Madrid gay travel advice for the best hotels, gay bars, clubs, parties, gay saunas, restaurants & things to do.
The Gay Travel Experience: Madrid, Spain
Madrid is absolutely my favorite place in the world. I have never felt more at home in a foreign city than in the Spanish capital. Madrid’s gay scene and overall gay population huge, the gay clubs are world-renowned and LGBT pride is everywhere!
The best thing about Madrid is that the local LGBT people are super friendly! As soon as you step into Spaniard culture, you’ll find out how open, free and genuinely upbeat locals are.
While visiting any of the gay bars in Madrid, you are bound be be absorbed into a circle of fun Spanish guys. They’re always eager to make new friends. It feels so welcoming.
Gay Madrid: Hotels & Where To Stay
Each Madrid neighborhood has a different vibe and level of convenience. Below, I’ll share the best neighborhoods for tourists to stay in Madrid as well as where you’ll find the gay locals.
Full of gay Madrileños, amazing restaurants and not crowded by tourists, you’ll feel right at home in a Malasaña VRBO rental. Malasaña is one of the trendiest neighborhoods, nestled at the northern end of the city’s core.
Malasaña has various small boutique-like storefronts and other conveniences. The area is full of resident Spaniards, perfect to observe local life. Malasaña is also walkable to Gran Via and the main city center in about 10-15 minutes.
Embajadores is another great area of Madrid, located on the south end of the city center. Many younger people live here, including some gay locals I know. The metro from Embajadores will take you directly to the center of Madrid in 10 minutes or 25-30 minutes walking.
This area also tends to be cheaper than other Madrid neighborhoods. Embajadores rentals are probably your best bet for cheap accommodations.
Tirso De Molina & Sol
Tirso de Molina, a neighborhood just south of Puerta del Sol is another great option to look for a place to stay. Hotels in Tirso de Molina and the surrounding area will be bit closer to the city center, but not exactly next to the Sol metro station.
I recommend staying a bit farther south of the Sol metro station since this area is usually overcrowded with tourists.
Chueca Gay District
Staying in Chueca, the Madrid gay district, is great for meeting locals as well as other gay travelers. Many gay guys live in this area, but not exclusively. You can easily find LGBT locals outside of Chueca as well.
A Note About Gran Vía
Lastly, I recommend to avoid staying in hotels along Gran Via. This is where most tourists stay, as there are many chain hotels. This is not where you can experience the real Madrileño life. Plus, you will up missing the beautiful streets on your journey home.
Madrid Gay Travel Experiences
El Retiro Park is enormous and you could easily spend half a day strolling around. There are unlimited quiet trails and manicured garden areas.
At the main entrance to the park there are some stellar views of the east side of the city. Explore the park near the entrance and you just might find the spot where all the shirtless guys are working out.
The Royal Palace can be a place you stop by briefly to see the outside, or you may choose to go in for a tour. If you plan to visit the palace, get a skip the line ticket. Personally, I just admired it from the outside.
For shopping, there are several department stores along Gran Via near the Callao metro stop. El Corte Inglés is the main department store, but note that it is broken up into 5 buildings, each with different categories of items.
The stores are dotted along the street from the Callao metro stop to the Sol metro stop. Major brand stores are in between.
Madrid Museums: Modern & Historical
There are two museums in Madrid that I absolutely loved. Museo ABC is a graphic design showcase with many interesting pieces, all very different from one another.
The Museo Municipal de Historia is another great, and free, place to spend a few hours. The museum showcases the urban development of Madrid—the different eras of infrastructure construction, models of famous architectural sites and many maps of the city.
In the basement, there’s a model of the entire city of Madrid from a specific year in history. It is absolutely impeccable and is one of the first models that depicted the empty space between Madrid’s buildings. If you love architecture or city maps, you will absolutely adore this.
Walk from Gran Via toward Embajadores and you’ll find kebab and Indian food everywhere. With lots of outdoor seating, the ethnic food in this area can be a delicious and cheap bet
For a higher-end restaurant option, I recommend the Azotea del Circulo Rooftop. A restaurant and bar with the best views of Gran Via, Azotea has indoor and outdoor seating.
Azotea is especially good if you like seafood. I got some Calamari, Patatas Bravas and white wine. It’s on the pricier side, but the views are worth it.
There are tons of restaurants and bars in this vibrant part Madrid. I recommend just wandering through Chueca, watching gay locals and tourists mingle and seeing what else you find!
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Madrid Gay Bars, Clubs & Parties
The gay bars and clubs in Madrid are world-renowned. The city is also known for hosting some of the world’s best circuit party events. Here in the heart of Spain, there’s always a party happening somewhere.
Tanga! is undoubtedly one of the most popular gay parties in Madrid. It’s a monthly party known for starting on Sunday evening at 7:30pm.
The party mainly caters to those who work on Monday. But as is typical in Spain, the party keeps going until 6 am Monday morning! I loved Tanga because different gay “crowds” mix for one giant event.
Tanga is hosted at Teatro Barceló, which has several “salas,” or rooms on different levels. The main floor plays pop music and all-time favorites.
As the night progresses and the night owls show up, the higher levels will gradually open. The third level will play techno and house music.
Kluster Circuit Party
Kluster is another Madrid gay club crowd favorite. I had such a blast here. They play house/circuit music with on-stage dancers. This is a jam-packed, intense Saturday night party that continues until the sun rises (see the vibe in the below video). Entrance is about 10 Euros, which includes a drink.
Marta Cariño is a cute and spacious bar right next door. It is not specifically a gay venue. But it is where all the gay guys hang out before the Kluster party, or before heading to another part of town for a night out. It’s an awesome and beloved gay hangout spot.
Gay Friendly Bars in Madrid
Head over to Only YOU Hotel in Atocha for a cocktail bar with chic hotel vibes. They make custom cocktails and they look beautiful! There is a wonderful rooftop terrace, perfect for watching the sun set.
Azotea Forus Barceló is another rooftop terrace with more of a garden feel. It’s right across the street from Teatro Barceló. This is a great spot for large groups since they have space to spread out and movable seating.
Note there is no signage on the street for Azotea Forus Barceló, so you just have to head up the outdoor escalator to the fourth level. It’s best to visit in the early evening or late afternoon during sunset.
Madrid Gay Saunas
Gay saunas in Madrid are wildly popular, and many tourists frequent them during their visits to the city.
Sauna Paraiso tops the list. They brand themselves as the “sauna of young people”. I personally liked this establishment for their Turkish baths and large space. They’re located in the Malasaña neighborhood.
Sauna Principe is one of their sister saunas, which caters to “men with experience.” They’re near Plaza de España, not far from the Madrid gay area.
You’re less likely to find the younger guys here at Sauna Principe. Their other sister sauna is Sauna Octopus, which is for bears and the more mature crowd.
With the slogan “the largest gay sex club in Europe,” you might just find yourself headed right for Strong Center Madrid. They’ve been around for over 25 years and are one of the best Madrid gay saunas.
Boyberry Madrid is your best bet if you prefer a more relaxed cruising vibe. They’re a standard gay bar with a dim basement sex club area. It’s a much more casual situation than heading specifically to a gay sauna.
Madrid Gay Pride
I think everyone can agree that Madrid Gay Pride, or “Orgullo Gay de Madrid,” is consistently one of the fun LGBT pride events in the world. The gay pride celebration in Madrid is the largest in all of Europe, with incredible diversity and energy.
Enormous numbers of tourists flood Madrid every year for the pride celebration. The entire stretch of Gran Vía fill with crowds all day and night. If there’s any bucket list pride event in the world to attend, it’s right here in Madrid.
Madrid Travel Tips
The north of the city is generally at a higher elevation than the south. Walking from Malasaña to Embajadores is all downhill. Keep this in mind if you’re walking the city.
Personally, I usually take the subway northward but walk southward to make any stroll more enjoyable.
Using The Madrid Metro
Madrid’s metro system is fantastic. Frequent trains will get you to all destinations very quickly and a ride is less than 2 Euros. Buy a card to load at any metro station. The subway also connects directly to the airport.
Madrid has “regular” subway routes as well as a more heavy-duty train that runs in a circular route along the outskirts of the city. This train takes different tickets and costs just a bit more.
You may find yourself taking this train if you’re headed for the Atocha railway station. However, for most people you likely won’t need it. See more on the Madrid Metro Official Site.
Whenever I’m flying between European cities, I always check Vueling first. Their tickets are some of the cheapest and I’d definitely choose them over Ryanair.
Dinner Time in Spain
Keep timing in mind while making reservations at restaurants. Many may not even be open yet at the time you would normally have dinner. Most restaurants in Spain will close down in the middle of the day, reopening in the evening.