Madrid Neighborhoods

Madrid Neighborhoods: Discover Where to Live in Madrid

We know that looking for an apartment in Madrid is a tough experience these days. It could be frustrating and expensive to book a hostel for the first month and do the room search all by yourself while you have to attend the classes or work in a country where people don’t understand you…

If you are still in the process of looking for an apartment you may find these 15 online platforms very useful.

Anyway, as you may have landed in Madrid a week, two weeks or a month ago, you probably are not very familiarized with this amazing city and that’s we we’ve compiled a list of the most emblematic neighborhoods of Madrid that are ideal for international students, auxiliares and other expats living in Madrid.

Madrid Centro for students

Madrid Centro is a big district composed by many neighborhoods. It’s probably the most desired area to live in by international students and other people that come to Madrid such as Conversation Auxiliaries or other expats. The center of Madrid has many places and daily activities.

Living in the center is living surrounded by leisure options, gastronomy and all types of activities. You will never be bored and you will love to grab a couple beers or whatever it is that you like to drink on the terraces when the weather is nice. Of course, as it is in the middle of it all it is well communicated. The Sol metro and train station connects with almost everywhere in the city!

This district has some of the most emblematic areas of the city in its neighborhoods:

Malasaña (Barrio Universidad)

Malasaña is the place to go if you want to be in the middle of it all. It is located in the Neighborhood Universidad and it is famous for its bars, its “modern” population and the constant activities both during the day and at night. You’ll find art, music, people, concerts, parks and party, of course.  The “Plaza del 2 de Mayo” is a well-known meeting point both for locals and the foreign population that live in the area.

If you are looking for a quiet place in Malasaña is not your best bet but if you want to be where everything happens this neighborhood is for you!

Sol (Barrio Sol)

Sol is the heart of the city and the usual meeting point for tourists and locals. If you are into nightlife this is the place to go! Sol is full of clubs, bars, terraces, malls, stores and touristic attractions.

Sol is not the best neighborhood to live in if you are looking for quietness but it definitely is the one with most options for leisure and nighlife activities!

This neighborhood is great for Erasmus and other international students that are looking to get the most out of Madrid. It is full of English-speaking people and it is the best spot to discover Madrid.


 Chueca (Barrio Justicia)

Chueca is a small neighborhood of Madrid full of life and nightlife activities. Many people compare it with th Soho of New York (of course, saving distances) as it is one of the most cosmopolitan Madrid neighborhoods. It is also known for its gay population and clubs and it is recognized as one of the most multicultural neighborhoods of Spain.

Full of small streets, Chueca is always changing with trendy shops and cafés full of people every day. The historical buildings of its streets make a beautiful contrast with the multicultural landscape and the decoration of its shops and restaurants.

Chueca is located in the center of Madrid and rooms can be rented there between 300€and 500€.


Lavapiés (Barrio Embajadores)

Lavapiés is another multicultural neighborhood of Madrid. Its cultural diversity is one of the characteristics of this neighborhood.  The combination of old and new with the mix of different nationalities that live in this neighborhood make it a very unique area of the Spanish capital.

One of the most characteristics areas of this neighborhood is El Rastro, a street market where you can buy almost anything that you can imagine. Most of the stuff that you will find there is handmade or already used and that’s what makes it special. So, if you want to go shopping on a Sunday, el Rastro is the place to go!

La Latina (Barrio Palacio)

La Latina neighborhood is one of the most traditional areas of Madrid and very well known by international students and residents alike for its nightlife and tapas! It is well communicated right in between Sol and Puerta de Toledo and it has everything that you may need in terms of leisure activities.

During spring, summer or autumn its streets are packed with people enjoying a coffee, a beer or a wine in the company of others. If you want to be in a very active and popular area of the city, La Latina is the neighborhood where you should go!


Las Letras (Barrio Cortes)

This neighborhood is composed by small streets and very nice plazas as the Plaza Santa Ana. Every little corner of this area of the city is full of literature and history.  Its streets host the homes of extraordinary Spanish writers such as Lope de Vega, Quevedo, Góngora or Cervantes.

The neighborhood is full of different kinds of shops both traditional and modern establishments. If you are into food, the streets of this amazing neighborhood are full of a wide variety of restaurants and cafés where you can enjoy a meal or a cup of coffee with your friends or partner.


Moncloa is the main university area and where lots of students live and hang out. Also known as “Ciudad Universitaria”, Moncloa hosts the main campuses of the Universidad Complutense and the Universidad Politécnica of Madrid. In addition to those two universities, the Universidad CEU San Pablo also has a campus there.

The area is full of student residencies and apartments to be rented. There are a lot of good nightlife options and it is a well-connected and commercial area.

In our opinion, Moncloa is one of the best places to live in Madrid. It is very close to the center of Madrid but it is not as noisy as Sol or other Madrid neighborhoods in the area.

Rooms range between 350€-500€ per month and has great connections with the whole west of Madrid.



We could say that Salamanca is the posh area of Madrid and the place for designer shops and trendy restaurants. It is a more expensive neighborhood but it is a great residential area. It is close to the center of the city but it is not crowded with the typical nightlife activity of Madrid.

This area is great if you are studying in the IE Business School and you are looking for a well communicated place in a quiet area.   Avenida de América is close by and it is a strategic place for bus connections in Madrid.

This neighborhood of Madrid is probably the nicest one but the most expensive as montly rentals for a 1-2 room apartment can go from 1.000€ up to 3.000€.



Finally, we have the Retiro which is mostly known for the big park “Retiro” where you can go for a bike ride, a walk, a run or even a boat ride! It is a safe and quiet neighborhood south of Salamanca.

The area is full of restaurants and gastronomic options and it’s near Atocha, the most important train stations in the city.

The conclusion…

There are many more Madrid neighborhoods that are perfect for students or conversation auxiliaries that have been assigned to a school in the city.

If you want to discover the city and have a great time while in Spain you should like our Facebook Page and subscribe to our club to be updated every month with the best resources, tips and activities organized from locals!

Again, we recommend getting help finding the apartment and getting settled in Madrid as we know it is a stressful period of time with so many procedures and things to prepare. We are not just talking about the accommodation but also about setting up a bank account, getting the transport card, health insurance, getting your NIE or even a SIM Card for your phone!

We really hope that this information was useful and that you have a better understanding of our awesome city. If you need any help, just let us know as we’ll be happy to help!


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What do you think about the Madrid Neighborhoods?

Which one is your favorite so far? We’d like to know about your experience!

If you have visited some of them or if you are living in any of the Madrid neighborhoods mentioned we would love to hear from you!

Alejandro Luengo

CEO & Founder of @packtospain. Entrepreneur | English and Spanish speaking | Always seeking new challenges and building stuff

  • dave harwood
    Posted at 11:21h, 12 October Reply

    Lavapies, easily the best barrio in Madrid. Can’t get any more central than here and locals take great pride in this historic barrio. far more “real” than the fake, hipster Malasaña. I’ve lived in Madrid 12 years, in Lavapies for 8. it’s the notting hill of madrid

    • aluengo91
      Posted at 11:26h, 12 October Reply

      Thank you for commenting Dave! There’s no better feedback than that of someone who’s been living there for so long. I couldn’t decide which one is my favorite!

  • 6 ways to spend Valentine's Day in Madrid this year
    Posted at 17:55h, 12 February Reply

    […] it. In that case, this plan might be perfect for you. The barrio Salamanca, as we described in a previous post, is one of the wealthier neighborhoods in Madrid, and also a very beautiful place to take a stroll. […]

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