Madrid is one of the top gay capitals in Europe, with more than 3 million inhabitants. Less touristy than Barcelona, and some would say more authentically Spanish, the city is the home to some of the biggest gay parties in the world.
- The centre of gay life in the city is the famous Chueca district. Here you will find charming cafes, avant-garde shopping and small but busy gay bars with packed dance floors and handsome men of Madrid.
- The larger parties move around the city from year to year in larger venues capable of accommodating 5,000+ partygoers at a time.
- Major gay events and festivals include Sleazy Madrid in Spring, the Mad Bear weekend in December and, of course, Madrid Gay Pride in early July.
Madrid’s nightlife scene is world famous and home to the WE party, Europe’s No 1 Gay brand.
Madrid, A Party Capital
Madrid is one of Europe’s most loved capitals, the third-largest city in the European Union, and a welcome respite for gay travellers due to the staggering quantity and diversity of gay nightlife.
The scene is constantly in flux; bars, disco bars and discos close and change names with alarming frequency. Note that a disco bar has a dance floor in Madrid but does not charge entry fees. Discos, however, have a cover charge.
A night out in Madrid can still last a full 48 hours at weekends, depending on your stamina. Madrileños love to tour the bars and discos, so you might find yourself in a place that’s semi-empty one moment and packed to the gills the next.
Madrid is a contrasting city of historical sites by day and a thriving, hedonistic venue by night. Don’t be surprised to find yourself in a traffic jam at 4 am!
Madrid has an excellent Metro system, and the gay district is at the heart of the city.
Getting to Madrid from the Airport
- Madrid Airport / Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) is 18km from the city centre. There are 4 easy ways to get to your hotel or apartment:
- Taxi / Private Transfer – A taxi to the centre costs EUR 30 approximately. It takes 18 minutes.
- Trail – Tickets for the train cost 2.6€ one way, and the journey is approximately 27 minutes.
- Metro – Tickets are 3€ one-way, and the journey only takes 22 minutes.
- Bus – Takes between 35 to 50 mins depending on traffic, but is only 5€ per ticket.
Getting Around Madrid
- The metro is a quick and inexpensive way to get around. And taxis are handy. But by all means, walk! Wander. The city is a walker’s paradise.
- Madrid’s main east-west street, the early 20th century Gran Vía, runs from the Prado area to the modern Plaza de España. Roughly parallel, the Calle Mayor leads through the city’s medieval heart, from the Puerta del Sol, Spain’s “kilometre zero” from which all of the country’s destinations are measured, past charming Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s prettiest square, to Carrer de Bailén, near the Royal Palace.
- Madrid features several lively, well-defined quarters, and you will want to find time to visit all of them. Just a few blocks from the Gran Via, you are in “Old Madrid.” Narrow streets, with old buildings and old-fashioned shops, sell everything from military costumes to religious articles, catapulting visitors into an era three centuries back.
- To get a feel for the city, why not rent your own Private Electric Tuk Tuk Tour and experience the best of the city in two hours.
Where to stay in Gay Madrid?
Madrid has some of the finest hotels in the world from the recently refurbished Ritz to uber gay Axel Hotel. There is something to suit every budget.
Relaxing at the Room Mate Oscar, Madrid offers a wide choice of gay-friendly hotels.
Chueca, The Gay Area in Madrid
- The Chueca quarter is the capital’s fashionable gay neighbourhood or “barrio”. Chueca is a pulsating neighbourhood adorned with rainbow flags and filled with bars, clubs, and stores.
- The two main streets through Chueca are Calle Horteleza and Fuencarral. Both these streets run parallel to each other, up from Gran Via, making them easy to find, and contain gay bars that are easily recognisable from the gay flag that hangs outside.
- The Palacio Real (or Royal Palace, also referred to as the Palacio de Oriente) is the lavish site of royal events. It is a fascinating place to walk through, with its maze of 50 themed rooms decorated in the finest metals and most decadent fabrics, a tiny sampling of the total 2,800 rooms of the palace.
- Malasaña is a gay hipster neighbourhood just west of Chueca and is more diverse. It has become popular over the past decade, and its central location and unique style make it an attractive alternative to the nearby gay barrio!
- Poets and musicians frequent the “underground” bars while Latin boys pulse to the beat in the charmingly rehabilitated Malasaña quarter.
- La Latina has been the “up-and-coming” breakout barrio in Madrid for some time. We love its diverse range of tapas options and the “Rastro”, the largest Sunday market in Spain.
- Many gay-friendly bars and clubs have opened in Lavapies and Latina, south of the Gran Via.
When to visit Madrid
Madrid is a year-round destination and there is a festival or celebration almost every week. Over the year Madrid has a predominantly dry weather.
- The summer and winter temperatures in Madrid are quite different. The weather between the months May and July is very pleasant and warm having an average temperature between 20 and 32 °C.
- At the end of the month July and throughout August the temperature becomes very hot and sometimes it reaches upto 40 °C. However, the temperature is tolerable as the humidity remains low.
- In the winter months, November and December, the temperature drops down to 9 °C, but the city becomes quite magical in December with amazing Christmas lights and huge gay NYE celebrations.
Room Mate Oscar
3 Star, Location
Room Mate Oscar is a stylish hotel located in central Madrid, between Gran Via and the Chueca district. It offers free Wi-Fi, rooms with flat-screen TVs and a rooftop bar. Room Mate Oscar features chic décor with bright colours throughout. Each of its air conditioned rooms is spacious and comfortable. All have a minibar and a fully equipped bathroom.
4 Star, Readers Choice
The stylish rooms and suites in the hotel are fitted with a coffee machine. Each room is comes with a private bathroom with a bath or shower. The hotel’s rooftop terrace includes a lounge area with views of the Gran Via and an interior bar cafeteria for your comfort. Guests have access to Picalagartos Restaurant that is run by chef Manuel Berganza
5 Star, Luxury
Spacious air-conditioned rooms and suites all have a TV with cable and satellite channels. Each has a desk, safe, minibar and private bathroom with a hairdryer. Just a few of the extras in certain rooms or suites include butler service, and Nespresso coffee machines. Iconic views of Madrid’s Gran Via Avenue are offered at the elegant rooftop terrace
Gay Map of Madrid
Gay Friendly Restaurants
World Famous Dining Awaits. During peak easons, some restaurants require reservations a week in advance, so plan accordingly.
Be forewarned! Madrileños like to eat their supper late. By late, we mean dinners that often begin at 11 pm or even midnight. Then it’s time to party.
Tip – Dining out in Plz Mayor is a tourist trap; the La Latina neighbourhood just south of Plaza mayor is a better option, especially along the Cava Baja street. If you want to find a restaurant on your own, you should try wandering through the area bounded by the Alonso Martinez, San Bernardo, Noviciado and Chueca metro stops. There are several tasty, reasonably priced restaurants in this area, along with a lively nightlife scene.
- Try taking breakfast at La Austriaca (San Onofre, 3). Here you will find some delicious pastries, or why not indulge in the traditional churros with hot chocolate.
- For Brunch, check out Zafyro Café Club with an eclectic mix of options, plus lots of eye candy.
- Carmencita in the Chueca quarter is a restored tavern dating from 1850. Stylishly redecorated, it features excellent meat and fish dishes. It also has a delicious brunch option.
- For a meal that nourishes the soul as well as the body, hit up Gula Gula on Grand Via, featuring nightly drag shows and hunky, punky waiters. The crowd can skew more straight than gay, but it’s a guaranteed wild night regardless.
- At Vinoteca Barbechera, wine bottles line the walls, and the tapas will amaze you with unexpected taste combinations (salmon with honey, slices of rump roast in a fig sauce, hazelnut bisque).
- Lunchtime and your choice of restaurants are endless. If you are not that hungry yet, why not try a drop of vermú de Grifo from Reus (vermouth on tap) at Bodegas Ángel Sierra, in Plaza de Chueca with some delicious tapas, olives, tuna and anchovies.
- Looking for a lighter snack? Check out Diurno. Located in the heart of Chueca, this cafe stands out for size. It occupies the entire ground floor of a building, and its large glass windows allow you to see what’s going on inside. A quick peek in reveals it is much more than a simple café.
- Los Chuchis – Amazing mix and even some home food Spanish style – sausages and shepherd’s pie – fun.
- Roostiq – Right in the heart of Chueca – close to the bars – amazing Spanish bbq.
- Lhardy – It’s a bit fancy but the best transitional Spanish food
- Cada Alberto, Goldilocks would say this is just right – not too fussy but not too tapasy either.
- Restaurante Casa Benigna – Amazing Paella with a real quirky vibe.
Anyone for Tapas?
Tip – Local custom requires an aperitif or appetiser before dinner and then a coffee afterwards – but no one says that everything has to be consumed in the same establishment.
- For delicious tapas, drop by Puerta del Sol and pay a visit to Taberna Malaspina, Cruz de Malta, or Las Bravas for some sublime dishes. Or why not try all of them!
- Top Tip! Tapas, visit La Tape – Traditional Spanish – crowded, crazy, great beer.
Events in Madrid
Discover the top gay events for Madrid all year, plus the biggest monthly parties and special club nights. Calendar is updated regularly.
Gay Madrid What to see and do!
As the capital of Spain, Madrid sits at the center of the country, and also at the heart of national pride. You’ll find that pride permeating the steps of flamenco dancers at local tablaos, the roars of cheering crowds at Santiago Bernabéu soccer stadium, and the graceful moves of bullfighters as they wield their fluorescent pink capes in the Plaza de Toros.
The Rastro Market, perfect for a unique souvenir.
Madrid has long been a cultural centre. The birthplace of the Movida Madrileña or Madrid Movement, the city, celebrated freedom of expression and the transgression of taboos imposed by the Franco regime.Madrid has managed to preserve the look and feel of its historic areas, making the neighbourhoods really worth a visit. The city has some of the finest art museums and architecture in Europe, all within easy walking distance from each other.
Notable landmarks include the Royal Palace of Madrid, the Teatro Real (Royal Theater), and the city centre’s Buen Retiro Park, first established in the early 1600s as private gardens for royalty.
Museums & Culture
- Madrid’s “Golden Triangle of Art” is made up of the Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia. The three museums have some of the most outstanding collections of art in the world.
- The Museo del Prado is home to some of the most important works of art globally, including Botticelli and Goya. At the same time, the Museo Reina Sofía is home to Spain’s sons of modern art, including Dalí, Miró and Picasso.
- Head to the Thyssen to see works by Dalí including Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening, Cézanne’s Portrait of a Peasant and Hopper’s Hotel Room.
- The sleek, modern Reina Sofia is home to contemporary art, including Picasso’s giant, breathtaking masterpiece, Guernica. There’s more by Picasso and Dalí here, with the giant glass elevators offering a unique view of Madrid.
- The Palacio Real (or Royal Palace, also referred to as the Palacio de Oriente) is the lavish site of royal events. It is a fascinating place to walk through, with its maze of 50 themed rooms decorated in the finest metals and most decadent fabrics, a tiny sampling of the total 2,800 rooms of the palace. It is the largest royal palace in Europe.
Shopping & Browsing
- Spend the morning browsing some of the many arts and photographic galleries. Don’t miss Sunday the excellent Rastro market, where you can search for vintage clothes and bargain Spanish memorabilia.
- The first stop on any gay traveller’s shopping list should be Librería Berkana, a well-stocked and modern gay bookstore at the top of Plaza Chueca and a great source of info on what’s happening right now in the city.Another famous bookstore in the area is A Different Life, a two-level bookstore with an annexe down the street.
- If you are looking for authentic gifts or souvenirs to take home, pay a visit to Mad is Mad (Pelayo, 48), where you can find a range of contemporary pieces signed by the original artists.
- Spend some time just admiring the city, appreciating the myriad fountains and ostentatious, Baroque architecture. After dark, the fountains are spectacularly lit. If you’re feeling particularly classy, stop in for a sherry under the stunning rotunda at the Westin Palace.
Sexy Summer Hotspots
- If you’re heading to Madrid in the summer, find somewhere cool to relax in the afternoon. Head to the Piscina Lago, one of the Madrid’s many outdoor public pools but with a twist, a gay one! The pool is a hotspot for gay boys meeting up and cruising! Swim, sunbathe, drink and cruise. Accessed with a €5 all-day pass, facilities include several pools surrounded by grassy areas for sunning, workout areas and an onsite restaurant. Mon – Sun ast weekend in May until first weekend in September 11 am – 9 pm
- The magnificent Retiro Park is another must-see outdoor spot, with boating, cafes and a popular cruising area around the Fuente del Angel Caído statue. (busy late afternoon, avoid at night)
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