Free Things to Do in Madrid
In Madrid, the explosive capital of Spain, you’re never short of places to explore, attractions to visit and restaurants to indulge in. Overflowing with historical architecture, world-class art museums and trendy boutiques, Madrid promises non-stop fun.
But as compared to other Spanish cities, Madrid can be an expensive place to visit. If you’re traveling on a tight budget, don’t give up on Madrid just yet. There are tons of other free things to do in Madrid to make your visit worthwhile.
In the heart of the city stands a gorgeous patchwork of colorful flowers, emerald greenery, fountains and lakes. Retiro Park in Madrid is the lungs of the city, providing an excellent spot to lounge around on a sunny summer afternoon. Within the park grounds, you’ll find the beautiful art exhibition center, Palacio de Cristal, and the Retiro Pond, ideal for boating. The park is easily accessibly by metro, just alight at Retiro station. It is free to enter anytime of the day.
Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
One of the best museums in Madrid, the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia houses an impressive collection of modern, contemporary and post-impressionist art from Spain’s greatest artists such as Picasso, Dali and Miro. Currently, the most important piece on display is Picasso’s Guernica, an eccentric portrayal of the bombing of a Basque village during the Spanish Civil War.
Free admission is offered Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 7pm to 9pm, Saturday from 2:30pm to 9am and Sunday all day.
Museo del Prado
A sprawling art museum that houses some of the best European art work and historical pieces, Prado Museum in Madrid is the highlight of any trip to Spain. With over 5,000 drawings, 2,000 prints, 1,000 coins and medals and 700 sculptures, it is almost impossible to see all the museum’s collections in one day.
Free admission is offered from Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm to 8pm and every Sunday from 5pm to 8pm.
Museo Taurino – Bullfighting Museum
Located at Madrid’s majestic Bullfighting Arena Las Ventas, the Bullfighting Museum gives an interesting glimpse into the history of bullfighting. Beware though, the display of artifacts can be rather explicit. Expect to see blood-stained bullfighting costumes andbull’s heads that have been preserved. There is no entrance fee.
Royal Palace of Madrid
The massive Royal Palace of Madrid promises lavish interior decor, impressive imperial chambers and a sprawling royal garden. Unlike many other European royal palaces, this one in particular grants access to a large number of rooms to the public. Things to look out for include the ceiling paintings that feature works of Goya and Velazquez, as well as the stunning design of the Royal Theater Opera.
Free entry on Wednesdays to EU citizens.
People-Watch at Puerta del Sol
In the palpitating square of Puerta del Sol, there’s nothing more fun and interesting than sit and watch people in action. This is the point from which all of Spain’s major roads originate: kilometer zero – this explains why Puerta del Sol is one of Madrid’s main public squares. Around the fountains, numerous street artistes and buskers are at work. From Mexican mariachi bands to Spanish guitar players, you definitely won’t get bored here with the array of free entertainment. The city’s trendiest and most fashion-forward urban crowd also gather here, so keep a watch out for the hottest trends in town!
El Rastro Flea Market
Every Sunday, rows of antique, clothes and accessories shops are set up in the La Latina neighborhood. A bohemian ambiance reigns here amidst the eclectic mix of modern and old. Weave through stalls of bronze collectibles, quirky accessories and hippie wear, then snake your way back into the city center. For unique souvenirs to bring home, this might be just your type of place to go shopping. Arrive early to nab the best deals, don’t forget to haggle! The best time to come is before 11am, when the crowd starts flooding in.
Free Tapas at El Tigre
You heard it right, tapas here come free with each drink order! El Tigre might be tiny, with not much space to lounge around for the entire evening. But for those who are looking for local culture yet want to save some money on food, then El Tigre would be the best place to sample some tapas. With a glass of sweet cider (house specialty), expect to get a platter of tortilla de patata (Spanish omelette) or albondigas (meatball) with it. Address: Calle Infantas 30, Madrid 28004.
Read more about:
>> Things to Do in Madrid
>> “Free” Madrid Walking Tours
>> Madrid’s Most Famous Public Squares
>> Recommended Day Trips from Madrid
Photo credits: J.A.Alcaide (Retiro Park), Zagarbal (museum), Wagas Ahmed (bullfight), last photo is author’s personal collection.