The two barrios Sol and Huertas are situated close to each other. Sol is an area just around Puerta de Sol while Huertas is well-known for Plaza Santa Ana and Calle Huertas; the barrio starts out from Puerta del Sol along Calle Atocha and down to Paseo del Prado. Popular with tourists and the young for its nightlife and trendy bars and cafes.
In the area around Sol, you will find many typically Spanish bars and many tourist attractions. Being the heart of the city, the area around Sol is enjoyed by both Madrileños and tourists alike.
It has a lot of charm but can be a little run down in places. Beware of pickpockets and undesirables who linger on the streets.
Recommended for: expats who like to explore the nightlife of Madrid and perhaps a little on the edge. Families with young children certainly want to avoid this area.
La Latina is south-west of Sol and the main characteristics of this quarter are its tiny streets and beautiful old buildings and plazas. On Sundays, the Rastro is open in La Latina. This is a big flea market where you can buy virtually anything.
Recommended for: expats who enjoy exploring the cultural aspects of the city. Do leave your valuables at home as the flea market is rife with pickpockets.
Originally the Jewish quarter of Madrid, Lavapiés is probably the most multicultural barrio of Madrid which is heavily influenced by African, Arabic and gypsy cultures. The plaza of Lavapiés marks the centre of this barrio. If you walk to the south you will find more interesting places, street artists and vendors.
The bars here tend to have an artistic and bohemian ambience. Cuisine from all over the world, especially Arabic and Indian, can be found in the restaurants in Lavapiés. Lavapies hosts the annual Chinese New Year celebrations and Ramadan.
Recommended for: people who enjoyed eating out at restaurants which are slightly less conventional.
Goya / Serrano / Velázquez
This “barrio” has the major thoroughfare of Velázquez and Serrano running from North to South and Goya from East to West. It is primarily a wealthy residential area for madrilenos with many expensive designer stores flanking the wide streets. This area is made up of more elderly people but the younger population is steadily growing.
Recommended for: retirees who know how to enjoy life.
Malasanha / Tribunal
Calle Fuencarral, which leads from Gran Via to the area of Malasana, is a lively area with hip and funky shops and frequented by the young. Some well-known stores inlcude the recently-arrived Japanese store Muji. There are lots of bars, restaurants, nightlife spotted in this part of town. If you are looking for gothic, hippy or grunge, you won't be disappointed.
Recommended for: young expats who love to paint the town red.
Chueca is Madrid’s gay and lesbian district. It’s a very lively area but not recommended for families or people who are slightly homophobic.
Recommended for: people who have partners of the same sex.
Argüelles / Moncloa
Just next to the Ciudad Universitaria the district of Moncloa and Argüelles hosts a lot of students at night, but also offers something for everyone. Argüelles is especially known for the Bajos de Argüelles (the Basements of Argüelles) where you can find many discos, bars and clubs located in the basements of local buildings. You can also find alternative venues as well as mainstream discos and clubs. It’s a pretty part of Madrid and depending on what part you are looking at, it can be a little pricey.
View of Madrid from a building in Moncloa district © edansRecommended for: trendy young expats who like to explore the alternative nightlife of Madrid.
Madrid de las Austrias - Opera
This is the picturesque old town area, around the Plaza Mayor, opera house and royal palace. Madrid de las Austrias refers to the period when the Hapsburgs were in Spain and many of the buildings with their beautiful architecture reflect this period of history. It’s a very stylish district which houses many of the city’s major sights. It's a very stylish district which houses many of the city's major sights.
Recommended for: expats who can afford to spend more on housing.
Parque de las Avenidas
This is in the Salamance district and is a residential area of both young and old families. Houses in this area are fairly priced and have a good balance of shops and tranquillity. It is also well-connected to most parts of Madrid.
Recommended for: families with children who prefer a more relaxed Madrid
Located in north of Madrid, this is a residential area filled with young families. It is generally a quiet area with a few cafes and local shops. Most buildings have communal gardens and pools.
Recommended for: families with middle to high income will find this the ideal place as it is easy to go to central Madrid from Chamartin.
Barrio de la Concepcion
Another residential area filled with families, the Barrio de la Concepcion is located east of Madrid. There are a few shops in the area and it is easy to commute to work.
Recommended for: families who prefer to spend less on housing will find prices here affordable as they range from medium to low.
View of the Cuatro Torres Business Area (CTBA) under construction from the Chamartín railway station in Madrid (Spain) © ZagarbalArturo Soria
Arturo Soria runs from South to North. The whole stretchy of Arturo Soria is leafy and residential but may be too quiet for fun-loving types who like to have cafes and shops on their doorstep.
It can also be quite expensive but if you look carefully enough you can find a decent home for a reasonable price. Most properties have a communal swimming pool.
Recommended for: young expats who wish to steer clear of the hustle and bustle of the city will enjoy the tranquillity of the neighbourhood.
3 March 2009
Photos by: Zagarbal; edans; xurde; Mike_el Madrileño
This article has been reprinted with permission of Kids in Madrid