Free Things To Do In Madrid This Weekend

December 29, 2020

The Spanish capital is without a doubt one of the best cities to visit in Europe. Travellers can engage with the city’s café culture, sample some of the world’s greatest works of art at the Prado or watch one of the most iconic football teams on the planet, Real Madrid, strut their stuff at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. But there are also many ways to get the most out of Madrid without breaking the bank. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best things you can do in Madrid for free.

If you've got the time to spare, why not try out one of these top 10 day trips from Madrid, or check out our top tips for tapas or paella while you're in town.

1. Stroll through El Retiro Park

el retiro park

Top of the list of the best free things to do in Madrid is a walk through El Ritero Park. One of the city’s most popular green spaces, visitors to El Retiro Park can enjoy a picnic, take to the lake on a rowing boat or check out some of the sculptures and monuments to be found in the park, such as the monument dedicated to Alfonso XII.

2. Visit the Plaza Mayor

Madrid’s main square is a great place to start if you haven’t visited the city before. The quaint cobbled square is surrounded by wonderful architecture and dainty cafes, where you can while away the hours people watching and tuck into some local tapas or a traditional calamari sandwich if you choose.

3. See the Cathedral

You have to pay to go inside the Almudena Cathedral, but they can’t stop you from looking! Madrid’s main cathedral is a relatively new building, opened by the Pope in 1993, and it’s Baroque architecture is a beautiful sight to behold. You can wander around the entire building for free, enjoying marvelous views of the structure.

4. Visit a museum

A secret you should be aware of if visiting Madrid on a budget is that you can get into some of the city’s museums for free on a Sunday, and occasionally during the week. Sites including the Prado art gallery and the Museo Nacional Centro del Reina Sofia have different hours during the week when entrance fees are waived. Timings vary, so do some research before you travel to make the most out of this generosity.

5. Admire the Templo de Debod

An Egyptian temple probably isn’t top of your list when visiting the Spanish capital, but the Templo de Debod was gifted to Spain from Egypt in 1968 and was then painstakingly moved to the Parque de Oeste in Madrid. The temple is free to enter and close to other attractions including the Cathedral and Royal Palace.

6. See the sights at Parque Europa

In the suburb of Torrejon de Ardoz, just a few kilometres outside the city centre, one can find Parque Europa. The drawcards for this particular park are the giant replicas of famous European landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, Tower Bridge and the Trevi Fountain. A journey through Europe without leaving the Spanish capital!

7. Enjoy the smells of the Mercado de San Miguel

One of the city’s largest markets, Mercado de San Miguel sells an array of delicious cheeses, joints of meat and fresh seafood. But if you’re on a budget and not in the mood for a giant leg of ham then you can simply enjoy a wander – the market is one of the most atmospheric places to visit in the entire city. BE sure to stop by Paella by Rodrigo de la Calle, one of favourite places to try Paella in Madrid.

8. Check your emails in the Palacio de Cibeles

A stunning white building in the city centre, the Palacio de Cibeles was once the city post office and is now the home of the mayor’s office. It is open to the public, with a stunning rooftop terrace and an area reserved for visitors on the ground floor. The Centro Cultural features sofas, tables and free Wi-Fi, where visitors can relax with a coffee or catch up on their emails, all in a very special setting.

9. Take a stroll along the river

A newly reopened river walk along the Manzanares river is a great way to spend a cheap afternoon in Madrid. Beautiful scenery, a pleasant atmosphere and even a beach provide plenty of entertainment for adults and children alike, with 17 different play areas along the walk.

10. Watch the sunset from Cerro del Tio Pio

Another of Madrid’s attractive green spaces, Cerro del Tio Pio is one of the best places to enjoy a Spanish sunset. The site is known affectionately as the one with “Seven Tits” (excuse my language), because of the hilly ground where the park is found. Sitting at the top of one of these peaks with a bottle of wine is a great and cheap way to round off a day exploring the city.

There you have it. Madrid is home to numerous attractions, and it is easy to spend a fortune in the city’s high end restaurants, expensive theatres and fascinating museums. But there is another way to do it, many of the city’s attractions are free to explore (at least some of the time), and there are numerous ways to enjoy Madrid without spending too much money.

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