Madrid on a Budget – 5 Tips to Explore Cheaply

January 14, 2020

Did you know that Spain is the second most visited country in the world? Yes, it is. In 2024 alone, 82.8 million tourists came to Spain. And it isn’t really surprising at all.

With its stunning architecture, fascinating views, rich history, jaw-dropping islands, and the unending sunshine, Spain has made its way into every traveler’s bucket list.

Visiting Madrid at least once in your life is a truly remarkable experience. But you might be wondering… how much does it cost to explore Madrid?

A day in Spain’s capital city could cost you up to €97 or €678 per week, on average. This estimate includes everything, from your hotel accommodation to your meals, transportation. If you’re traveling with someone, that’s €1,357 for one week.

It’s quite expensive, yes.

Fortunately, there are ways to explore Madrid on a budget. From renting a bike to touring museums for free, shopping at the street markets, and dining at local restaurants, you can get so much more from Madrid for less!

Excited to learn some travel hacks to save money in Madrid?

Here we go:

1. Plan your tour

As with any travel adventure, the best way to save money is to plan ahead. If you want to take your Madrid vacation next year, you should start scouting for hotels and airlines at least 6 months before. The longer you prepare, the more you can find better deals.

It’s often best to work with a travel agency. They can arrange everything for you and ensure that your stay in Madrid will be smooth, fun-packed, and budget-friendly. Online travel agency MustGo, for example, can personalize your tour to Madrid and other parts of Spain.

2. Take advantage of free museums

You don’t always have to pay more to uncover the beautiful and rich culture and history of the Spaniards. Madrid has plenty of museums with free entrances. The Centro de Arte Reina Sofía where you can take a look at precious relics from the 1900s is free for evening admission from 7 pm to 9 pm on Mondays, and on Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Museo del Prado, which houses valuable art collections and masterpieces from famous artists, is open for free from 6 pm to 8 pm, Mondays through Saturdays. Meanwhile, Palacio Real – the official place of residence of the Spanish royal family – is open to visitors from 6 pm to 8 pm, daily.

3. Dine with the locals

If you want to taste the best of Spanish cuisine without breaking your bank, skip the high-end restaurants. Instead, dine with the locals at the small restaurants that are scattered around Madrid.

A popular food chain in the city, which offers hefty servings of food for €1, is the 100 Montaditos. Whether you’re in for a quick snack, a filling sandwich, or a big plate of tapas, they have everything to fill your hungry tummy. And yes, they serve beer too.

If you’d like to taste some of the best-tasting “arepas” (bread made of corn), “empanadas” (stuffed fried bread) and “cariada” (beef cheeks cooked in red wine), you can stop by at Bar Omaira. It’s a small restaurant located in the Madrid market. Their prices range from €5-10 euros per portion.

If you’re up for some drinks and cocktails, skip the rooftop bars and head to San Anton’s. They may not have the best city views but they offer bargain drinks prices, serving up wine for just €2.75 a glass.

4. Shop for souvenirs at the flea market

Your trip to Madrid is incomplete without shopping for souvenirs to give to your friends and loved ones back home. While the Spanish Capital has plenty of high-end shops and boutiques, you can save a lot of money by taking a trip to the street markets.

They have everything, from clothing items, handbags, decorative stuff, unique jewellery, and antiques so you’re likely to find the best gifts and souvenir items. El Rastro is the most popular flea market in Madrid. It’s held every Sunday and during public holidays.

5. Bike (or stroll) around the city

The best way to enjoy Madrid is by walking. Whether you only have one day in Madrid or an entire week, you can explore the city’s landmarks and sights, such as the plazas, markets, churches, and museums.

You can start your walking (or bike) tour at the Puerta del Sol – the central hub of Madrid. It’s where you’ll find the iconic clock tower and the square – a busy place filled with tourists, street performers, and businessmen. While traveling around the city don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes as there are many things to explore.

From there, you can head to the Plaza Mayor – a vibrant square enclosed by a three-story building with over 270 picturesque iron gated balconies. The perimeter is lined with cafes where you can enjoy a cup of coffee and tapas.

Then you can proceed to Mercado de San Miguel, an upscale marketplace where you’ll find an abundance of fresh produce, tasty delicacies, meat, and fish, and lots of good eats.

The cheapest way is to rent a bike and explore on your own. But guided bike tours of Madrid are actually one of the cheapest tours in the city, and a great way to learn a bit more while you’re exploring.

6. Relax at Madrid Parks

Madrid also boasts of beautiful parks and gardens that are worth the visit. They include the Retiro Park which was originally a “royal hangout” where garden plays and concerts are usually held.

Another stunning park is the Royal Botanical Gardens that features 30,000 species of plants. It has an entrance fee of €2-4. But children 10 years and below, as well as older people (65 years and up), are free to enter.

Casa de Campo, which is the biggest park in Madrid and is approximately five times the size of Central Park in New York City, is a popular spot for family picnics and biking.

Meanwhile, the family-friendly Parque Juan Carlos I where people can rent bikes, go picnicking and rollerblading, is the most modern park in Madrid.

Final Thoughts on Cheap Madrid Travel

Exploring Madrid on a budget is possible. With these tips and hacks, you can have a great time touring around this beautiful city without going home broke.

For more adventure ideas, check out our favourite wine tours near Madrid!

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