There are many places and ways to save money in Madrid, ensuring you make the most of your stay in this fine city. The traditional wine cellars dotted through its streets, extensive green areas, and the multitude of museums and art galleries welcome people from all over the world, regardless of their budget.

    Spain's central capital is very walkable, so you don't have to splurge on a taxi to get around. Our guide to budget-friendly activities and free attractions proves that holidays in Madrid don't have to be expensive. 

    1

    House-Museum of Lope de Vega

    Step into the life of this charismatic writer

    The House-Museum of Lope de Vega is a great place to travel back in time through literature, art and history, all for free. Located in the central Las Letras neighbourhood, this 17th-century house was where Lope de Vega wrote a number of his most famous works. 

    Not only can you explore memories of the writer, but you can also learn about Spain's Golden Age. The house-museum organises dramatised tours, workshops and theatre performances throughout the year. If you want to take it further with a guided tour, don't forget to book in advance. 

    Location: Calle de Cervantes 11, 28014 Madrid, Spain

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +34 914 29 92 16

    Map

    photo by Carlos Delgado (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    2

    Mercado de San Miguel

    Enjoy gourmet food in Madrid's old centre

    Mercado de San Miguel is one of Madrid's oldest markets, with an architecture that has been modernised over the years. Inside, you can find vendors selling authentic dishes from various parts of the world. Weekends are when the market is at its busiest, with locals and tourists enjoying aperitifs, tapas and delectable cuisine. 

    Mercado de San Miguel's proximity to Plaza Mayor and Madrid de Los Austrias makes it a great place to discover the most traditional side of the city. Wander around this spectacular glass building, classified as a Site of Cultural Interest, and relax afterwards with your choice of tipple. 

    Location: Plaza de San Miguel, s/n, 28005 Madrid, Spain

    Open: Friday–Saturday from 10 am to midnight, Sunday–Thursday from 10 am to 10 pm (hours may vary)

    Phone: +34 915 42 49 36

    Map
    3

    Explore Paseo del Prado by bicycle

    Cycle the entire length of this iconic Madrid avenue

    Paseo del Prado is a picturesque boulevard in central Madrid, between the famous Plaza de Cibeles and Plaza del Emperador Carlos V. While it's usually busy with motor vehicles, the boulevard is only open to pedestrians and cyclists on Sundays.

    Paseo del Prado is one of Spain's most important artistic epicentres. You can rent a bicycle and stop off at prominent art museums, such as Museo del Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza. The modern Centro de Arte Reina Sofía has a rooftop offering spectacular views of Madrid. If you still have the energy, visit Cuesta de Moyano – this permanent book fair has around 30 stalls selling antique comic books, out-of-print volumes, and second-hand books at affordable prices.

    Location: Paseo del Prado, s/n, 28014 Madrid, Spain

    Map
    4

    Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Spain

    A must-visit for cinephiles in Madrid

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Spain is a prominent film institution in the well-known neighbourhood of Chamberí. Occupying a 20th-century residential villa, the academy preserves Spain's film heritage through various programs. It's known for hosting the annual Goya Awards. 

    Entrance to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is free. You can catch weekly film screenings, lectures, exhibitions, roundtable discussions and masterclasses. A must-visit is the José Luis Borau library, which houses over 5,000 documents and films, as well as an enviable collection of scripts, posters, soundtracks and publications.

    Location: Calle de Zurbano, 3, 28010, Madrid, Spain

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 10 am to 7 pm, Friday from 10 am to 3 pm (closed on weekends)

    Phone: +34 91 593 46 48

    Map
    5

    Sabatini Gardens

    Visit at dusk for the best view of the gardens and the Royal Palace

    The Sabatini Gardens dates back to the 1930s, featuring a formal Neoclassic style with lush bushes in symmetric geometrical patterns. Located just next to the Royal Palace, it's a great place for a romantic stroll in Madrid. 

    Well-paved paths offer views of stone fountains and marble sculptures of Spanish kings. As the sun goes down, enjoy a spectacular view of the gardens and Royal Palace in golden light. Sabatini Gardens holds open-air concerts and plays in summer. 

    Location: Calle de Bailén, 2, 28013 Madrid, Spain

    Open: May-September: daily from 9 am to 10 pm. October-April: daily from 9 am to 9 pm

    Map
    6

    Cibeles Palace

    Enjoy panoramic views of Madrid

    Cibeles Palace (Palacio de Cibeles) is an early 30th-century landmark in Madrid, serving as the seat of Madrid City Council since 2007. Locals and travellers often come here not only for its impressive architecture, but also for panoramic city views from its lookout point. 

    Located in the palace tower, Madrid Viewpoint allows you to photograph both the Retiro Park and the point where Gran Vía meets Calle de Alcalá. You can even spot Paseo de la Castellana and the Bank of Spain building. During your visit, spend some time exploring Cibeles Palace's free exhibitions. 

    Location: Calle de Montalbán, 1, 28014 Madrid, Spain

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 10.30 am to 1.30 pm and from 4 pm to 7 pm, Saturday from 10.30 pm to 1.30 pm and from 4 pm to 9 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +34 915 29 82 10

    Map
    7

    El Retiro Park

    Have a picnic and enjoy the fresh air

    El Retiro Park is a vast garden by Plaza de la Independencia. One of its most popular attractions is the Statue Walk, a pathway lined with 18th-century statues of Spanish royalty. Some of the best things to do in Madrid's beautiful park include picnicking, boating, and cycling with views of historical monuments within the grounds. 

    There’s a manmade lake next to a monument of Alfonso XII, where you can rent a paddleboat for a few euros. Another must-visit in El Retiro Park is the Palacio de Cristal, a greenhouse-like pavilion that was built in 1887.

    Location: Plaza de la Independencia, 7, 28001 Madrid, Spain

    Open: April–September: daily from 6 am to midnight. October–March: daily from 6 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +34 914 00 87 40

    Price: 1716639

    Map
    8

    Join a free city tour

    A great way to explore Madrid on foot

    Madrid has plenty of free city tours organised by local experts, which means you'll have a better understanding of the city than many of those who actually live here. The tours don't have a fixed price, as you can pay any amount, depending on what you thought of the service. 

    Historical details and anecdotes, architectural treasures, charming hidden-away corners of the city are just some of the things you get to know about when joining a free city tour of Madrid. Note that you'll be walking for the entire duration, so put on some comfy footwear. 

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    9

    Take part in a Madrid scavenger hunt

    Explore the city while solving a mystery

    Joining a Madrid scavenger hunt is a unique way of sightseeing in Spain's capital. The city's many tour operators organise a wide range of options, but all involve finding clues and solving puzzles related to the city's landmarks and history.  

    Besides historical scavenger hunts, you can take part in poetry, literary, theatrical and environmental awareness tours – some even focus on Madrid's dark legends. Most hotel receptions have information about these scavenger hunts, but you can easily find them online, as well.

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    10

    Templo de Debod

    Travel back to Ancient Egypt without leaving Madrid

    Templo de Debod is an authentic Egyptian temple that was relocated and rebuilt in Madrid’s Parque del Oeste. The only Ancient Egyptian structure in Spain, it was brought over to the city from Aswan in 1968. The shrine, which dates back to 2,200 BC, can only accommodate 15 visitors at a time.

    After visiting the temple, you can relax in the park’s many green spaces, many of which offer beautiful views of La Almudena Cathedral and the Royal Palace. You can even see the old royal hunting grounds of Casa de Campo and even Sierra de Guadarrama in the distance.

    Location: Calle de Ferraz, 1, 28008 Madrid, Spain

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 10 am to 7 pm (hours may vary)

    Phone: +34 913 66 74 15

    Map

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