Do you need help deciding where to stay in Madrid? Then you’re in luck because this detailed guide to the best places to stay in Madrid covers all the top areas for first-time visitors!
Whether you’re traveling on a tight budget or you want to experience the best and most luxurious hotels in the city, I’ve got you covered. Madrid has something to offer to everyone, and this is true of both its hotels and tourist attractions.
From the historic La Latina to the quiet and opulent Retiro, Madrid’s neighborhoods are as diverse as its architecture. There’s plenty to discover in the Spanish capital, and a central location is key for easy access to all of Madrid’s best landmarks.
Discover Puerta del Sol, tour the Royal Palace of Madrid, and experience the sun setting over Madrid in the hotel’s rooftop bar with a cocktail in hand. Sounds great, right? Then let’s dive into the best places to stay in Madrid for an unforgettable first trip!
Where To Stay In Madrid
Madrid is a big city and choosing the ideal location can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first visit. The capital of Spain has 21 districts with 131 different administrative wards between them. And there are other neighborhoods that ignore all these administrative borders, so how on Earth can you decide where to stay in Madrid?
It’s honestly not that difficult. Learn a little about each of the neighborhoods to see which one you would vibe the most with. Are you prioritizing tourist attractions and historical sights? Maybe you’re traveling with kids and want family rooms in a quiet area. Or would you prefer a vibrant nightlife with many tapas, bars and clubs? I’ve got options for everyone.
Why You Should Listen to Me
Unsure why you should trust me on this matter? Well, because I spent way too many hours going through reviews of hotels in Madrid, weeding out the ones with bed bugs and slow Wi-Fi. I did all the research, so you don’t have to.
Only top-rated hotels in Madrid are included in this guide, in which thousands of travelers have stayed and enjoyed themselves. They all have two things in common: a great location perfect for first-time visits and rooms so clean even Monica Geller could relax in them.
Don’t Have Time To Read The Full Article?
Is our detailed guide a little too detailed for you? That’s fine; here’s a quick summary of the best places to stay in Madrid.
Where We Stayed
We stayed in Cortes because the moment I saw there was a street named after Miguel de Cervantes, all other options ceased to exist. The location and size of U-Sense Madrid Santa Ana were perfect for the four of us, and we loved every aspect of this sustainable apartment on Plaza Santa Ana. We roamed around the streets of the Literary Quarter and tried to spot as many quotes as possible.
I may or may not have gotten dragged out of a bookstore against my will more than once. But I’m a bookworm and the literary aspect of Barrio de las Letras was all I needed to fall in love with Madrid. My companions were much more into history and architecture and fell in love with La Latina and Madrid de los Austrias. I promised we’d stay there the next time we traveled to this exceptional city.
Sol Gran Via: Our Recommendation
Sol is the heart of Madrid and the ideal location for anyone who wants to be in the center of action. Discover Madrid on foot, strolling down its pedestrian shopping streets and popping into cafes and tapas bars whenever you need a quick break.
Puerta del Sol lies at the center of this neighborhood. It is Madrid’s famous city plaza with stunning architecture and historic statues. But it’s not as famous as Plaza Mayor, the main city square in Madrid lined with shops and restaurants. It’s just five minutes on foot from one city square to another, maybe 10 or 15 if you can’t resist going into one of the shops along the way.
Sol is a great place to stay in Madrid for both short city breaks and longer vacations. Such a central location also makes this one of the safest areas in the city, even for solo travelers. Pickopcokets can be found at the busiest places in the area, but they won’t be an issue if you stay alert and pay attention to your belongings.
Pros and Cons Of Sol
Great public transport connection Walking distance to main attractions Beautiful architecture Countless restaurants and cafes
It gets very busy in the peak season Hotels and restaurants are pricey The area is busy and noisy even at night Many tourist traps
Highlights of Staying in Sol
Where even to begin with reasons to stay in Sol during a trip to Madrid? The superb location is obvious, but an even bigger reason is the wonderful vibe of this neighborhood. Its streets are constantly buzzing and there’s always something to do in the area. And there’s the diverse architecture, which ranges from medieval to modern, often on the same street.
Plaza Mayor: Plaza Mayor is a vast public square in central Madrid, but saying just that doesn’t do it justice. Dating back to the 15th century, this used to be the heart of Old Madrid. King Phillip III commissioned the construction of this city square, and he is honored with a statue at the center of Plaza Mayor. Today, this famous area is best known for its uniform, rectangular architecture and hordes of tourists. Gran Vía: Every city has a famous street and in Madrid that’s Gran Vía. Connecting Plaza de España in Argüelles with Calle de Alcalá in Salamanca, Gran Vía cuts through the city center of Madrid. It is lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants on either side, all of which are situated on the ground floors of stunning buildings. Gran Vía is a fabulous example of Madrid architecture, showcasing styles that range from Art Deco to Plateresque. Puerta del Sol: Puerta del Sol is the perpetually busy plaza in the heart of Madrid. It serves as the junction of no less than nine city streets, and it houses one of the city’s largest metro stations. On top of that, Puerta del Sol is Kilometer Zero for the six national highways of Spain. This is truly the center of all action in Madrid, so it’s not surprising that the place is always packed with locals and tourists. Mercado de San Miguel: Any self-respecting foodie in Madrid will relish visiting the San Miguel fresh food market. The covered market dates back to 1916 and it still has the original iron structure from its inauguration. Mercado de San Miguel is the gastronomic center of Madrid and an excellent destination whether you want to grab a quick breakfast or shop for food souvenirs.
Best Places to Stay in Sol
Sol is the city centre of Madrid so every hotel in the neighborhood gets top marks for location and access. Because it is such an important tourist center in the city, there’s an abundance of hostels, hotels, and private apartments throughout the entire area.
The high amount of competition is in favor of the guests because hotels in Sol are surprisingly inexpensive considering the location. Seriously, a similar location in Paris or even Rome would be twice as much money but not even half the level of service.
Jc Rooms Jardines
Jc Rooms Jardines is an affordable hotel in central Madrid. It’s one of the best options for travelers who aren’t looking to break the bank when choosing accommodation but still want to be in the center of action.
The hotel is in the northern area of the Sol neighborhood, just a few steps from Gran Via and several metro stations. It features small double, triple, and quadruple rooms with a starting price point of $85 without breakfast. That’s honestly a steal for such a great location, especially since all the rooms are equipped with a private bathroom.
You’re getting hostel prices without staying at an actual hostel and that’s great. Continental breakfast is just $8 per person and it’s served in Taberna La Española, just around the corner from the hotel. See rates and reviews here.
Petit Palace Plaza del Carmen
Petit Palace Plaza del Carmen is a four-star hotel overlooking Plaza del Carmen, about halfway between Gran Vía and Puerta del Sol. The location is superb and the views from the rooms with balconies are enough to get you out of bed and onto the streets of Madrid.
Each room has an ensuite bathroom, a flat-screen TV, and free WiFi. The rooms are on the smaller side with modern furnishings and they’re absolutely spotless. Perhaps the best thing about staying at this hotel is the staff; everyone is very friendly and goes above and beyond to ensure the satisfaction of the guests.
The hotel is very affordable for a four-star hotel. Rooms start at $180 for a stay with breakfast, which is served in a charming hotel restaurant with exposed stone walls. Also, the hotel welcomes pets, making it an excellent destination for all travelers with furry companions. See rates and reviews here.
The Madrid Edition
The Madrid Edition is a fabulous five-star hotel ideal for anyone who accepts only the best. As part of the Marriot family, the hotel boasts spacious rooms with modern designer furniture and extra-long beds. The stylish rooms are paired with sleek, modern ensuite bathrooms, which are equipped with both a bath and a walk-in shower.
Book one of the two penthouses and you will have access to a private outdoor terrace with an infinity pool, available only to you. Another rooftop pool is at the disposal of other guests, although it is worth noting that it can be used only in the summer. There’s also a spa center with a sauna at the hotel, as well as a state-of-the-art gym.
This luxury hotel boasts spacious family rooms and lofts that can host up to four guests. There are also 77 connecting rooms, which are perfect for larger families.
Guests staying at the Madrid Edition can choose from two restaurants and two lounge bars for dining and entertainment. A delicious breakfast is included in the nightly rate of rooms, which starts at approximately $550 for two adults. See rates and availability here.
Cortes/Barrio de las Letras: Best For The Creative Types
Cortes is the neighborhood between Sol and Retiro. It’s a great location for a longer stay in Madrid because of easy access to important landmarks and attractions on either side. Cortes is subdivided into several smaller barrios, the most iconic of which is Barrio de las Letras.
Barrio de las Letras translates to the Literary Quarter, and I think you can already see where I’m going with this Madrid neighborhood. It’s where many of Spain’s most famous writers lived once upon a time, and you can walk in their steps and see all the views that inspired them to create such iconic works of art.
The streets throughout Cortes feature inscriptions of various literary quotes, statues of famous Spanish writers, and too many bookshops to count. Countless art galleries and theaters are also in this neighborhood, which makes it the best place in Madrid to really discover its different subcultures.
Pros and Cons of Cortes/Barrio de las Letras
Central location Rich history and culture Vibrant nightlife
Expensive accommodation Busy and noisy at night Crowded with tourists
Highlights of staying in Cortes
Vibrancy and diversity are the best things about Cortes and they are woven through every aspect of life in this neighborhood. There’s always something going on in the area, whether it’s a new art exhibit, a concert at the local culture center, or a themed party at the local nightclub. Diversity is evident in the architecture, culture, and even restaurants of the neighborhood.
Plaza Santa Ana: Plaza Santa Ana is the central square in Cortes with restaurants, cafes, and statues of famous Spanish poets. Some of Madrid’s most famous buildings lined the perimeter of the square, including the Teatro Español and the Simeón building. Tablao Flamenco 1911: Flamenco is indistinguishable from Spanish culture and a trip to Madrid is incomplete without a live flamenco performance. Tablao Flamenco 1911 is a popular bar and restaurant with live performances of flamenco music and dance. A night out at this locale is a must while you’re in Madrid, especially if you choose to stay in the Literary Quarter. Basílica de Jesús de Medinaceli: Basílica de Jesús de Medinaceli is a relatively small catholic church in Cortes. With gorgeous stained glass windows and astonishing, lifelike statues, this basilica is one of the best places to visit in Madrid for free. The church’s walls are adorned with mesmerizing artworks and its statue of Jesús de Medinaceli is world famous. Círculo de Bellas Artes: Circulo de Bellas Artes is a cultural center in Madrid and a gathering spot for local artists. Art shows, concerts, and workshops all take place here, and many events are free to attend. For just 5 Euros, visitors can take the elevator to the center’s rooftop bar, which offers one of the best panoramic views of Madrid’s rooftops.
Best Places to Stay in Cortes
The Bohemian Cortes offers a wide variety of accommodation options, from hostels to Madrid’s best luxury hotels. Whether you’re looking for a cheap place to stay or want to revel in luxury, there are at least a couple of suitable options in Cortes.
Hotels in Cortes feature stunning architecture. Many of them were constructed centuries ago and still feature elements of the original buildings, down to the columns in the bedrooms. For history and culture, there’s no better area of Madrid than Cortes.
Room007 Ventura Hostel
Room007 Ventura Hostel is the best budget option in Cortes. Situated in the center of Madrid’s Literary Quarter, the hostel is just a 10-minute walk from Plaza Mayor on one side and the Prado Museum on the other. The location is perfect for exploring Madrid on foot.
The best thing about this hostel is that its dormitories can fit a maximum of four people in the bunk beds. Each dormitory has air-conditioning in the room, lockers, and a private bathroom with a walk-in shower. And, most importantly, everything is clean.
All guests staying at the Ventura Hostel have access to high-speed Wi-Fi for free. The rates for the hostel start at $60 for a bed, which is not too bad for such a central location in Madrid. Check rates and availability here.
Hotel Catalonia Las Cortes
Hotel Catalonia Las Cortes is a four-star boutique hotel in central Cortes with double rooms, triple rooms, and spacious suites. All hotel rooms have an ensuite marble bathroom, a dedicated workspace, and a Nespresso machine.
This hotel is set in an 18th-century building, and many of the building’s original construction elements are still present. With columns in the rooms and intricate details on the ceiling, the hotel’s suites are absolutely stunning. The smaller rooms feature classic furnishings, while the suites are decked out with 18th-century style decor.
Room service is available at this hotel, but it’s worth it to go down to the restaurant for breakfast. Guests can also make use of the meeting rooms, which feature the same stunning paintings on ceilings as the hotel suites.
The rooms start at just $176 (without breakfast), which is an absolute steal considering the quality of the service and the size of the rooms. Also, pets are welcome at the hotel. See rates and reviews on Booking.
The Westin Palace Madrid
The Westin Palace Madrid is a luxury hotel with a stunning exterior and an elegant interior. The construction of the hotel was commissioned in 1911 by King Alfonso XIII. When the Regal Hotel first opened for business in 1912, it was the largest hotel in Europe with 800 rooms.
This was also the first hotel in Spain that had an ensuite bathroom in every room. Today, the Westin Palace offers spacious rooms with classic luxury décor and some of Madrid’s comfiest beds. Although the furniture might be antique, the Wi-Fi and flat-screen TV are perfectly modern.
By far the best part of this hotel is the Rotunda restaurant with an astonishing stained-glass dome. The hotel’s 1912 Museo Bar is not too shabby either; their dry martinis are so good that Hemingway wrote about them in The Sun Also Rises.
Other hotel facilities include a spa and wellness center, a 24-hour gym, valet parking, and meeting rooms. Everything about the Westin Palace is top-notch and justifies the nightly rate that starts at $550. Check rates and availability.
Retiro: Best for Families and Groups
Retiro is a vast neighborhood in the eastern part of Madrid. It’s a little further away from the old town of Madrid, but no more than 30 minutes on foot or 15 minutes by metro. The entire neighborhood is centered around the expansive El Retiro Park, which truly dominates the area.
It takes an entire day to explore the park, which should give you some idea just how huge the area is. With stunning monuments, a palace, beautifully landscaped gardens, and a boating lake, it’s easy to lose track of time and place at the park and forget you’re still in a capital city and not somewhere in the middle of a forest.
Additionally, Retiro is also home to the iconic Prado Museum, which is one of the most important art museums in all of Spain. Madrid’s largest botanical garden is also in this neighborhood, as are some of the best, most opulent hotels in the city.
Pros and Cons of Staying in Retiro
A quiet Madrid neighborhood Lots of art museums and important landmarks Great for families
A little far from the old town Expensive hotels Mostly a residential area
Highlights of Staying in Retiro
Retiro is mostly a residential neighborhood but is also home to some of the most famous sights in Madrid. With nearly a dozen different museums, including the iconic Prado Museum, Retiro is a top destination for travelers who wish to discover Madrid’s culture and architecture.
Prado Museum: The Prado Museum is one of the most famous art museums in the entire world. With a permanent collection of masterpieces from El Greco, Goya, and Velázquez (among many others), it’s a must-visit attraction. The Prado boasts three floors of art, and it takes 4-6 hours to explore it in full. El Retiro Park: El Retiro Park is one of the largest public parks in Madrid and a truly special place. This UNESCO World Heritage Site used to be the residence of King Philip IV of Spain. Few elements of the original structure remain, and nowadays the park is a vast recreation area, while its former palaces serve as museums. Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid: The largest botanical garden in Madrid is one of Retiro’s best-known attractions. Landscaped gardens, statues, ponds, walking trails, and a huge greenhouse with a plethora of plants are just some of the highlights of the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid. The entrance fee is a measly 4 Euros, which will buy you hours of fun and joy. Puerta de Alcalá: As important to Madrid as the Brandenburg Gate is to Berlin, Puerta de Alcalá is a neoclassical city gate dating back the the 18th century. With beautiful sculptures and intricate carvings, the historic landmark is one of Francesco Sabatini’s most renowned works. It’s an unmissable Madrid attraction set near the northwestern entrance to the Retiro Park.
Best Places to Stay in Retiro
Staying in Retiro means easy access to central Madrid with public transport, but also plenty of fabulous attractions right there in the neighborhood. This is one of the richest and safest areas of the city, which makes it great for families and solo travelers.
Retiro has several high-class luxury hotels, so it’s the top choice for travelers who want to stay in premium accommodations. Because this neighborhood is mainly residential, it offers a large selection of private apartments and AirBnBs.
Claridge Madrid is one of the more affordable hotels in Retiro. It’s a four-star hotel with rooms that start at $155, which is cheap for the quality of service available at this hotel. That’s only $15 more per person than a hostel bed in central Madrid!
For that amount of money, you get a spacious room with an ensuite bathroom, desk, and a small flat-screen TV. All guests have access to free Wi-Fi and gym facilities. Those who book one of the hotel’s suites will be able to relax in a hydromassage bath.
The location of the hotel is not ideal because it’s a little far away from the city center for walking. But the upside is that it’s closer to the airport, so it’s a great option for anyone who is in Madrid for a night or two. Check rates and availability.
Only YOU Hotel Atocha
Only YOU Hotel Atocha is a chic mid-range hotel in Retiro. The decor is a blend of classic, modern, and industrial, with contemporary art on exposed brick walls. All hotel rooms have ensuite bathrooms with staple Spanish ceramic tiles.
Situated near El Retiro Park and the Royal Botanical Garden, the hotel is within walking distance of popular attractions in this part of Madrid. Atocha railway station, the largest transit hub in Madrid, is just a few steps from the hotel entrance.
Rooms at Only YOU Hotel Atocha start at $230, but the cheapest rooms at the hotel offer views of the inner courtyard only. Superior rooms and suites are on higher floors, with sprawling views of Madrid’s skyline. See rates and reviews here.
Hotel Palacio del Retiro
Hotel Palacio del Retiro is a high-end hotel situated in a former 20th-century palace. The exterior of the building is jaw-droppingly gorgeous and reason enough to book a room in this Marriot-family hotel. A night at this fabulous palatial hotel starts at $570.
The modern rooms with hardwood floors are spacious and have extra-long, comfortable beds and double sinks in the ensuite bathrooms. Each room has a desk, a flat-screen TV, and a seating area.
Hotel guests can make use of the fitness and spa centers to relax and recharge after walking around Madrid for hours. The spa center includes a sauna and massage services, the latter of which has an extra charge.
Meeting and banquet rooms are also at the guests’ disposal. The hotel has a 24/7 concierge desk, with some of the friendliest and most professional staff in the city. Check rates and availability.
Palacio: Best For History and Architecture
Palacio is a barrio in western Madrid that contains the two oldest neighborhoods in the city: La Latina and Madrid de los Austrias. This is the part of Madrid with the oldest Renaissance and Baroque buildings, the most famous landmarks, and the best Tapas bars in the entire town.
Strolling through the maze of cobblestone alleys in Palacio feels like traveling back in time. The oldest restaurant in the world is in this barrio, along with Madrid’s largest church and the exquisite Royal Palace.
Bordering Gran Vía and Sol in the northeast and the Manzaners River in the south and west, Palacio is a great base for a first trip to Madrid. Three metro lines pass through the barrio for easy access to the rest of the city.
Pros and Cons of Staying in Palacio
Great central location The oldest area of Madrid Abundance of local theaters and comedy clubs
The metro line is on the edge of the neighborhood Busy and loud Many restaurants are tourist-oriented
Highlights of Staying in Palacio
The Palacio neighborhood encompasses some of the oldest parts of Madrid. Staying here means waking up to views of buildings that are two or three centuries old. Housing the most famous landmarks of Madrid, Palacio is the perfect neighborhood for travelers who want to dive deep into the city’s history and architectural diversity.
Royal Palace of Madrid: Can you believe that it took this long to get to the Royal Palace of Madrid? The most famous building in the city (and the largest palace in Western Europe) has 3,418 rooms and can take hours to fully explore. Some highlights of the palace are the Royal Armory, the textile exhibits, period furniture, and stunning artworks. Almudena Cathedral: Almudena Cathedral is the largest church in the Spanish capital directly opposite the Royal Palace of Madrid. For the Spanish Standards, this is a very young cathedral considering it wasn’t consecrated until 1993. Construction lasted for more than a century, and it’s obvious why once you catch a glimpse of the ornate interior, vaulted ceilings, gorgeous stained glass windows, and all the statues inside. Museo de San Isidro: History buffs will absolutely love Museo de San Isidro. It’s got an incredibly detailed exhibit on the history of Madrid and its surroundings, including mammoth remains and a physical map that shows the city’s development over time. What’s even more impressive is that the museum has no entrance fee so anyone can visit free of charge. Walking Tour of La Latina: La Latina is the oldest part of Madrid with narrow alleys and expansive plazas, built atop an Islamic fort. This part of the city houses some of Madrid’s oldest buildings and architecture, and a thorough walking tour is in order to discover Madrid from a century ago. Visit Sobrino de Botín, for the unique opportunity to eat at the oldest restaurant in the world and shop at the colorful Mercado de la Cebada to feel like a local for a moment.
Best Places To Stay in Palacio
As the center of historical Madrid, Palacio offers travelers the unique opportunity to stay in medieval buildings. It might not have the Ritz or the Hilton, but it does have hotels in converted palaces that will make you feel like a royal.
Even the worst hotels in this neighborhood are set in stunning old buildings, so it’s important to look beyond the medieval façades. Consider the location for walking and public transport access, but also the amenities and services you can’t live without.
Petit Hostel La Latina
Petit Hostel La Latina is the top budget-friendly option in La Latina. Situated up the street from the Neoclassical Toledo Gate, the hostel offers walking access to metro and bus stops, the Madrid Royal Palace complex, and tapas bars.
Beds in mixed dormitories go for as little as $25, which is dirt cheap for the great central location. The bunk beds are surprisingly spacious, with privacy curtains and lockers in the bed frame. Every dormitory has access to its own (clean!) bathroom, and groups of up to six travelers can even book a private room.
Guests can make use of the free Wi-Fi, and there’s even a small working area with a desk and computer. The communal area is very small though, and doesn’t include a full kitchen. See rates here.
Posada del Dragón
Posada del Dragón is a boutique hotel in the La Latina neighborhood of Madrid’s city center. It’s affordable and full of character, with colorful contemporary rooms. The stylish hotel is just 5 minutes away from Plaza Mayor and 2 minutes from the La Latina metro station.
Guests can choose from three types of rooms: single, double, and double rooms with balconies. The largest rooms have a private terrace with charming city views. Standard double rooms can be booked for as little as $90 per night, but it’s important to note that the pricing is seasonal and subject to change.
The hotel has a 24-hour reception with a concierge service that can help with tour bookings and transport arrangements. Other hotel services are sparse as there’s no gym or spa, but there is a traditional Spanish restaurant and a lively bar. Check rates here.
Palacio de los Duques Gran Meliá
Palacio de los Duques Gran Meliá is the best luxury hotel in Palacio. Set in a converted 19th-century palace with a private garden, the chic hotel seamlessly blends modernity and history.
The hotel decór is inspired by Velázquez, with the artist’s most famous works prominently featured throughout the hotel. Staying here is like staying in an art gallery but with very comfortable beds and heated floors in private bathrooms.
There’s an outdoor pool on the roof terrace, with stunning views of Madrid’s skyline. A Thai wellness room invites guests to relax and unwind, while the 24-hour gym offers state-of-the-art equipment for workouts.
For $600 per night, you’ll feel like Spanish royalty at this urban resort with a Michelin-starred restaurant. It doesn’t get much better than Palacio de los Duques Gran Meliá for fine dining, endless pampering, and extravagant luxury. Check rates and availability.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Area Is The Best To Stay In Madrid?
The district of Centro and all the smaller neighborhoods in it (Cortes, Embajadores, Justicia, Universidad, Palacio, and Sol) are the best places to stay in Madrid for tourists. This is the safest part of Madrid, it is where the top tourist attractions are, and everything is easily walkable.
Where is the best place to stay in Madrid for the first time?
Anywhere in the city center is a good place to stay in Madrid for the first time. La Latina, Madrid de los Austrias, Sol, and Gran Via are premium locations perfect for a first trip to the Spanish capital.
Is Madrid a walkable city?
Madrid is a walkable city. It’s only about half an hour of walking distance from the Royal Palace on the west end to the Retiro Park on the east end, over mostly flat terrain.
Where is the hipster area in Madrid?
Malasaña is considered the hipster area of Madrid. It boasts vibrant street art, countless tapas bars, and unique vintage shops and boutiques.
Where Not To Stay in Madrid
The outskirts of Madrid are generally not a good place for tourists. Neighborhoods like Villa de Vallecas, Canada Real, and Usera might offer cheaper places to stay, but they are riddled with criminal activity.
Chamartín and Tetuan are two other districts you should avoid but for other reasons. They don’t have a high crime rate but are mostly residential neighborhoods without too many things to do and see apart from the skyscrapers and office buildings. Too much of your time would be spent on the metro traveling to downtown Madrid.
Travelers who want to avoid the tourist crowds and high prices of the historic center of Madrid should consider Chamberí and Las Delicias instead. Both neighborhoods are close enough to central Madrid that you’re not always riding the bus or the metro. But they’re also far enough from the Centro so that the crowds are nowhere near as big as in the downtown area.
Geography of Madrid
Madrid lies on a plateau in the center of the Iberian peninsula and most of the city is flat. Unlike Lisbon, which is hilly throughout, Madrid is easily walkable because there’s virtually no elevation in the central parts of the city. It’s only half an hour between Retiro and Palacio, which are on opposite sides of Madrid.
The central part of the city is encircled by motorways, all of which lead to the kilometer zero point at Puerta del Sol. Madrid extends beyond these roads, but it’s generally best to stay in the bottom half of the highway circle.
The city is divided into 21 districts with 131 barrios but not all have clear borders. Neighborhoods within the barrios sometimes stretch into other districts, and some popular landmarks can belong to several barrios, depending on how you look at them.
For a first-time visit to Madrid, it’s not necessary to rack your head with these definitions and borders. It’s important to find a place you will enjoy, which has a good location that’s convenient for getting around the best parts of the city. So, don’t worry too much whether you’re staying in Sol, Gran Vía, or Malasaña because the borders are blurry and differences negligible.