And I don’t mean it in a “Save the Whales” kind of way. I actually want to tell you about free stuff to do in Madrid.
Madrid’s architecture is an eclectic blend of various centuries and influences, the art scene is both progressive and nostalgic, and the historical sights are extravagant and carefully preserved. The city of Madrid is an essential stop on any European vacation.
Madrid is the last extended stop on my year-long adventure, I’m pinching centimos as this point… Whether you’re on a tight budget or simply looking to check out some of the city’s best, this is a guide for getting the most out of your Madrid vacation without overspending! (Please Note: This article was written on 7/28/12. Prices and hours of availability may change.)
- El Museo del Prado for Free European Art: Housing Las Meninas, a famous work of Velázquez, El Prado is regarded as one of the most important museums in the world. Tickets are always free for kids and students (with proof), but there are certain times that adults can check it out for free too! El Museo del Prado is free for adults on Monday-Saturday from 6-8pm, on Sundays, and on holidays from 5-7pm.
- Museo Reina Sofia for Free Modern Art:This super-funky modern art museum has a lot of new exhibitions from contemporary artists but also displays the works Dali and Picasso’s Guernica. If you want to visit for free, the museum is free of charge on Monday-Friday between 7-9pm, on Saturday from 2:30-9pm, and on Sunday from 10am-7pm.
- El Tigre for Free Tapas: The once local secret, El Tigre, is now packed out with people who heard the news. At El Tigre, any drink purchase earns you a plate of free tapas. I repeat, FREE TAPAS. While the tapas are occasionally just a greasy plate of patatas bravas, you can also get jamón serrano and tortilla española amongst other Spanish favorites. You might want to seek out tapas elsewhere if money is not an issue, but if you want a sangria and some snacks, you really can’t beat the price at El Tigre.
- Madrid Free for Free Current Activities: Madrid Free is a website that delivers exactly what you would expect… listings of free things to do in Madrid. The site advertises everything from art expositions to film festivals to outdoor concerts to hiking trails. Whatever you want to do, Madrid Free probably has something for you. *While the site does have an “English” option, it filters out the majority of current listings. Translate the page or try to read in Spanish for the most info.
- El Sol for Free Going Out: Madrid stays up LATE. If you’re interested in free drinks or free admission into any of the hundreds of bars and clubs near the city’s heart, head out before midnight. Promoters hang out near El Sol metro station, and with a flyer, you can get anything from free chupitos to mojitos depending on the night.
- Around Town for Free Sights: The outdoor wonderland of former royal families, Parque de El Retiro (Retiro Park) is always a free place to hang out, play, or picnic. Another must see in Madrid is the Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace) although you’ll only get to check out the outside free of charge. You can always hit El Rastro on Sunday to scour through secondhand wares, or just go for a stroll and check out the scene. Furthermore, the Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, and GranVía are all outdoor marvels that won’t cost you a dime.
Have you ever visited Madrid? What recommendations do you have for other travelers about free or inexpensive things to do in the city? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook!