Malasaña is defined as an alternative neighborhood compared to the rest of Madrid. This is why this district is commonly referred to as one of the trendy and fashionable barrios of the city. It has a vibrant atmosphere that is attractive to both the young and old generations of Madrid. It’s an area that is becoming more and more popular with lively bars and nightlife each year.
A walk through the Plaza del Dos de mayo or the San Ildefonso will quickly ingratiate you into the bohemian and artistic atmosphere of the neighborhood. Here urban art coexists with the more decorative classic architecture of tradition.
Things to do.
High Street – Start your adventure in Malasaña by orienting yourself in Fuencarral street. What a few decades ago would have been considered one of the poorest areas of Madrid is now booming with activity with international brands like Levi’s, Calvin Klein, and Diesel lining the streets. This is also where you will find the beginning of the San Ildefonso market and can get your morning off to a good start by visiting the cozy Toma Cafe, which people say has the best coffee in Malasaña.
Local street markets – The Mercado de San Ildefonso is a market which presents food from all over the world. Expect a varied mix of Sushi, Burgers, Mexican, and Salads, as the theme is completely international – so you can always grab a bit of whatever you fancy when you’re feeling peckish.
Romanticism Museum – An intricate museum inside an 18th-century mansion with portraits, furniture, and sculptures dating back to the romantic period. The atmosphere helps you to step back through time to a different era and see how Spanish culture has developed.
Shopping – You can find lots of second-hand shops in Malasaña especially around Velarde street, making it a great place to pick up a souvenir, try vintage clothes, or just window shop the ornate furniture. Around Plaza de Chueca and Fuencarral street is where there is a wide variety of designer stores, clothes, and fashion brands. Alternatively, if you’re looking for something more urban try the Centro Comercial Plaza de Los Cubos which is a more typical shopping mall with a few restaurants and a movie theatre close to Malasaña.
Museums – If you’re interested in modern culture be sure to check out the Museum of Contemporary Art in the nearby Conde Duque neighborhood. The exhibition contains sculptures, graphics, and paintings in a contemporary style. Come expecting a full sensual experience as there are always different exhibits being shown.
Theatre – Malasaña is also known for its vibrant theatre scene and there are a couple of renowned ones worth checking out. We suggest Micro Theatre which is a cozy experience showing short and fun plays that only last a few minutes, definitely a more attentive type of show, but still a great experience. Secondly, there is Theatre Lara, which offers a more traditional approach to the stage with drama and acting productions every week.
Ojalá €€ – This beach-themed Spanish restaurant dedicates itself to the atmosphere with a full sandy floor. However, this popular restaurant actually serves a varied menu that includes, tapas to burgers or Vietnamese bánh mí to English chippy. If the beach vibe isn’t your thing then they have more traditional seating upstairs.
Casa Julio € – A local bar where you can experience true traditional Spanish food. We suggest you try their croquetas, which are regularly listed amongst the top in the city.
Bolívar €€€ – A fine dining affair where it is best to make a reservation in advance. Your reward will be excellent wines and a quiet atmosphere at this Michelin Star restaurant. We suggest you ask for their tasting menu.
La Tita Rivera €€ – It is decorated like an old brewery and has an open terrace. Their specialty is “casis” stuffed preñaos buns. A good place to eat.
Zombie €€ – This place serves great burgers. We especially love their vegan burger.
La Mucca de Pez €€ – Really tasty food and all-you-can-eat Mediterranean dishes. Some great seating is available outside on their terrace. At this place, we suggest you check out one of their delicious pizzas.
Bars / Nightlife.
1862 Dry Bar – A hidden gem in Madrid – this cozy place serves great cocktails and has lots of friendly staff waiting to take your order.
The Passenger – You might be surprised when stepping into this bar on Pez street to find yourself in a traditional locomotive train carriage. Regardless of the interior decoration, this is a great palace to share a drink with a friend.
Macera Taller Bar – The only bar in Madrid that creates and mixes its own drinks, combining different non-branded alcohols in a completely artisanal way. A great place to stop after a long day of walking around the city.
Looking to stay in Malasaña?
By Tyler Wood.
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