It’s an understatement to say Madrid is gay-friendly. Honestly, walking through its streets it often seems like there’s more gay men than straight. Madrid is not “tolerant” or even “accepting”, it’s positively welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community.

As such, there’s a lot to do for any visiting gay tourist – besides gawk at the beautiful men that is. Be you a queer of culture, a gay foodie, a night owl or even just a bit horny, here are our top gay-focused activities to do around the city.

Photo credit: El 12

Take the Madrid Gay Nightlife Tour

Chueca is where the gays go to play. The official gayborhood of Madrid has palpable gay energy flowing through its streets any day of the week, but by night is when it really puts the foot on the pedal. One of the best ways to slide yourself into the action is on our very own Madrid Gay Nightlife Tour.

On the tour you’ll visit three gay bars and learn a bit about the gay history of the area. Starting at one of the oldest Spanish taverns in the heart of Chueca, you’ll have a traditional Spanish drink before moving onto a popular gay cocktail bar – known for its generously sized cocktails and smoking hot bar staff. Finally, you’ll end at one of Chueca’s most popular gay bars, which straddles the line between club and bar while epitomizing what Chueca is all about in the variety of men who frequent it.

Image credit: BoyBerry

Hit the Clubs, Saunas or Cruising Bars

In Madrid the night need not end when the bars close, as Madrid has plenty of gay clubs to choose between. Depending on your tastes – and the night of the week – you might visit Delirio for a poptastic cheese experience, Kluster for a more tops off circuit party vibe, Boite for somewhere between the two, Marta Cariño for some class or Chocolate con Churros and CAЯBS for a queerer environment.

Should you feel the call, Madrid also has lots of cruising bars and saunas. The most popular saunas being Paraiso and its kinkier brother Sauna Beach. For cruising bars you can’t go wrong with Boyberry, Strong or The Ring depending on your taste in men and level of kinky. 

Take the Madrid LGBTQ+ Tapas Tour

Spanish food is interwoven into the very fabric of their culture and in Madrid it’s no exception. There are exquisite restaurants all around the city, but Chueca encompasses some of the best. Those wishing to really hone in on the Madrid LGBTQ+ experience, while still filling their bellies, might consider taking our very own Madrid LGBTQ+ Tapas Tour. As locals ourselves who may have been known to frequent the area somewhat, we know all the best places to eat, drink and be merry. 

On the three and a half-hour hetero-friendly tour you’ll visit the best tapas bars in the area – including a contemporary Spanish tavern, a popular Galician tapas bar and Chueca’s bustling food market. You’ll sample dishes like ensaladilla rusa (russian salad), croquettes, bravas potatoes, gilda (an olive, anchovy and spicy pepper skewer), and chipirones (battered squid) – the tour garnished with a little queer history imparted from your guide.

Image credit: Madrid Gay Experience

Uncover the Queer Art Within Madrid’s ‘Golden Triangle of Art’

Madrid is famous for its big three museums: The Reina Sofia, The Prado and The Thyssen-Bornemisza – all within walking distance of each other and known as ‘The Golden Triangle of Art'. Here you can see the works of Picasso, Dalí and Goya, but also among the collections are the works of queer artists and those with obviously homo-erotic themes.

At the Thyseen, you can really get to learn the queer backstories of its sculptures and paintings on their Inclusive Love Tour, which dives deep into how art served as the secret language of homosexual love through the centuries.

Image credit: Turismo de la ciudad de Madrid

Go for A Swim in Casa de Campo

Should you be lucky enough to time your visit during the Summer months, you might be wondering where the gays of Madrid go to cool down from in the heat when they’re lacking a beach. The answer lies in the many outdoor swimming pools dotted around the city. You’ll find gays strutting in their speedos in all of them, of course, but by far the most popular is ‘Piscina El Lago’ in the humungous park that is Casa de Campo.

Located slightly out of the center, the park is easily reachable via catching the metro to Lago. To enter the pool area, you need to download the Madrid Movil application on your phone and book your ticket beforehand. Lago is actually two big outdoor pools in one, with a hilly bank by the upstairs pool being the popular sunning spot of the gay community – where nudity is allowed on the bank.

The park itself, Casa de Campo, is huge and well worth exploring. Just around the corner from the pool is a cute lake encircled by restaurants, perfect for a romantic meal. There’s also a discreet cruising area located somewhere behind it – or so we hear.

Stroll Through the Iconic Parque Oeste

Retiro Park is most people’s first port – or rather park – of call on visiting Madrid and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s beautiful there and you are sure to see many gay couples picnicking on the grass in the summer.

However, there’s another underrated beauty of a park on the other side of the city called Parque Oeste (West Park), which seems to be especially popular with the local LGBTQ+ community. There you’ll find green banks, hidden valleys perfect for more sequestered picnics, the Temple of Debod (an oddly out of place Egyptian temple gifted to the city), a cable car that takes you across to the aforementioned Casa de Campo and a monument to the iconic trans woman Christina Ortiz – better known as La Veneno.

La Veneno is somewhat of a queer icon, who once worked in the park as a sex worker until a fated encounter with a TV reporter propelled her into the spotlight, leading to her becoming a Spanish television sensation before her death in 2016. Her monument has a diamond shaped plaque reading ‘brave trans woman visible in the 90s’. Sadly, it was recently vandalized, but is due to be repaired in the near future and is nonetheless worth visiting for a look into Spanish queer herstory. 

Image credit: Ciriaco Brown

Have a Drink in Lavapies: A Hipster Gay Paradise

Chueca doesn’t have the monopoly on Madrid’s gayness. Lavapies is your more bohemian cosmopolitan option to Chueca. If a queerer, less mainstream vibe is more your thing here you’ll find many pierced and tattooed types drinking in the evening on the area’s many terraces.

There aren’t any official gay bars, but you’ll find all the gay rotating around places like Sala Equis (an old porn cinema converted into a bar), Bar El Rincon Guay (affectionately nicknamed “Rincon Gay”) and Ciriaco Brown (a speakeasy liquor store/cocktail bar which transforms into a secret gay club on Sunday nights).

Image credit: Madrid Drag Brunch!

Attend Drag Brunch or Drag Bingo

Naturally, Madrid has a thriving drag scene. You’ll find drag queen shows all around Chueca on most nights of the week, with LL Bar being the most well-known hosting venue. 

However, for a fully fleshed experience you can’t beat Madrid’s Drag Brunch. Taking place in Teatro Esclavo, it’s a four-hour affair with an eclectic array of Drag Queens, sexy dancers, unique gastronomy, cocktails and mimosas. Another option is the Drag Queen Bingo VIP Brunch Table in Madrid on Saturday afternoons for a good old silly time with drag queens and rambunctious games with prizes.

Image credit: Axel Hotel

Stay at the Axel Hotel

All hotels in Madrid are “gay-friendly” but one really stands proudly on its high heels – Axel Hotels is a hotel brand with locations around the globe from Cuba to Berlin and is the only hotel brand in the world to define itself as “hetero friendly”. 

The Axel Hotel in Madrid is a short stagger home from Chueca or Lavapies, being located in the nearby Barrio de Las Letras – a cool area where the famous Spanish writers like Cervantes once called home. Its rooms have a distinctive avant-garde interior inspired by the Madrid socio-cultural movement of the 1980’s. The rooftop bar has a mini-pool and is a popular hangout for gays, whether they’re staying in the hotel or not. If you’re feeling brave you can also make use of the “Do Disturb” signs to invite the attention of anyone who might be cruising the corridors at night.

Attend Madrid Pride

Madrid Pride is legendary! It’s the biggest in Europe and the third biggest in the world, pulling in LGBTQ+ people from all across the world year in year out. Taking place around the first weekend of July, Madrid Pride is absolutely the best time to visit as the whole city transforms for the best demonstration of just how gay Madrid really is. 

For a whole week there are concerts and events in Chueca and Plaza España, hosting all manner of DJs and gay icons. On the first Saturday of July a huge Madrid Pride Parade marches all the way from the Atocha train station to Plaza de Colón – every color of the LGBTQ+ rainbow represented in an explosion of pride. After the parade it's an easy walk up to Chueca, which descends into beautiful chaos in the form of all-night street parties and club nights.

If you plan on going to a club after the festivities, be sure to buy your tickets well in advance as you’ll find every venue full of hotties both local and international. Everyone living their best – and unashamedly gay – lives to the fullest in a city which embraces them into its very heart.