Where to Live in Madrid—the Best Neighborhoods in Madrid
Trying to work out where to live in Madrid or where to stay in Madrid? We’ve got your back!
When you think of Madrid, you probably think of late nights, cheap eats and lazy days. One of the most alluring and appealing cities on the planet, it’s a popular choice for a relocation. According to some research, around 700,000 foreign-born people live in the city, making up around 20% of the population.
Madrid is popular for lots of reasons. It’s fun, it’s laid back, the weather is great, and people are friendly. But maybe most importantly, for western European big-city standards, it’s outrageously affordable—groceries, restaurants, transport and alcohol are all pretty inexpensive. (And so too are apartments, but we’ll get to that later!)
In our speedy, simple guide to the 10 best neighborhoods in Madrid, we’ve brought you details on our 10 favorite districts. We’ve included information on the best things to do, the best ways to have fun, and to whom each district is best suited. So whether you’re flying solo, traveling with family, or just somewhere in the middle, there’s a Madrid neighborhood for you.
Broadly speaking, Madrid is broken up into 21 different neighborhoods. But they’re not all equal—they offer different vibes to one another, and they’re not all ideal for a relocation. So in this article, we’ve brought you the best 10.
We’ve included information on the best neighborhoods in Madrid for families, the best neighborhoods in Madrid for students, the most budget-friendly districts, the most fun districts, and much more.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we’ve used the words district and neighborhood interchangeably. So don’t be confused! Locally, these neighborhoods are known as ‘barrios’ (that’s Spanish for neighborhood), so we’ve occasionally dropped that word in too. We’re multicultural here at Homelike!
If you want to know where to live in Madrid, or where to find apartments for rent in Madrid, we’ve got everything you need to know. Before we get to all the details, these are the 10 best neighborhoods to live in Madrid:
- Gran Via
- Malasañca and Justicia
- La Latina
- Las Tablas
- Plaza Castilla
Coming up next, we’ve covered all 10 in much more depth. Whatever type of atmosphere you’re looking for, no matter why you’re moving to Madrid, and no matter who you’re moving with, we’ve got the perfect Madrid neighborhood for you.
Ten minutes from now, you’ll be booking those flights!
Here they are—the 10 best neighborhoods to live in Madrid:
Best for: being right in the heart of the city, living like a long-term tourist, and great nightlife
Sol is right in the center of Madrid. The central part of the central district, it’s the busiest and most tourist-heavy section of the city.
If you’re only hanging around for a couple of months or so, Sol is a great place to be stationed. You’re close to lots of attractions, you’ll meet lots of other tourists, and you won’t need to spend much time traveling around the city.
Some of the most popular tourist attractions in and around Sol include El Retiro Park, Almudena Cathedral, statues, pedestrianized shopping streets, the city’s Plaza Mayor main square, the Royal Palace, and endless places to eat, drink, party and play.
If you’re only going to be around for a little while, the easiest way to stay in Sol is by renting a furnished apartment – you don’t need to spend endless hours searching in a saturated area, and you don’t need to worry about deposits, bills and other irritating logistics. Finding an apartment in Sol can be difficult if you do things the traditional way, but a furnished or short term apartment can save you the hassle!
2. Gran Via
Best for: short-term stays, high-end shopping, and living on Madrid’s most iconic street
Strictly speaking, Gran Via isn’t even a barrio at all. But let’s not get caught up in the details.
Instead, it’s a big long street. But it’s the most famous street in Madrid, and it’s a great place to hang out, live and explore. Measuring in at around 1.3km, there are plenty of places to enjoy.
The lengthy sprawl of this iconic avenue separates Sol from its northern neighbors Malasaña and Justicia. Both places are great for a party, but more on them soon.
Close to Gran Via itself, there are lots of popular tourist attractions. Aside from the ones we’ve already mentioned in the Sol section above, Gran Via is close to the Temple of Debod, Palacio de Liria, and lots of great green spaces.
The most well-known street in the city, it’s packed with places to eat, drink and shop—getting an apartment here is like living on Broadway in New York, or on Champs-Élysées in Paris.
3. Malasaña and Justicia
Best for: edgy expats who like big parties, late nights, and hanging with hipsters
Alright, these places are really two separate districts. But they border one another, and we’ve just talked about them both, so they’re getting grouped together.
Northern neighbors of Sol, these two districts are very central. The most hip, happening and alternative barrios in the city, they’re two of the best neighborhoods in Madrid for students. But they’re equally great for any young people, or anyone who likes exciting events and late-night adventures.
If you’re the sort of person who likes endless dancing, buying second-hand stuff from bizarre markets, and putting too much avocado on your toast, you’ll love both Malasaña and Justicia. In both districts, you can always find great parties, edgy bars and bohemian hangouts. And both barrios are perfect places to make friends!
Malasaña is a little busier and louder than Justicia, but there’s otherwise little difference between the two. But one of the best things about Justicia in particular is that it’s massively inclusive, welcoming and friendly—it’s home to Chueca, the LGBTQ area of Madrid. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or why you’re in Madrid—you’ll always be welcome in Justicia.
Best for: expats with limitless budgets, chic boutiques, and those who like the finer side of life
Located in the northeastern part of the central area of the city, Salamanca is the most expensive district in Madrid. Because of that, it houses and attracts a slightly different crowd compared to most of the city’s other barrios.
While Madrid’s population (broadly speaking) is pretty young, Salamanca’s residents are a little older. They’ve had their success, they’ve made their money, and now they want to spend it. Here, you’ll find all the stores you’ve always heard of but never been able to afford, including Gucci, Chanel and Louis Vuitton.
Though Salamanca is pretty aristocratic and expensive, it’s home to lots of people who have kids. So if you do have a decent budget, it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Madrid for families. Safe, secure and quiet, raising kids here is a pleasure. Even better, houses in Salamanca are pretty spacious, with big rooms, big windows and lots of light.
You also get tree-lined avenues, beautiful restaurants, and a very laid-back atmosphere. If you’re not short on cash, Salamanca can be a great place to get an apartment in Madrid.
Best for: residential requirements, great green spaces, families, and a slightly quieter life
North of the city’s central area, Chamberí is also pretty upmarket and expensive. But compared to Salamanca, it’s a little quieter, a little more laid-back, and right beside loads of great green spaces.
Just west of the district is Casa de Campo, one of the biggest urban parks in Europe. Measuring in at more than 1,500 hectares (that’s more than 2,800 soccer pitches!), it’s absolutely brilliant for kids, with a lake, cable car, zoo, aquarium, and loads more.
One of the biggest barrios in the city, Chamberí is largely known as a residential neighborhood. But despite that, it’s pretty central—so if you want to go most places by foot, without being surrounded by tourists, Chamberí is a good choice. Authentic and old, the neighborhood feels a little like a village (albeit a very large one!).
Chamberí is also well-known for its educational associations. The district is very close to the esteemed Complutense University of Madrid, making it one of the best neighborhoods in Madrid for students. And if you have kids, you’ll also find lots of great international schools here.
All in all, Chamberí is a pretty good barrio for most people looking to move to Madrid!
6. La Latina
Best for: cobbled streets, arty venues, and feeling like you’re ‘really’ in Madrid
Traditional and charming La Latina (as you probably guessed by the name) is like someone took all the Madrid clichés, rolled them together, and stuffed them into one insanely-adorable area.
For cold beer, tasty tapas, and endlessly updating your Instagram, La Latina is absolutely one of the best neighborhoods to live in Madrid. Packed with bars, cantinas, and labyrinthine lanes, you’ll want to get lost here forever. And if you’re moving to Madrid, you can!
Southwest of Sol, it’s a very central district but it somehow feels more like a village. Vivid, warm and welcoming, the area is always full of artists, events, and loads of interesting people, and it treads a perfectly-balanced line between bohemian and traditional.
It’s also very multicultural, making it a hugely welcoming area for expats from around the world.
La Latina isn’t particularly touristy, it’s very lively, and it’s not too expensive. All in all, the barrio offers a great way to get close to real Spanish culture without visiting some remote mountain town. If you like authentic, you’ll love La Latina.
7. Las Tablas
Best for: good parks, good jobs, the quieter life, and expats with families
Far north of the city center, Las Tablas translates to ‘the boards’. We don’t know why it’s called that, but what we do know is that this is one of the best neighborhoods in Madrid for families. It’s a great place to start a new life, especially if you’re planning to settle down for a while.
Here, you’ll find lots of great parks, spacious homes and friendly families. And on top of all that, it’s a relative jaunt away from all the big parties, events and late-night loudness.
Las Tablas is largely popular because it’s a great place for finding a job—lots of big companies have their offices here. Right beside Madrid’s airport, it’s also a convenient place to stay if you’re a frequent flyer, with countless connections to various places on the planet.
And when you do want to venture right into the heart of Madrid, it doesn’t take too long—by public transport, you’ll be in the center within as little as 15 minutes.
There’s also a large Asian community living and working in Las Tablas, so it’s definitely an expat-friendly area. And because there’s a university here, it’s also one of the best neighborhoods in Madrid for students!
Last of all, because it’s pretty far from the center of Madrid, Las Tablas is a good choice if you’re on a budget.
8. Plaza Castilla
Best for: easy commuting, living outside of the center, and working in the financial district
Plaza Castilla is actually the name of a famous (and massive) roundabout in Madrid. So when people refer to the Plaza Castilla neighborhood, they’re actually referring to the very nearby Castilla neighborhood, located north of the city center, and south of Las Tablas.
Living in Castilla is a good choice if you want to live outside of the city, but with an easy commute. The barrio is dominated by Charmartin station, a huge transport hub with links to other parts of the city, and other parts of Spain. So if you travel a lot, especially for work, Plaza Castilla is a good choice.
If you’re looking for a good job in the financial district of Madrid, consider living in Plaza Castilla. Lots of huge companies have offices here, and lots of huge buildings loom over the streets in and around the district.
Castilla also represents a good compromise—it’s not in the center, but it’s not right on the outskirts. So if you want affordable but relatively central, and a life balanced between work and play, Castilla is a decent solution!
Best for: finding a job, living a quieter life, watching soccer, and traveling out of the city
Castilla, which we’ve outlined above, is actually part of Chamartin, a huge barrio that continues south beyond Castilla, and close to the central part of Madrid.
Just like Castilla, Charmartin is largely known as a business-based district, with loads of great job opportunities for both expats and locals. Again, it’s quieter than most of Madrid’s barrios—so if you’re focused on working rather than partying, it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Madrid.
Packed with schools, job opportunities and residential zones, Charmartin is a great choice for various people. Broadly speaking, the further north you go in the district, the quieter and more sensible life becomes. So choose a place to live accordingly! Again, it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Madrid for families.
Chamartin is also home to the Bernabéu, the stadium of Real Madrid, and one of the biggest and best soccer venues on the planet. Make sure you visit.
Best for: affordable rent, fantastic diversity, hip hangouts, and living in an up-and-coming barrio
A large district south of Madrid’s center, Usera is massively diverse. A huge number of the area’s residents are foreign-born, so it’s a great place to be an expat.
Probably most famous as the unofficial Chinatown hangout in Madrid, Usera is associated with food. But here, you don’t just get brilliant Chinese eats—you also get great Latin American cuisine and lots of other diverse fayre. If you like authentic (and varied!) meals and morsels, you’ll love Usera.
The district is also an excellent choice if you’re eager to live on a budget. One of the city’s most affordable barrios, you can find very cheap housing here. And because housing is so cheap, the area attracts a wide range of bohemians, artists and hipsters, making it one of the city’s most trendy barrios.
Friendly, welcoming and growing fast, Usera is a great option for those seeking a slightly alternative existence in Madrid.
Madrid is one of the most exciting and welcoming cities on the planet. If you’re considering moving there, you absolutely should!
If that’s your plan, take a look at our furnished flats and apartments in Madrid. They’re comfortable and affordable, you don’t need to deal with landlords, you don’t need to pay a deposit, and you don’t need to spend endless hours finding a new place to live.
In short, our flats and apartments in Madrid are a brilliant solution for anyone staying in Madrid for a few months.
Thanks for reading!