Wondering which are the best areas to stay in Madrid? Spain’s capital is also the largest city in the country which means it can be challenging to pick your home base.
There are so many great neighborhoods in Madrid where you can stay, be it for a short weekend trip or a long-term stint as a digital nomad.
The city is expansive and has a lot of price points to choose from. Of course, the closer to the city center you stay, the more expensive your options will be.
Choosing where to stay in Madrid will depend on your budget, how you want to spend your time, and your travel style. This guide spills the beans on the best neighborhoods to stay in Madrid.
Best areas to stay in Madrid for all types of traveler
The best neighborhoods in Madrid are all located in and around the Centro district. These six areas offer a mix of sightseeing, dining, nightlife, and quiet with accommodations to suit all budgets.
However, as mentioned above, the cost of staying in these more central neighborhoods may shock you, especially if you are on a strict budget and plan to backpack around Spain. The cost of a dorm bed in Madrid can be an eyewatering price if not booked in advance or if you are visiting during peak season (summer).
You can expect to pay about €30 (£26 GBP / $33 USD) for a dorm bed and private hotel rooms start at about €70 (£61 GBP / $77 USD). If you want a mid-range style hotel, you are looking at rooms starting at €100 (£88 GBP / $110 USD).
If you have an early flight or you arrive to Madrid late, check out all of the information about staying near the Madrid Airport here.
Best Neighborhoods in Madrid
1. Sol: Best neighborhood to stay in Madrid for first-time visitors
Sol marks the beating heart of Madrid’s Centro district. There is an endless supply of restaurants, bars, shops, theaters, and tourist attractions without needing to use public transport.
On the other hand, Sol is served by metro and mainline rail services when you do venture further afield.
Overall, Sol is one of the best areas to stay in Madrid for a first visit or a short city break. This is where you’ll find most of the typical sights on a three or four-day Madrid itinerary.
Given that Sol is heavily trafficked with 24/7 movement, it also constitutes one of the safest neighborhoods in Madrid. However, due to how busy the plazas and metro stations in this area can become, you need to apply extra caution in case of pickpockets.
Accommodation options vary from budget to luxury, with a range of backpacker-friendly hostels and 5-star hotels.
Things to do in Sol
- Plaza Mayor
- Gran Vía
- Royal Palace of Madrid
- Almudena Cathedral
- Mercado de San Miguel
Where to eat in Sol
- Chocolatería San Ginés: When a cafe has been on the scene since 1894 and has not changed its recipe or decor, you’re in for a treat. This hot chocolate and churros spot is open 24/7 Wednesday through Saturday.
- Restaurante-Coctelería Inclán Brutal Bar: Eclectic doesn’t cut it; every dish and cocktail is served in a whacky piece of chinaware you need to see to believe. At the same time, the quality and service is top-notch.
- Solo de Croquetas Echegaray: This cozy eatery is all about the humble croquette, with no less than 25 varieties. Great options for meat eaters, vegetarians, and vegans alike.
- Bar la Campana: This little hole-in-the-wall restaurant is just off of Plaza Mayor and is home to one of the best bocadillo, or sandwiches that you can have in Madrid. My personal favorite is the calamari sandwich (fried squid), but they also have a Spanish tortilla, morcilla (black pudding), chorizo, and other fillings. Great for meat lovers and vegetarians alike. The sandwiches are huge, so you can easily share one between two people for a delicious and cheap lunch.
Check out our sister guide to the best tapas in Madrid here.
Where to stay in Sol
There are so many different places to stay in this Madrid neighborhood.
- A stone’s throw from Gran Vía Metro, Petit Palace Tres Cruces is a wallet-friendly boutique hotel with clean, practical rooms. The hydromassage showers are a welcome touch after a day pounding the streets of Madrid and the staff are super helpful with tours, onward travel, and bike rental.
- UMusic Hotel Madrid stuns with its gentle decor, fetching marble bathrooms, and roof terrace. A swimming pool is available seasonally and you’ll struggle to find a more central hotel.
- For a budget posada-style hotel, Hostal Madrid is a good option. It’s a reasonably-priced very centrally-located hotel with single rooms, double rooms, twin rooms, and triple rooms. The rooms are clean and the staff are friendly.
2. Malasaña: The best areas to stay in Madrid overall
Malasaña is a small neighborhood in Centro, just north of Sol and Plaza Mayor and east of Príncipe Pío.
With vintage shops and coffee houses galore, Malasaña is one of the coolest neighborhoods in Madrid. Its hipster spirit stems from the 80s during the La Movida countercultural movement.
Bar a couple of museums, there isn’t a ton of sights to see in Malasaña itself. However, it’s a top choice if you want a range of restaurants, cafes, and low-key nightlife on your doorstep. Bordered by Gran Vía, Malasaña is super central anyway; you can walk to the principal tourist attractions in and around Sol.
Overall, Malasaña is one of the best areas to stay in Madrid for couples, digital nomads, first-time visitors, and repeat travelers.
Things to do in Malasaña
- Plaza de España
- Temple of Debod
- Mercado de San Ildefonso
- Shopping at the boutiques
- Conde Duque Contemporary Culture Center
- Museum of Contemporary Art
- National Museum of Romanticism
Where to eat in Malasaña
- Ojalá: A playful venue with all-day, every-day brunch alongside larger plates and cocktails. Indoor tables and patio seating is available.
- Ochenta Grados Malasaña: A creative fusion restaurant with a mix of hot and cold small plates for sharing (or not). They stock a wonderful selection of wine and the set menus are extremely well-priced.
- Kinza: Swap tapas for khinkali at this Georgian restaurant which celebrates the traditional cooking of the Caucasus region.
Where to stay in Malasaña
- With views of the Royal Palace, the 5-star Melia Madrid Princesa is a splurge for a special occasion. Rooms are fitted with Nespresso coffee makers and the best options have swanky soaking tubs overlooking the city.
- 7 Islas Hotel is a more economical option for where to stay in Malasaña. This boutique property is light and lovely with handcrafted carpets and whimsical decor. Penthouses open out onto private terraces with yoga mats and hammocks.
3. Retiro: The best areas to stay in Madrid for quiet
As one of the quietest and safest neighborhoods in Madrid, Retiro is an easy choice for families or remote workers. Located east of Centro, the district is dominated by one of Madrid’s key tourist attractions – Retiro Park.
This expansive green space is a must at any time of year. Once dusk falls, the park gates are closed with residents and vacationers in Retiro benefiting from a peaceful night’s sleep.
Retiro also covers the neighborhood of Ibiza, one of the best neighborhoods in Madrid for food. This small area is teeming with bakeries, cafes, and independent restaurants with food from all over Spain.
It takes around 30 minutes to walk to Plaza Mayor. But the metro gets you there in half the time.
Things to do in Retiro
- Retiro Park
- Neptune Fountain
- Museo Nacional del Prado
- Casa Árabe
- Paseo del Prado
- Madrid Botanical Garden
- Explore the restaurants in Ibiza
Where to eat in Retiro
- Chico Calla Madrid: A small, trendy restaurant known for its extraordinary cheesecake. Choose from small or large plates, but don’t miss the octopus.
- Restaurante Ogrelo: This contemporary seafood brings the flavors of Spain’s northwest Galicia region to Ibiza. Menus change subject to the latest catches, but you can always find a spread of lobster, oyster, and paella dishes.
- Levél Veggie Bistro: Directly opposite the park, this vegan place rustles up comfort classics minus the meat and plant-based sushi. Organic wines and artisanal beers are available alongside alcohol-free beverages.
Where to stay in Retiro
- Rooms and suites at Only YOU Hotel Atocha are accented by industrial shades and warm touches with select units spilling out onto a private balcony. The pet-friendly property has a gym and roof terrace with skyline views.
- Modern yet committed to traditional hospitality, Agumar is a 10-minute walk from Atocha, the Prado, and the southern end of Retiro Park. Family rooms are available at this hotel and you can add breakfast to your reservation for a stress-free start to the day.
- Alternatively, you might prefer an apartment if you’re traveling with kids. Heima Homes Retiro Park- Ibiza comprises three bedrooms and has a fully-equipped kitchen for whipping up your own meals using local ingredients.
4. La Latina: Best neighborhood in Madrid for nightlife
La Latina is one of the best neighborhoods in Madrid for nightlife, food, and atmosphere. Calle de la Cava Baja is the definitive spot for tapas in Madrid, with a different tavern for every night of the year – or so it might seem.
Note that the vast majority of tapas bars open in the afternoon for lunch, close, and then reopen for dinner in the evening. These are intermingled with all manner of watering holes including beer joints, cocktail lounges, and wine bars. Most of the bars also serve tapas as well as food.
When you’re not stuffing your face with jamón, you can roam the narrow streets and explore the different pop-up street markets and think about your next meal.
Things to do in La Latina
- Calle de la Cava Baja (a street with a whopping 50 tapas bars on it!)
- Saint Isidore Museum
- Mercado de la Cebada
- El MoNo Bikers and Beer Bar
- Bar Viaducto
Where to eat in La Latina
- Restaurante Esteban: With old-fashioned interiors held up by wooden beams, this place is as atmospheric as the food is tasty. The menu celebrates typical tapas from across the regions of Spain.
- El Perro De Pavlov: A tiny cafe with big cakes and bold coffee, this kooky place is somewhere you’ll want to make a repeat visit to.
- Cedrón Restaurante Madrid: The kitchen mingles Argentinian dishes with a Spanish touch and a diverse range of wines. Try the fried ceviche.
Where to stay in La Latina
- In walking distance of Calle de la Cava Baja, L&H La Latina Selection is a top-rated aparthotel. Basic rooms just come with a kettle and microwave but the options with kitchens are ideal for a long-term stay or if you want to save money on meals.
- La Latina also has a selection of apartments, such as Living Plaza de la Paja. Accommodating up to five guests, this spacious vacation rental is decorated like a real home with trinkets and a complete kitchen with laundry facilities.
- The La Latina neighborhood in Madrid is also a great option for backpackers. It’s packed with hostels including my personal favorite in the whole city, OK Hostel Madrid. The staff are friendly, there are a lot of public areas for meeting other travelers, they organize different tours and bar crawls, and the rooms are clean.
5. Lavapiés: Best neighborhood to stay in Madrid on a budget
Lavapiés is another of the coolest neighborhoods in Madrid. Located in between Sol and Retiro, this central area has a lot going for it – with budget-friendly digs, a stellar food scene, and fun street art.
Known for its multicultural residents, you’ll find an exciting mix of restaurants in Lavapiés with lots of African and South Asian options. As with Malasaña, there aren’t a lot of sights in the neighborhood per se but you’re close enough to Sol and Retiro.
Accommodation in Lavapiés covers all budgets, with a wide selection of apartments and hostels as well as hotels.
Things to do in Lavapiés
- Street art on Calle de Lavapiés
- Mercado de San Fernando
- Barrio de las Letras
- La Noche Boca Arriba
- Atocha Train Station
Where to eat in Lavapiés
- Cafelito: This sweet breakfast spot has a cozy dining room plus ample patio seating for those sunny Madrid mornings. Visit solely to sample their latest coffee innovations although the toasts are equally delicious and will power you up for a day in the city.
- Tinto y Tapas San Pedro: Empanadas, tostas, pizzas, and tapas favorites are made from scratch at this vibrant restaurant. With a friendly ambiance, factor in time to digest your meal over wine or sangria.
- Café de Ratas: Don’t panic: the name doesn’t correspond to what you’ll find on the menu. More of a bar, mezcal cocktails, and beer are served alongside nachos, papas fritas, and tacos.
Where to stay in Lavapiés
- Hostal Montaloya comprises private rooms with configurations to suit solo travelers, couples, and families. All units have a private bathroom and with some having the added perk of a kitchenette.
- Comfort is key at the family-run Artrip Hotel! Many rooms at this artistic property come with small balconies overlooking the streets below and there are great options for families and groups. Adding on the breakfast to your room rate is highly recommended, it’s a great way to start the day and means you can head straight out to start exploring.
6. Salamanca: The best area to stay in Madrid for a luxury experience
Salamanca is an upscale neighborhood with fancy hotels, luxury shopping, and gourmet restaurants. Staying here is never going to be budget-friendly, but the quality is high and it’s one of the loveliest neighborhoods to stay in Madrid for a special occasion.
On the other hand, you can turn your trip into a shopping spree and update your wardrobe with unique designer clothing. This is one of the best areas to stay in Madrid for some amazing upscale shopping, for a peaceful night’s sleep, and for an abundance of great restaurants and bars within walking distance.
Directly north of Retiro, you can easily access the park and neighboring restaurants during your stay. In fact, Salamanca joins its southern cousin as one of the safest neighborhoods in Madrid.
Things to do in Salamanca
- Lázaro Galdiano Museum
- Mercado de la Paz
- Designer shopping
- National Archaeological Museum
Where to eat in Salamanca
- The Library Restaurant: Perhaps the prettiest place to eat in Madrid, the interiors of this restaurant at the Santo Mauro Hotel are filled with books while the courtyard is flooded with greenery. Fine dining plates are paired with cocktails themed on writers.
- La Trainera: With a nautical theme, fish is the dish of the day at this longtime restaurant. Beyond the markets, this is where you’ll find the widest variety of seafood and shellfish dishes in Madrid.
- Hey My Coffee: Rest your feet with a specialty brew and a freshly baked slice of cake. The morning pastries are to be counted on if you need a second breakfast.
Where to stay in Salamanca
- Dripping in luxury, rooms at BLESS Hotel Madrid are elegant with careful attention to detail including high-thread count linens, pendant lighting, and complimentary Nespresso coffee. The experience is topped off with a seasonal pool, a bowling alley, and a wellness center.
- Another Salamanca hotel for those who want an unforgettable experience, TÓTEM Madrid is a vision in subdued tones and refined glamour. Lighting is soft, fluffy bathrobes are provided, and a Nespresso coffee machine comes stocked with pods.