6 Public Libraries in Madrid’s City Center

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The ultimate struggle of study abroad is figuring out how to fit the “study” part into a packed schedule. Between weekend excursions, nightlife adventures, exploring the city, and more, where does school fit in? While it’s cool to hang on a sofa in a café, sometimes you can do without the spotty wifi and noise. For that reason, public libraries will be the key to getting you through the final weeks of the semester. Access is free, but some require that you register. So be sure to bring a form of ID the first time you visit one of your local libraries.

If you’d like to also read about the many cafe’s and coworking spaces in Madrid, check out our list of great study & coworking spots in Madrid!

La Latina

Biblioteca Pública Municipal Iván de Vargas


Address: Calle  San Justo,  5  28005  Madrid

Located in the city center, La Biblioteca Pública Municipal Iván de Vargas opened to the public in 2011. The city converted it from an old housing building used in the 17th century to a modern style building. Since then, the three-floor library has become well known and loved by international students and tourists alike. It’s reputation has thrived thanks to the “Sala Madrid” (located on the second floor). Which contains about 2,500 films, e-books, travel guides, and works of art, architecture, literature, and history unique to the city.

What’s more, on the ground floor you’ll find the quiet, peaceful study areas. There you may encounter other students hitting the books just as hard as you! Unlike most other public libraries in Madrid, this one happens to be open on Sundays. However with strange hours of 9:10-13:50, so you’ll have to madrugar, of course.


Biblioteca Uned, Escuelas Pías


Address: Calle Sombrerete, 15, 28012 Madrid

If you live near Lavapiés or Embajadores, chances are UNED is the public municipal library closest to you. The good news is that by showing your passport, you can easily obtain a library card within minutes. The library has an amazing ambiance, with low hanging lights, multiple floors, quality couches and never ending rows of cubicles. You’re guaranteed to find sufficient working space in this cozy place.

Social science majors will be especially happy to know that this library offers a vast collection of works for them. They cover subjects like Anthropology, Political Science, Sociology, and Social Work. The Lavapiés library is one of 3 UNED campuses; another one worth seeing is the Biblioteca Central de la UNED Madrid. Which is situated in the northwest, near Museo Traje.

Alonso Martinez

Biblioteca Pública Municipal Mario Vargas Llosa

Address: Calle Barcelo,  2  28004  Madrid

Located in the Chamberi neighborhood, this public library forms part of the city’s cultural and artistic hub. What’s neat about this library is that you don’t have to show any form of ID upon entering. It’s totally free for public use! Long tables, white walls that minimize distractions and a generous amount of outlets render it the perfect exam study spot.

There’s also quiet computer rooms and spaces to do group work as well. Although spacey and well-organized, the library is unfortunately closed on weekends. So take advantage of those productive weeknights if this sounds like the lib for you.

El Retiro

Biblioteca Pública Municipal Eugenio Trías


Address: Paseo Fernán Núñez, 24, Madrid

If you’ve spent even just a weekend in Madrid there’s a good chance you’ve walked around El Retiro. Maybe enjoyed a nice boat ride or a picnic. But what you probably didn’t know is that the park is also home to a brand new library! Opened in 2013, the upper level of the facility houses a large book collection. Additionally, they offer a wide variety of newspapers and magazine editions. The lower level has computer rooms, cubicles and study rooms that tend to be a hot spot for students. So my advice would be to get there early to ensure the best spot for your working habits.

They’re open almost all day during the weeks, from 8:30-21:00, and Saturday 09:10 – 17:50/Sun 09:10 – 13:50. What better place to access free wifi, study for a bit, and head out for a stroll around the Palacio Cristal for a well-deserved study break? And with glass windows surrounding the building, you won’t fully lose a gorgeous sunny day to those dreaded papers and exams!


Biblioteca Pública Manuel Alvar


Address: C / Azcona, 42 28028 Madrid

Taking the metro to Diego de Leon is the best way to access this free, public library that houses over 600,000 volumes within its 7 floors! Managed by the Community of Madrid, the library boasts a variety of study spots, from private cubbies to tables to cushioned chairs. What’s unique about Manuel Alvar is that, not only does the space remain open on weekends and holidays from 11:00-19:00, but it extends its hours into the early mornings during exam weeks (typically in February), creating an especially student-friendly environment.

Aside from using the facility to concentrate on work, you can choose from a long list of activities offered, such as storytelling, book clubs, exhibitions, workshops, and other social/cultural events! This is a great way to connect more closely with Madrid’s literary culture and become more comfortable in the host language as well! The schedule can be found here

Marqués de Vadillo

 Biblioteca Pública Municipal Ana María Matute


Address: Calle de los Comuneros de Castilla, 30, 28019 Madrid

If you happen to live/travel near Parque San Isidro, you have to check out Biblioteca Pública Municipal Ana María Matute. Spectacular architecture is not all this place has to offer – it includes various floors and spaces to get comfortable and spend the day, if necessary (open weekdays 8:30-21:00). As you can imagine, the upper level offers fantastic views of Madrid, especially at night, and serves as a quieter, less frequented space.

Those who aren’t as bothered by noise or may not become distracted as easily may opt to study on the ground floor, where you can typically hear conversation and the constant typing on the keyboards. There are a ton of study rooms perfect for group work, as well as computers for public use and of course, free Wifi throughout the building.

Leah has been living in and exploring Madrid since 2013 when she moved to the city for a simple summer abroad. She started the Citylife Blog in 2014 with the goal to share everything there is to know about her favourite place on earth!

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