Walking or cycling around European capital cities might be the most appropriate way to learn about the local culture in each given country. In that sense, American, Australian, German or British travellers visit Spain in order to enjoy their holidays, while learning about our history, architecture, and more recently, about the emergent street art and graffiti scenes. That’s our offer. We’d like to show you the most talented artists around the city center, as well as several community related spots.
According to INE, Spain’s National Institute for Statistics, 7.8 million tourists arrived to our country so far this year, being almost 600,000 the ones who chose Madrid as a destination last September 2022. Similarly to what happens in other places, visitors are nowadays interested in new tourism trends and there is a huge demand for alternative guided visits. Have you ever participated in an urban art tour?
Today’s article will give you information about what you should expect if hiring any of our services. It was in 2016 when we created this cultural, social, educational and touristic project in town. Since then, close to 3,000 visitors join us every year:
- Where will we take you?
- What’s the price for the street art tour around Lavapiés district?
- How long do they take?
What are the neighborhoods that the urban tours in Madrid walk by?
Cooltourspain was born with the idea of solving a touristic problem in town. As a matter of fact, you could have participated in a daily street art tour around cities such as London, Paris, New York, or Berlin, but there were no regular urban tours in Madrid which focused on the street art and graffiti. Consequently, we diversified the number of experiences available to visitors. Whether foreign, national or local.
To start with, we focused in the most multicultural and colorful district out of the city center. Embajadores area is not only home to the original graffiti tour, but also the neighborhood which were different cultures blow. Including, but not limiting to Indian, Moroccan, or Senegalese. Lavapies is also very popular for its art festivals and contemporary art galleries. Have you visited the ‘urban garden’ called Esta es Una Plaza?
As years passed by and the number of visitors increased, we curated the same idea around Malasaña district, focusing on ‘La movida madrileña’. Our committment with social justice and equity, made us develop another alternative service which we entitled as a feminist tour. What do you think that are the stories that we will tell you on this last guided visit?
Lavapiés, the heart of multiculturalism & color
If you dedice to join one of our urban tours in Madrid, more specifically the one around Lavapies district, these are some of the spots where you should expect our explanations:
- Tabacalera Promoción del arte, former XIX century tobacco factory now turned into a community art center.
- CALLE Lavapiés street art festival
- Urvanity Art murals
- Modern art galleries on Calle Doctor Fourquet
Professional educators and artists/guides will host the experience, putting emphasis on those aspects that you won’t be able to find in any travel guidebook. Moreover, there are questions that we will ask you on the way. We’d like you to be engaged at all times, not focusing on numbers of years, but on issues that affect all of us in our regular daily life. For instance, lack of rights, hate actions or gentrification.
Urban tours in Madrid around Malasaña district
On the other side of Gran Via street, you’ll find a classic style neighborhood, mixed with the hipster idea brought by new trends and expats. In this sense, we’ll meet you by the entrance of Teatro Barceló (Calle Barceló, 11) to take you along one of the most alternative areas in town, full of tapas bars, vintage clothing stores and proximity trade shops. Our urban tours in Madrid will show you the parts of town that you would probably not visit on your own.
Malasaña hosts similar events & festivals than Lavapies area does. As a matter of fact, PINTA is the name given to the event which gathers over 50 multidisciplinary artists at the same time. These artists paint over metal shutters and faccades which count with private or public permission. Still, on the same night, graffiti writers cover in minutes what others did in hours. Did you hear about the war that exist between graffiti and street artists?
Whether you join us walking or by bike, these are some of the spots and locations visited. Their uniqueness made them appealing to our guests. What type of spots would you expect us to introduce you to? Plaza Mayor & Puerta del Sol, or local producers art markets and artists’ studios?
The city center with a feminist perspective
Apart from art, we’re also interested in more important aspects such as equity or justice. How do we contribute to its fight? By offering urban tours in Madrid which focus on feminism. That’s it, empowering those women who greatly contributed to our society, and talking about the challenges women face on their daily life. From work related issues, to family counselling.
For your information, both men and women are suitable for these guided visits. There are many reasons to believe that we’re all equal, despite your sex. Among other details, you will hear about the following:
- The life and story of Clara Campoamor, and her fight for women’s vote.
- Activism by ‘Las 13 Rosas’, a group from the Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas (JSU)
- EKKO’s social house, the first transfeminist squat in town.
Similarly to what happens with the rest of our services, the feminist tour in Madrid takes 2 hours to be completed. It’s meeting point is located by the street cleaner statue by Plaza Jacinto Benavente. We’ll finish close to Embajadores square, where we’ll explain you the story of over 3,000 women who worked in the labors of the previously mentioned tobacco factory.
Why should you choose the urban tours in Madrid led by Cooltourspain?
First of all, because of our alternative touristic approach, but more importantly because of what we do with your contribution. Actually, part of the payment you make for the urban tours in Madrid will be later used to offer free tours for different groups of people. For instance, users from CEPAIM, Down Madrid, Intress, or Solidarios. We believe that there is room for a better world, and this is our little contribution for it.
Later, you should know that you will not just listen to the information that our guide will share with you. Our guided visit is thought to be enjoyed because of its informative character, but also because of the opportunity that you will receive by painting a stencil graffiti. That’s it! You’ll have the chance to use spray cans over A3 size papers or 100% cotton tote bags.
Last but not least, the activities are offered either on foot or cycling. The truth is that with the bike tour you’ll cover more areas in lesser time. Don’t you agree? The service is available on urban bikes or ebikes, specially offered to those who aren’t that interested in pedaling. Is that you maybe?
An updated point of view of the XXI century society
Despite the fact that we all want to live in an imagined state in which everything is perfect, that’s not currently happening. We continuously observe in the news about atrocities and other injustice situations, and we need to act. That’s the reason why we use our urban tours in Madrid to talk about artworks such as the one shown above. It was recently painted in Calle Argumosa, and the artist is directly calling your door. Are you against racism?
We used part of the syllabus contained in the 17 millenial goals to develop our off the beaten activities:
- No Poverty
- GOAL 5: Gender Equality
- Reduced Inequality
- GOAL 13: Climate Action
Our job is to speak up about what’s happening in Madrid, offering you insider information about the different community related projects which help and support people.
Urban tours in Madrid that include the development of a stencil graffiti
Cooltourspain offers both public and private groups. While the former ones will generally meet at 11.15am by the meeting point, the later ones, represented by tailored requests, will choose the time that best fits their calendar. Price per adult for the urban tours in Madrid is 25€, whereas on-demand groups will receive a personalized quote. Speaking of which, they all include a stencil graffiti miniworkshop.
It will take place in a public and open air area, usually a park or square. We’ll bring all materials in a bagpack while walking, and will set things up in different surfaces. It’s there where you will have the chance to spray paint on your own. For us, it’s important that you follow instructions, but you’ll be always welcome to create your own design using the staff around you. For instance, rocks, leaves and other objects found on the floor.
Depending on your budget, you could also add a full 2 hours graffiti experience. You’ll join a professional graffiti writer at his/her studio, or at a bigger space if necessary, to paint a collaborative wall. We’ll create a design following your instructions, and the rest is easy peasy. Hands on! You and the rest of the participants will learn how to use the spray cans and its different caps.
Upgrade the experience! Join us on a bike
Our experience proves that visitors from The Netherlands and Belgium love cycling. That’s the reason why our team counts with Dutch speaking professionals to lead the bike urban tours in Madrid. Even if it’s in English language, Cooltourspain local guides will take you around the city, in a safe way, through different neighborhoods. Kids are even welcome!
For us, safety matters, and we’ll always offer you the possibility to wear a helmet. Although it’s not mandatory in the city, it’s more than recommended. Differently to what happens with the ratio of guide per guest on the walking tours (1:15), these bike services in town will count with 1 professional for every 8 guests. These means that if the group is larger than that number, then we’ll include 2 guides in the budget.
The tour will take off from Calle Montera, 32. From there, we’ll cycle along Chueca district to get to Malasaña. Later, continuing through San Bernardo until we get to Plaza España. Next, we’ll turn backwards to head up the hill through Gran Via street. We’ll move southbound towards Lavapiés and Embajadores, where the tour will end. Time to get back to the ending point after 2 hours on the bike.
The opinion that our team members have about the urban tours in Madrid
We’re of those lucky people who can say that we love what we do. Cooltourspain was created by Javier Garcia Colomo, and after 6 years, the team continuosly grows. Some of us left our former jobs as teachers to lead the urban tours in Madrid, and apparently, we were successful.
We enjoy every minute spent with people from other countries. They help us learn about other cultures and ways of thinking. It’s true that we connect very easily with people, but we’re always facing challenges. Did you know that there are few locals who think that we gentrify neighborhoods such as Lavapies and Malasaña?