Madrid – there is no other city in Europe where we feel quite as at home or comfortable as a gay couple.
Whilst perhaps not as well known or thought of from an LGBTQ+ perspective when compared to other European destinations such as Berlin or Gran Canaria, Madrid is one of the most thriving LGBTQ+ destinations in Spain, if not the whole of Europe.
Madrid has countless offerings for the LGBTQ+ community, from nightlife, to eating venues, as well as LGBTQ+ oriented events throughout the year.
This July we returned to Madrid for the first time in 4 years after living there in 2018, to celebrate Madrid Pride with lastminute.com – official sponsor and travel partner of Madrid Pride. We were so excited to hit up all of our favourite LGBTQ+ spots and events in Madrid – check out our top 5 choices below.
We first attended Madrid Pride (Orgullo de Madrid) as spectators in 2018, and were blown away by the scale of this event – so we could not have been more excited to be involved this time around, joining lastminute.com on their bright pink pride bus! We loved seeing #beyourself splashed over the bus and their merchandise, as this is a key value that lastminute.com stands behind, not just for Madrid Pride 2022, but values as equally important throughout the year!
In terms of scale, Madrid Pride is the largest gay pride event in Europe, with attendees spanning between 1.5 million – 2 million each year. In fact, this number jumped up to almost 3.5 million when Madrid hosted World Pride in 2017 – crazy numbers!
Madrid Pride is without a doubt the biggest and most sensational LGBTQ+ event of the year. It feels like the entire city turns out to celebrate.
Standing atop the lastminute.com bus, rolling down the streets towards Plaza de Espana, with crowds stretching in the distance as far as you could see, all coming together to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community was truly an overwhelming and emotional experience.
And let’s not forget the fun elements of Madrid Pride too! There are countless parties and events held during the week, such as the huge production WE parties, and performances from well known figures in the community such as Conchita Wurst.
Madrid Pride is held each July, usually within the first two weeks, so make sure to add this to your LGBTQ+ calendar for 2023!
Chueca is the official gay neighbourhood of Madrid.
Located in the heart of the city, the district of Chueca spans for about 1km north of Gran Via, one of the main shopping streets, and so it is easily walkable from the ‘city centre’.
Chueca also has its own metro stop – easily identifiable by the walls of the station being painted floor to ceiling in rainbows – just a slight indication you have arrived into the gayborhood!
All around the district shops, bars and restaurants display rainbow flags above their doors or in their windows, and the streets are draped with rainbow bunting. It’s clearly a district that is proud to be at the heart of the LGBTQ+ community.
Chueca is home to the majority of gay bars and clubs, with over 20 on offer. There are also many gay-oriented shops, coffee shops, cafes and restaurants.
One of our favourite places to sit is Plaza de Chueca, by the metro station, at one of the local bars, with a tinto de verano in-hand and just relax and watch the many LGBTQ+ couples strolling past totally comfortable in their district.
El Retiro Park
El Retiro Park is one of the most popular spots to visit in Madrid and is certainly one of our favourite places to hangout during the summer months.
El Retiro Park is beautiful and is absolutely huge, with plenty to see and do during a visit. Packed with galleries, statues, lakes, you will also find locals rollerblading, street musicians performing, as well as various eateries dotted around.
Whilst not officially an LGBTQ+ hot-spot, during previous visits, and especially during our recent visit for Pride, we very quickly spotted that all over the park there were many other LGBTQ+ couples hanging around, sunbathing, picnicking and just chilling together.
We spent a lot of time in El Retiro Park working on our tans, and it quickly became known that the park itself is clearly a local hangout ground for the LGBTQ+ community, especially in the area around the Statue of the Fallen Angel.
Good weather, beautiful green spaces, and an easily accessible place for locals to go and top up their tans – it makes perfect sense!
Piscina de Lago – Casa de Campo
This is an extremely popular hangout for the LGBTQ+ community of Madrid, especially during the summer months when temperatures soar.
Piscina de Lago is a large outdoor municipal swimming pool, part of the Casa de Campo Sports Center. It is located a little way out of the city centre, but still easily reached by metro.
We spent a lot of time here during the summer we lived in Madrid back in 2018, and we very quickly noticed that it was a popular choice with the local LGBTQ+ community. Large groups of friends would arrive mid-morning, with a picnic and set up camp for the day, swimming, sunbathing and socialising.
Seeing as temperatures are usually between 30-40°C during July/August, you can imagine how busy and popular the communal pools can get – and Lago is certainly the go-to for the LGBTQ+ community!
Axel Hotel Madrid
We absolutely love the Axel Hotel chain, having stayed at their properties in Berlin, Barcelona and Gran Canaria. We love their marketing, categorising their hotels as ‘gay hotels’ specifically aimed at gay travellers, but still branding themselves as ‘hetero-friendly’.
Axel Hotel Madrid is no different but is also an extremely popular hangout spot for LGBTQ+ locals and travellers alike.
Axel Hotel has a small rooftop pool, alongside a trendy rooftop bar which is open to the public either for a day rate, or in return for a purchase from the rooftop bar. Tot tip – in busy periods, such as during Pride, it’s worth phoning ahead to reserve a spot – it gets very crowded on the roof!
Given it’s a city centre location, chic décor, Insta-worthy vibe, and the fact that it is the city’s official ‘gay hotel’, it’s hardly surprising that Axel Hotel Madrid has become a meeting point, to both cool off in their pool during the day or partake in a cocktail or two on an evening at their trendy sky bar.
Check out Axel Hotel Madrid for yourself here – we highly recommend!
The above 5 are just a handful of the many LGBTQ+ spots, locations and events on offer in Madrid, not just during Pride but also year-round. It really is no surprise that Madrid is leading the way as one of Europe’s biggest and best LGBTQ+ hotspots – and we can’t wait to return!
This is a sponsored post with lastminute.com, all opinions and statements are our own.