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Madrid on a Budget

How to get the most out of Madrid on a budget

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Madrid is a city that has everything - high-class restaurants and five-star hotels, as well as a lot of top things to do if you're on a tight budget. Read on for suggestions of things to do if you're on a tight budget.

Each sight on this page costs less than 5€ to get in - and much of what you see here is completely free of charge! Everything you see is also featured in my 100 Things to Do in Madrid.

Madrid on a Budget - General Tips

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Image: Donald Townsend (Creative Commons - Some Rights Reserved)

First of all, let's get the essentials out of the way. You need somewhere to sleep and something to eat.

Note that the accommodation and food won't cost you 5€ - those budget tips come below the fold...

Madrid on a Budget - Accommodation If you want a cheap place to sleep, consider a backpackers hostel. They're not the barebones places they were in the 1970s and they're no longer just for the young. If you pay a little more (but still far less than a room in an expensive hotel) you can get a small room with just a couple of other guests. And most hostels have lockers for you to put your valuables, so you don't have to worry about security either.

Madrid on a Budget - Food To eat well on a budget, eat like the Spanish do. So that's a coffee and a pastry at the bar for breakfast (about 2€) followed by a large lunch (for around 10€):

Then in the evening you can try one of the lighter options mentioned further down the page.

Madrid on a Budget - Go for a Walk!

Walking is free, and walking around Madrid is one of the best things you can do. But many visitors to the city are unsure of where to go. Madrid doesn't have the obvious sights that, say, Barcelona has. But that doesn't mean they're not there!

  1. Puerta del Sol
  2. The heart of Spain.
  3. Plaza España
  4. A tree-lined plaza surrounded by the oldest skyscrapers in Spain.
  5. Gran Via
  6. Madrid's most famous boulevard.
  7. Post Office
  8. Madrid's most beautiful building?
  9. Templo de Debod
  10. A genuine egyptian temple in the center of Madrid!
  11. Plaza Mayor
  12. Madrid's grandest plaza.
  13. Plaza Oriente
  14. The plaza in front of the royal palace. Stop for coffee here.
  15. Arab Wall
  16. The oldest remains in Madrid.
  17. Plaza Paja
  18. Formerly Spain's most important plaza.
  19. Calle Segovia
  20. Some nice restaurants and the impressive viaduct.
  21. Plaza de Santa Ana
  22. Ernest Hemingway's haunt.
  23. Calle Huertas
  24. Jazz cafes and street musicians.
  25. Cervantes House
  26. Where author Miguel de Cervantes is thought to have died.
  27. Parque de Retiro
  28. Madrid's most famous park
  29. Lake
  30. A lake in the Casa de Campo park. Not to be confused with the lake in the Retiro.
  31. Window Shopping on Calle Serrano
  32. Buying anything here will break the bank - but looking won't.

See also:

Madrid on a Budget - Cheap Museums

If in doubt, go to a museum. Though museums are often the default choice for people who visit a city but don't know what to do, Madrid has some excellent museums that are well worth checking out. All of the museums on this page cost under five euros to get in, while many are free (at least some of the time).

  1. Reina Sofia
    Modern art museum. Free every evening (except Tuesdays).
  2. Museo del Prado
    Spain's most famous art museum. Free every evening (except Mondays)
  3. Contemporary Art Museum
    Free.
  4. CaixaForum
    Free modern art museum.
  5. cosmocaixa
    Science museum. Three euros.
  6. Metro Museum
    Disused metro station is now a free museum.
  7. Blind Museum
    Free entry.
  8. Casa Encendida
    Free entry exhibition space.
  9. Telecommunications Museum
    Free entry.
  10. Museo de San Isidro
    History of Madrid. Free entry.
  11. Archeology Museum
    Free entry.
  12. Museo Lazaro
    Private art collection. Free Wednesdays.
  13. Sculpture Museum
    Free entry.
  14. Book Museum and National Library
    Free entry.
  15. Planetarium 
    Entry is under five euros.

  16. Transport Museums
    Each one (air, railway and navy) are under five euros to enter.
  17. Museo de las Americas
    Three euros for entry to this museum about the colonization of the Americas. Free on Sundays.

Madrid on a Budget - Churches

Madrid has no Sagrada Familia, but it does have these great churches:
  1. Convento de Descalzos
    About five euros to get in. Features a famous art collection.
  2. Madrid's Cathedral
    Free entry.
  3. Basilica de San Francisco
    Three euros entry.
  4. Iglesia de San Andres

Madrid on a Budget - Go to a Cafe

Spain has a strong cafe culture. Whether it's a traditional cafe with a cafe con leche at the bar, or a milkshake in a funky modern place, everyone in Spain goes out to cafes. Cafes in Madrid are where you'll find the real Spain - in all its forms. So where better for someone on a tight budget to spend a little time during their trip to Madrid?
  1. Cafes on Calle Espiritu Santu
    Retro La Lolina or the very social J6J English bookshop and cafe. Coffee for under two euros.
  2. Cafe Commercial
    One of the most famous cafes in Spain. Coffee for under two euros.
  3. Moroccan Teahouses
    More than just mint tea - sample one of dozens of spiced teas for about three euros.
  4. Cafe Barbieri
    My personal favorite, with classical music and the best cafe bonbon in Madrid!

Madrid on a Budget - Get a Bite to Eat

If you've followed my advice and had a large lunch (when it's cheaper), you'll be able to get by something small for dinner. And that's what tapas was invented for! Here are a few of my tapas and other light snack choices:
  1. Casa Labra
    A small beer and cod croquettes for under three euros!
  2. Casa de las Torrijas
    Spanish bread pudding and a glass of sweet Spanish wine for under five euros.
  3. Casa Granada
    Madrid's best hidden bar, with a drink and a tapa for under five euros.
  4. Chocolateria de San Gines
    Under five euros for the best chocolate con churros in Spain (and you’ll probably want to share one between two anyway)
  5. Calamares Sandwich at El Brillante
    Spain is famous for its calamare, but unfortunately its often hours-old and soggy. Not here! And you won't even pay five euros for it. Big enough to share.
  6. El Tigre
    The cheapest tapas in Spain? Get a beer and three or four(!) tapas for under two euros.
  7. El Magister
    Beer brewed on site and a free tapa with every drink for under four euros.

Madrid on a Budget - When You've Done All That...

A few less categorizable sights for you:
  1. Royal Palace
    The Royal Palace has free entry on Wednesdays (only for EU citizens, I'm sorry to say).
  2. Rastro
    Madrid's most famous flea market is a great way to spend a Sunday morning.
  3. Botanical Gardens
    About two euros entry.
  4. Atocha Train Station
    More than just a transport hub - there's tropical garden (complete with terrapins) and a moving tribute to victims of the 2004 terrorist attack.
  5. Cable Car
    Under a fiver to get you from central Madrid to the Casa del Campo park.
  6. "Faro" Look-Out Point
    Under 2 euros to ride up this "lighthouse" to get a good view of the city.

Madrid on a Budget - Nightlife

You've had a long day! But if you still have energy, why not sample Madrid's famous nightlife?
  1. La Solea
    Free flamenco in an informal setting (as it should be). Just buy a drink.
  2. Cafe Guadeamus
    Chic but reasonably priced rooftop bar.
  3. Via Lactea
    A truly iconic bar, with beers for about three euros.
  4. Diplodocus Bar
    HUGE drinks. Share one among friends and you'll be drunk for five euros!
  5. Bars on Calle Ave Maria
    A pleasant street in Lavapies with some nice bars.
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