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Known as the Shoreditch of Madrid, there is no doubt that Malasaña is Madrid’s trendiest neighbourhood, and with many options of things to see and do, this guide will help you pinpoint the best spots and hidden gems tucked away down its winding streets. To spend a day in Malasaña just like local Madrileños, split your day between eating, drinking, wandering around vintage shops, and seeing some of Madrid’s culture all in one.
Synonymous with La Movida Madrileña, Malasaña embodies the liberal counterculture that emerged in the 80s after the death of the Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco. A day wandering around the neighbourhood is guaranteed to transport you back to the time of newfound freedom and underground culture, and with its mix of modern boutiques and traditional Movida bars (local nightlife spots that have survived from the80s), it is no wonder that Malasaña is one of the most popular spots in Madrid.
Starting your morning with brunch at Federal Café will guarantee you’re fully fuelled for a day in Malasaña, as this Australian inspired restaurant paved the way for modern brunches in Madrid and it is safe to say you won’t be left hungry after a dish or two here. Their amazing menu offers eggs served so many ways you’ll be spoilt for choice, but a definite highlight is the Baked Eggs with Spinach and Gruyere, served with the classic Federal crusty bread that will satisfy any craving. My top recommendation is always the avocado toast as it is served with carrot hummus and pistachio dukkha- a delicious Middle Eastern spin on the brunch classic and one that is sure not to disappoint!
Once you’re ready for the day after a cup of Madrid’s signature strong coffee, head across the road to the Conde Duque Cultural Centre to check out the latest exhibitions and admire the incredible architecture that was once theRoyal Corps guard’s barracks. Its stunning arches pave the way to several exhibition halls, a public library and a theatre, as well as the City Archives and the Madrid Museum of Contemporary Art. One of their current displays, ‘InvisibleEmigrants’, is an exhibition based on a photographic archive from family albums of Spanish descendants who migrated to the United States. Containing over 15,000 digitised images and open until April 12th in the Sala Sur, be sure not to miss this moving tribute to a lesser known aspect of Spain’s history.
For a mid- morning boost stop off at Delish Vegan Doughnuts to sample the best doughnuts and cinnamon rolls you will ever taste, guaranteed to give you a sugar rush and leave you questioning how on earth they are vegan- friendly. With new flavours added every month ranging from dark chocolate and sea salt to blueberry cheesecake, be sure to pick a few flavours to take home with you for a late-night snack after your long day out in Malasaña- you’re welcome!
Now it's time to hit the vintage shops. nearly every street in Malasaña is home to a vintage boutique or antique homeware store, so vintage lovers will be spoilt for choice! Calle de Velarde is the central street for vintage shops and home to Magpie Vintage, which in my opinion is the best store you’ll come across! Magpie is the place if you’re looking for hidden gems; the number of designer bargains you’ll come across is unparalleled! With large sections for both men and women, don’t forget to rummage through their €1 trunk for some vintage accessories and sale items… you won’t be leaving this shop empty handed!
Humana, Madrid’s biggest second-hand chain, has a store in Malasaña which outshines its other branches due to its selection of high street, vintage and designer items. This is the place to go if you like a good rummage through racks of clothes, and as the best stock from other branches is brought here, their stock is renewed nearly every day- in other words, you’re guaranteed to find some gems every time you shop here! There’s always a sale on in Humana, whether its 40% reductions or everything for €1, so this is definitely the place to be if you’re looking for bargains.
Madrid’s never ending sunshine will draw you to one of Malasaña’s bustling squares for a late afternoon drink and some tapas. Plaza Juan Pujol is home to Ójala, famous for its lower floor that has been transformed into a beach. With deckchairs and beach huts that are reminiscent of a summer holiday on the white sands, you can enjoy a cocktail or two and their delicious selection of cold meats, hummus and guacamole platters either on the beach, or outside in their spacious seating area. This is one of the most instagrammable spots in Malasaña, so be sure to grab a seat under the palms trees for a few snaps and a relaxing, beachy vibe.
Spaniards tend to eat their evening meals late, so if you can adjust to the 10 o’clock dinner times then make sure to head to Pez Tortilla, one of Malasaña’s most popular food spots amongst locals. However, if you can’t wait that long and are ready to head out in the early evening, you’ll beat the queues and bagone of their sought after standing tables! Boasting some of the best croquettes, tortilla and beer in Madrid, Pez Tortilla is known for its gourmet flavours ranging from truffle or black pudding to the classics cod or Iberian ham. With new seasonal flavours introduced every week, there is something for everyone with this delicious spin on the traditional Spanish tapas, not to mention the more than 70 brands of craft beer that they help you pair with your meal!
End your night in true Malasaña style at La Vía Láctea - the Milky Way - a bar that harks back to the days of La Movida, and which, since its opening in 1979, has kept all the original furniture and décor to fully transport you back to the 80s. Graffiti filled walls and its indie pop- rock soundtrack are proof that La Movida movement is still alive and kicking in Malasaña and filled with locals who have been going there for years. La Vía Láctea is the perfect spot to end your day in Malasaña and absorb its unique culture before stepping back into the present day.
Hopefully this guide shows that there is more to Madrid than bocadillos and bull flighting; after a day spent in Malasaña visiting its unique bars and boutiques, anyone is bound to see why this neighbourhood is considered the coolest cultural hub in Madrid. With never ending options for food, drink and shopping, Malasaña is sure to have a groovy spot that will tick all your sightseeing boxes and lead you off the beaten track down its many winding streets.