If you are familiar with flea markets it is no secret that people that frequent these types of markets aren’t simply interested in purchasing something (most of the time cheap, but already used). Flea markets are attractive for the thrill of negotiating, the curiosities one finds and people watching due to the eclectic mix of people you will see.
If you rent apartments in Madrid you can’t miss out on the experience of El Rastro which is the most popular open air market in Madrid. That said it is one of Europe’s largest outdoor markets that takes place every Sunday and public holiday from 7am until about 2 or 3pm. It is equally popular among madrilenos and visitors. You will find all sorts of items, some new, and some second-hand. Even if you are not looking to buy something it will be worth a stroll along this market and this neighborhood. A popular spot to people watch during the market is Plaza Mayor.
It is located in the district La Latina, the historical center of Madrid, along the Plaza de Cascorro and Calle Ribera de Curtidores, the market’s main strip. The network of streets where the market takes place seems a bit confusing you can roughly divide the market into certain areas: Along the main strip starting at the top of the hill you will find mostly clothing, from this point on in the little side streets to the right you will find many antiques and second hand items (many of them sold out of stores that also open for the market hours), in the side streets on the left you can find arts and handicrafts, whereas at the bottom of the hill all sorts of books, movies, electrical appliances, etc.
El Rastro is easily reachable with public transportation, the closest subway stations are La Latina and Puerta de Toledo. A tradition for visitors of the market is to grab a beer and some tapas in the nearby bars in the area afterwards. Around 11am is the busiest time. Also look out for pickpockets, which will try to steal your wallet in the crowd.
These are the most important facts you need to know about El Rastro. What’s left to do now is renting one of the Madrid apartments to explore this interesting market.