Chueca is the beating gay heart of perhaps the most gay-friendly city in Europe, and boy does that heart beat! Named after its central square – which in turn is named after Spanish author and composer Federico Chueca – the anointed gay barrio of Madrid is always abuzz with raw, and unmistakably gay, energy. Its streets wind around two main terraced plazas full of chic cafes, LGBTQ+ welcoming hotels, lively bars, raunchy sex clubs and boutique shops, selling everything from AussieBum underwear to Gucci sunglasses to jockstraps and harnesses.
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Table of Contents
1. General Tips
3. Gay Hotels in Chueca
4. Activities & Gay Tours in Chueca
5. Shopping in Chueca
6. Restaurants and Cafes in Chueca
7. Chueca Gay Bars
8. Chueca Gay Clubs and Parties
9. Chueca Gay Saunas & Cruising Bars
10. Gay Events in Chueca
Only in Chueca can you enjoy tapas and drink wine above a bona fide Spanish food market and then go eat a ‘polla’ or ‘coño’ (male and female body parts respectively) … waffle for dessert. A night out in Chueca can take you anywhere from sipping cocktails in a trendy bar upon plush cushioned sofas while eyeing hot bar staff, to a crowded Latin American gay bar to see a Venezuelan drag queen perform, to a bear club with a packed dance floor blasting Kylie Minogue, to slipping into the nearest convenient darkroom, sex club or sauna and getting to know the locals.
Chueca is out and proud and doesn’t hide who it is from anyone. Chueca welcomes all with open arms and pinches your butt while doing so. Here is your definitive guide to the most fun area of Madrid.
Chueca thrives in the middle of Madrid, just off the main shopping street, Gran Via. Everything is centered around its two main squares – Plaza de Chueca and Plaza de Pedro Zerolo. – and Calle de Hortaleza, a street which runs the length of the neighborhood. There’s a lot of choice to relish around Chueca and just aimlessly wandering – or cruising – the area you can find all sorts of unique places to visit and things to do. However, if you want to really capitalize on your fun then a little research goes a long way. It is worth noting that by night places get busy, especially on the weekend, so be prepared to turn up early or wait in line to enter some of the bars, restaurants, and clubs.
Public transport in Madrid is smooth sailing and getting to Chueca couldn’t be easier. There are several metro stops that take you within the vicinity, the most obvious of which being Chueca metro that exits into the main plaza. Chueca metro is on line five – the green line – and you’ll know your stop by the rainbow painted walls of the platforms.
Secondary options are Gran Via metro on lines one and five, or Alonso Martinez on lines four, five and ten – both within an easy short five-minute walk of Chueca. As for getting around the area itself, Chueca really isn’t that big and you can walk its length in ten minutes. It’s an easy staggering distance between bars.
Gay Hotels in Chueca
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.
Room Mate Oscar – there are countless places to stay in Chueca, 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, as you would expect as it is found in one of Chueca's main squares, Plaza de Pedro Zerolo. The decor here is chic and modern but rooms book quickly during major gay events. Rates start at 100€ per night.
Hostal La Zona Madrid – also a formally gay-owned hostel just beside the popular street Fuencarral, which is one of the most popular shopping areas in the city. It's likely changed management and isn't gay-specific, but you can't beat the location in the gayborhood. Single rooms during mid-week start at 70€ per night, which includes breakfast until noon.
Axel Hotel Madrid – not actually located in Chueca but this hotel really is the gayest of the gay hotels in Madrid and just a fifteen-minute walk away though Sol. It’s found 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. In Axel Hotel Madrid you will find a meeting point in the capital, with its innovative spaces made specially so you can treat yourself and have fun, always loyal to Axel’s concept of style, design, comfort and cosmopolitan environment. Not to mention feel free to enjoy the “DO Disturb” signs that can be hung on the doors… Rates start at 110€ per night.
Only YOU Boutique Hotel – if you´re looking to push the boat out a little, you can’t go wrong with this LGBTQ+ friendly hotel, which is as much a piece of art as a hotel. Only YOU Boutique Hotel Chueca is built within what was a 19th century mansion, the doors parting in the entrance hall to reveal intricately carved tiled walls and beautiful decorations – all the work of famous interior designer Lazaro Rosa-Violan, which has earned it prestigious design awards such as the Best Boutique Hotel in the World. Not to mention, it's just a few meters from the action in Chueca. Single rooms start at around 210€ a night.
Petit Palace Ducal – A boutique hotel, café and co-working space in Chueca that prides itself on diversity and inclusion. Part of a large chain, the Chueca version has a modern, clean feel to it and is located right on Calle Hortaleza. Pricewise it fits in the middle of the road category with room starting at between 100-150€ per night.
Activities & Gay Tours in Chueca
Mercado de San Anton – if there is a runner up for best food market in Madrid, next to Mercado de San Miguel, then San Anton is it. Right in the center of Chueca the bottom floor is dominated by the food market itself, but upstairs are stalls peddling food from all over the world and letting you pick and choose tapas from each of them. The atmosphere is infectiously Spanish, and you’d be remiss to not have a few glasses of wine or cañas (small beers) with your food.
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.
LGBTQ Chueca Tour – Learn about the transformation of the marginal neighborhood of Chueca, which today is one of the most cosmopolitan and avant-garde neighborhoods of the capital. Visit places and monuments that are part of the history and origin of the district and which normally go unnoticed by many visitors. This tour is perfect for an introduction to Madrid life and to get all the info about the best places to eat, drink, party and “misbehave”. Book tour →
Chueca Neighbourhood Tour – The tour includes fine alcoholic drinks and will reveal to you all the city's underground stories while visiting places that have become local legends as they have given the courage to millions to be who they are. As part of the tour, you will visit the mythological bars of the LGBT+ community, drink fine alcohol, and see where Madrid's Pride protest movement began. You will also get tips on where to spend the rest of your night. Book tour →
local gay guide – find various tours offered by local gay guides in the city. Their guides create an authentic experience for you and make you feel like a local as well. Check out neighborhoods outside of the tourist areas, see the LGBTQ+ scene, get recommendations only locals know and of course, visit the iconic places too. Some tours offered in Madrid include: LGBT tour, Highlight tour, Bourbon Madrid tour and Tapas tour. 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. Get Tickets →
LGBTQ District Tapas & Drinks Trail Madrid – Currently, the only LGBTQ+ tapas tour in Madrid. Explore Chueca – Madrid’s gay zone – while sampling the best tapas in town over a drink, or six, in four uniquely different bars. All served up with insights on the local customs and interesting titbits of the LGBTQ+ history of the area.
Shopping in Chueca
Calle Fuencarral – The pedestrian street stretches from Gran Via north up for 500m with stores and shops of all kinds from Victoria’s Secret to Decathlon, not to mention plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars to take a load off during your busy shopping day.
Gran Via – 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 de Pelayo – Chueca is renowned for being the place to buy underwear and other spicier gaywear. XXX Madrid and Boxer Madrid are found on this small sideroad and are two of the best when it comes to the sexy underwear and sportswear. Whereas, you’ll also find SR Leather here for more of a fetish focus.
Restaurants and Cafes in Chueca
Depending on the time of day, there are several restaurants in and around Chueca worth a visit.
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.
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 omelet) or their huevos rotos.
Chueca Gay Bars
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.
D’Mystic – This is a nice lounge in the heart of Chueca. You’ll find sitting room here 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.
La Kama – This is a great place to go before heading out to the gay club. 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. The crowd is friendly here and it’s one of the better places to meet people.
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 Spanish drag queens.
Cazador – This is a bar where you’ll find the gay hipsters. It’s a small place in Malasaña and people tend to crowd onto the street when it’s warm out. It’s a good place for a couple drinks during the week or before heading out to dance.
Black and White – This is one of the oldest gay bars in Madrid and it’s a classic. 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.
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 line during the weekends, but on Thursday nights it is THE place to be
For the girls
Fulanita de Tal – this is a small 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.
Chueca Gay Clubs and Parties
DLRO – This is a medium sized gay dance club open every night of the week. There are two separate levels with different dance floors and music. If you’re lucky, you might find promoters on the streets of Chueca passing out free entrance wristbands earlier in the night. Don’t arrive before 2am unless you like dancing alone. Address: Calle Pelayo, 59
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. You’ll sometimes find special events here with performances on stage. Address: Calle Tetuan, 27
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. Address: Calle Isabel La Católica 6
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 drag queens, virtually no girls, but a pretty friendly crowd. Entrance is around 15€. Music type: house, electronic / Address: Calle Covarrubias, 42
WE Party – monthly and usually held at La Riviera. 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 parties 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.
Chueca Gay Saunas & Cruising Bars
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.
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. Address: 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 aged, muscled, locals and tourists. Very close to Chueca and opens 24 hours on weekends.
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.
Gay Events in Chueca
Each 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. Other events include the WE Party New Year’s Festival, MadBear, Sleazy Madrid and the LesGaiCineMad GLBT Film Festival.
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