Where to stay in Madrid without a car: 8 Best areas

I love to explore places without a car, and on my website, I cover many topics for car-free travelers. In this article, we will visit Madrid and help you find the best places to stay in Madrid without a car

I will share my recommendations for the top areas to stay in Madrid without a car, along with a helpful map. I’ll also tell you where I stayed in Madrid and suggest the best hotels in Madrid for all budgets.

Madrid is the capital city of Spain, located in the central part of the country. It is the largest city in Spain and serves as the political, economic, and cultural center of the country. 

The city is known for its vibrant culture, which includes a lively arts scene, flamenco music and dance, and a passion for soccer, with famous clubs like Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid.

If you are visiting Madrid and asking “Do I need a car in Madrid?” My answer is, No, you don’t need a car to explore within the city as the Traffic can be heavy, car parking is expensive and difficult to find. 

The best way to get around Madrid is on foot and by metro, bus, metered taxi, as well as ride-sharing services such as Uber, Cabify and Bolt.

Madrid has an extensive and efficient public transportation system, including a metro system, commuter trains, buses, making it easy to get around without the need of having a car. It is well-maintained, safe, and covers most areas of interest. 

Madrid’s metro system has 12 lines that connect most parts of the city. It’s the fastest way to travel within Madrid. You can purchase single tickets or a travel card for multiple journeys.

It’s a cost-effective and efficient way to get around the city, and it allows you to avoid the hassles of parking and traffic congestion. The Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport is one of the busiest in Europe.

To get from the airport into the city center, you can take the metro line number 8, the Airport Express Shuttle (Exprés Aeropuerto), taxi, or your hotel’s airport shuttle.

Madrid is a walkable city, and many attractions are within walking distance of each other, particularly in the city center. You can also rent bicycles from the BiciMAD bike-sharing service to explore the city on two wheels.

You can consider getting a tourist travel card like the Madrid Tourist Travel Pass or the Madrid Card, which offer unlimited access to public transportation for a specific period. These cards can save you money and make it more convenient to get around.

Where to stay in Madrid without a car?

The best areas to stay in Madrid without a car are Centro, Malasaña, Salamanca, Lavapiés, Chueca, Retiro, Huertas, and Atocha. They are all very well-connected by public transportation, so you should be able to get around the city easily without a car no matter where you stay.

Centro is the most popular area to stay in Madrid for first-timers and travelers who want to be in the heart of the action and have easy access to top attractions, shopping, dining, and nightlife.

Malasaña is known for its bohemian and hip atmosphere. Salamanca is an upscale neighborhood that is ideal if you’re looking for high-end shopping, dining, and a more residential feel. 

Lavapiés is a diverse and multicultural neighborhood with a vibrant atmosphere. Chueca is a great area to book a hotel if you’re interested in Madrid’s LGBTQ+ scene and enjoy a lively atmosphere.

Retiro is a peaceful and green neighborhood that is home to the beautiful Parque del Retiro.  Huertas (Barrio de las Letras) is famous for its literary history and cultural attractions. 

Atocha is close to Madrid’s main train station, which makes it convenient for travelers arriving by train. It’s well-connected to other parts of the city by both Metro and commuter train.

During my trip to Madrid, I stayed at the popular 4-star Hotel Liabeny in the Centro neighborhood. The hotel has a very central location and is well-connected to public transportation, so I was able to explore most sights on foot and by public transportation.

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

Map of the best areas to stay in Madrid without a car
Map of the best areas to stay in Madrid without a car

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Madrid, especially for travelers without a car. I’ll explain to you how to reach each area and how to get around. I’ll also 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.

8 Best areas to stay in Madrid without a car:

1. Centro

Centro is an excellent area to stay in Madrid, especially if you want to be right in the heart of the city and within walking distance of many of the main attractions. 

Centro is home to some of Madrid’s most iconic landmarks, such as Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace, and Gran Vía. You can easily explore these attractions on foot.

The neighborhood is bustling with energy day and night. You’ll find a wide range of restaurants, bars, shops, and street performers, making it a lively place to stay.

Centro is rich in history, with many museums, churches, and historic buildings to explore. Museo del Prado, one of the world’s finest art museums, is also within reach.

If you love shopping, you’re in the right place. Gran Vía is a major shopping street with a wide selection of stores, from high-end boutiques to well-known international brands.

If you enjoy nightlife, you’ll find a variety of bars and clubs in the area. From traditional Spanish taverns to modern dance clubs, Centro has it all.

Madrid is famous for its culinary scene, and you’ll find a plethora of restaurants offering traditional Spanish dishes and international cuisine in the Centro neighborhood.

Keep in mind that Centro is a popular area for tourists, so it can get crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons. Accommodations in this area vary from budget hostels to luxury hotels, so you can find lodging that suits your preferences and budget.

Best places to stay in Madrid Centro without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): UMusic Hotel Madrid, great 5-star hotel located in central Madrid, within a short walk from major attractions such as Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, Mercado San Miguel, and easy access to public transportation. It has an outdoor swimming pool, and Very good breakfast.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel Liabeny, a very popular 4-star hotel located in the center of Madrid, close to Gran Vía and Callao metro stations as well as major sights such as Puerta del Sol, Plaza mayor, Royal Palace, and Debod Temple.  
  • Budget ($): Hotel Moderno Puerta del Sol, great 3-star hotel centrally located a short distance fromPuerta del Sol Square and Plaza Mayor. The hotel offers a buffet breakfast, family rooms, airport shuttle and car rental services.

2. Malasaña

Malasaña is a central neighborhood and is an excellent base in Madrid if you’re looking for a trendy and vibrant area with a bohemian atmosphere. 

Malasaña is known for its hip and trendy atmosphere. It’s a hub for artists, musicians, and the creative community. The streets are adorned with street art and graffiti, giving it a unique character.

The neighborhood is famous for its lively nightlife. You’ll find a wide variety of bars, clubs, and music venues that cater to different tastes. It’s a great place for night owls and music enthusiasts.

Malasaña offers a mix of vintage shops, boutique stores, and independent designers, making it a great place for unique and stylish shopping.

There’s no shortage of cafes and restaurants in Malasaña. The area is particularly known for its brunch spots and coffee culture.

While Malasaña has its unique charm, it’s still within walking distance to the city center and major attractions like Gran Vía, making it convenient for sightseeing.

You’ll also be close to the charming Plaza de Dos de Mayo, Calle Fuencarral, the ABC Museum of Drawing and Illustration, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Conde Duque.

Best places to stay in Madrid in Malasaña without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): Barceló Torre de Madrid, great 5-star hotel, located right next to the Plaza de España Metro Station, which is a bonus for car-free travelers. It is also within walking distance from Gran Vía, The Royal Palace, Puerta del Sol, and Plaza Mayor Square.
  • Mid-range ($$): Riu Plaza España, extremely popular 4-star hotel, located in central location, easy access to the train station, and major attractions such as Gran Via, Royal Palace of Madrid, and Temple of Debod.
  • Budget ($): Arizonica Suites, great 3-star accommodation, conveniently located on Calle San Bernardo, within a short walk from Gran Vía, Plaza de España, and the Noviciado Metro Station, for an easy train ride to The Prado, Reina Sofía, and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums.

3. Salamanca

Salamanca is a great area to book a hotel in Madrid if you prefer an upscale, elegant, and upscale atmosphere. Salamanca is one of the most exclusive areas in the city and a high-end shopping district. 

Calle Serrano and Calle Velázquez are renowned for their luxury boutiques and designer stores, including international brands like Chanel, Prada, and Louis Vuitton.

The neighborhood boasts beautiful, tree-lined streets and stunning architecture. You can enjoy a leisurely walk and admire the grand buildings and mansions.

While Salamanca is mainly known for luxury and shopping, it’s also home to some cultural sites like the Lázaro Galdiano Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, and many art galleries.

The famous Retiro Park is within walking distance from Salamanca, providing a beautiful green space for leisurely walks, picnics, and outdoor activities.

Best places to stay in Madrid in Salamanca without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): Wellington Hotel & Spa Madrid, 5-star hotel, centrally located in Salamanca district, short walk from Retiro Park and Retiro metro station. Also close to the famous Paseo de la Castellana, Prado/Thyssen Bornemisza museums. It offers Outdoor swimming pool, paid airport shuttle services, and fabulous breakfast.
  • Mid-range ($$): ICON Embassy, 4-star hotel, conveniently located on Calle Serrano, within easy walk from  bus and metro stations, offering easy access to popular tourists attractions such as  Plaza de Colón Square and Retiro Park both on foot and by public transportation, 
  • Budget ($): BYPILLOW Velázquez 45, 3-star hotel located in Salamanca, located within walking distance from Velázquez Metro Station and Serrano Metro Station. Easy access to attractions such as Retiro Park, Puerta de Alcalá, and Plaza de Colón.

4. Lavapiés

Lavapiés is one of the best areas to stay in Madrid if you want to experience the vibrant and multicultural side of Madrid while enjoying a rich tapestry of food, art, and cultural experiences.

Lavapiés is known for its multicultural and diverse community, making it a melting pot of cultures and traditions. You’ll find a wide range of international restaurants, shops, and markets.

This neighborhood is celebrated for its affordable and delicious dining options. You can sample cuisine from all over the world, from Indian and Moroccan to Ethiopian and Spanish. Great area for budget travelers.

El Rastro, one of Madrid’s most famous markets, takes place in Lavapiés every Sunday. It’s a vibrant flea market where you can find all sorts of items, from antiques to clothing and art.

While Lavapiés has its own distinct character, it’s within walking distance of the city center and major attractions, such as the Royal Palace and Puerta del Sol.

The neighborhood offers a variety of accommodations, from budget-friendly hostels to cozy apartments, making it accessible to travelers with different budgets.

Best places to stay in Madrid in Lavapiés without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): Hard Rock Hotel Madrid, great 4-star hotel, located very close to Atocha station and Lavapiés neighborhood. Within walking distance to major museums, and landmarks.
  • Mid-range ($$): limehome Madrid Calle Ave María – Digital Access, great apartment located in the middle of Lavapies, you can walk around everything.  Also close to Anton Martin Metro Station and Lavapiés Metro Station.
  • Budget ($):  Artrip Hotel, 2-star hotel located in Lavapiés district, 10 mins walk from Atocha Metro Station. Close to many tapas bars, restaurants and shops.

5. Chueca

Chueca is an excellent base in Madrid if you’re looking for a lively and inclusive atmosphere with a focus on LGBTQ+ culture and nightlife. 

Chueca is Madrid’s LGBTQ+ district and is known for its welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. It’s a hub for LGBTQ+ culture and hosts events, pride celebrations, and a range of LGBTQ+ bars and venues.

Chueca is famous for its vibrant and diverse nightlife scene. You’ll find numerous bars, clubs, and venues catering to a variety of tastes, from trendy cocktail bars to dance clubs.

It’s important to note that Chueca can be noisy and lively, especially during weekends and special events, so it’s ideal for those who want to immerse themselves in the energetic and diverse LGBTQ+ culture and nightlife scene.

Best places to stay in Madrid in Chueca without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): Only YOU Boutique Hotel Madrid, 4-star boutique hotel, former 19th century palace, centrally located in trendy Chueca district, offering Very good breakfast and parking for those who drive. Short walk from Chueca Metro Station.
  • Mid-range ($$): Petit Palace Chueca, 3-star accommodation, short walk from Gran Via and Fuencarral Street. You can find many shops, restaurants and bars nearby. It has a 24-hour front desk and spacious family rooms.
  • Mid-range ($$): Room Mate Oscar, 3-star stylish hotel conveniently located between  Gran Via and the Chueca district. Only a few mins walk from Gran Via Metro Station and Puerta del Sol district. Many bars, cafés and restaurants nearby.

6. Retiro

Retiro is named after the famous Retiro Park, one of the most beautiful and expansive green spaces in Madrid. Staying in this neighborhood means you’ll have the park practically at your doorstep, providing a serene and natural escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The neighborhood has a quieter and more residential atmosphere compared to some of the more bustling areas of Madrid, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a peaceful retreat.

While Retiro is quieter, it’s still close to cultural attractions, including the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and the Reina Sofia Museum. You can easily explore Madrid’s art scene.

In addition to exploring Retiro Park, the neighborhood offers opportunities for outdoor activities like jogging, picnicking, and rowing on the park’s boating lake.

Best places to stay in Madrid in Retiro without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): Hospes Puerta de Alcalá, 5-star hotel located next to Puerta de Alcalá, and Retiro Park. It is a short walk from major sights such as Cibeles Fountain, Prado, and Reina Sofía Museum. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Agumar, 4-star hotel located close to Atocha Station, and the museum areas of Madrid. From Atocha Train Station, you can take high-speed AVE services and links to Barajas Airport. 
  • Budget ($): NH Madrid Atocha, 3-star hotel, located in front of Atocha Railway Station and only a few mins walk from CaixaForum and Reina Sofía museums. It has a 24-hour front desk, laundry services, and Luggage storage.

7. Huertas (Barrio De Las Letras)

Huertas is known as the Barrio de las Letras because it’s the historic home of many renowned Spanish writers, including Cervantes and Lope de Vega. The streets are often marked with quotes from famous literary works.

The neighborhood has a lively nightlife scene with numerous bars and clubs, especially on and around Calle Huertas. It’s a great place for enjoying Madrid’s vibrant evening entertainment.

The neighborhood is within walking distance of major attractions like the Plaza Santa Ana, Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Reina Sofia Museum, and Puerta del Sol.

Best places to stay in Madrid in Huertas without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): NH Collection Madrid Palacio de Tepa, 5-star hotel located in San Sebastián, in Las Letras District,  within walking distance from Plaza Mayor Square and Royal Palace. Easy access to Sol and Anton Martín metro stations.
  • Mid-range ($$): Room Mate Alba, great 4-star accommodation, located on Calle de las Huertas, in a central location, close to Anton Martin Metro Station, so you’ll have easy access to all major sights, restaurants, and shops.
  • Budget ($): Hostal Evoke Madrid, great accommodation, within walking distance of several bars, restaurants and cafés, as well as easy access to major attractions.

8. Atocha

Atocha is an excellent area to stay in Madrid if you’re interested in being close to major cultural attractions, transportation hubs, and the city’s “Golden Triangle of Art.” 

Atocha is adjacent to the Paseo del Prado, home to the “Golden Triangle of Art,” which includes world-renowned museums like the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and the Reina Sofia Museum. Art enthusiasts will find it a prime location.

Atocha is home to the Atocha train station, one of the primary transportation hubs in Madrid. From here, you can easily access domestic and international train services, making it convenient for day trips and travel within Spain.

The Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid (Royal Botanical Garden) is located near Atocha and offers a serene escape into nature with a diverse collection of plants and greenery.

Best places to stay in Madrid in Atocha without a car:

  • Mid-range ($$): AC Hotel Atocha by Marriott, 4-star hotel, short walk from Atocha Station, The Reina Sofia and Botanical Gardens.
  • Mid-range ($$): AC Hotel Carlton Madrid by Marriott, great 4-star hotel in central Madrid, easy access to Atocha-AVE Train and Metro Station and Palos de la Frontera Metro Station. Also within walking distance from The Art Triangle and the Botanic Gardens.
  • Budget ($): Hotel Sancho, 3-star hotel located 10 mins walk from Atocha Train Station, and a few steps from RENFE Cercanias train station, offering direct services to the Adolfo Suarez Barajas Airport via line C1. Journey.

In conclusion, Centro, Malasaña, Salamanca, Lavapiés, Chueca, Retiro, Huertas, and Atocha are the best places to stay in Madrid without a car. These areas offer plenty of accommodations for all budgets, and you can easily explore all major sights on foot and public transportation.

You continue reading about Madrid in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the popular areas that you can stay during your trip to Madrid. I hope you found my article helpful and enjoy your holiday!

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 travel guides.

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.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

Leave a Comment