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MADRID GAY TRAVEL GUIDE:

WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO DO IN THIS LGBTQ-FRIENDLY CITY

Miguel Lorenzo

Freelance travel blogger, lifestyle journalist and Instagram content creator.

Madrid may just be the most inclusive city in the world, welcoming LGBTQ+ communities far and wide. There’s a special kind of energy when you walk along the streets lined with rainbow flags: you can feel the love on every corner.

In our blog article, we unveil the coolest places to visit in the Spanish capital, so that you too can feel like a true Madrileño.

Chueca, OUR neighbourhood 🏳️‍🌈

It’s difficult to describe the sense of freedom you feel in this city centre neighbourhood, which borders the buzzing Gran Vía to the south. The local LGBTQ+ community runs many of Chueca’s shops, and you can be sure of a warm welcome.

Top tip: Have a mid-afternoon coffee in one of the many bars on the Plaza de Chueca, the square that gave the neighbourhood its name. See and be seen ;) 

Restaurants for all tastes (and budgets)

You’re craving tapas… but where are the best?

You’ll find some of the best croquetas in all of Madrid, and without a doubt some of the cheapest, at Rocablanca. One of the more traditional bars, the tapas is free when you drink, and there are plenty of dishes on the menu: patatas bravas, salad, salmorejo...

Calle Fuencarral 71. Metro Tribunal

Bodega Ardosa is one of the oldest tabernas in the city: its wooden walls breathe tradition and character. Their tortilla de patata (potato omelette) is an absolute must-try.

Calle Colón 13. Metro Tribunal

If you’ve done your homework on Madrid, you will have learnt that squid sandwiches (Bocadillo de calamares) are one of the principal dishes of the city. It's not easy to find a really good one, but one of the best, coming directly from the Cantabrian Sea, is at the characterful tavern, Celso y Manolo. Be sure not to pass up on their "tomato steak" (chuletón de tomate) either...

Calle Libertad 1. Metro Chueca

And if what you feel like doing after a busy day of sightseeing is a sit-down meal…

 You can find some of the most authentic, high-quality Spanish cuisine in all of Madrid in a restaurant called Décimo B. Alfonso, its attentive owner, welcomes his guests with open arms, guiding them through the restaurant’s specialties. All dishes are meticulously designed, and made with the utmost care. Tip: Don’t pass up on the meatballs.

Calle Conde duque 8. Metro Plaza de España

If you love good wine and sausages, make sure you visit Propaganda. A romantic restaurant specialising in fresh Italian cuisine, it’s a place to enjoy a quiet dinner in the best company. The Speck del Trentino is an absolute treat.

Calle Libertad 12. Metro Chueca

Hotels made for LGBTQ+ travellers 🏳️‍🌈

“Heterofriendly Hotel'': the Axel Hotel Madrid’s slogan and a powerful statement. At this 4-star Adults-only property, which lies just steps from Puerta del Sol, members of the LGBTQ+ community are the majority. One ‘nice touch’ by the hotel is that all guests are provided with a map at check-in of the key LGBTQ+ areas to visit in the city.

Calle de Atocha 49. Metro Antón Martín.

One of the most beautiful buildings in the city, which sticks out particularly at night with its gorgeously lit facade, is also home to the hotel ME Madrid Reina Victoria. This 4-star property is bursting with life and offers much in the way of cultural activities, including LGBTQ-related ones in the months of June and July. Don’t miss its best kept secret: a roof terrace with spectacular city views.

Plaza de Santa Ana 14. Metro Puerta del Sol.

In the heart of Malasaña lies the Bastardo Hostel, a property designed to suit all budgets. If you’re travelling with a group of friends or are on a strict budget, there are a variety of room options to choose from, from private double rooms to shared 6-person rooms. The multiple common spaces are an easy and fun way to meet other like-minded travellers. 

Calle de San Mateo 3. Metro Tribunal

It's a bit of fun ‘¡a la Madrileña!’

​​One of the most anticipated shows of recent years has just premiered in Madrid: Malinche, el Musical by the great Nacho Cano. Twelve years in the making, this show tells the story of Spain’s history and modern day feminist roots through the world of music. Prepare to be delighted by this three-hour masterpiece.

If your holidays fall on a Sunday, you're in luck: Dragalada Drag Tour, Spain’s first daytime drag party, takes place on two Sundays a month. The 6-hour event, hosted over 6 venues, guarantees an afternoon of fun, laughter, meeting new people and making new memories.

Madrid’s theatre scene is an extensive one and there’s always a show with an LGBTQ+ theme. The two venues, Nave 73 and OFF Latina, are known to frequently produce shows of this genre. 

Two of Europe’s most important museums are in Madrid and cannot be missed: 

Museo Reina Sofía. This museum of Spanish modern art houses some of history’s most famous contemporary artists, among them Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso. The iconic ‘El Guernica’, one of Picasso’s most significant paintings, is found here.

Don't forget to visit the museum's more recent extension, designed by French architect, Jean Nouvel: it has a terrace on its upper levels that is particularly worth the visit. The museum also offers free admission hours throughout the week, except on Tuesdays, make sure to check when these will be on the museum's website before you visit.

Calle de Santa Isabel 52. Metro Estación del Arte

Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. If you walk about 15 minutes from the Reina Sofia, you’ll find a totally different kind of museum, one dedicated to European paintings from the Middle Ages to the end of the 20th century.

Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Kandinsky... these are just a few of the cultural heavyweights in the more than 1,000 works exhibited here. And we’ll let you in on a secret: on Mondays entrance is completely free for everyone.

Paseo del Prado 8. Metro Banco de España

Come on, let's party!

One of the most beautiful things about Madrid is the hospitality and welcoming spirit of its locals, a good part of them emigrants from smaller cities who have come to the capital to live a life where they can embrace who they are. The relaxed culture and attitude of the people here make it easy to strike up conversation with just about anyone, and to make new friends at events and venues.

In Madrid, people go out at around 10pm to have their first drink, after which, at around 1am, they head to the bars and clubs. Only You Bar, D Mystic Bar and LaKama Café are just three such places where you’ll always find good music and a great atmosphere.

The LGBTQ+ disco that is trending right now is Marta, Cariño! A two-story venue with live DJs and pop music that is open every Friday and Saturday (and some Thursdays and Sundays) until 6 in the morning. The general age range of patrons who frequent this joint is around 25-40, but you'll find plenty of younger and older revellers too.

If house and electronic music are your thing and you’re looking for a Friday-night joint, Candy Club in Sala Boite has to be the one. And if it's Saturday, Kluster at Sala Changó is a great choice.

If you’re in Madrid during the week, two of the most popular all-night bars, open Monday to Sunday, are Delirio Live and Quién la Invitó: they’re also both known for hosting the occasional drag show…

If you’re a little more into indie music, we recommend Ocho y Medio in Sala But. The general age range is around 20-30, but you'll find party-goers of all ages too. They host LGBTQ+ parties and have an incredibly warm and welcoming atmosphere, where fun is pretty much guaranteed.

As you can see, Madrid has an infinite selection of things to see and do to suit all tastes, people and (travel) styles. And although it may be one of the cities in Spain to attract the most tourists, there are still quite a few areas to discover right in the heart of the city that are less commonly visited. If you’re someone who likes to travel back in time and enjoy authentic Spain and its history, we suggest you walk through the Barrio de los Austrias, visiting the following areas in particular: Plaza de la Villa, Calle del Codo, Huerto de las Monjas, Calle del Rollo, Plazuela de San Miguel (a quiet square, the smallest in Madrid), the Viaducto de Segovia and its adjoining streets, and the Jardines del Príncipe Anglona, ​​a practically unknown small green space.

We’re sure you’ll still have plenty of appetite for more even after this tour of remarkable Madrid. Be sure to check back in soon because if there’s one thing you should know about this great city, it’s that it’s continuously evolving, continuously changing, and there is always, always, something new to do ❤️

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