Chueca – The main Madrid gayborhood, located very near the city center. It was the original refuge of one of Spain’s first gay communities, and has evolved to be the country’s biggest hub of LGBT nightlife, art, and shopping. Most of the activity is based around Plaza Pedro Zerolo and Plaza Del Rey, but the whole neighborhood is infused with an open-minded, friendly, and progressive atmosphere.
Malasaña and Conde Duque – An area next to Chueca that contains some spillover in terms of gay venues and shops. It is the main hipster area of gay Madrid, featuring all the classic markers of a trendy neighborhood. It is a vibrant young neighborhood with plenty of options for both gay and straight visitors alike. Further west, Conde Duque has a similar vibe, but more of a bohemian, underground touch and beautiful narrow streets perfect for getting lost in.
La Latina – A lively neighborhood that once housed the city’s medieval markets and merchants, and which is now known for its flea market, El Rastro. It is also famous for being the best place in the city to grab a plate of tapas, and has a wealth of great old-fashioned bars and taverns serving food and drinks well into the night. La Latina has also been nicknamed Little Chueca for its good selection of gay venues, such as La Sixta for a fun night of pop hits, El Atril for meeting a variety of gay locals, and The Paw for cruising.
Sol-Gran Via – What most would call the heart of Madrid’s city center, based around the large Puerta Del Sol square and the Gran Via, the city’s main central avenue. Gran Via is lined with some of Madrid’s best shopping as well as some famous architecture, while Puerta Del Sol is one of the city’s main meeting spots for both locals and tourists alike.
Austrias – The area that concentrates most of Madrid’s most famous and beautiful architectural landmarks, such as the Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor, and Plaza Del Oriente. It is the old center of the city, from when Madrid was under rule from the Germanic Habsburg Dynasty – thus the name.
Princesa – A neighborhood popular with tourists due to several museums and attractions being located there, it is also the home of the local University and its population of students. The open-air swimming pool at the University is a popular gathering spot for young gay locals during the summer. You can either get in for €5 with a proof of graduation from any university or €8 as a guest of another visitor.
Barrio de Salamanca – Madrid’s most high end and exclusive neighborhood, designed specifically for the city’s political and social elite. This is the place for Michelin-starred restaurants, luxury shops, and ogling at beautiful houses.
Paseo Del Arte – Literally translated as “Walk of Art”, this area concentrates Madrid’s top three museums: El Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, and Reina Sofia Museum. Together, they house much of Spain’s best and most famous art, including works by Picasso, Velazquez, and Goya.
Lavapies – A dynamic and diverse part of Madrid, which overlaps with Paseo Del Arte in that it contains the Reina Sofia Museum. A historically poor area, it was the main immigration hub of the city during its development and is now the best place for some international culture and cuisine. It is also the city’s center for modern art, with plenty of galleries and concept cafes lining its narrow, winding streets.
Las Letras – Known as Madrid’s literary quarter, Las Letras is of particular interest to those with a love of Spanish literature. It also has a relaxed, pleasant nightlife with plenty of traditional tapas bars and gastropubs.
Retiro – The area surrounding one of Madrid’s largest and most popular public parks, Buen Retiro. It a beautiful and pleasant place to spend a sunny afternoon in, and beloved by both tourists and locals. Aside from the park, it is mostly a residential area with a few shops, bars, and restaurants.
Salesas – A small area next to Chueca that is mostly famous for its grouping of international brand stores, but which also houses several galleries and theatres.