Where to stay in Madrid for first time: 5 Safe areas

Hi guys, on my website, I already wrote an article about staying in Madrid without a car (I will put the links to it at the end of this article). In today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in Madrid for first-time visitors and tourists.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Madrid for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Madrid and recommend some of the best hotels in Madrid for various budgets.

Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain located in the central part of the country in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula. The city has a rich history dating back to the 9th century and became the capital of Spain in the 16th century during the reign of King Philip II.

Madrid is known for its vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, theaters, and music venues. It is famous for its art, including works by Spanish painters like Francisco Goya and Diego Velázquez, which can be seen in museums such as the Prado Museum.

You can visit iconic landmarks, including the Royal Palace of Madrid, Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, and Retiro Park. The Gran Vía is a major street known for its theaters, shops, and nightlife.

The city has a well-developed transportation system, including a metro system, buses, and commuter trains. It is served by Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport.

Madrid is home to two world-renowned football clubs, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. Santiago Bernabéu Stadium and Wanda Metropolitano Stadium are the homes of these clubs.

Spanish cuisine is famous worldwide, and Madrid is no exception. You can enjoy traditional dishes like paella, tapas, and churros with hot chocolate in the city’s many restaurants and cafes.

The city hosts the San Isidro Festival, a prominent event, celebrating the city’s patron saint. Additionally, Madrid Pride is one of the largest LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations in Europe.

Is Madrid safe to visit?

Yes, Madrid is generally a safe destination for tourists with a low crime rate compared to many other European capitals. But, like any major city, petty theft and pickpocketing can occur, particularly in crowded tourist areas and public transportation hubs.

To ensure safety, it’s advisable to be cautious with personal belongings, use reputable transportation, and avoid poorly lit or unfamiliar areas at night. With common-sense precautions, you can have an enjoyable experience in this vibrant capital city of Spain.

Where to stay in Madrid for the first time?

The best and safest areas to stay in Madrid for first-timers and tourists are Centro, Malasaña, Salamanca, Lavapiés, and Retiro. It’s important to note that the overall safety of a neighborhood can vary from street to street, and even in the safest areas, you should stay alert no matter where you stay.

Centro, often referred to as Sol, is the most popular area to stay in Madrid for first-time visitors who want to be in the heart of Madrid. You’ll be within walking distance from many of the city’s major attractions like Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, and the Royal Palace.  

Malasaña is a trendy and bohemian neighborhood known for its lively nightlife, street art, and a variety of bars, restaurants, and boutique shops. While it’s generally safe, it may get a bit rowdy in the evenings due to the nightlife. Be mindful of your belongings, especially in crowded areas.

Salamanca is one of the most upscale and exclusive areas in Madrid. It’s known for its high-end shops, fine dining, and elegant architecture. It’s a great base for those who prefer a quieter, upscale atmosphere.

Retiro is home to the beautiful Retiro Park, one of Madrid’s largest and most famous parks. Staying near Retiro is an excellent option for family and travelers who want a quieter and greener environment, and it’s still well-connected to the city center.

Lavapiés is a diverse and multicultural neighborhood with a vibrant atmosphere and budget-friendly accommodation. It’s known for its ethnic restaurants and cultural events. 

While most central areas are safe for tourists to book their accommodations, there are a few areas tourists might want to avoid such as Usera, Villaverde, Puente de Valleca, and Carabanchel. These areas have a reputation for being less safe, particularly at night.

During my trip to Madrid, I stayed in the city center area of Madrid at the mid-range Hotel Liabeny. This hotel has a prime location within a short walk from the iconic Puerta del Sol. I was able to explore most sights on foot and by public transportation.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Madrid for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Madrid first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Madrid first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Madrid, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Madrid have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

5 Safe areas to stay in Madrid for first-timers and tourists

1. Centro 

Centro is the best area to stay in Madrid for tourists, especially for first-time visitors. Centro is the city’s historic heart and offers easy access to many of Madrid’s top attractions. 

You’ll be within walking distance or a short metro ride from iconic landmarks like the Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, and the Prado Museum. This makes it convenient to explore Madrid’s rich history and culture.

Centro is filled with restaurants, tapas bars, and shops, allowing you to savor Spanish cuisine and shop for souvenirs or fashion. You’ll have a wide range of options for dining and shopping right at your doorstep.

The area buzzes with activity day and night, offering a lively atmosphere. Street performers, cafes, and plazas provide plenty of opportunities to soak in the local culture.

Centro is well-connected to public transportation, making it easy to explore other parts of Madrid and beyond. The Sol metro station is a central hub for various metro lines and train services.

The area is generally safe, and its central location means you’re likely to find a police presence and other tourists, contributing to a sense of security.

Centro has a variety of nightlife options, from traditional flamenco shows to modern bars and clubs. You can enjoy Madrid’s vibrant nightlife without traveling far.

Centro can be a bit more expensive than some other areas in Madrid, but the convenience and access to attractions make it a worthwhile choice for first-time visitors who want to make the most of their stay. Be sure to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Best places to stay in Madrid in Centro for first-time visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): UMusic Hotel Madrid, great 5-star hotel located in the heart of Madrid, within easy distance from major attractions such as Plaza Mayor, Mercado San Miguel, and Puerta del Sol. It has very good breakfast, comfortable rooms, a rooftop bar with a pleasant city view, and an outdoor swimming pool. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel Liabeny, popular 4-star hotel in central Madrid, a short walk from the famous Puerta del Sol and Gran Vía shopping street. Easy walk/metro ride from major attractions such as Plaza mayor, Royal Palace or Debod Temple. The hotel has a paid airport shuttle, very good breakfast, and private parking.
  • Budget ($): B&B HOTEL Madrid Centro Puerta del Sol, 3-star hotel, centrally located just a few steps from Puerta del Sol, Plaza del Callao, and Plaza Mayor. This hotel has luggage storage, Laundry services, and 24-hour front desk.

2. Malasaña

Malasaña is a fantastic base for first-timers who want to experience Madrid’s alternative and artistic side while being in close proximity to the city center. It is a trendy, bohemian, and vibrant neighborhood in central Madrid.

Malasaña is home to many local artists and designers, which is reflected in the street art, independent boutiques, and creative spaces throughout the neighborhood. It’s a great place for art lovers and those interested in urban culture.

Malasaña is famous for its nightlife. You’ll find a plethora of bars, clubs, and live music venues. It’s a great area for experiencing Madrid’s vibrant night scene, especially if you’re into alternative and indie music.

The neighborhood is filled with charming cafés and restaurants serving a wide variety of cuisine. It’s a great place to try both traditional Spanish dishes and international fare.

There are several local markets in Malasaña, such as Mercado de San Ildefonso, where you can sample fresh produce, street food, and artisanal products.

Malasaña is known for its unique and independent shops. You can find vintage clothing, handmade jewelry, and other one-of-a-kind items in its boutique stores.

Malasaña has its share of historical and cultural landmarks, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Conde Duque,  ABC Museum of Drawing and Illustration, Convent of Las Comendadoras and the Dos de Mayo Square, which commemorates an important event in Spanish history.

Keep in mind that Malasaña’s nightlife can be lively and noisy, especially on weekends, so if you prefer a quieter atmosphere at night, it might not be the best choice for you. 

Best places to stay in Madrid in Malasaña for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Barceló Torre de Madrid, great 5-star hotel conveniently located on Plaza de España, right next to  Plaza de España Metro Station. It has an indoor pool, spacious rooms, and Indoor swimming pool. Also close to main attractions such as Gran Vía and Royal Palace.
  • Mid-range ($$): Vincci Vía – 66, popular 4-star accommodation located in  Gran Via, a short walk from Plaza España, Santo Domingo Metro Station for trains to Paseo del Prado and Retiro Park.
  • Budget ($): Arizonica Suites, 3-star guest house located on Calle San Bernardo, only a few mins walk from Gran Vía, Noviciado Metro Station, and Plaza de España. It has free on-site parking which is a bonus for those with a car. Lots of Shops, bars and cafés can be found nearby.

3. Salamanca

Salamanca is an ideal base for travelers who appreciate luxury, high-end shopping, and fine dining. It’s a quieter and more sophisticated neighborhood that offers a different side of Madrid’s charm.

Salamanca is known for its high-end shopping opportunities. The Golden Mile (Milla de Oro) along Calle Serrano and Calle Ortega y Gasset is home to designer boutiques, luxury brands, and upscale department stores like El Corte Inglés. It’s a paradise for fashion enthusiasts.

The neighborhood boasts a wide array of fine dining restaurants, offering both Spanish and international cuisine. It’s an ideal place to indulge in gastronomic delights.

Salamanca features stunning architecture with grand avenues, elegant townhouses, and historic buildings. Strolling through its streets is a visual treat, and you can admire the exquisite facades and architectural details.

While Salamanca is primarily known for luxury and shopping, it also has cultural attractions like the National Archaeological Museum and Lázaro Galdiano Museum, showcasing a private collection of art and historical items.

The neighborhood is known for its safety, cleanliness, and a more tranquil ambiance compared to some other parts of Madrid. It’s a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.

While Salamanca is a bit removed from the city center, it’s well-connected by public transportation, making it convenient to explore other parts of Madrid.

Best places to stay in Madrid in Salamanca for first-time visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): BLESS Hotel Madrid – The Leading Hotels of the World, 5-star hotel, located in the exclusive Salamanca district, easy access to the city’s best attractions, museums, shops, and nightlife. It has Superb breakfast and and Outdoor swimming pool.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel Serrano by Silken, 4-star hotel located in Salamanca district, easy walk from Rubén Darío Metro Station, Ortega y Gasset Street. Also close to the Plaza Cibeles and Retiro Park. Great location, with shops, restaurants, and cafes all around. 
  • Budget ($): BYPILLOW Velázquez 45, 3-star guesthouse located in the elegant Salamanca district. It is within walking distance from Retiro Park, the Puerta de Alcalá and the Plaza de Colón. Easy access to public transportation with Velazquez and Serrano Metro Stations nearby.

4. Lavapiés 

Lavapiés is a multicultural and eclectic neighborhood in Madrid known for its diverse community, artistic flair, and affordability. It’s a great choice for those who want a more local, budget-friendly, and off-the-beaten-path experience. 

Lavapiés is one of the most multicultural neighborhoods in Madrid. You’ll find a mix of cultures, languages, and cuisines, making it an excellent place to explore international foods and cultural experiences.

Lavapiés is renowned for its vibrant street art scene. You can take a walking tour to explore the neighborhood’s impressive murals and graffiti, which add to the artistic atmosphere.

The neighborhood is filled with affordable restaurants, tapas bars, and local eateries. It’s an ideal place to sample a variety of Spanish and international dishes without breaking the bank.

Lavapiés has several local markets, including Mercado de la Cebada and Mercado de San Fernando, where you can shop for fresh produce, regional products, and enjoy some street food.

Lavapiés is within walking distance of the city center and many major attractions, such as the Reina Sofia Museum and El Rastro flea market. It’s a convenient location for exploring Madrid.

Keep in mind that Lavapiés, like any urban neighborhood, can be a bit more bustling and noisy, particularly in the evenings, due to its vibrant street life and nightlife.

Best places to stay in Madrid in Lavapiés for first-time travelers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Hard Rock Hotel Madrid, great 4-star hotel conveniently located within walking distance from the famous Reina Sofia Museum, Puerta de Toledo, El Retiro Park and Plaza Mayor. It is also close to the train station, short walk/ short taxi journeys from key areas.
  • Mid-range ($$): Aspasios Atocha Apartments, this aparthotel is centrally located close to the Reina Sofia Museum, Atocha Train Station and Plaza Mayor. It has a well-equipped kitchenette, spacious bed and a nice sized bathroom.
  • Budget ($): limehome Madrid Calle Ave María , 3-star lovely apartment in Lavapies neighborhood in central Madrid, short distance from Atocha Train Station, featuring spacious family rooms. The area is full of bars and restaurants.

5. Retiro

Retiro is a charming and tranquil neighborhood in Madrid, known for its proximity to the beautiful Retiro Park. Staying in this area offers a more relaxed and nature-oriented experience, making it a great choice for travelers who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city center. 

The neighborhood is named after the Retiro Park, one of Madrid’s most iconic and stunning green spaces. You can enjoy leisurely walks, picnics, boating on the park’s lake, and exploring its historical monuments and gardens. It’s a serene escape from the city’s urban energy.

Retiro is home to several notable cultural sites, including the Prado Museum and the CaixaForum, which feature world-class art exhibitions and cultural events.

Retiro boasts beautiful 19th-century architecture and charming streets. You’ll find picturesque squares, tree-lined avenues, and historic buildings.

While it’s a quieter neighborhood, there are still local cafés and restaurants where you can savor traditional Spanish dishes and enjoy a leisurely meal.

Retiro is a family-friendly neighborhood with playgrounds and open spaces for children. It’s an excellent choice for travelers with kids.

The neighborhood is well-connected to the city center and other parts of Madrid through public transportation, so you can easily explore other areas when desired.

Best places to stay in Madrid in Retiro for visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): Hospes Puerta de Alcalá, wonderful 5-star hotel located right next to the Retiro Park and Puerta de Alcalá. It features soundproofed rooms, a hammam, and a spa. Easy access to popular landmarks such as The Prado, the Reina Sofía Museum and Cibeles Fountain.
  • Mid-range ($$): Claridge Madrid, 4-star hotel centrally situated in Conde Casal Square, beside the Conde de Casal Metro Station, a few mins walk from Retiro Park. You can find a metro station right in front of the hotel.
  • Budget ($): NH Madrid Atocha, 3-star accommodation located in front of the Atocha Railway Station, 5 mins walk from CaixaForum, Retiro Park, Atocha Metro Station, and Reina Sofía museums. 

In conclusion, Centro, Malasaña, Salamanca, Lavapiés, and Retiro are the best places to stay in Madrid for first-timers and tourists. They are generally safe areas with plenty of accommodation options for all budgets and easy access to major attractions.  

If you want to be in the heart of the city’s attractions, Centro is a great choice. If you prefer a more bohemian atmosphere with a lively nightlife, consider Malasaña. 

For upscale shopping and dining, Salamanca is the right choice. Lavapiés offers a diverse and vibrant local experience, while Retiro provides a more relaxed, nature-oriented stay.

You continue reading about Madrid and other destinations in Spain in these articles:

I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful. If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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