The third-largest city in the European Union, located on the Manzanares River at the center of the country, Madrid became Spain's capital when King Philip II moved his court here from Valladolid in 1561. Until the 20th century the population had remained small, and the Civil War of the 1930s caused severe damage, but the city expanded during the economic boom of the 1960s, with massive migrations from the country's rural areas. With the death of General Franco and the beginning of the modern democratic era, the 1978 constitution confirmed Madrid as Spain's capital city. About 84% of the population are Spaniards, while others, including immigrants from Latin America, other European Union countries, Asia, plus North and West Africa, make up the remaining 16%.
In this nation of fiestas, Madrid really knows how to throw a party. Throughout the year there are a host of festivals including El Dos de Mayo, marking the anniversary of Madrid's uprising against Napoleonic rule in 1808, one of many people's rebellions against French occupation that sparked the Peninsular War.
For gay people, the annual June/July pride celebration nearly takes over the entire city. World Pride took place here in June 2017. For those who like more kink, the Madrid Sleazy Festival sizzles in July. The annual Festival Internacional de Cinema Pride Madrid takes place in late June and LesGaiCineMad in October/November. Mad.Bear in December has been bringing bears to the city from all over for 16 years now.
Madrid's Barajas Airport is about 7 miles east of the city. Many of the airlines from North America arrive here, and national carriers worldwide have service, along with several low-cost European airlines. The airport is connected by Metro line 8 to the city, with stations at the terminal buildings. The train takes about 50 minutes to reach the Chueca station, the gay district, with two line changes, and costs 5 euros.
The overnight sleeper trains from Paris to Madrid have been replaced by TGV/AVE high speeed trains, a trip of 10 hours with a change in Barcelona. See EuroRailways for info. The Atocha station, on Metro line 1, is where most RENFE trains come in from elsewhere in Spain, along with their high-speed AVE trains from Barcelona, Seville or Valencia.
Buses arrive at Estación Sur de Autobuses where long-distance carriers ALSA (from Barcelona or Malaga) or Avanza (from Valencia or Lisbon) are the two largest. Each of these has online ticket sales, and Movelia handles that service for the many smaller lines. If departing, and buying tickets at the station, be prepared for confusion and crowds - give yourself extra time, and consult the information booth if necessary.
Madrid is a walker’s city, so make sure to plan plenty of time for strolling. Metro Madrid is big, cheap (1.50 euros per single trip, or less with a day pass), efficient, and a great way to move from one part of the city to another. English is the second language on the signs and maps are free at the ticket booth. The Metro stations close overnight, opening at 6am, but RENFE stations like Puerta del Sol open at 5am, with commuter lines for the airport or Atocha Station intercity trains.
The majority of gay venues are situated in the maze of small streets around Plaza Chueca and onward towards Gran Via. The area around Metro Lavapies also has a cluster of clubs and restaurants of interest. Puerto del Sol is a large square at the end of the pedestrian shopping streets from Gran Via - a gathering spot for many, with Metro underground train connections to most everywhere.
What to do
Madrid is full of cultural and artistic highlights. Well-known art galleries worth a visit include the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the Reina Sofia. The Museo Sorolla was the Madrid home of Joaquín Sorolla, the Valencian painter who created epic canvases of everyday Spanish life, imbued with mythic grandeur. His work can also be seen at the Prado, and in New York City at the Hispanic Society Museum.
Currency and Money
Spain’s official currency is the euro. There are ATMs scattered about the center, so you won’t have trouble getting more cash. Consult your bank before departure as some larger US banks have network agreements with locals, to save on costs of withdrawal charges.
Guía Gay Magazine, has regional editions, including one for Madrid, a small bar glossy give-away with a big and comprehensive website in Spanish. Shangay Magazine and their listings edition Shanguide is another Spanish gay media group with Madrid coverage.
Oh My God! gay magazine also has events listings for all regions of Spain, along with glossy lifestyle and travel spreads and online edition. QTravel is a Spanish-language gay travel magazine covering Spain and the world.
Madrid Destino is the city tourist website.
Guia del Ocio is the El País online guide to Madrid nightlife, theater, cinema, performance and visual arts, restaurants and events around town - in Spainish. Their English-language El País.com website has translations of many of their daily newpaper articles.
For map locations and website links to the gay businesses below, and more, see our listings pages.
Axel Hotel Madrid (Atocha, 49, las Letras), hetero-friendly LGBT hotel, 88 rooms, Las chicas, los chicos y los maniquís tapas/seafood restaurant/bar, wellness facility, rooftop pool/deck, basement and sky bars.
Casa Chueca Hostal (San Bartolome 4), six rooms, balconies overlook street, interior courtyard, located at center of the gay district. Spanish, English, and French-speaking staff.
Chueca Pension (Gravina 4), eight clean, bright, inexpensive rooms in Chueca; laundry service, free internet, english and french spoken.
Hostal Adria Santa Ana (Nuñez de Arce 15), ten guestrooms, private bathrooms, telephones, digital safe, internet access, satellite TV. Connected to Hostal Adria and Hostal Adriano.
Hostal Hispano (Hortaleza 38), at heart of the gay zone, elevator, clean and comfortable rooms, AC, television, and ceramic-tiled bathrooms.
Hotel ME | Madrid Reina Victoria (Plaza de Santa Ana, 14), 192 luxury rooms, gym/spa, yoga, WiFi, two restaurants/bars.
Hostal Odesa (Hortaleza 38), third-floor inexpensive rooms with elevator near Gran Via; bright decor, AC, WiFi and television.
Hostal Sonsoles (Fuencarral, 18, 2nd floor), small budget rate hostal just off Gran Via, 24-hour snack machine, elevator, WiFi.
Hostal Puerta del Sol (Plaza Puerta del Sol 14), overlooks large lively square, clean, comfortable rooms, private baths, televisions, WiFi, bargain prices. Breakfast served until noon, tea and coffee anytime. English-speaking staff, homey, relaxed ambiance.
Hostal La Zona (Valverde 7), gay but straight-friendly hostal, 19th-century Neo-Classical building; modern rooms, breakfast buffet, steps from Gran Via. Staff are gay and helpful with tips on local area. Also apartment rentals, fully equipped with washing machines, DVD players, kitchenettes and free Wi-fi.
Westin Palace Madrid (Plaza de las Cortes, 7), classic 1912 luxury, 467 rooms and suites at the center, two fine dining restaurants, bars, fitness center, WiFi.
Bars and nightlife
A listing of bars and clubs in Madrid can never be complete, even local gay publications can't keep up. But with a walk around the Chueca area the gay scene will quickly reveal itself. Many clubs don't open until around midnight, and metal shutters can make them look closed forever, just an hour before they're teeming with people. Check the flyers and local press in evening cafes, and strike up conversations with local guys for the latest scoop. See our map & listings tab for locations and websites for the businesses below, and more.
Ángel Sierra (Gravina 11), gay-friendly traditional Spanish taberna tapas bar, just off Plaza de Chueca with it's parade of passers-by.
Baranoa Bar (Pelayo, 31, Chueca), mostly gay music bar from 4pm daily; dancing. LaKama sister bar.
Barbanarama (San Bartolomé 8, Chueca), gay-friendly mix, bear nights, Eurovision, theme events.
Bear's Bar (Pelayo 4), friendly English-speaking cosmopolitan place for bears, chubbies, chasers, and daddies - know everyone in no time. Back room bear porn, and private frolic space.
Black and White Bar (Libertad 34), busy after 1am, drag shows, bingo, lively weekend dancing, go-go boys, special theme nights, mixed crowd, old and young, lots of cuties -- some for hire.
Bulldog (San Bartolomé 16, Chueca), gay men's music bar, all welcome, daily 'til 3am, bears, theme parties.
Café Acuarela (Gravina 10), 1940's decor coffeehouse and cocktail bar, afterwork and before-clubs mixed crowd, free WiFi. Look for the gold naked angel in the window.
Cafe Libertad 8 (Libertad, 8, Chueca), arts crowd cafe/bar, live music, poetry readings and performances.
D'Mystic (Gravina 5), gay cafe and wine bar, breakfast, music videos, high-energy young male mix.
Enfrente (Infantas 12), nightly disco music pub for bears, packed late weekend nights, opposite Hot; home to the annual Mr. Bear Spain contest each October.
Gris (San Marcos 29), two level music club, young alternative gay/men/women, students, straight-friendly, Indie music, late happy hours.
Gula Gula (Gran Vía, 1), traditional Spanish cuisine restaurant, flamboyant drag cabaret and nude male burlesque shows "for the whole family."
Intruso (Augusto Figueroa 3), gay-friendly live music bar: jazz, rock, Afro-beat, folk, R&B, and funk.
Kavu Bar (Pelayo 4), gay cocktail and music bar in Chueca, good-looking shirtless barstaff, theme parties, mostly men, all welcome.
LaKama (Gravina 4), Chueca afternoon cafe, evening gay cocktail bar, mostly younger guys, sexy shirtless staff; occasional cabaret shows and go-go dancers.
LL Bar (Pelaya 11), cafe/show bar, daily from 5pm; nightly drag shows, sing-a-longs, male strippers on stage from midnight, cruising area.
Medaigual Chueca (San Bartolomé 2), small gay music bar, older guys, Eurovision nights, drag events.
Museo Chicote (Gran Via 12), famous cocktail bar since 1931, long-time favorite of writers and artists; steep drinks prices but great atmosphere, good music, theater performances.
Paso (Capuchinos 1), neighborhood bar, pulls a good crowd of locals of all ages almost every night, packed on weekends.
Rick's (Clavel 8), mixed crowd lounge, variety of ages, DJs play Pop and Charts.
Rimmel Pub (Góngora 2), gay bar, friendly, mixed age, mostly male crowd, two-for-one happy hours all evening, theme parties.
El Rincon Guay (Embajadores 62, Lavapies), gay/mixed locals' bar/cafe, cocktails, burgesrs, breakfast, shakes, tapas and meals; WiFi.
Sixta Bar (Calatrava 15. La Latina), LGBT mixed neighborhood locals' bar, theme nights.
Studio 54 (Barbieri, 7), slick/ upscale cocktail lounge in Chueca, small dance floor, good sound/lights, gay/straight, men/women.
Thick (San Marcos 16), gay wine, cocktails and party bar in Chueca, mostly men, bears.
Truco (Gravina 10), gay and lesbian terrace bar on Chueca Plaza, busiest on warm sunny evenings for drinks before the late clubs get going, mostly women late evening.
Volta Cafe (Santa Teresa 9), cafe/bar, Wednesday - Saturday, art/alternative crowd, men/women, electronic music.
CLOSED: FU3L (San Marcos 16); Kavu Next (Infanta 9, Chueca); Liquid (Barbieri, 7); Misadedoce (Augusto Figueroa 20); Tábata (Vergara 12).
Men's Cruise/Sex Bars and Clubs
Attack (Olivar, 22), four zones sex bar at city center, cyber-cafe, free WiFi, cruise area in rear; nightly themes parties: naked or underwear, black-out glo-stix, Friday Fuck Fest, Sticky & Naked nights.
Baco (Olmo 31, Antón Martín), Friday through Sunday weekend men's sex/fetish/cruise club/bar, naked and underwear nights; underwear shop.
Boyberry Madrid (Valverde, 3), men's cruise bar, strippers, lights out parties, sex shop, DVD video sales, cabins, internet access.
Cage (San Bartolomé 4), leather/fetish and sex bar, play room, slings, cage, jocks and naked nights; also for "a chat, some laughs, and the daily papers."
Firewood (Caños Viejos, 2), fetish cruise bar/ sex club, dark room, sling, group beds, fetish gear/underwear, jockstraps; bear nights.
Hot Bar (Infantas 9), small, friendly, international bear bar, fun 'til dawn, videos, afternoon coffee from 1pm, wine by the glass, free WiFi, basement cruising.
The Meat Rack (Montserrat 30, Malasaña), Wednesday-Sunday members-only naked and fetish men's cruise club. Formerly At Substation.
Naked Bar (Monteleón 5), 4pm-3am men's fetish bar in Malasaña; underwear, naked, sports gear and leather nights; maze, sling, cabins, large dark room with bed.
Organic (Pelayo 30), men's cruise/sex bar in Chueca, underwear, jockstrap, sports fetish, bear and leather theme nights.
The Ring (Amparo 78, Embajadores), naked men's private cruise club, slings, St Andrew's cross, sports machines, wet area, glory holes, cage, dungeons, whips, mazes, bondage play.
Shower & Bar (Pelayo, 25), men's cruise and sex club, naked and underwear nights, dark room, glory holes, wet sex room, cabins and bunks, maze, lockers, showers; was Sauna Men.
Strong Center (Trujillos 7), men's dance and sex club, open nightly 11pm-6:30am; hard-core fun, large dark labyrinth, cabins, bunks, porn videos, bear nights, naked and fetish events, busiest Friday and Saturday. SleazyMadrid events, three times each year.
Zarpa (Infantas 26), gay men's copas and cocktail bar in Chueca, bears & friends, theme parties.
Bearbie (Plaza Vázquez de Mella 2), Friday/Saturday midnight-6am dance party for bears, cubs and friends.
Boite (Tetuan 27), Thursday through Saturday gay '70s-'80s retro disco dance club, weekend performances, lively young mixed crowd.
Delirio Dance Club (Libertad 28), small upscale disco, three bars, clean white space, go-go dancers nightly.
DLRO Live (Pelayo 59), weekend pop alternative music dance club, 2 levels, midnight to 6am, live entertainment, young and trendy guys.
Into The Tank (various venues), Spain's hottest fetish party, several times each year in Madrid with international DJs and producers, playroom for men, live sex shows, kinky go-gos. Dress code: sports, urban, leather, military, jockstraps, naked. Also in Rome, Ibiza, Seville, London.
LOL gay circuit tour dancing, circus/acrobats/performers, fetish fashion shows, WE parties, top international DJs - now inactive.
Sala Bash/ Ohm (Plaza Callao 4, Gran Via), special event weekend gay dance events.
WE Party at La Riviera (Paseo Bajo de la Virgen del Puerto), international circuit party brand with spectacular performances, international DJs and hot go-go dancers. Macho is their men-only leather/fetish event every couple of months.
Sauna Adán (San Bernardo 38), busy place from late afternoon, known for the many South Americans showing off their manhood, offering massage, and intimate services for pay.
Sauna Center (Cuesta de Santo Domingo 1), one of Europe's largest men's saunas, open 24 hours, busiest weekends after-discos all-ages crowds - long lines.
Sauna Cristal (Figueroa 17), small Chueca men's steam sauna, Jacuzzi, bar, massage services, WiFi.
Sauna Gran Via (Barco, 6, Gran Via), 7/365 days, steam/dry saunas, Jacuzzi, bar, cabins, massage.
Sauna Lavapiés (Zurita 3. Lavapiés), 24-hour/seven-day men's steam, dry sauna, Jacuzzi, dark room, cabins, bar.
Sauna Octopus (Churruca 10), watch swimmers in small pool from bar area, private cabins, Jacuzzi, dry and steam saunas, dark room, porn cinema, sling room.
Sauna Olimpo (Valverde, 32, Gran Via) - CLOSED - sauna complex daily noon to midnight at the Center; Jacuzzi, cabins, bar, massage.
Sauna Paraiso (Norte 15), large space, hot tubs, pool, sauna, steam room, bar with TV, cabins, dark room disco, fetish & S&M gear, cinema, massage services.
Sauna Principe (Travesía de las Beatas, 3), focus is on bears, mature & big guys; bar/cafe, massage, dry sauna, steam, video lounge, maze and cabins.
Sauna Puerta de Toledo (Descargas 6), small clean sauna/sauna, after-work guys looking to play, open 365 days/year; dark room, cabins, WiFi, sling, common "relax' room.
CLOSED: Sauna Premium (Priora, 2, at Costanilla de Los Ángeles 5).
The choice in Madrid is vast for food styles and preference. The Spanish love small plates samples -- known as tapas -- of meat, fish, and vegetables. These are often served casually day and night with beer or coffee, and at reasonable prices. But there are many more luxurious ways to eat, too.
7Delicatessen (Augusto Figueroa, 24, Chueca), cocineros canarios deli and gastrobar; creative Canary Islands cuisine.
Baco y Beto (Pelayo 24), Chueca wine and tapas bar, chef's Spanish home-style daily special meals.
Benares Madrid (Zurbano, 5, Chamberí), modern/creative Indian regional cuisines, fine dining, amuse bouches and grazing menu; Michelin-starred chef.
Bistronomika (Santa Maria 39, Cortes), eclectic and creative fine dining, seasonal seafood and curries; star chef Carlos del Portillo.
Café Acuarela (Gravina 10, Chueca), all-day coffeehouse and cocktail bar, free-WiFi, golden naked angel in the window, 1940s décor.
El Estragón (Plaza de la Paja 10, Austrias), ovo-lacto-vegetarian restaurant to impress even non-vegetarians.
El Rincon Guay (Embajadores 62), Lavapiés internet cafe, cocktail bar; hamburgers, salads, tapas and meals, from breakfast onwards.
Hanan Ethiopian Restaurant (Ventura Rodríguez, 3, Lavapiés), meat or veggie/vegan stews, injera bread; fine coffees and desserts.
La Caleta Taberna Gaditana (Santa Isabel, 38, Lavapiés), tavern/bar, fried fish a la manera de Cádiz; shrimp, calamari, jamón, chorizo, Andalusian wines of Jerez.
La Cocina de San Antón (Augusto Figueroa, 24, Chueca), cocina española rooftop terrace above Mercado de San Antón; tapas, full plates, gallery and bar.
La Encomienda (Encomienda 19, Embajadores), organic vegan/raw foods restaurant and bar, daily specials menu.
Maiia Thai (Calle de la Princesa, 13, Lavapiés), meat, seafood and veggie curries, stir fries, soups, rice and noodles.
Mamá Framboise (Fernando VI, 23, Chueca), maestro artesano chocolatero/ pastelería macaroons, pastries, tarts, cakes, bizcochos, fine chocolate; quiches, tostadas, croissants, and sandwiches.
Mama Ines (Hortaleza, 22, Chueca), cafe/bar, English, American or French breakfast and brunch, sandwiches, salads, full-course meals, deserts; all day and into the evening cocktails.
Mercado de San Antón (corner of Barbieri & Figueroa), three-level indoor Chueca market, gourmet and fresh food stands, baked goods, sandwiches, quiches, fruits, cheeses, ice cream, coffees and teas - eat in or take out for a plaza picnic. Includes Súmmum Pirineos gourmet grocery, La Trastienda Tapas croquetas, tapas and seafood, Siete Delicatessen & Gastrobar Canary Islands creative cuisine, and on the upper level, La Cocina de San Antón restaurant with rooftop terrace seating.
Oita Café (Hortaleza, 30, Chueca), exquisite French cakes, tarts and pastries; lunch/brunch, shakes and smoothies, teas and coffees.
Petit Comité (Reina, 15, Gran Via), gourmet Spanish-French cuisine, daily set menus; cocktails and tapas lounge bar.
Pink Monkey (Monte Esquinza 15, Salamanca), casual Asian dining, Peruvian, Mexican, and Mediterranean touches; ceviche, dumplings, Tom Yam, curries, rice and noodles, wines and cocktails.
Pum Pum Café (Tribulete 6, Lavapiés), coffees, pastries, all-day brunch skillets, Eggs Benedicts and paninis.
Punto MX (General Pardiñas, 40, Salamanca), Mexican restaurant with a Michelin star; tasting menu gastronomic experience by Chef Roberto Ruiz. Mezcal Lab GastroBar with Ojo de Dios 30 year-old Tepeztate.
Ramon Freixa Madrid (Claudo Coello 67, Salamanca), Michelin 2-star Catalan fine dining at Hotel Único; mains, taster menus, Sunday brunch in the garden.
Recreo (Espartinas 5, Salamanca), creative home-style new Spanish cuisine with international influences; wines.
Restaurant Vivares (Hortaleza, 52), modern, casual Chueca cafe/bar tapas/pinxos, burgers, tostas, sandwiches and bocadillos.
Ristorante Finocchio (Embajadores 64, Lavapiés), gay-popular Italian restaurant/ pizzeria; pastas, risottos, meats, seafood, desserts and wines.
Sanissimo (San Vicente Ferrer 28, Malasaña), healthy fast food veggie cafe, deli and shop; lasagna, veggie burgers, wraps, salads, juices, smoothies, bagels and cakes.
Tasca Celso y Manolo (Libertad, 1, Chueca), tavern beverages and meals; seafood, eggs, rice, grilled meats and veg, croquetas, patés, cheese plates, salads, scalopinni, ribs, chops, sardines, steak tartar, grilled foie gras, bocadillos and more.
Tepic Urban-Mex Restaurant (Pelayo 4), modern, bright design in crisp pink and white, extensive and modern Mexican menu, vegetarian options.
Tommy Mel's Classic Diner (Hortaleza 34), American-style 1950's decor with jukebox music to match; traditional and veggie burgers, dogs, fries, BLTs, BBQ chicken, pancakes, cheesecakes and pies, Ben & Jerry's shakes and sundaes - plus cocktails, wine and beer. Mixed, mostly young crowd.
Txirimiri (General Pardiñas, 92. Salamanca), hot pintxos/ share plates; fish, beef, pork, pasta and rice. Also at: Humilladero, 6, La Latina; Ferraz, 38, Moncloa-Rosales; and Ibiza 25, Retiro.
Vega (Luna 9, Malasaña), vegan tapas restaurant and juice bar; local, fresh eco foods, international influences.
Vinoteca Barbechera (Gravina 6) wine bottles line the walls, tapas to amaze, unexpected taste combinations: salmon with honey, slices of rump roast in fig sauce, hazelnut bisque.
Yoka-Loka (Santa Isabel, 5, Lavapiés), ramen noodles, sushi, and sashimi at Mercado de Antón Martín; meat, seafood or vegan options, Japanese beers.
See more Madrid restaurants and cafes at our map/ listings pages.
Shopping and services
Berkana Book Shop (Hortaleza 62), long running gay-shop, bookstore for gay fiction, biography, travel guides, magazines, comics, sexuality, poetry, queer theory, religion, photo, cinema, theater, art books, cine-X and mainline DVDs; coffeeshop teas, coffee, beers, and cake.
Boyberry Madrid (Valverde, 3), men's cruise bar, strippers, lights out parties, sex shop, DVD video sales, cabins, internet access.
Different Life Book/Sex Shop (Pelayo 30), full range of play toys, gifts, gay mainline and erotic DVDs, music, comics, magazines, travel guides and books, including photo tomes -- open till 8:30pm daily.
SR Leather (Pelayo 7), leather, rubber, SM gear, military, industrial clothes, toys and art, custom-made SM furniture, leather goods and clothes. Local artists' exhibits, nude and semi-nude drawings.