The main shopping areas of Madrid include the swanky Salamanca district and the trendier Chueca. Madrileños tend to dress conservatively, so you may not find too many bold and cutting-edge designs – but you will find quality leather goods and labels from diverse Spanish and European designers. The historic center hosts a weekly flea market for artisanal crafts as well as a gourmet food hall for local delicacies. For typically Spanish items like fans or paella pans, head to the Puerta del Sol area. Note that most stores close from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., then remain open until 8 p.m. All are closed on Sundays.
Indagare Picks // Salamanca
Fashionistas will want to spend some time exploring the aristocratic Salamanca neighborhood. The area around Calle Serrano is where the luxury brands are concentrated but its neighboring streets have some wonderful Spanish labels that are worth hunting down. Some of the best shopping in the city is on offer in the charming passageway Callejon de Jorge Juan, which is the street to hit for stunning Spanish fashion.
- Boxcalf: Boxcalf, a leather maker from Bilbao, sells gorgeous bags, scarves and clothing in an airy space that resembles a Spanish Hermès boutique. Callejon Jorge Juan 14
- Cortana: This boutique sells designer Rosa Estiva’s iconic feminine couture. She is known for her delicious palette of colors and the delicate cut of her clothes. Callejon Jorge Juan 12
Art & Antiques
- Entredós Antiques: Antiques dealer Jose Carlos Mendez Garcia has a sliver of a shop that cannot be seen from the street so you must enter through the foyer of the residential building. Mixed in with 18th century furniture are exceptional objects, lamps, clocks and sculptures. Jose Ortega y Gassert 8
- Sol y Luna: This lovely housewares shop in the Salamanca neighborhood specializes in the art of leather. It is a great place to find leather trays, chargers, ice buckets and chests even leather clad watering cans. Calle Juan de la Cierva 4
Food & Wine
- Lavinia: This modern wine emporium in the Salamanca district carries just about every Spanish vintage there is, supposedly packing more bottles into its airy duplex than you’ll find in any other store in Europe. Calle José Ortega y Gasset 16
After shopping in Salamanca…take a break and stroll in the Parque del Retiro. Originally built as a royal retreat, the Retiro opened to the public in the 19th century and has been a mainstay of Madrid life ever since. Families flock to the park’s lake on summer afternoons to rent rowboats, watch street performers that line the sidewalks surrounding it and picnic on the lawns. Notable sites within the park’s boundaries include the Crystal Palace, originally built in 1887 as a greenhouse and now used for art exhibitions; the Fountain of the Falling Angel, inspired by Paradise Lost; and the Forest of the Departed, a memorial for the victims of 2004’s Atocha train bombing.
Indagare Picks // Chueca
The funky neighborhood of Chueca is reminiscent of New York City’s East Village in the 1990’s, with a mix of paint-peeling electrical parts shops, ancient looking bars where men sit drinking Vermouth, dusty bric-a-brac stores and here and there—like a breath of fresh air—a hip, newly painted fashion boutique scattered amidst them. The best streets are those scattered around Plaza Chueca, including Argensola and Barquillo.
- Pez: This cool boutique offers casually hip attire displayed on a few racks here and there. Labels from throughout Europe assure Pez’s in-the-know clientele will stay ahead of the latest fashion trends. The men’s shop. Pez Boy, is down the street at Calle Regueros 2. Calle Regueros 15
- Transit: This concept store in the trendy Chueca neighborhood features slouchy, chic casual wear for men and women. Calle Barquillo 43
- Helena Rohner: This Spanish jeweler has become a cult figure in Spain; she is sort of considered a younger, hipper Paloma Picasso for her modern, collectible pieces. Calle del Almendro 4
- San Miguel Artesania: Those looking for traditional Spanish ceramics should head to this tiny shop behind San Miguel Market. There is a huge selection of painted plates, bowls and pitchers in lovely patterns. Plaza San Miguel 5
Food & Wine
- Mercado San Anton: Chueca’s central market occupies a sleek modern building and inside are tons of vegetable and cheese and salami sellers mixed in with tapas bars and coffee stalls. Augusto Figeroa 24
- Cacao Sampaka: This sleek, modern chocolatier in Chueca is a good place to refuel between splurges at the area’s trendy shops. The sweets range from traditional truffles to interesting blends of chocolate with herbal teas and adventurous combos like black-olive or Jamaican-pepper bonbons. Calle Orellana 4
- Poncelet: This heavenly cheese shop (sister to the yummy Poncelet Cheese Bar restaurant) sells an incredible assortment of fresh-off-the-farm cheeses. They have ones that have been aged in in mountain caves and others that are drizzled in honey, sweetened with lavender or rolled in ash or rosemary. Calle de José Abascal, 61
While shopping in Chueca…stop for a sit-down lunch at Bazaar, a lively modern brasserie with excellent farm fresh food.
Indagare Picks // Historic Center
Although the historic center of Madrid is notably touristy with chain shops, it is home to two excellent markets. El Rastro is the Sunday flea markets for local crafts, while Mercado San Miguel is a chic gourmet food hall.
- El Rastro Market: This flea market takes over the streets south of the Plaza Mayor every Sunday morning (it’s concentrated on Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores and the Plaza de Cascorro, south of the La Latina metro). The wares tend to be tchotchkes, but some local artists and artisans also come to display their paintings and crafts. Calle Ribera de Curtidores
- Mercado San Miguel: Located in a soaring 1916 steel-and-glass structure that just completed a long renovation a few years back, the Mercado San Miguel is now the chicest place to shop for food in central Madrid. Its tenants include everything from traditional fresh produce purveyors and fishmongers to gourmet bakeries and wine bars. Plaza San Miguel
After shopping at Mercado San Miguel… tour the Palacio Real, Madrid’s royal palace. Built on the site of a 9th-century fortress in 1734, King Philip V constructed the palace visitors see today, which has the largest floor space of any European palace. The nearly 3,000 rooms, of which 50 are open to visitors, contain original furnishings, ornate frescoes and paintings by Velázquez, Caravaggio and Goya. Military buffs should stop by the Royal Armory, located off the main courtyard. The vast collection of armor and weapons includes pieces carried by former kings as long ago as the 13th century.