Famous for its night-life, high-class shopping, and sophisticated arts, Madrid doesn’t seem to be the right place for thrifty travelers. It’s not exactly the case though. Yes, it’s quite an expensive city indeed. The prices in Madrid are higher than in most Spanish cities, and many attractions are costly, be it eating out, visiting historical sites or clubbing. Nevertheless, you can enjoy Madrid’s charm without spending tons of money. With a bit of planning and imagination, you can explore the city for free. Take a look at the list below and find out which free attractions in Madrid are the best.
Stroll about the El Retiro
El Retiro, also known as Parque del Buen Retiro, is Madrid’s most spectacular park. It is also one of the best free attractions in Madrid. It offers a chance to escape the city’s hustle and bustle and enjoy a bit of nature, but also to see some beautiful art pieces. El Retiro is full of marble monuments and gorgeous buildings. Whenever the weather is nice, people go there to meet up with their friends, have a drink in one of the outdoor restaurants, sit on a bench and read a newspaper, listen to street musicians or play their own melodies. A variety of events is being held in the park during the summer, including concerts, puppet shows, exhibitions and theater performances.
Soap up the magical atmosphere on Madrid’s plazas
To really feel the vibe of Madrid, you should spend some time on its lovely squares. With crowds of locals and tourists always passing by, the plazas are perfect for people watching. You can just get a cup of coffee, sit back for a while, enjoy the sun and only look around. Even though it doesn’t sound like an adventurous activity, you can actually find out a lot about Madrid through hanging around its squares. Plaza Mayor, for example, is the main city square with a long, fascinating history. Since it was built in the 18th century, Plaza Mayor has been used for bullfights, ceremonies, public executions, gatherings, and celebrations. It’s surrounded by marvelous baroque buildings, so make sure to look around carefully. Another famous square, Plaza de España, features a stunning monument to Cervantes, the author of “Don Kichote.” It’s a must-see, especially for bookworms and history lovers.
Take advantage of free museum entries
Most of Madrid’s museums can be visited for free. There are days and/or times of the day when they don’t charge admission fees. If you can only choose one museum, make it the Museo del Prado since it is one of the best attractions in Madrid. With its amazing collections, Museo del Prado is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Spain. It’s free from Monday to Saturday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. and from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Sundays. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is beautiful as well. It features displays of modern art, including works by such masters as Picasso, Dali or Gris.
On Mondays and from Wednesday to Saturday the admission is free in the evenings, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. It’s also free on Sunday, from 1:30 till 7:00 p.m. There are countless museums in Madrid and most of them don’t charge the admission fee at least once in a while. Before you go somewhere, simply take a look at the website and check if it’s possible to avoid buying tickets. Besides, most museums are free on the following days: May 18 (because it’s the International Museum Day), October 12 (the Hispanic Day) and December 6 (the Constitution Day).
Stroll along Gran Via
Running from Calle de Alcalá to the bustling Plaza de España, Gran Via is among Madrid’s busiest and most charming streets. It is also one of the most favorite attractions in Madrid by most visitors. It’s known as an upscale shopping street, and there are some fabulous boutiques indeed. Nevertheless, buying stuff isn’t the only thing to do on Gran Via. Most of all, buildings standing on both sides of the street are beautiful. Most of them date back to the early 20th century, and they represent various architectonic styles characteristic of this period. With its fascinating historical cinemas, Gran Via a must-visit area for motion-picture fans.
Take a trip to Egypt
You don’t have to travel hundreds of kilometers to feel a bit of the Egyptian vibe. Surprisingly, Egypt can be found in the middle of the Spanish capital. Just walk to the hill in the Parque del Oeste, and you’ll see a beautiful ancient temple. It was constructed in Egypt, then dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid. Because Spain helped in preserving temples of Abu Simbel, Egyptians wanted to express their gratitude, and they did it through gifting the Temple of Debod. Not only the temple itself is gorgeous, but also the whole area around it. It’s atmospheric and picturesque; thus people often come there to watch the sunsets, make picnics or simply walk around.
Watch a Flamenco show
Instead of going to a regular bar for a drink or a dinner, visit a tablao (a place where flamenco shows are being held). Most of those cafés don’t charge anything for the show itself, you only need to order a drink. There are many tablaos all across Madrid, for example, Clan, Taberna Casa Patas or Cardamomo. It’s the best way to spend a night out in Madrid – you combine partying, eating, drinking and an authentic cultural experience. If you’re going to spend money on a glass of wine or a cocktail anyway, why not to make it really worthwhile?
Do you know some other free attractions in Madrid? Let us know! And share this article with your friends, especially if they’re planning a trip to the sunny capital of Spain.