Thinking of traveling to Spain? Want to do some serious shopping while on holiday? Head over to Madrid, girls!
Variety is the essence of shopping in Madrid, retailers and products are never limited to a defined style nor a single look and feel. It is a city where women shoppers find almost everything, particularly if you are seeking the sophisticated, the unique or the eccentric. From the elegance and flair of the boutiques in the Salamanca district, through to the more cosmopolitan charms of the Chueca district, and beyond to the large department stores and popular chain stores, Madrid truly has it all. Combine all this with the city’s history, art, culture, good weather and gastronomy and you may just have found the shopping capital of Europe!
District of Salamanca
This is one of the most distinguished neighborhoods of Madrid. Created in the 19th century, it was the first district with running water and famed for the French-style boulevards. The richest man in Spain at the time lived here, the Marquis of Salamanca, and he promoted the construction of this neighborhood.
Paseo de la Castellana, Alcalá, María de Molina and Francisco Silvela are the avenues that border this district. When shopping here you will find some of the most prestigious boutiques in the world: Versace, Hermès, Dolce & Gabanna, Giorgio Armani, Valentino, Louis Vuitton or Chanel. If you are looking for local designs, there are also a number of talented Spanish designers such as Victorio & Lucchino, Adolfo Domínguez, Loewe, Roberto Verino and Elena Benarroch, to name a few. Every September this district is converted into the venue for Vogue Fashion Night Out.
This is also the central area to find diamonds and other precious stones. C/Serrano is where you will find most of the exclusive jewellery stores in the Salamanca district. Jewellers such as Carrera y Carrera, Cartier, Rabat, Suárez, Tiffany & Co, Wempe, Brooking and Bulgari have superb diamonds and gems for jewel lovers.
Chueca and Triball District
Chueca, city centre and the triangle known as Triball (between C/Ballesta and Corredera Baja de San Pablo) offer a large choice of the most varied fashion stores, from leading labels of casual wear to a wide selection of vintage clothes. In Chueca you will find the Fuencarral Market where originality and the avant-garde stand out with colourful and psychedelic products. This attractive market also has a DJ as well as little shops where you can get a tattoo, a piercing or a surrealistic hairdo. This area was the epicenter of the Movida Madrileña cultural movement in the late seventies and early eighties that gave Spain a new cultural identity. It brought new ideas and colorful changes to places like Chueca, Malasaña and Fuencarral.
Triball triangle is a rehabilitated area alongside Chueca where new designers, gourmet boutiques and organic restaurants thrive.
Puerta del Sol, between Gran Vía, C/Preciados and C/Arenal, forms a fashionable and diverse shopping district lined with the well-known department stores. You’ll find El Corte Inglés, fashion chain stores and franchises, such as Zara, Mango, Benetton, Springfield, Sfera, and Blanco.
In Plaza de Callao, you will come across one of the largest music and bookstores, FNAC. Plaza Mayor, Gran Vía, Puerta del Sol and surrounding streets are the traditional shopping areas in Madrid, home to many traditional establishments, some centuries old, offering products such as classical guitars, Spanish fans and mantillas, handicrafts, ceramics and even ‘flamenco’ costumes and accessories.
If you’d like a trip down memory lane, visit C/Luna and Malasaña, to find bizarre items, comics, forgotten old records, retro fashion and second-hand clothing. Traditional establishments include:
- Casa de Diego (since 1823) specialized in fans, umbrellas and Manila shawls
- Casa Yustas (since 1894) which sells military hats, caps and accessories
- La Favorita (also since 1894) selling all types of hats
- Other traditional shops inlcude Belloso, Capas Seseñas, Doña Manolita, El Gato Negro or the haberdashery
These stores, over a century old, can be distinguished by the bronze plaque affixed to their shop fronts that certify them as being Comercios Centenarios – Century-old Stores.
The neighbourhood that lies between Plaza Santa Ana, C/Huertas and C/Atocha, is home to both avant-garde stores and traditional stores such as silversmiths, jewellers, antique stores and bookshops.
Old and Bargain Book Fair – on Cuesta de Moyano
Stamp and Coin Market – the oldest in the city, open every Sunday in Plaza Mayor
El Rastro – is the most popular and oldest market in Madrid, and it is also one of the oldest medieval markets in Europe, but today one of the most modern. Held every Sunday all year long, you will come across it in Plaza de Cascorro.
Mercado San Miguel – very close to Plaza Mayor, although quite “touristy”, this market dates back to 1916. Here you can taste an assortment of ‘tapas’.
Top Fashion Boutiques, Outlets and Retailers
C/Princesa and C/Alberto Aguilera are lined with multiple shops, including leading fashion chains, shoe shops, jewelers and department stores such as El Corte Inglés. Located in many districts in Madrid they have a large array of merchandise to choose from. If you do not like crowds, I recommend El Corte Inglés in the Nuevos Ministerios district as it is one of the biggest and you will find absolutely everything.
Another place which is a must visit if you love top designer fashion without the price tag is to visit Las Rozas Village. Here you can visit 100 outlet designers stores with up to a 60 percent discount all year round. This is found in the outskirts of Madrid, about 30 minutes from the city centre. Open 7 days a week from 10 am to 9pm.
- To enjoy the best prices in Madrid it is worth noting the exceptional sales that take place here two times yearly. Winter sales start on the 1 January, although the best ones start from the 7 January which is the day after Reyes, when most Spanish children receive their gifts from the Three Kings. Summer sales start 1 July – 21 September.
- Please remember when shopping in Spain and using a credit card, you must provide some sort of identification.
- In the city center, near the tourist areas, restaurants and shops are open all day, every day, most public holidays and Sundays.
- Shopping Centers, department stores and supermarkets are open all day, Saturday included and only the first Sunday of every month. During the Christmas season, they have longer trading hours and are open every Sunday.
- In the residential areas, small establishments open between 10am and 2pm in the morning and 5pm to 8pm on weekdays. On weekends, shops only open in the mornings and are closed on Sundays. Establishments stay open later in the summer.
Maria Martinez is an expert shopper and Co-Director of Madrid’s favorite tour: Made in Spain Shopping Tour. They offer a great selection of tours, packages and lifestyle activities that will help make your stay in Madrid truly unforgettable. Visit their website www.madeinspainshoppingtour.com for full details.