Shopping in Madrid. The best commercial districts
Spanish and international brands, hippy markets, department stores, shopping centres… Madrid has something for everyone. You may be drawn to one particular area over another, depending on your interests and budget, but are certain to find something you like. One big advantage of shopping in Madrid is that traders are free to set their own opening times. This means that both independent shops and department stores can open all year round, including Sundays and most holidays. Opening times are normally 10:00 AM – 8:30 PM for smaller businesses, with shopping centres and larger chains opening until 10:00 PM.
Calle Fuencarral and surrounding area
A wide network of small, peaceful streets are found between Plaza de Chueca, Calle Fuencarral and Calle Hortaleza, and their buzzing shopping trade often surprises visitors.
The area around Calle Fuencarral (internal link) is known for its young, modern clothes shops, tattoo parlours, home decorations, comic stores, art bookshops and numerous retro-style boutiques.
The Chueca neighbourhood is the heart of Madrid’s gay scene and now embraces shops of every kind, making it one of the most visited areas of the city. Daring members of the LGBT community should head to Calle Hortaleza, where figure-hugging pieces decorate the shop windows and are sure to turn heads. Around Calle Augusto Figueroa the streets are lined with shoe shops selling factory samples where you can pick up a pair from last season at very reasonable prices.
The Triángulo de Ballesta is located close to Malasaña. This commercial hub is home to a wide range of food markets, the ideal place to discover local products and enjoy some tapas. Follow a route through the Mercado de Barceló with its various outdoor terraces, the Mercado de San Ildefonso, offering international food stands and the San Antón and Huerto de Lucas markets that specialise in organic food and dishes.
The Golden Mile
The Salamanca neighbourhood is the most exclusive in the city and all the international luxury brand stores are based here. In just one square mile between Calle Serrano and Calle Ortega y Gasset you will pass all the leading fashion, home decoration and jewellery houses.
And if you are mad about fashion, you will be thrilled to discover top Spanish brands, such as world-famous Loewe, Manolo Blahnik and his celebrated shoes, Amaya Arzuaga, Kina Fernández, Adolfo Domínguez, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Roberto Verino, and Ángel Schlesser, which sit alongside the big names: Chanel, Armani, Valentino and Luis Vuitton.
The capital’s most prestigious jewellers are also found in Salamanca; browse exclusive pieces and the latest accessories in Bvlgari, Cartier, Tous and Tiffany, and admire the diamonds and precious stones on display in their windows. It will come as no surprise that many of these stores have security guards at the door.
Don’t miss the outlying streets in this neighbourhood, such as Calle Jorge Juan and its famous side street, or Calle Ayala, where you will find the Mercado de La Paz. Calle Claudio Coello is home to Christian Louboutin’s iconic red-soled shoes and matchless hand-crafted footwear by Carmina.
Calle Preciados area
Next to the Puerta del Sol, Calle Preciados and Calle Carmen were together considered to be the first open-air shopping centre in the Spanish capital. At Christmas these two pedestrian streets swell with such large crowds that the Town Hall has been forced to take action, making the streets one way only, each in a different direction. Here you will find the main Spanish and international fashion and jewellery chains: El Corte Inglés, the famous Doña Manolita national lottery ticket office and Fnac.
Plaza de Callao links Calle Preciados with Gran Vía, an avenue with over 100 years of history that is more alive than ever. Calle de los Musicales is towards Plaza de España and the largest shopping area is around Calle Alcalá, where huge clothes stores are housed in iconic buildings. The biggest Primark in Spain is located here.
Madrid flea markets
A genuine Madrid institution, the Rastro appears every Sunday in Ribera de Curtidores and around the Plaza de Cascorro. Who knows what you might stumble across? Peculiar objects, retro clothes, antiques… The market’s name comes from the trail of blood [rastro = trail] that the animals left behind as they were dragged from the slaughterhouse for their hides to be tanned.
Cuesta de Moyano
This is a pedestrian street that runs alongside the Real Jardín Botánico and the Parque del Retiro. Stalls have been selling second hand books here since 1925. The perfect spot to hunt for rare editions, comics and special offers. It is open every day until 7:00 PM.
Mercado de Motores
On the second weekend of each month, professional and independent sellers set up stall in the Museo del Ferrocarril—the Railway Museum—to sell hand-crafted and second-hand items. The perfect way to visit the museum, enjoy some live music, have a drink and browse for unusual items.
Mercado de Diseño
Designers gather on the first weekend of each month in the Matadero, next to Madrid Río, to sell fashion, accessories, jewellery and decorations. The unique atmosphere is jazzed up even more by live music performances.
Hundred-year-old Madrid shops
You will feel like you are travelling back in time the moment you step through the doorways of some of the hundred-year-old shops that still survive in Madrid with their elegant hardwood and marble counters. They can be spotted by the commemorative plaques designed by Antonio Mingote set into the pavement outside each shop.
Special mention should also be made of Antigua Casa Crespo (Divino Pastor, 29), devoted to hand-crafted alpargatas (espadrilles, shoes typically worn by the Spanish during the hot summer months) and Borca (Marqués Viudo de Pontejos, 2), a reference point in the world of Manila shawls with a history that can be traced back centuries.
Other traditional and historic shops are Seseña (Calle de la Cruz, 23), which specialises in making and selling capes and Casa de Diego (Plaza Puerta del Sol, 12), an essential stop if you are looking for a fan or hand-made umbrella.