By Lauren Aloise
Just thinking about going out shopping in Madrid is enough to make me cringe. In a city filled with the best in big name shops as well as the quirkiest and most exclusive small boutiques, it’s hard to know where to even begin a day of shopping. But after living here for two years, I think I might finally have it down, or at least I’m getting better! Check out my picks for shopping by barrio, with this helpful Madrid shopping guide.
Centro (Metro Sol, Opera, or Gran Vía)
The city center is the easiest place to recommend for shopping, as it has nearly everything you’d need to buy in only a few blocks radius. Starting in the Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, take any of the streets stemming off of the square to uncover shop after shop of catchy souvenirs, clothing stores, shoes, and more.
In this area of town you’ll find everything from official football gear to “Made in Spain” leather goods. Most of the shops are in the cheap to middle price range, and popular Spanish clothing brands like Zara and Mango (which are generally less expensive here in Spain) are a popular choice among visitors. You’ll also be able to stop at the well known all-in-one department store, El Corte Inglés, where you’re guaranteed to find something that you didn’t realize you needed.
Barrio de las Letras (Metro Antón Martín or Sevilla)
In the charming literary quarter only a short walk from Sol plaza, you’ll find yourself surrounding by small boutiques and pop up shops. Need a pair of custom made flamenco shoes? Calle León is the place to go, while if you are looking to stock up on Spanish delicacies such as wine, ham, and olive oil, check out the Mercado Antón Martín for a wide selection of delicious Spanish goods.
Malasaña (Metro Gran Vía, Callao, Tribunal, or Bilbao)
Known locally as the city’s alternative neighborhood, Malasaña is more than cute cafés and gin bars. Here you’ll find all sorts of shops, dedicated to everything from vintage clothing to artisan liquors. This is definitely the neighborhood to check out if you are looking for a one of a kind gift or souvenir.
La Latina & Lavapiés (Metro Lavapiés, Tirso de Molina, or La Latina)
Every Sunday this old neighborhood comes to life for the Rastro Flea Market– one of the oldest and largest weekly flea markets in all of Europe. Barter your way through the narrow streets as you find everything from knock off souvenirs to antique Spanish furniture. The side streets are where the true treasures are, so make sure to save time to wander.
During the week the Rastro isn’t open, but many of the brick and mortar shops selling antiques and art are. It is a great time to come back and leisurely window shop, as you don’t have to compete with the crowds.
Barrio Salamanca (Metro Goya, Serrano, Velazquéz, or Principe Vergara)
Known for its “Golden Mile” of designer brand shops, the Salamanca neighborhood has a reputation for luxury. Known for big names such as Versace, Manolo Blanik, and Tiffany’s, the area’s most exclusive shops aren’t easy on the wallet, but promise quality and comfort. I tend to keep off the main drag, and prefer to check out the many small side streets that make up this vast neighborhood. Tucked away as a backdrop to the big brands, I’ve found some hidden treasures where the prices are just right.
Madrid is an enormous city and, like any sprawling metropolis, you could simply lose yourself among its many shops. My advice is to chose a neighborhood or two that spark your shopper’s interest, and combine your guilty pleasure with some of the many other things to do in Madrid.
Originally from small-town Massachusetts, Lauren Aloise always planned on trading cold, rural winters for the buzz of a big city. Currently going on her fourth year under the Spanish sun, she lives happily in busy Madrid where she runs Madrid Food Tour and writes about travel and expat life at Spanish Sabores. She appreciates fantastic cuisine and the high quality ingredients found in any Spanish kitchen, and when not writing is surely out for a tapa and a glass of Spanish wine.