Huertas, Madrid Travel Guide
- Central neighborhood with major museums, like The Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza
- Hopping nightlife, especially on the western side of the neighborhood
- Plaza de Santa Ana is a nightlife and alfresco dining hot spot
- Charming cobblestone streets lined with 17th- to 19th-century buildings
- Amazing history -- the barrio was once home to Miguel de Cervantes
- Major public gathering spots, like Puerta del Sol
- Wonderful tiny restaurants and tapas bars
- Great for strolling -- especially the area around Paseo del Prado
- Hotels available in many budgets
- Narrow, winding streets difficult to navigate without mapping apps
- Can be loud and crowded on weekends
- Metro stations aren't right in the center of the barrio
What It's Like:
Huertas is one of the most centrally located neighborhoods in Madrid. It's also known as Barrio de las Letras — a nod to its former life as a major literature hub. To be clear, the barrio was once the home of Miguel de Cervantes, which is about as big as it gets when it comes to Spanish letters. In fact, Huertas is where the "editio princeps’’ (first printed edition) of "Don Quixote" was printed. If you look upward while standing below Calle de Cervantes 2, you'll see a plaque honoring his former home. The cultural offerings don't end there: The neighborhood is bordered by Puerta del Sol on the west and by Paseo del Prado on the east, meaning that The Prado — one of the world's most well-known museums — calls the barrio home.
High-minded pursuits aside, Huertas is synonymous with hopping nightlife, as young Madrileños flock here Thursday through Sunday to sit in one of the terraces or go bar hopping. You'll find everything from classic tiled cafes to rowdy pubs along its narrow streets. It's not all about drinking and partying in Huertas, though, and the area is steeped in history, with gorgeous architecture that stretches back to the 17th century (and earlier) in some places.
The dining scene is diverse as well, with small tapas bars, traditional eateries serving Spanish cuisine, and contemporary international restaurants ranging from Scandinavian to Argentinean. However, for a real Spanish experience, check out the bars and cafes around Plaza de Santa Ana and down Calle de las Huertas, away from more touristy spots in Sol (though elegant, old-school eateries like Cafe del Principe, near Sol, draw a lively mix of locals and tourists).
Huertas is also becoming something of a retail destination, and boutiques and bookshops are filling its streets more and more every month. Check the streets leading away from Plaza Santa Ana for some of the neighborhood's best shopping, particularly along Calle de Leon, Calle del Prado, and Calle de las Huertas. There are even gourmet grocers stocking hard-to-find international products, as well as buzz-worthy organic shops alongside traditional pastelerias. All in all, Huertas offers a great taste of Old World Madrid and its new, more cosmopolitan style.
Where to Stay
The area around Sol is perfect for those who want to be within walking distance to major attractions such as Plaza Mayor, and don’t mind to be in the thick of the vibrant nightlife, which can be loud on weekends. Additionally, don't expect to be the only tourist around. The eastern side of the neighborhood is quietest, with tranquil cobblestone streets leading straight to the area surrounding The Prado Museum. Upscale hotels are located mainly right on Paseo del Prado and Plaza de Santa Ana, but you’ll find a wide range of mid-range and budget properties in the heart of the neighborhood.