and Vallecas are not the best areas to be in. They are not extremely unsafe or anything – but they have a bit more issues than other parts of Madrid, and they are very residential. Especially with working class people, and without much to offer to tourists.
Lavapiés is often recommended to stay in, and many travel websites compare it to Malasaña and Chueca. However, we don’t agree. Lavapiés is very multicultural, so if you are into that and want to eat food from all corners of the world, it can be nice. But generally we don’t consider it among the best areas of Madrid. Not to say it is the worst – but it is very overrated, and it is probably the most unsafe place at night in central Madrid.
The business area in the north is great if you are working, but for normal travelers, it might get a bit boring. Again, not to say it is terrible, but it is simply overrated – especially compared to the money it costs to stay there.
Generally, the worst areas are the ones that are far away from the centre, because it requires more transport time to see and do stuff.
Best areas for living in Madrid
If you are moving permanently to Madrid and not just traveling, you should still consider the areas a lot. The best areas in Madrid for living are the ones that are safe, interesting and filled with good working opportunities.
Living close to Salamanca and Retiro is by far the best. But it is also expensive. Pacífico is a great alternative, it is very close to Retiro and quite residential, but slightly cheaper, which is great.
Living in the centre is a lot of fun. Malasaña is highly recommended, especially for young people.
Aside from that, the area around Atocha is very affordable and still very interesting. Being close to the buses and cercanías will also make travel very easy – even if you don’t plan on getting your own car.
So you have plenty of options. If you have the money, you get the most quality out of living close to Salamanca or Retiro. If you want to stay very central, go for Malasaña. The big Chamberí area is alright too.
The south of the centre, areas such as Puerta del Angel, Carabanchel, Vista Alegra, Usera and Puente de Vallecas, are all very cheap and within a reasonable distance to the centre. These areas are connected with metros and trains. So if you need to find something quick, and don’t mind that the quality is a bit lower, they are decent options. However, they are not the best, and they have more problems than the northern areas, so be sure to consider that first.
If you don’t mind going super residential: You can find great options an hour away from Madrid for very little money in rent. Check Idealista to get an overview!
Where to stay in Madrid – Our conclusion
Madrid is a great city with so many things to do. You have plenty of nice places to choose between if you are coming here. In conclusion, we recommend you to find a hotel room or an apartment in one of these top areas, as they are very popular for travelers and have a positive reputation:
- In Centro, close to Puerta del Sol
- Malasaña and Chueca
- Salamanca, Retiro and Pacífico
- La Latina
Enjoy your trip to Madrid!