Madrid is one of the most welcoming and gay friendly cities we have been to. The LGBT population is not just tolerated, it is part of everyday life. We have never seen so many LGBT couples walking around the streets holding hands, cuddling up in the park or sharing a kiss goodbye – and most surprising of all to us, no one seems to care. We have not heard one bad comment, snigger or even a dirty look. It is a real testament to Madrid to see this attitude, because after all, that is how it should be!
Now there are plenty of guides telling you to hit the gay bars when you come to the city. Of course that is part of the fun, but there is more to exploring the gay side of Madrid than just bars. Here is our list of things to get you started:
1. Brunch in Chueca Square
Chueca is known as the gay district of Madrid. You will know when you have arrived by the many rainbow flags hung proudly from balconies, in shop windows and anywhere else you can think of.
You can easily get to Chueca Square via the metro; the exit to Chueca Metro Station leads on to the square itself. The Metro station is something to see in its own right as all the walls inside are painted with rainbows.
The square is not too large, compared to say Plaza Major. However, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants in the square where you can sit back, enjoy a coffee, maybe some tapas and watch the world go by.
2. Shopping in Chueca
If you have been to the beach in Spain or one of the pools in Madrid, you will have probably seen a lot of guys wearing trendy swimwear from brands like Addicted and ES Collection. These are some of our favourite brands which normally, you can only buy online from the UK.
All around Chueca you will find plenty of shops catering to LGBT clientele stocking your favourite LGBT brands in clothing, accessories, apparel and more. You could easily spend a small fortune if you aren’t careful! Check out ES Collection Madrid and Boxer Barcelona for a start.
If clothing is not your thing, you will also find some LGBT themed libraries (books and films). Berkana Libreria and A Different Life both have a wide selection on offer.
3. Cool down at Lago Piscina
This is something we stumbled on by accident. Temperatures in Madrid soar during summer so we desperately needed to find a pool to hangout at.
Lago Piscina has a huge 50ft pool and plenty of well-kept lawn terraces to sunbathe on. The place is immaculately clean with changing rooms, showers and plenty of water fountains to keep you hydrated (you will need it!). There are no restaurants or cafes here, just a small vending machine, so this is the perfect place to bring your own picnic and maybe some sangria!
During our visit we noticed that there were lots of LGBT couples, singles and groups in and around the pool. After a quick Google search we found out that this was known for being a very popular gay hangout! On the way out there was a stall set up by a local LGBT wellness group which was also very encouraging to see!
If you get on the Metro in the city centre (Sol for example) you can be at the metro stop for Lago within 20 minutes or so. The pool is right next to the Metro stop and costs €4.50 to enter. If you buy multiple entrances in bulk, you can get a cheaper price, as can senior citizens.
4. Check out a Gay Hotel
One of the most popular gay hotels in Madrid is Axel. This place markets itself as heterofriendly and the clientele are 95% gay men from what we have seen.
This place can be a really good place to hangout to meet other LGBT tourists or locals and a great spot for a coffee or beer.
The rooftop bar at Axel is open to the public and you can pay €20 to use the pool (which includes your towel and a beer). Of course, if you are a guest of the hotel, you do not need to pay anything.
5. Madrid Gay Nightlife
Of course, our list is not complete without mentioning the gay nightlife. Madrid has a thriving gay nightlife centred mainly around Chueca, although there are also bars/clubs further afield in places like Lavapies.
You can expect to find a bar/club for every type of person and every taste in music. We prefer pop music which can be found at MalaMala hosted at Sala Cool and also at Delirio. If you are looking for house or electronic music we would recommend trying out Kluster or Gris.
Some places charge entry and some don’t. However, if you are hanging around Chueca early on in the evening you can sometimes get lucky and find a promoter handing out free entrance tickets for the larger clubs that would otherwise charge.
We hope that you found our guide useful! Madrid is the perfect place to live out and proud for the LGBT community; we are very glad to have moved here!