Budget Travel

Enjoy Madrid at a lower price with one of these 15 cost-free things to do

The capital of Spain is really a city of fine food, rich history, buzzing nightlife and creative exuberance, but consuming its sights and experiences burns up using your travel budget. By the time you've considered a morning trip to the Museo del Prado, tapas-grazing in La Latina, a late-night bar crawl in Huertas, and a accommodation close to the center, you'd be lucky to get vary from EUR200 (US$218) for a day and a night in Madrid.

But assistance is available. As the city is rich with paid-for cultural attractions, if you aren't quite as rich yourself, there's plenty to complete on a tight budget. Many of Madrid's world-class sights have the freedom, including parks, churches and museums. Here are the most popular free attractions that offer the very best of Madrid for travelers on a budget.

Visit Museo de Historia de Madrid to discover Madrid's back story

Behind a wonderful baroque facade, the disposable Museo de Historia houses an excellent assortment of paintings and artifacts outlining the history of Madrid. Highlights include Goya's Allegory of the Town of Madrid, which lampoons the occupying French rulers of 1800s Madrid and also the fractious political climate at the time, as well as an incredibly detailed model of the town because it looked in 1830.

Casa de Lope de Vega is a free dip into Spanish literary culture

Although relatively unknown outside the Spanish-speaking world, Lope de Vega was one of the greatest playwrights, poets and novelists of Spanish literature, and also the house where he lived provides a window into his life and times. This is when Lope de Vega wrote and lived with his mistress – scandalous at that time – before his death in 1635. It's full of memorabilia associated with his work and free guided tours can be booked in advance via email or phone.

El Rastro is where free of charge flea market browsing

El Rastro began as a meat market within the 17th century (rastro is the Spanish word for "trail," after the trail of blood left out the butchered animals) however it become Madrid's liveliest flea market. Every Sunday, stalls are piled high with antiques, vintage T-shirts and old records, alongside new clothing and souvenirs. The eclectic items on display have price tags but browsing is free and wandering the stalls is a superb method of getting a feel for what makes Madrile~nos tick.

Iglesia de San Ginés offers a taste of old Madrid

Existing in one form or another since a minimum of the 14th century, San Ginés is among Madrid's oldest churches. The present stone structure was constructed in 1645 but extensively rebuilt following a fire in 1824. Housed inside are some excellent works of Spanish art, such as El Greco's Expulsion from the Moneychangers in the Temple (1614). It's liberated to visit and merely a brief stroll from Plaza Mayor.

Templo de Debod is really a taste of Egypt in Madrid

This curiously translocated monument is really a giant thank-you card. Constructed at the tail end of the New Kingdom period in Egypt, the Templo de Debod originally stood in the area now covered by Lake Nasser, and it was saved from the rising waters by Unesco with the aid of Spanish archaeologists throughout the construction from the Aswan High Dam within the 1960s. As a statement of gratitude to Spain in order to in order to save this along with other monuments, Egypt donated the temple to the Spanish government also it was moved block by block to the new house in Parque del Oeste. It's been there since, and it's liberated to visit.

Head to Ermita de Dallas de la Florida to see Goya paintings in situ

We're likely to allow you to in on the little secret: the southern chapel of Ermita de San Antonio en Florida is among the few places you can observe Francisco de Goya's operate in its original setting. The chapel's rather unadorned exterior belies the riches inside – the centerpiece of the chapel is Goya's depiction from the miracle of St Anthony, with the saint shown raising a man from the dead to absolve his father of murder. And in the chapel are the remains of Goya himself – bar the painters' head, which mysteriously went missing when his remains were transferred using their original burial site in France. Guided tours are for sale to free with prior registration.

Browse the Museo del Prado for free in the evening

By day, there's electric power charge to see the Museo del Prado's massive collection of 1500 artworks, but the museum is free of charge to visit from 6pm to 8pm Monday to Saturday and from 5pm to 7pm on Sunday. So long as you don't mind an early evening browse, you can admire a few of the world's best-known pieces of art. Seek out Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights – a vision of paradise and hell that puts the trippy into triptych – and Diego Velázquez's Las Meninas, depicting the Spanish royal family from the unique (and, at the time, revolutionary) perspective.

Drop in to the Iglesia de San Jerónimo on a museum trip

Somewhat within the shadow from the ever-popular Museo del Prado, the Iglesia de San Jerónimo sits on the site of the former monastery dating back to the early 16th century. The buildings were damaged in the early 1800s throughout the Peninsular War, after which restored fifty years later, during the reign of Isabel II. The remains from the former cloisters are now area of the Museo del Prado. With free admission, it's a rewarding detour to bolt onto a museum visit.

For gratis garden grandeur, head to Campo del Moro

Encompassing 20 hectares of lush green spaces in central Madrid, Campo del Moro sits underneath the Palacio Real, providing among the prettiest views in Madrid. The gardens' were specified by the English style in the 1700s, centered on the Fuente de las Conchas (Fountain from the Shells), which was developed in the 18th century by Ventura Rodríguez and erected in the middle of the east-west pradera (meadow).

See sculpture free of charge at Museo al Aire Libre

Tucked underneath an overpass, this phenomenal open-air sculpture collection features on the dozen abstract sculptures from a number of Spain's foremost artists, including works by Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida, Catalan artist Joan Miró, kinetic artist Eusebio Sempere and Civil War veteran Alberto Sánchez Pérez. The slight hint of traffic grime only adds to the benefit of this fascinating urban art space, and being outside, there's no entry fee.

Indulge your inner bibliophile at Biblioteca Nacional

A must-see for booklovers, the museum within the Biblioteca Nacional (National Library) has interactive displays on the history of the printing press and Spain's national library, as well as exhibits of illuminated manuscripts. Although you need a reader or researcher card to look at any of the books within this massive assortment of more than 30,000 manuscripts, the disposable museum downstairs has enough for bibliophiles to while away a few hours.

Learn much more about Madrid at Museo de San Isidro

Named after San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of Madrid, the free-to-visit Museo de San Isidro details the rich history of Madrid from the prehistoric era to its establishment because the capital of Spain. The museum is believed to sit down at that moment where San Isidro worked and died. Of particular historical interest rates are the "miraculous well" – according to legend, the saint's son fell into the well but was saved once the waters miraculously rose thanks to his parent's devout prayers.

Admire the grand outside of the Palacio de Longoria

This extravagant art nouveau structure, with its organic, swirling flourishes, may be the headquarters from the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores, a society of music composers and publishers. Even though the interior is off-limits to travelers, the outside is exactly what you're for – it's a decadent ode to Modernisme (also referred to as Catalan modernism) which Antoni Gaudí was the most famous exponent.

Step back into Madrid's past at Estación de Chamberí

The Estación de Chamberí is a chance to walk into Madrid's recent past. In the 1960s, several of Madrid's train stations were upgraded, but the layout of Chamberí station meant that it couldn't be similarly modified. Instead, the station was bricked over and abandoned, before reopening in 2008 like a museum and time capsule. The interior appears almost as much ast it did in 1966, right down to the posters, advertisements and art deco furnishings which were first set up in the first 20th century.

Catch your inhale the green spaces of Parque del Buen Retiro

Established by King Felipe IV like a garden for Spanish royalty, El Retiro park has become the green heart of Madrid. Festooned with white marble monuments, carefully landscaped lawns, ponds and many interesting buildings (the elegant metal-and-glass Palacio de Cristal greenhouse is a standout landmark), the park is usually quiet on weekdays, but it comes to life on weekends, when it's a great location for people-watching.

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