They say that it is possible to find almost anything on a visit to El Rastro flea market in Madrid: from an old camera to a lost edition of Cristiano Ronaldo’s collectible stickers. It might be an exaggeration, but truth is you shouldn’t leave Madrid without attending this amazing market on a Sunday morning.
Most people browse by and miss the best part of the market. Don’t blame them, the place is so crowded that you need to know the tips and tricks to discover the best streets besides Ribera de Curtidores main street. That’s why I decided to tell you my route to El Rastro:
Starting point: Cascorro
Plaza de Cascorro is at the top of Rastro market. You arrive there easily from Plaza Mayor following all the people who heads to El Rastro on Sunday mornings.
The square, an ordinary and rather small square with statues and shops every other day, gets transformed in a smaller and crowded spot son Sundays.
It is the beginning of the market and also the beginning of Ribera de Curtidores street, where you’ll find t-shirts, bags, scarves, posters and similar stuff. But we won’t stop here for too long, too crowded and a lot of pickpocketing -not that bad, just try to be careful with your bag-.
For the ultimate route, we will turn right at the end of Cascorro, at this building: Escuela Mayor de Danza, towards Vara del Rey square.
The place is easy to identify because the street gets narrow but then opens to the right, towards the building in the picture.
Old stuff and used clothes, at Vara del Rey square
The vibe of Rastro changes once you step out of Ribera de Curtidores. Here’s where the true flea market appears: second-hand clothes, old stuff and antiques, junk, old jewellery… All the streets around this area are full of stalls with this sort of stuff.
But here’s also what is different from other flea markets: at this side of Rastro, most of the stalls belong to the shops that are located just behind. The area is full of antiques, second hand and collectibles shops that open every other day. On Rastro days they just take a couple of tables out to attract the people passing by, but you can enter the shop too.
Next step: books, furniture and fun stuff
At the opposite corner of Vara del Rey -the opposite from the one we entered- you’ll find Carlos Arniches street and Mira el Rio Alta -look at the river, in Spanish, though you won’t see the river from here-. There is an interesting museum called Museo de la Corrala, where you can see the traditional corrala architecture of Madrid, although it closes on Sundays.
The route should be: Mira el Rio Alta, turn left at Bastero and then turn again left at Carnero, back to Ribera de Curtidores. What I love about these streets is that they aren’t as crowded, so you can stop and look and talk to the people about the different items they sell.
You can find a lot of crap around here, some kitsch stuff and replicas. But also some originals, great decoration items and refurbished furniture at the many decor shops that are located here. Just don’t get mistaken by the prices of the area, if something is good, it won’t be cheap.
You can also find army items, old books, alternative designers and shops and many collectibles, from toys to magazines to old phones…
Back to the main street: finding the oasis at Rastro market
Going back through Cordero street, you’ll reach Ribera de Curtidores again. You’ll notice you are there because there’s way more people, the shops offer t-shirts and paintings and you’ll come across with this shop:
They are devoted to things made of rubber, whether it is tubes, bands, strings or anything else made of rubber, you might find it here. Weird, isn’t it?
Well, just behind it there’s one of the less known spots of Rastro: Nuevas Galerías a small building full of art and antique shops where you will find great items (and expensive) from around the world. You can get in through the main door at Ribera de Curtidores or going up the steps that are behind the rubber shop.
But this is not the most quiet spot at Rastro. There is another antiques gallery across the street, at Ribera de Curtidores, called Galerías Piquer. From the outside, it looks like any other offices building, but inside it offers two floors of antiques and decor shops, with some of the best-known antiques specialists in Madrid.
Be prepared to find almost anything, from garden statues to old doors or classic paintings. Much more expensive than all the rest, as you might imagine.
To the end of the route: the fun side of Rastro
So we are back at Ribera de Curtidores, if you wanted to buy some of the classic touristic stuff from Rastro, just walk around, most of the items can be found both at the top and at the bottom of el Rastro. Plus, you will find cooking panes, electronic items, phone accessories….
But if you are already tired of browsing weird stuff, head towards Plaza del Campillo del Mundo Nuevo. It’s on the right from Ribera de Curtidores via Mira el Sol street.
But, what’s so special about this place? Well, it is the reason why children love to go to Rastro on Sundays: you can exchange stickers for free!!
I don’t know if all the kids in the wold collect stickers like we do. But here in Spain kids – from all ages- love to buy stickers of their favourite cartoons, soccer players or such, in mystery packs . So, when they can’t find a unique one or need to finish a collection, they go to Rastro and exchange the ones they have more than one of, for those they need.
You can find them by the middle of the Plaza, near Ronda de Toledo street.
Plus, if you are fond of old movies, books, posters, magazines and such, you sill find them all around the area. They don’t like pictures, but you’ll find very interesting things.
So, how did I do? Did you enjoy it? Just let me know if you take the route on your next visit to El Rastro in Madrid, I’ll love to hear from you!!