Most cities in Spain are divided into districts, or 'barrios', each with their own unique character, and Madrid is no exception. However, the districts that a tourist would want to visit are generally ill-defined and have nothing to do with the Administrative Districts of Madrid
Taking that into account, the districts on this page are there simply to help the tourist know what part of town they are in. Virtually everything of interest in Madrid can be found in one of these broadly defined districts.
Sol is the heart of Madrid and, indeed, the whole country. All distances in Spain are measured from a stone here, aptly called Kilometro Zero.
Gran Via is Madrid's main shopping street and likely to be a major feature of most tourists' trips to Madrid.
Immediately north of Gran Via are the twin districts of Chueca and Malasaña. Every young person in Madrid spends time in one of these two - Malasaña if they're 'alternative' (or 'friki'), Chueca if they're gay, both if they don't fit either of the above categories. Great for nightlife.
South of Sol are the districts of Lavapies and La Latina. Both are pretty vibrant places, with a mixture of immigrants and a hip-and-happening middle class which gives the area a diverse mixture of flavors.
This is Old Madrid, with the grandest buildings, palaces and plazas. Plaza Mayor, the Cathedral and the Royal Palace can be found here.
Madrid's grandest, greenest and most spacious boulevard, with a number of grand hotels, embassies and museums.
When the Beckhams lived in Madrid, this is where they went shopping.
Mainly a business district and not likely to appeal much to tourists, apart from to visit the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
Not a lot to attract tourists to this part of Madrid, though the Prime Minister's residence is here.
Immediately south of Sol is Huertas, which has been renamed as the 'Barrio de las Letras' to honor its rich literary legacy (I lived here once, in the house where Miguel de Cervantes died!). Great bars, cafes and restaurants in this area, as well as a vibrant nightlife.
A little out of the center, this huge park has a number of attractions for the kids.