What to Do in Malasaña: Fiestas, Art, Markets & More

Let us show you how to make like a Madrileño and make the most of your time in Malasaña

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View of Malasana on a sunny day

So you're looking to find out what to do in Malsaña? You'll be pleased to know you're spoilt for choice. It's where the countercultural movement Movida Madrileña was conceived, and continues to serve as a focal point for fresh trends. True to its countercultural reputation, the area is famed for having a rhythm all its own. The streets and squares are lively in the morning, bustling as the neighborhood's inhabitants start their day; in the afternoon it feels calmer, as people settle down for a siesta and later find themselves in bars and out on the squares.

When it comes to what to do in Malasaña, though, the real fun starts once the sun goes down. The nightlife is fun and varied, with mammoth dance halls and niche clubs, so there is something for every taste and age group. The neighbourhood is just a stone's throw away from Gran Vía, Madrid’s most famous street, but feels a world away, thanks to its low-rise, pastel-coloured buildings and unique rhythm of life. If you're looking to combine history, foodie experiences and memorable nights out, Malasaña is the place for you. So, let's take a closer look at Plum's guide to the neighbourhood.

Explore the epicentre of Tribunal

If you’re in Madrid and want to meet up friends, an obvious place to meet is the Tribunal metro station. This is the most famous metro station in Madrid, serving Metro lines 1 and 10. Day and night, the place is alive with people. During the weekend this station seems to become the centre of the universe, with throngs of people gathering and meeting here before going to dinner, to drink or to dance. Thanks to its vibrant buzz, this is is undoubtedly among the best places to stay in Madrid.

Tribunal metro station, Madrid

See some street art during Pinta Malasaña

Malasaña is an interesting mix of energies: quiet, residential streets are enlivened by the vibrant creativity of the neighbourhood's youthful inhabitants. Street art has long been prominent here, and throughout the year there are many street parties and festivals that bring fresh colours and fun to the area. It is quite something to walk through the streets during Pinta Malasaña, the annual event when the best urban artists take over the streets from 8am to 8pm and transform the storefronts with their creations. Residents and visitors can admire their work in real time, perhaps while enjoying a beer or two. Stay in one of our fashionable homes in the neighbourhood like Camila where you'll be constantly surrounded by the art-filled streets.

Camila, Plum Guide home in Madrid

Discover the best bars

What to do in Malasaña come the evening? Hit the bars, obviously. There are two key types of bars in Malasaña: those with a decidedly hipster feel, with modern decor and innovative menus; and the timeless venues, which allow us to take a step back in time. What they have in common is the clientele: those who live in Malasaña tend to frequent both types of bars and, as in the rest of Madrid, engage in "tapeo". This is a sort of bar crawl ritual, where you go from bar to bar, from one beer to another, from one tapas plate to the next. A visit to Malasaña must include a stop at La Ardosa, which sits among the more timeless bars. It has an inclusive environment (though this is the beauty of Madrid in general), with locals and tourists, students and the elderly all gathered to drink beer (or better still, vermouth) and nibble on Spanish tortilla. La Ardosa certainly has its quirks: to access the inner salon and the bathroom. you have to duck and pass under the bar, just like the waiters do.

La Ardosa bar in Madrid

Head to a disco

If you're into nightlife, Malasaña has a lot to offer – no matter your age. This diverse neighbourhood has smaller establishments that play very specific music genres; bars that turn into clubs at night, dimming the lights and raising the volume; and, finally, the most classic of Spanish discos. If you like pop-rock and 80s and 90s sounds, then make a beeline for Tupperware, a true neighbourhood classic. You will be able to listen to international music on the main dancefloor – if you find some space, that is, which is no mean fest on a Saturday or Sunday – or go up to the first floor for a more chilled vibe. Whichever you choose, a night out is without doubt among the best things to do in Malasaña (and worth the inevitable hangover – that's where the cafe con leche comes in).

Meander the markets

Madrid is a city of markets, bringing all walks of life together in a fascinating social melting pot (with the added bonus of delicious food and drink). The Mercado Barceló is a one stop shop when it comes to stocking up on groceries and learning about the best Spanish ingredients. Here you can buy fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish alongside elderly Madrileño who have been shopping there for decades. The Mercado de San Ildefonso is a different type of market, with dozens of eateries offering a range of cuisines: from Chinese and Italian, to Peruvian and local Spanish. Settle down to eat your spoils at one of the market's shared tables.

Watch the sunset from above

Roof terrace of The Azotea Forus Barceló, Madrid

Malasaña seen from the streets is fascinating…but from above, it is arguably even more so – everything seems calmer from the elevated vantage point of a rooftop bar. You can enjoy views across the neighbourhood from a plethora of different bars, glass of wine in-hand. The Azotea Forus Barceló always feels magical and is a perfect spot from which to watch the sunset. Another perfect spot to watch the sunset is from this remarkable Plum Guide penthouse in the nearby Salamanca neighbourhood.

Celebrate a fiesta

2 de Mayo (2 May), is the most important date in Malasaña's calendar and also the name of its main square. It is here, on 2 May, that a crowd protested against the French occupation in 1808, an event that is still celebrated today. Each year the square fills with young people – and some not so young people… – who party, drink beers and dance day and night long to the sounds of live music. If you want to experience a real street fiesta, 2 de Mayo is hard to beat.

Get your culture fix

Though rightly famed for its nightlife, Malasaña equally has no shortage of things to do for art and culture enthusiasts. Among Malasaña's most interesting museums is the Museum of Romanticism(Museo del Romanticismo), set in the ancient palace of the Marquis of Matallana, which was built in 1776. Here you will discover the best of nineteenth-century decorative art and relive Madrid's Romantic period. You can spend your afternoon admiring works by Goya, but be sure to save time to experience the venue's best kept secret: without buying an entry ticket you can go to the charming garden bar to enjoy a drink in tranquil surrounds. The art is pretty darn good too, though. History and culture enthusiasts can also visit the History Museum (Museo de Historia de Madrid), a few steps from Tribunal metro station, notable for its magnificent baroque entrance designed by Pedro de Ribera. Don't miss masterpieces by Francisco de Goya, Luca Giordano and Joaquín Sorolla.

Looking to continue your Iberian adventure after this guide to what to do in Malasaña? Why not spend a long weekend in Barcelona and let Plum Guide fill you in on the best places to stay in Barcelona in the Catalonian capital?

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