The Spanish capital city of Madrid is, perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, quite easy to explore on a budget. The cheaper deals can be usually be found on weekdays.
Where to Stay in Madrid
There are a number of backpacker hostels in the city, which will certainly save you more money than if you stayed in a hotel. For the most part they have pretty good, albeit basic, facilities and attract a mixed age group. For other types of accommodation, shopping around online can often yield discounted rates. If you arrive in the city without having an idea of where you will stay, be sure to check out a few places before making a decision.
Eating and Drinking in Madrid
If you stay somewhere that has basic self catering facilities, it can be a great money saver buying your own food to prepare for breakfast. Even something as simple as pastries, fruit or cereal and milk can set you up for the day at a fraction of the cost of buying it elsewhere. If you do want to eat out though in the morning, follow the locals for the best prices and delicious food.
Lunch time menus are less expensive than evening dinner time menus, so to save money, eat a larger lunch followed by a smaller meal in the evening. Cute cafes and bars are cheaper than restaurants, and are often also more atmospheric. Menu Del Dia is a great sign to look for – it is a terrific low cost three course lunch deal. Later on in the day, tapas bars are usually the best option for keeping costs low, and a handy hint is that it is generally less expensive to eat at the bar than at a table, and inside seating is usually cheaper than seats on a balcony or terrace.
When it comes to drinking in Madrid on a budget, sample the local options rather than imported brands; they will be kinder to your pockets and also give you a more authentic drink! For after hours drinking, head to one of the many free admission places, where for the cost of a drink you can sit and enjoy some flamenco or live music.
How to get Around Madrid
Walk! It’s free, and you can see many more things when you slow down the pace and take a wander. For covering longer distances, the metro is efficient and cost effective.
How to Save Money on Sight Seeing in Madrid
Some places offer free admission all the time and others have discounted periods, making it easy to see Madrid on a budget. Check in advance and plan your itinerary accordingly. EU Citizens, with proof of nationality, can enjoy discounts in some places, as can students and senior citizens. Make sure to take relevant proof. The following places are always free:
Contemporary Art Museum
El Retiro Park, with a free puppet show
Madrid Cathedral (although donations are appreciated)
San Antonio de la Florida Chapel
San Isidro Museum
Two of Madrid’s most popular attractions, Mueseo del Praido and Reina Sofia, have free admission times. You can visit the Museo del Praido for free every evening, with the exception of Mondays, and Reina Sofia offers free entry on all bar Tuesday evenings, and for most of the time at weekends.
On Sundays you can enjoy free entry to the Museum of the Americas, The Sorolla Museum, and Lazero Galdiano Museum. There is no charge to go inside the Egyptian gem, the Temple of Debod, on Sundays and Tuesdays. Additionally, the stunning architecture of Madrid is completely free to admire from outside. Take a stroll to The Arab Wall, Calle Huertas, Calle Segovia, Gran Via, Plaza Espana, and Plaza Mayor.
Be amazed with what you can do at little cost in magical Madrid!