Madrid: The five best districts to live in

By Kike Published 22/12/2022

Madrid is a vibrant city.

The long list of bars, nightclubs, museums, and cafes makes Spain’s capital highly attractive to people all around the world. A lot of them are young digital nomads looking for all that Madrid has to offer.

However, as one of the biggest European cities, deciding where to live might become a nightmare for newbies. Is the center the best option? Which neighborhood is cheaper? What about cultural life?

If you are asking yourself these or similar questions, keep reading.

We are going to tell you about the best five districts to live in Madrid. You will see that each one has its own charm but trust us, after reading this article you are going to be much closer to choosing the perfect area to live in. Let’s go!


This district is very famous for its young life. Many students and young workers choose this southern area as it’s cheaper than others in the capital. Besides, living near Madrid Río is a great option if you like both nature and sport. Madrid Río is a long path by the Manzanares River designed for cyclists, runners, and skaters.

Very close to the river, in Legazpi, you can find Matadero, which means slaughterhouse (as it was one in the past). Relax, nowadays it’s a lively cultural area with plenty of spaces dedicated to exhibitions, plays, concerts, and much more.

Arganzuela also hosts Atocha, the main train station in Madrid. Metro line, commuter, and high-speed trains all in one. So, if you want to be well connected with the rest of Madrid and Spain, Atocha station is the place you look for.

Between Atocha and Legazpi there is a very well-known neighborhood called Delicias, home of the Railway Museum, one of the most representative examples of industrial architecture. Here’s a little tip: one weekend each month the space is transformed into an active market with different food trucks and a variety of stands selling many different things. It’s called Mercado de Motores and the visit is well worth it.


Heading northwest in the capital is the Tetuán district, a big and diverse area. Prices are generally cheaper than Chamberi and the center, although it may vary depending on the neighborhood. Cuatro Caminos is very close to Real Madrid stadium and a fancy street called ‘La Castellana’, so prices there may be higher.

A good option for young people can be finding a coliving house in order to share experiences with other expats. This is the solution that Cohabs currently offers with a house in the district of Tetuan. This way you could make friends from the very first day you arrive in Madrid.

Bellas Vistas district buildings photos.

Tetuan features an impressive striking combination that occurs in its streets, with areas of low houses such as those in the Bellas Vistas district, or with skyscrapers such as those in the Azca complex. It is also a multicultural district with both Latin American and Philippine communities residing here.

Thanks to the changes it has undergone in recent years, this trendy new neighborhood has room for all kinds of businesses. With historic establishments, international restaurants, and urban art decorating even the most unexpected corners, vibrant Tetuan takes us on a journey without leaving Madrid.

Centro (Center)

The Center district is the most famous area in Madrid. Even if you have never visited the city, you probably have heard about Puerta del Sol, which is the most popular and crowded square you will find here. From this spot, you only need less than a five-minute walk to make it to another emblematic square: Plaza Mayor. This is a historical and very beautiful place surrounded by bars. You might be tempted to stop and eat something but be careful because tourism has inflated prices in this place.

Living in this area might be a little expensive, but if you can afford it, you won’t get bored. Do you like shopping? Go straight to Gran Vía, the most famous and largest street in the city is full of fashion stores. But not only shops; you can find big theaters and fancy restaurants as well. There is a low-budget plan in Gran Vía as well: going for a walk. For instance, during Christmas time the street becomes a magical place full of lights and a simple walk is a nice idea at any time.

Perhaps you are thinking that this district is very tourist oriented. Don’t be mistaken, Madrid center is huge and there are other neighborhoods with more alternative lifestyles.

A good example is Lavapies, a reference in the cultural life of Madrid, or multicultural because it’s a perfect melting pot. African, Indian, Asian, and Latin American people live peacefully in Lavapies; many of them own a family store or bar. For this reason, it’s easy to taste flavors from Senegal, Lebanon, Pakistan, India, or China all within the same few streets. Sounds good, right?

From Lavapies you can get to La Latina, another young and cultural neighborhood. In both, there are a lot of small and medium-sized theaters for those who love a good play. And it wouldn’t be La Latina without bars, this area is perfect to try the famous cañas and tapas. If you are lucky enough, you will get tapas for free along with every caña. 

La Latina is also home to the very famous El Rastro. Every Sunday morning, a flea market appears from nowhere in some streets of this eclectic neighborhood, which suddenly is full of sale stalls and people looking for vintage clothing, cheap jewelry, music vinyl, or antiques. If you live in Madrid, you absolutely must visit El Rastro.


First things first, Retiro is the biggest and most famous park in Madrid. But It’s also a district. The advantage is clear, who wouldn’t like living near this beautiful park? Nature everywhere, hidden paths, a beautiful lake… Retiro park is a gem in the heart of Madrid. And just like Madrid Río, this park is perfect for those who like doing sport. It’s easy to get lost running or cycling through its multiple routes. It’s also a good place for a date. Want to impress someone? Invite him or her to a boat ride on the lake!

Museums are another attraction in this area. Some of them are the most important in the city, like Museo del Prado, where you can find breathtaking paintings of Spanish classics like Velazquez or Goya. Another famous museum in this district is the Reina Sofia, known for its modern art and for hosting the astonishing work of Picasso.

Life in Retiro District is quiet, so if you are a relaxed person looking for a place to live without the hustle and bustle, then Retiro is a good choice. Remember that Arganzuela and Center district are still very close, so don’t think you will become solitary in Retiro, you would only have a huge park between you and the hustle and bustle of Madrid.


The district of Chamberi is a dynamic area, most focused in young workers with a good living standard. Apartment prices here are not cheap, although they aren’t the most expensive either. This district has the best of both worlds, it has quiet neighborhoods like Vallehermoso or spicy ones like Trafalgar.

In Trafalgar, you can find the great Olavide Square, a circular square surrounded by bars. You can go one by one until you end up in the first you visited as the urban design is just that: a circle. Another incredible place in Chamberi to go and try different bars is Ponzano street, very popular for having one of the largest concentrations of bars: 72 in one kilometer. A higher budget is necessary for bars on this street, but that doesn’t stop many young people, even a lot of students, from going there to drink beer and wine any day of the week.

If you like restaurants, Chamberi might be your preferred choice to live. From high-level restaurants to cheaper ones, no foodie is left behind in this great district. In fact, Chamberi has the largest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in Madrid, one of them is Coque restaurant, which has two stars. Lucky for you, there’s a Cohabs house coming this year for you to move into!

It also has nice museums like Sorolla Museum, a space dedicated to the work of Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla, where he actually lived and worked during his lifetime.

There you have it, the five best districts to experience Madrid to the fullest. Of course, there are others that are worthwhile as well, but this is our top selection from Spain’s capital.

We hope we have helped you decide where to move before becoming an inhabitant of this incredible city. Now that you have more information, tell us, what is your favorite area in Madrid?

About the author Hey! I'm Kike, a Spanish writer and photographer. I studied journalism in Madrid, where I have been living for 10 years. I enjoy creative writing, taking photos and creating audiovisual content.