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Madrid is perhaps not as well known of a gay destination as its Catalan sister in the northeast, Barcelona. But the truth is that Madrid is a bigger city with more offerings from a nightlife perspective and many LGBT oriented events throughout the year. Madrid is still a great destination for tourists, though it admittedly doesn’t have quite as many attractions as the architectural wonder Barcelona. Still Madrid is a fantastic destination especially if you enjoy local neighborhoods, art, the gay scene, nightlife and beautiful weather.

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Table of Contents

1. General Tips
2. Transportation and Airport Transfer
3. Gay Hotels in Madrid
4. Sightseeing and Activities in Madrid
5. Gay Tours in Madrid
6. Restaurants and Cafes
7. Madrid Gay Bars and Clubs
8. Madrid Gay Saunas & Cruising Bars
9. Gay Events in Madrid
10. Day Trips from Madrid

General Tips

Madrid is a vibrant city that doesn’t sleep and it’s not uncommon to see last nights’ partiers walking home at 8am in the morning while grandma is going for her morning walk. We’d argue it’s perhaps the gayest capital city in Europe, or at least contending with Berlin and London. Chueca is the center of the LGBT community in Madrid where you’ll find the highest concentration of gay bars and night clubs.

Transportation & Airport Transfer

Madrid is easy to navigate and the city offers great public transport with the metro, regional trains and buses. But it’s important to note that even given its size, Madrid is a very compact city. Most sites of interest are located in a small area of the city center. If you stay central, it’s possible to walk to some or even all of your destinations. The airport is located just 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the city center and takes about 45 minutes via public transport. The most economical route is to take the metro or Airport Express Bus. A taxi should cost 30€ flat fare from the airport to the city center.

Gay Hotels in Madrid

If you are traveling to Madrid during high season (May to August), on the weekends or during major gay events, you’ll need to book these rooms in advance to ensure availability. Many of these LGBT+ specific properties are small and book quickly when in high demand.

Luxury

The Westin – it’s not a gay hotel by any means but they are a member of IGLTA and it is one of the more gay-friendly luxury properties located in the city. The décor is classical and it’s located in the southern end of the city near Retiro Park, the main Atocha Railway station and all the famous art museums.

Mid-Range

Axel Hotel Madrid – this is Madrid's most popular gay hotel and is part of the well-known Axel Hotels chain with properties in cities across Europe and North America. It's located on Atocha Street number 49, in the famous “Barrio de las Letras”, and it is surrounded by the most emblematic streets of the city, in a bohemian atmosphere that combines shopping, good gastronomy and fun. The hotel has 88 rooms and you will find a meeting point in the capital, with its innovative spaces designed so you can treat yourself and have fun, always loyal to Axel’s concept of style, design, comfort and cosmopolitan environment.

Room Mate Oscar – there are countless places to stay in Madrid, but one of the most famous gay places is the Oscar Hotel. It’s not a “gay hotel” per se, but it attracts a lot of gay clientele and it's located in Chueca, the heart of the gay neighborhood. The decor here is chic and modern but rooms book quickly during major gay events.

The Oscar Hotel in Chueca
The Oscar Hotel in Chueca

Budget

You can also find budget friendly options at gay hostals in Madrid. Hostals are not to be confused with youth hostels. In Spain, a hostal is a small, privately owned 1 to 3 star hotel with private rooms and basic amenities. Rates are often as low as 30€ per night for a private room with a shared bathroom.

Hostal Puerta del Sol – this used to be a gay-owned and operated hostal that specifically marked to gay travelers. It's either changed management or they stopped the direct marketing. In either case, Madrid is super gay-friendly so this is still a great option and price, very centrally located in the area of Madrid called Puerta del Sol, which is just 10 minutes walking south from Chueca. This location is still close enough to the gay nightlife but is also a bit closer to many of the famous museums and popular attractions in Madrid.

Hostal La Zona Madrid – also a formally gay-owned hostal just beside the popular street Fuencarral, which is one of the most popular shopping areas in the city and right in Chueca. It's likely changed management and isn't gay-specific, but you can't beat the location in the gayborhood. Single rooms are reasonably priced and generally include breakfast until noon.


Apartments - misterb&b

We’ve partnered with misterb&b to help curate the most LGBT+ friendly homestays. misterb&b is not a hotel or chain, but rather a booking platform for rooms, apartments and homes and it allows you to book from gay and gay-friendly hosts around the world. They have hosts in more than 200 countries and territories with more than 1 million total listings. Understanding the gay scene is much more easily done with the help of a local and home-sharing is one of the best ways to meet someone living in the city who knows how things work, where and when are the best nights to go out, and what places to eat at and which to avoid. misterb&b is our top choice if your priority is exploring the local gay scene.

Special Offer! Sign up with misterb&b and you will receive a free $10 credit to use on your first booking!


Sightseeing and Activities in Madrid

Like many cities, there are plenty of tourist attractions in Madrid – a city of more than 3 million residents. Though in our opinion, Madrid’s best attributes are found in the local plazas and small neighborhoods in the city center.

Retiro Park
Retiro Park

Palacio Real – The former residence of the Spanish Royal family and the largest functioning palace in Europe. Tickets are regularly 10€ but they do offer free entrance in the evenings without a guide to select groups. You can also buy enhanced tickets to skip the line or even book a guided tour. Book tour →

Art Museums – Madrid is famous for its world class art museums with masterpieces from artists like Picasso, Dali and Goya. You could spend days visiting Madrid's top 3 museums (known as ‘The Golden Triangle of Art') The Prado, The Reina Sofia and The Thyssen-Bornemisza. If you enjoy art you should pick at least one to visit depending on your tastes. Book tour →

Retiro Park – One of the most famous sites in Madrid and our favorite spot to take friends and family during a visit. Retiro, a massive park built in the 18th century, was originally reserved for royalty until the late 19th century. Book tour →

Calle Cava Baja – located a bit south in the La Latina neighborhood, this is probably the best place to go during the late evening to go bar hoping for tapas. You'll find more than 40 places here serving some of the best the city offers.

Mercado San Miguel – If you have time for only one market then it should be Mercado San Miguel. It's located right in the center and has a rather posh offering of meats, produce, sweets, drinks of all sorts and of course tapas. Book tour →

Hotel Riu Rooftop – this hotel is a new addition to Madrid since 2019 and it has one of the best views of Madrid you'll find. The rooftop terrace is located on the 26th floor and it has 360 degree, panoramic views of the city. Dare you walk along the glass walkway or take a photograph on the glass platform overlooking Plaze España far far below! The entrance is 5-10€ depending on the time and day.

Gran Via – Madrid’s answer to Broadway! The emblematic street is the hub of Madrid’s urban life and stretches the length of the city’s center all the way from Plaza de Cibeles – near Retiro park – to the epic spectacle of Plaza Espana, where you’ll find a towering monument to the legendary Spanish writer Cervantes. The architecture of Gran Via’s buildings is reminiscent of London’s Oxford Street, being an impressive mix of 20th century revival architecture topped with statues of Roman gods and angels. you can find shops all along the route, but apparel stores are concentrated between Plaza España and the Gran Via metro stop. This is where you will find the higher end fashions along with your typical mid range big names stores like H&M or Zara. Calle Fuencarral is another pedestrian street which stretches from Gran Via north into Chueca up for 500m with stores and shops of all kinds, not to mention plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars to take a load off during your busy shopping day.

Casa De Campo – a park to the West of Madrid that is often overlooked in favor of Retiro. The park is huge with walking trails stretching for miles around hills and picnic areas. There’s also a great range of attractions within its grounds; this includes Parque de Atracciones de Madrid amusement park, Lago (meaning lake) which is lined with restaurants and bars, the Madrid Zoo and an Aquarium. The best way to enter the park is either on cable cars across from Parque Oeste (also worth a visit), taking the metro to Principe Pio and walking across the river, or getting off the metro at Lago to emerge right by the lake.  In the summer time, the gays head to the local public pool by Lago metro to sunbathe and drink sangria. Entrance to the pool costs 6€, which can be purchased online and you can buy food and drink onsite. There's also a famous cruising area near the lake…so we hear.

Gay Tours and Activities in Madrid

There are a number of gay tours and activities to choose from when visiting Madrid so it’s best to decide what you’d like to see and what level of service you want. Some of our favorites are listed below.

Two Bad Tourists Madrid Gay Nightlife Tour – the best gay nightlife tour in Madrid! Ok, we’re a little biased but we’re hard to beat, having lived in one of the most LGBT+ friendly cities in the world for years now. Let us be your guides through the renowned gay neighborhood of Chueca, the beating heart of the LGBT+ community in Madrid. We’ll visit 3 of the best gay bars in this 2-hour, private tour. The price is €60 per person with 3 drinks included and recommendations for where to go on afterwards if you’re feeling adventurous. Book tour →

Two Bad Tourists LGBT+ Tapas Tour – experience the charm of one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities in the world with the help of a local LGBTQ+ guide. Explore the renowned gay neighborhood of Chueca, the beating heart of the LGBTQ+ community. We’ll visit 5 tapas bars and restaurants in Chueca in this 3.5-hour, private tour. This tour is heavy on the food and drinks with a splash of queer history. Book tour →

Drag Queen Brunch & Bingo – Join this fun and hilariously awesome drag brunch on select Saturday afternoons. The exclusive ticket gives you priority access to Madrid´s only Drag Queen Bingo Brunch. Enjoy a welcome drink, various drag performances, bingo and of course, a delicious brunch at Lola 09, one of the coolest venues in Chueca. The show and bingo games are bilingual in both Spanish and English. Book Experience →

Cooking Spanish Tapas with Soul –  this local gay guide will show you how to cook traditional Spanish tapas, but with soul. As you cook your way through a meal of Spanish classics, you'll learn and chat. Nibble, and taste. Discover the history, origins and personal connection of the food as food is always personal. While you cook, you'll make and enjoy three different cocktails. At the end you will make a meal of your tapas and sit down to eat family style with your choice of beverage.

Restaurants and Cafes

Depending on the time of day, there are several restaurants in and around Chueca worth a visit.

random tapas3

Carmencita Bar – this is a good option for brunch if you sleep through the breakfast at your hotel (you will eventually!). It’s one of the few places in the neighborhood that actually offers brunch. Brunch is not customary in Spain, in fact Spanish people generally eat a light breakfast, or as David says…coffee and a cigarette. Either way, you can still find what you need here. Try the “huevos rotos” – fried potatoes with a fried egg and ham served on top.

La Bicicleta – an iconic café in the trendy Malasaña area, so named due to the bicycles used as decoration around the interior. The café is another popular brunch option – but if for you “brunch” means a cocktail, then no one will judge you for it here. The menu is full of hipster food treats – like avocado toast or toast with peanut butter, walnuts, chocolate and banana – and inside  you'll feel like a local, being surrounded by aspiring writers tapping away at their keyboards in the designated workspaces.

Mercado San Anton – sample freshly prepared tapas each from different vendors. After you get your fill, head upstairs to the rooftop terrace for a drink, some people watching and nice city views.

Restaurante Vivares – a gay favorite for years. They are known for their set menus which include a first and second course, dessert, plus bread and a drink. Options include a basic menu starting around 10€. They also offer a gourmet and vegetarian menu.

Diurno – opens early so you can eat dinner at 7pm if you’re not yet accustomed to late-night Spanish dinner time. Mixed cuisine with a modern flare.

El Buo/ La Bua – this restaurant located in Chueca has one of the best Spanish tortillas you'll find in Madrid. Try the traditional one with a glass of wine or order something a bit more elaborate like goat cheese or mix vegetables. Actually, two restaurants opposite each other, both with names translating as “the owl” in the masculine or feminine respectively. This is especially apt because the walls of El Buo proudly display pictures of gay icons, whereas La Buha has iconic lesbians represented – a welcome nod to diversity and that stands as an interesting contrast to the tavern-like interior.

Taberna La Española – this casual restaurant in Chueca has traditional Spanish food at reasonable prices while maintaining the quality. The portion sizes are quite good too. Be sure to try their homemade croquettes and tortilla (Spanish omelette) or their huevos rotos. 

La Juana – in Spain, food and culture go hand-in-hand – La Juana meshes the two into a charmingly traditional Spanish tavern. Everything on the menu is lovingly homemade with highlights including the “Señorito rice” (dry rice with prawns, baby squid and mussels) and the Iberian Torreznos (bacon bites in spicy mayonnaise).

Bugao by Hugo Ruiz -. This trendy restaurant/bar – just shy of the center – is popular with locals mainly thanks to the namesake chef’s delicious seafood dishes. Its three floors are all decorated in a chic colonial style with a bar downstairs having an extensive cocktail list to say the least.

Casa Pedro, Fuencarral –  a little north of Madrid, this rustic restaurant is well-worth straying off the beaten path for if you want an authentically Spanish farmhouse experience. Simply hop on the metro to Fuencarral – which was once a village until Madrid expanded to include it –  and find yourself dining in a classic Castilian restaurant away from the tourist crowds. Try the roasted suckling pig!

Madrid Gay Bars & Clubs

You won’t be disappointed with the nightlife in Madrid. Many of these places are packed on weekends and some even offer a great time during the week, depending on when you’re coming to visit. Keep in mind that nightlife in Madrid starts extremely late, so don’t be surprised if you arrive at 11pm to a bar (1am at a club) and still don’t see a crowd. Just wait another hour and the place will get packed.

 Chueca  is the the official gay neighborhood, but there's also its neighbor Malasaña, trendy La Latina and Lavapies – the unofficial hipster gay neighborhood.

Chueca Plaza in Madrid
Chueca Plaza

El 12 – is it a bar? Is it a club? It’s a delightful mix of both! El 12 is the one of the most popular bars in Chueca, especially as a pre-club option. It plays with having a bit of everything from drag shows to iconic local DJs to a dark room sequestered behind the downstairs bathroom. El 12 often has a queue during the weekends, but Thursday nights it is THE place to be on Thursdays.

La Kama Bar/Cafe – two venues right next to each other, both make for a great start for a night out in Chueca. The café – despite its name – is more of a bar, despite serving food during the day. Its two floors have a Caribbean theme, where hot barmen serve giant cocktails – seriously, they're massive. As for La Kama Bar, the music is loud and the people are energetic. It’s small and there’s no proper dance floor but that doesn’t stop people from dancing right next to the bar.

D’Mystic – this is a nice lounge in the heart of Chueca. You’ll find sitting room here – some with comfy cushions –  and it’s a great place to go on a weeknight to have a chat with friends. This place starts to fill up on the weekends, especially after midnight as locals are starting to go out, waiting those last couple hours before heading to the dance club. The crowd may be mixed, but the waiters are very gay.

LL Bar – the drag show here is the main attraction. It starts each night between 11:30 and midnight. Arrive early for the drink special but don’t be surprised if it’s empty that early. This place gets a nice crowd for the show but starts to empty out afterwards. It’s a fun place to start your night for an hour or so, especially if you like being heckled by the sassy – normally Latin American – queens.

Black and White – this is one of the oldest gay bars in Madrid and it’s a classic. Also, famous for its drag shows! Just be sure to watch for the rent boys. You’ll find a lot of twinks here looking to charge you to take them home.

Cazador – here be gay hipsters! It’s a small bar in Malasaña but people tend to crowd onto the street when it’s warm out and the atmosphere is great if you can get past the hipster attitude. It’s a good place for a couple drinks during the week or before heading out to dance.

Fulanita de Tal – one for the girls. This is a small lesbian bar located in Chueca with a nice vibe and good dancing by night on the weekends. It doubles as a café during the day and you can find live music shows on the weeknights or earlier in the evenings on weekends.

Clubs

Boite – Open layout and decent sized dance floor. This place draws a range of ages from mid 20’s to mid 40’s. The crowd is relaxed here but the guys tend to keep their shirts on – mostyl. You’ll sometimes find special events here with performances on stage.

Kluster – this is a regular Saturday night party in Madrid with house and electronic dance music. A bit of a mixed crowd with circuit type boys, bears and daddy’s. Crowd tends to be a bit older. No drags queens, virtually no girls, but a pretty friendly crowd.  Entrance is around 15€.

Baila, Cariño – open Saturday nights. There’s a huge dance floor in the center with multi level bars surrounding it.  Great first place to go to if you're visiting and like pop music. The crowd tend to dress smart, despite there not being a dress code, so don't be afraid to put on your best shirt.

Rik’s – this popular bar/club on the corner of Plaza de Pedro Zerolo in Chueca is designed and inspired by Casablanca giving it a chic look, but it is far from pretentious. Rik’s is where men of all ages hang out and the generations bond over a mutual love of cheap drinks and cheesy music, which is a good mixture of Spanish and international pop goldies and oldies. It's open Thursday to Sunday, but be warned as it isn’t particularly big inside and there is often a large one-in-one out queue if you arrive later than 11pm.

DLRO – this is a medium sized gay dance club – more commonly know as Delirio –  is open every night of the week with a much younger crowd. They sometimes have drag shows and have two separate levels playing -mostly Spanish – pop music.

Parties

WE Party – monthly and usually held at La Riveria – a venue down by the river, which you might want to get a taxi to. Additional WE Parties take place during Madrid Gay Pride and New Years with parties happening every day during the week.

Chocolate con Churros / Tanga – both are monthly gay party on Sunday nights. Usually starts early around 8pm since most people have to work Mondays. Parties will occasionally start later if Monday is a holiday. Location changes regularly. Check online for dates and venues.

Madrid Gay Saunas & Cruising Bars

Madrid is an undeniably sexual city, perhaps second only to Berlin in Europe. In short, there is an abundance of establishments in Madrid happy to cater to your nightly needs.

BoyBerry – The bar staff is cute, the drinks are cheap and you’ll find special events throughout the week. You’ll find a darkroom, free wi-fi and many other surprises downstairs.

boyberry-madrid
BoyBerry Madrid

Strong – a large gay dance club and cruising space in the center of Madrid, just 5 min south of Chueca. It opens late and draws a crowd most nights, especially on weekends.

Paraiso – without a doubt, the nicest and most popular gay sauna in Madrid. The Entrance is 18€ but it’s clean and worth the price. You'll find a Jacuzzi, several dark rooms, a large swimming pool and a dungeon which are the perfect match to bricks’ walls and faint lights. The place is superb, but the guys are even better with a mix of young, middle age, muscled, locals and tourists. Very close to Chueca and opens 24 hours on weekends.

Saunabeach -This sauna is a great alternative to the busier Paraiso and tends to have a kinky streak.  It is divided into three sections: zona spa, zona hot and zona BDSM. Upstairs there's a big bar, Jacuzzi and saunas. Whereas, downstairs you'll find dark rooms, glory holes, a sling, jail, a video room and a lot of cabins.  There's also a club style room with local DJs playing Circuit music – have fun trying to dance in a towel and flip-flops!

Octopus – this gay sauna in Madrid caters to the bear community. You'll find a dry sauna, steam room, two dark rooms, a cinema, and even an area for fetish and bondage lovers, including a dungeon. It is the perfect place if you like bears, chubby and mature men.

The Ring –  Lavapies is the trendy bohemian area of Madrid just outside of the center and has its own little gay scene. This includes two sex clubs and its own sauna. The Ring is the most popular, though you might not think it from the outside, as it's through a small easily missed blue door on a side street near the metro. You have to be a member to enter, but all that is required is ID and filling in a simple form on entrance. Its moniker comes from the giant wrestling ring in its center – with a smaller ring tucked away down a side tunnel, but the wrestling is of course not mandatory . There’s also cruising mazes, cabins and slings to explore and utilize, with a small bar upstairs. Currently only open weekends with a no clothes (un)dress code.

Attack – Lavapies' other sex club is more extreme than The Ring – especially on their themed nights -, but slightly less popular. You also need to be a member to enter, which is easily accomplished at the entrance.  The club is cleanly divided into four zones: At first there’s the bar to enjoy a drink between action. Further in there’s a chill-out area with slings and cage to help you “chill”. Past that a “white room” replete with showers and wet areas and delving a little deeper takes you to “The Cave”, where the more hardcore action takes place in slings, booths, and beds. Nights range in themes from simple jockstrap or naked night to their more unique masks and pendants night – where different colored luminous pendants mark what extremities you are into. Open Tuesdays through to Sundays till 3am during the week and 6am Friday and Saturdays.

 

Huevos Rotos
Huevos Rotos / Photo by Tamorlan CC 3.0

Gay Events in Madrid

Madrid Pride – every late June/early July Madrid holds the largest gay pride in Europe with 1.5 to 2 million people in attendance. This is without question one of the most fun gay events of the year. The whole city transforms for a full week of celebrations., drawing in one of the largest crowds in the world. There's concerts all week in Chueca and in Plaza España with club nights every night. It all concludes on the first Saturday of July with a huge Madrid Pride Parade – the largest in Europe – which marches all the way from the Atocha train station to Plaza de Colón at the bottom of Gran Via. From there it's an easy walk up to Chueca, where the party goes on and on and on….If you plan on going to a club after the festivities, be sure to buy your tickets well in advance.

WE Party New Year’s Festival  – Madrileños like to party, so it should come as no surprise that New Year's Eve is always a big one in Madrid. One of the parties to be at is WE Party's offering, usually taking part at Riviera – a venue down by the river.

Sleazy Madrid – the name gives you an impression of what to expect, the week of events is also often referred to as Madrid Fetish Week. The alternative male fetish and electronic music festival has club nights running from the Tuesday through till Sunday. Pack your harnesses, leathers and/or PVC.

MadBear – once a year an army of bears, otters and “chasers” march on Madrid in early December for a week of events including parties – mostly in Chueca – in bars, nightclubs and saunas.

LesGaiCineMad LGBT Film Festival – events aren't all about parties and sex in Madrid. This event is all about queer cinema and is the most important LGBTQ+ Film Festival in Spanish Speaking countries. It's a ten day festival, taking place in early/mid March.

Madrid Gay Pride
Madrid Gay Pride

Day Trips from Madrid

Toledo – Toledo is an easy day trip from Madrid just 45 minutes away. Toledo was once the capital of Spain until the 16th century when it changed to Madrid. It’s a perfect representation of the many religions (catholic, Muslim and Jewish) that have influenced Spanish history among the years of power shifting between cultures. Book tour → 

Toledo

Segovia – Segovia is a medieval walled town 1 hour north of Madrid. Originally a Roman town, it’s famous for its aqueduct (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) that spans from one side of the city to the other. Segovia sits on the top of a hill and its Cinderella-style castle hangs right off the edge of the cliff. Book tour →

El Escorial – Just 45 minutes from Madrid to the northwest is the famous city of San Lorenzo del Escorial. The city is known for its massive monastery and palace complex built in the 1600’s. To this date, it’s the burial grounds for 4 centuries of Spanish Royalty. Book tour →

Barcelona – Believe or not, you can actually do a day trip from Madrid to Barcelona. Thanks to the AVE, OUIGO and Avlo, Spain's high-speed trains, you can travel between the two cities in just over two hours one way. If you don't have time for a full visit to Barcelona, but you don't want to miss the highlights, check out this tour which gives you the opportunity to make Barcelona a day trip from Madrid.

What interests you most about Madrid? Would you consider visiting? Let us know in the comments below!

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