Madrid is not only one of Spain’s best cities to live in but also an expat favourite. It seamlessly blends the bustle of a modern metropolis with the charm of a historic place and offers a high quality of life at an affordable price.
You’ll find Madrid is a fun and lively city that is steeped in art and culture, has great weather, a buzzing nightlife, a second to none healthcare system, a well-connected transport system, and plenty of job opportunities at international companies. And while all this sounds amazing, how do you decide which are the best neighborhoods in Madrid?
Madrid has 21 districts and over 100 neighborhoods. To help you narrow down your new home, we’re sharing the top 8 neighborhoods in Madrid that are better suited to expats with different lifestyles.
The best neighborhoods in Madrid are concentrated in the centre as most new expats prefer living near the centre to the suburbs.
This isn’t surprising as the centre offers better public transport (domestically and internationally), international job opportunities, educational institutes for English speakers, and a bigger expat network.
So when it comes to Madrid’ best neighborhoods, we’re looking at the Centro district along with Retiro, Chamberí and Salamanca. Centro itself has several of Madrid’s best neighborhoods– Sol, Malasaña, Chueca, La Latina, and Lavapiés.
Sol is perfect for those who’re in Madrid for a short while and/or want to be in the middle of all the action. You’ll have everything at your fingertips…including high rent.
Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, also known as Sol, is smack dab in the middle of Madrid. Living here, you’ll always be surrounded by Madrid’s liveliness and fast pace of life. The sheer amount of shops and restaurants means that you can shop till you drop and eat till there’s no tomorrow, all without leaving the neighborhood.
You’ll have easy access to various theatres, parks, statues, the Royal Palace, and endless bars and clubs. You’ll get to see the famous statue Oso y el Madroño– Madrid’s symbol, and have a first-row seat to the extravagant new year’s eve celebration under Casa de Correos’s clock tower.
Sol is quite international. Not only will you hear a mix of languages as you walk down the bustling streets but you’ll also see many expats who live here.
As with any area popular with tourists, Centro is safe as long as you’re smart about your belongings.
Malasaña is perfect for those looking for a young, happening and bohemian neighborhood with cheaper rental costs than in Sol.
Trendy, happening, fun and graffiti-covered; this is the best way to introduce Malasaña. Malasaña is an extremely picturesque neighborhood that is buzzing with life at any time of the day.
During the day, this bohemian and trendy neighborhood will keep you busy with its cafes and vintage stores. Plaza dos de Mayo, Malasaña’s main square, is also a great place to meet friends, people watch, or simply soak up the sun.
By night, Malasaña has unbeatable energy; the restaurants, bars and clubs will welcome you with open arms and keep you entertained until the wee hours.
Overall, Malasaña is perfect for those who love to go out, shop at vintage or unique stores, and have bars and restaurants at their fingertips. Not surprisingly, this neighborhood is increasingly popular with young people or those who like having an alternative and busy social life.
Although the neighborhood can be noisy, the low rent and closeness to the city centre attract a lot of people.
Due to the low rent, Malasaña is quite popular with students and young professionals. So you’re bound to meet plenty of young international people when living in this neighborhood.
As with most Madrid neighborhoods, Malasaña is a safe neighborhood. You only need to take general precautions such as looking after your personal belongings. This is especially important when going out at night or when the streets get crowded.
Chueca is perfect for the LGBTQ community and any fun loving, outgoing person who wants easy access to bars, clubs, and events.
This hip neighborhood is very close to the centre; right between Malasaña to the west and Salamanca to the east. It’s also near Gran Via, a street buzzing with nightlife!
If you’re from the LGBTQ community and are particularly looking for a neighborhood to accommodate you, then Chueca is the winner! Or if you’re just looking for a neighborhood with plenty of internationals who know how to have a great time, then Cheuca will certainly not disappoint.
Either way, it’s a great place to stay if you want the thrill of being in the action but are not willing to pay Centro prices.
Like Malasaña, the atmosphere in Chueca is fun and exciting. During the day, you’ll get to enjoy dining at restaurants and shopping at the boutiques. At night the neighborhood transforms completely. There’s a party around every corner and you’ll get to enjoy several bars and clubs. In the summer, Cheuca also proudly hosts the famous gay pride festival Día del Orgullo de Gays.
Chueca is extremely popular with international, welcoming people from all walks of life. So whether you want a night out with internationals or wants to live a neighborhood with expats, Chueca is your go-to.
Cheuca is pretty safe since it’s part of Centro.
La Latina is perfect for those who want to experience a historic, traditional and charming side of Madrid.
Even though it’s situated in Centro, La Latina feels very different from its surroundings. La Latina has a deeply historic charm as it’s the oldest quarter in Madrid. You’ll find some of the oldest buildings in the city, cobblestone streets, and winding alleyways packed with bars, restaurants, and taverns.
Overall, this neighborhood feels welcoming and lively as expats, locals, and artists hang out in this area. And if their company is not enough, the various events, street art pieces, or the Sunday ritual will keep you entertained. Every Sunday, it’s customary to go on a tapas and drinks crawl along Cava Baja after visiting Madrid’s oldest and biggest flea market– El Rastro.
This area can be on the expensive side, even though most apartment buildings are quite old. So if you want to live here, make sure to search for your new rental on time.
La Latina is certainly an expat favourite as it’s one of the most multicultural neighborhoods in Madrid. But don’t worry. Even though you’ll find lots of expat neighbours, this is as close as you’ll get to experiencing Spanish culture without leaving Centro.
What makes La Latina a great neighborhood is that it’s colourful, youthful, and entirely safe. So go enjoy your life in La Latina without stressing about safety.
Lavapiés is perfect for those who want to live amongst an eclectic mix of nationalities and are looking for cheaper rent.
Want to live surrounded by more than 90 nationalities? Then definitely look into Lavapiés!
Lavapiés is one of the most multicultural neighborhoods in Madrid; not only when it comes to people but also restaurants. Living here means you’ll get to experience the wonderful cultures of the world and try out their yummy cuisines.
This neighborhood also has cheaper rent compared to the rest of Madrid’s neighborhoods. This certainly attracts a lot of young people.
To make Lavapiés even more appealing, every August there’s the San Lorenzo Festival, a huge party held on the streets of Lavapiés. And for the foodies, there’s Tappiés, a famous weeklong Tapas centric food festival that draws internationals and locals alike.
While Lavapiés is a great neighborhood for some people, others might not enjoy it as much. The streets tend to be busy and loud and because of its internationality, you might be a bit secluded from true Spanish culture and people.
Lavapiés is arguably the most international neighborhood in Madrid. So if you’re looking for a diverse neighborhood where you can befriend people from all over the world and try out various cuisines, then this is the place.
Although Lavapiés is generally safe, those with a keen eye have reported seeing drug dealers. But they don’t tend to disturb or bother those who are not interested. Apart from this, travellers and locals both tend to feel safe and happy about living in Lavapiés.
Retiro district is perfect for those who have mid-high range income. It’s for those who want to live close to the city but also have easy access to the park.
Retiro is home to one of the city’s largest green spaces, as well as numerous galleries and other museums.
On one hand, young professionals flock to this residential area, as it’s close to the city centre, has a slower pace and is slightly more affordable.
On the other hand, this neighborhood is especially popular with families or those who love to stay active as the park has lakes, beautiful gardens, and many activities such as yoga, running, skating, or outdoor exercise lessons. At the weekend, you’ll even see several friends and families having a picnic by the lake,
In Retiro, you’ll be surrounded by both locals and expats who’re either young professionals or parents.
Retiro is a safe neighborhood as it’s a little further away from Centro. No wonder, families pick this neighborhood to live in.
Chamerí district is perfect for people from various walks of life; the neighborhoods in this district range from traditional to modern and upscale to affordable.
Chamebrí is a highly versatile district. It’s largely traditional and unlike Salamanca, it’s got a mix of upscale and affordable neighborhoods. This residential district is also free from tourists and the area is relatively quiet, quaint, and cosy.
Chamebrí is popular with a wide range of people – rich people, retirees, families, young professionals and students. After all, you’ll find everything from schools, a university, parks, shopping centres, terraces, theatres, famous plazas, stunning architecture, and even Michelin star restaurants.
Chamerí is quite similar to Retiro when it comes to internationality. The only difference is that you’ll see a bit more of a mixed crowd in this district.
Chamberí is one of the safest districts in Madrid and you only need to keep your general safety precautions in mind.
Salamance is perfect for those who’ve got mid-high range income and prefer to live in safe, upscale neighborhoods that have all the amenities.
In the 19th century, Salamance was the area for the Spanish aristocrats. Over the years, this neighborhood has become slightly more accessible. Today, Salamanca attracts a slightly older crowd as the houses here are more expensive.
The houses in this neighborhood are spacious to accommodate families with children and those who want to live luxuriously in a big house. But it’s not odd to find young professionals here as they can easily split the cost per room.
In this neighborhood, you’ll find plenty of high-end shops, boutiques, and restaurants to fit the vibe of the upscale neighborhood. In fact, this neighborhood also has the Golden Mile, a street full of luxury shops.
Apart from that, the neighborhood is also favoured as it’s close to the US embassy, has well-known banks and businesses, and is close to the metro.
Locals and expats peacefully coexist in Salamanca, a neighborhood that offers safety, quietness, order, and a touch of luxury.
Salamanca is one of the safest neighborhoods in Madrid, thanks to the type of crowd that it attracts.
Even though we’ve narrowed it down to the top 8 Madrid neighborhoods, you still have some decisions to make. You’ll want to choose a neighbourhood that best suits your priorities. Here’s a roundup-
Now that you know all about Madrid's best neighborhoods, it's time to begin searching for housing in Madrid. Our recommendation? Search early because in this capital city, houses don’t stay on the market for too long!
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