Gran Via: The Heart of Madrid

Like Broadway, Oxford Street or its Catalan cousin La Rambla, Gran Via is the heart of Madrid. This ‘street that never sleeps’ holds everything in the city together and genuinely offers something for everyone – and we don’t use clichés lightly. 

From the most distinguished Madrid restaurants and must-stay hotels to theatres and some of the best shopping in Madrid, Gran Via has plenty of things to see and do, regardless of how long you’re staying in the city. 

Take a look at our video guide to this iconic avenue: 


Retail Therapy

If there’s one thing Gran Via is known for among locals and tourists alike, it’s shopping. This isn’t exactly a secret either, because an estimated 10 million people rock up here every year looking for a spot of retail therapy courtesy of brands like Zara, Primark, Lacoste, Pull & Bear, Berskha and Nike. 

But don’t let the number of visitors put you off. Gran Via recently underwent a bit of an overhaul to pedestrianise large areas and enlarge pavements, so you can definitely enjoy your shopping experience without feeling like a tinned sardine. 

The Gran Via might be the most-celebrated place for shopping in Madrid, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only place. Calle de Fuencarral branches off from Gran Via and offers quirky modern shopping and independent brands, while Calle de Preciados (a stone’s throw from Gran Via) is a vibrant, pedestrian-only street where you’ll find large department stores like El Corte Ingles and FNAC. Oh, and loads of tapas bars for when all that shopping gets too much.

Best for: shopaholics and anyone seeking retail therapy
Don't miss: Calle de Fuencarral’s quirky modern shops 

Break a Leg

There’s a reason why Gran Via is called ‘the Broadway of Madrid’, and if you think that’s because Gran Via also doubles as Madrid’s theatrical hub, then you’d be right. Let’s face it – it’s not the most imaginative nickname. That said, the likes of ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Anastasia’ (making its European debut direct from Broadway) call it home, amongst a constantly rotating cast of major productions. 

If watching singing Lions for two-and-a-half hours doesn’t do anything for you, Gran Via is also home to a host of cinemas, including the striking Cine Capitol. You can’t miss it – just look for the massive, electric-blue ‘Capitol’ sign.

Best for: catching some major theatre productions
Don't miss: movies at the Cine Capitol

Don’t Look Down

… because if you do, you’ll miss all the amazing architecture on display. This applies especially to any heads-down, strictly-no-eye-contact-at-all-times Londoners out there. Yes, looking up at buildings is a sure-fire way to announce yourself as a tourist, but Gran Via’s shops, offices, theatres and apartments are more than worth the effort. You’ll find several different styles on display here, from Art Nouveau and Art Deco to Plateresque and Neo-Mudejar.

Best for: amazing architecture 
Don't miss: eclectic mix of styles

The Great Way

They don’t call it the Gran Via for nothing. ‘The Great Way’ is not only a great way to soak up STUFF, but also connects some of Madrid’s most dynamic quarters. From modern shops and art deco architecture, to vibrant nightlife and some of the best tapas in town, the Gran Via’s role as Madrid’s main artery cannot be understated.  

Best for: shopping and exploring Madrid  
Don't miss: great tapas and urban nightlife


Divide and Conquer 

The Gran Via defines and divides Madrid, and serves as a border between some of the city’s most bustling and colourful districts: 

Sol-Gran Via

Given that Gran Via is in the name of this district, it should come as no surprise that Sol-Gran Via is extremely close to the city’s main shopping street, and is one of Madrid’s most tourist-focused areas. The ‘Sol’ part comes from Puerta del Sol – the epicentre of the Spanish capital and the point from which all roads in Spain are measured. Here you’ll find the Casa de Correos (Madrid’s local government building) and the iconic Oso y el Madroño (the Bear and the Strawberry Tree) statue. Need a bite to eat? Head to the nearby Taberna Malaspina for tapas, cervezas and everything in between. And if you’re after the most conveniently located Madrid hotels, this is where you’ll find them. 

Best for: tourist-friendly experience
Don't miss: the famous Oso y el Madroño statue

La Latina

One of Madrid’s oldest neighbourhoods, La Latina is a foodie paradise – its narrow, winding streets are filled with tapas hotspots old and new, terrace bars, laid-back squares and markets. El Rastro – Madrid’s oldest flea market – is the main event here, but it’s worth hanging around after your visit for a spot of lunch or dinner. Where? Well, we’ve already provided you with a few specific recommendations, but you can’t go wrong on the bar-and-restaurant-filled Calle de la Cava Baja. Venture further afield for La Encomienda, one of Madrid’s best vegan restaurants.

Best for: foodie encounters
Don't miss: El Rastro flea market

Malasaña

Remember Calle de Fuencarral? Well the same street leads from Gran Via to the Malasaña district. In the 1980s, this neighbourhood was home to a post-Franco countercultural movement and a hotbed for booze, drugs and all sorts of late-night unpleasantness. These days, Malasaña is one of the trendier parts of town and home to indie bars, Madrid restaurants and shops. How hipster does it get? Kikekeller is a designer furniture store by day, and a secret cocktail bar by night (but all the furniture is still for sale.) 

Best for: trendy bars and restaurants
Don't miss: Kikeller pop-up cocktail bar

Chueca

Malasaña’s neighbour, Chueca, is Madrid’s gay and lesbian neighbourhood. If you’re lucky to be here for pride, then you’ll discover first-hand that LGBTQ+ madrileños know how to put on a show. But even if you don’t happen to be in the city during early July, you’ll find that there’s plenty of partying to be had. Chueca comes alive at night, and festivities often pour out from the barrio’s cool cocktail bars and into the streets. 

Best for: nightlife and partying
Don't miss: Madrid Pride 

But there’s more to Madrid than just the Gran Via. Had your tastebuds teased by all this talk of tapas? Then check out our guide to the best tapas in Madrid (HYPERLINK). Need to know more about one of the city’s most essential attractions, El Retiro park? We’ve got a guide for that, too (HYPERLINK). Want to follow the sunset across the city? We’re here to help (HYPERLINK). 

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