The sheer size of the El Rastro market demands a dedicated page on Madrid guide Spain. What could be better than browsing Europes largest outdoor market in the centre of historic Madrid?
Whilst we can not hope to include eveything available our quick El Rastro guide will make sure you get the best of what is a Sunday morning institution!
- When? Every Sunday 0700 - 1430
- Where? Between Plaza Mayor, La Latina and Puerta de Toledo
- How? On foot!
- What? You name it... its there!
The El Rastro experience!
El Rastro is a series of winding streets passing though what is the oldest residential part of Madrid and this network of randomly networked streets contain the market. Although there is a main street dedicated to Market stalls (predominately clothing) the side streets contain the real treasures.
Starting at either Metro La Latina or Plaza Mayor follow the crowds heading downhill towards Puerta de Toledo (you cannot see the Puerta so follow the signs). Within 50m & 200m respectively you will find yourself shoulder to shoulder with what appears to be half of Madrid. Everyone enters for the main thoroughfare but you will quickly end up in one of the side streets as you continuously catch something from the corner of your eye that has to be "checked out".
Residents Tip: Keep an eye on your wallet or purse and if taking a backpack wear it on your front. Pickpockets, although not numerous, have been known to operate in the busy market environment.
Whilst not organised to any obvious pattern a rough rule of thumb is:
- Top of the hill (start point) is clothing
- Streets to the left contain Art and Handicrafts
- The narrow alleys to the right Antiques and second hand goods
- The base of the hill Books / computing and electrical goods.
Throughout the market shops located in this area open their doors or in some cases their goods spill out onto the street. This is particularly true of the Antiques and second hand goods area.
Prices are not fixed so you will need the phrase:
¿Cuanto cuesta? - kwan-to kwes-tah - How much is it
The stall holder will normally answer with an English number. 99% of the time this does not mean that they understand English but is more than likely what they remember from school. Trying to bargain is acceptable at all stalls although some stallholders will maintain their previous price and in reality have fixed prices.
El Rastro is not just Shopping!
A large part of the El rastro experience is not the shopping but the stopping at small bars and enjoying a Caña and Tapa (small beer with a portion of food). These are crowded and noisy as if the market has entered the bar! Madrid guide Spain recomends you try the "Taberna Andaluz" for fresh seafood although you will have to find it first!
If you are thinking of taking lunch it is recommended to leave El Rastro and return afterwards. However if you are happy with half a baguette and a can of fizzy drink these can be obtained and eaten on the move for less than 3€.
The following is a wonderful, printable map of El Rastro Madrid from the Spanish website set up by people who live in the area. Although the site is in Spanish the map can be easily printed and taken with you for your trip!
Map - Just hit Imprimir Todo
NEW - El rastro photo gallery!
If El rastro doesn´t appeal you can always try shopping Madrid one of the more leisurly ways explained here!
[Madrid guide Spain]