13 Amazing Free Things To Do In Madrid, Spain

The majority of travelers that visit Madrid are pleasantly surprised to find an array of activities that are both delightful and budget-friendly— meaning there’s no need to break the bank while visiting the Spanish capital.

Among Madrid’s dazzling collection of budget-friendly tourist attractions, you’ll find lush urban parks, lively squares, history-filled palaces, show-stopping sunset spots, and vibrant flea markets. Not to mention the city’s museums, which offer visitors free access on certain days and times.

Seeking to explore the Spanish capital without having to dig deep in your pocket? Then help is at hand with this thoughtful guide of the 12 best free things to do in Madrid. Bonus: X pro tips on how to save money while visiting the city. 

How to Visit Madrid on a Budget – 5 Tips to Save Money

  1. At lunch, choose the menú del día, Spain’s “menu of the day”;
  2. Rely on the city’s efficient and extensive public transportation system;
  3. Check out for the free days at museums;
  4. Find a cozy and budget-friendly place to stay in Madrid;
  5. Take a free walking tour of the city.

The 13 Best Free Things To Do in Madrid

Watch The Sunset At Temple Of Debod

Sunset at the Debod Temple, Madrid.

Built-in the south of Aswan, Egypt, in the 2nd-century BC, and donated to Spain in 1968, Templo de Debod is a special sight at any time of day. However, this stunning ancient temple becomes even more eye-popping at sunset, which is when the entire shrine’s structure and its surrounding gardens are fully illuminated by an orange-hued glow.

While you cannot access the interior of the temple, watching the sunset at the terrace is possible and free of charge!

Address: C. de Ferraz, 1

Recommended Read: Best Things To Do in Madrid, Spain

Marvel At Palacio de Cristal, in El Retiro Park

The Buen Retiro Park and the Crystal Palace

Parque del Retiro is the ultimate destination for locals and travelers who are seeking to relax beyond the bustling streets of Madrid. Spreading across 125 hectares, this lush city park is best known for being home to the 19th-century Glass Palace (Palacio de Cristal), one of the most striking examples of cast-iron architecture in Madrid. Standing majestically close to a small pond, the palace is nowadays used by the Reina Sofía Museum for temporary exhibitions.

El Retiro’s 15,000 trees, well-manicured gardens, whimsical fountains, and picture-perfect sculptures create the perfect backdrop for enjoying leisure strolls, or simply having a picnic shaded from the intense Mediterranean sun. And all that for free!

Address: Plaza de la Independencia, 7

Take In Madrid’s History In Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor, Spain

Strolling around Plaza Mayor is an unparalleled — and budget-friendly — way to absorb Madrid’s energy. Built during the reign of Philip III, and once the center of Old Madrid, the square is filled with not-to-be-missed cultural treasures.

At one end of Plaza Mayor you’ll find Casa de la Panadería. This historic building has once served as Madrid’s main bakery, and it features a striking façade covered by frescoes by artist Carolos Franco. At the opposite end, you’ll find the historic Casa de la Carnicería, rebuilt after the fire of 1631, and in the center of the square, there’s a majestic bronze statue of King Philip III.

Check Out The Architecture Of The Almudena Cathedral

Sunset view of Madrid Cathedral Santa Maria la Real de La Almudena in Madrid, Spain

The Almudena Cathedral is, by far, Madrid’s most treasured religious building. Originally intended as a pantheon for Queen María de las Mercedes, the wife of Alfonso XII, the cathedral was designed by Francisco de Cubas (who became Marquis of Cubas later), who took inspiration from the Gothic-style cathedrals of Chartres and Reims, in France.

With the death of Cubas, in 1899, there was a major setback for the progress of the work, and the cathedral was completed more than 100 later, in 1993, when it was also consecrated by Pope John Paul II.

In total, six architects took part in the construction of Almudena, meaning that the cathedral showcases an intriguing diversity of styles — from Baroque to Neo-Gothic and Neo-Romantic.

You can explore the cathedral’s interior, which dazzles visitors with its colorful stained-glass windows, for free. There’s also an eye-opening crypt displaying over 500 columns, as well as a museum that houses effigies of the city’s patron saints, but you’d have to pay an entrance fee of € 6.

Address: C. de Bailén, 10

Visit Madrid Museums On Free Days

The Prado Museum facade.

Madrid has a well-rounded museum scene that is guaranteed to keep the most voracious culture vultures and art lovers happy for weeks.

Fortunately, most of Madrid’s best museums, including Museo del Prado Prado and the Reina Sofia Museum, have an afternoon or evening each week when entry is free. 

Dreaming of marveling at some of the world’s finest collections of art, archaeology, and furniture for free? Then check out this list of Madrid museums that offer visitors complimentary access.

Museums With Free Access In Madrid:

Museo Nacional del Prado: Monday to Saturday, from 6 PM to 8 PM | Sundays and holidays, from 5 PM to 7 PM

Reina Sofia Museum: Monday 7 am to 9 00 pm | Wednesday to Saturday 7 to 9 pm | Sunday 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm | Holidays April 18, May 18, and October 12

Museo Lázaro Galdiano: Tuesday to Sunday from 2 pm to 3 pm for all visitors | Children under the age of 12

Cerralbo Museum: Saturdays from 2 pm | Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm | Every Sunday

Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas: Sundays and Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm | Saturdays from 2 pm to 3 pm

Museo del Romanticismo: Saturdays after 2 pm and Sundays

CaixaForum Madrid: May 15, May 18, November 9

Go Antique Hunting In El Rastro Flea Market

 People at the famous El Rastro market in the La Latina in central Madrid.

There is just incredible bustling energy that immediately captivates visitors that stop by El Rastro, the largest and most popular open-air flea market in Madrid. Held every Sunday in the vicinity of Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores, in the La Latina neighborhood, the market features a vibrant patchwork of over 700 stalls where you’ll find everything from clothing and accessories to kitchenware and artisanal goods.

Visited by jostling crowds of locals and tourists alike, the sprawling El Rastro is a prime location for not only finding antiques at bargain prices but also for taking in Madrid’s lively energy. Plus, the market is also a great destination for taking Insta-worthy pictures!

Address: Pl. del Campillo del Mundo Nuevo, 28005

Admire The Stunning Architecture Of The Cibeles Palace

Cibeles Fountain in Madrid, Spain

Nestled in the monumental Plaza de Cibeles, Palacio de Cibeles is one of Madrid’s most striking architecture marvels. The building was designed by Antonio Palacios and Joaquín Otamendi, and was once the city’s Communication Palace, harboring Madrid’s main post office and telegraph/telephone headquarters. Now, it serves as Madrid Town Hall, and it’s occupied by the city council.

Known for its Neoplateresque façade and Baroque Salamanca evocations, Palacio de Cibeles is divided into different spaces where cultural activities are held, aside from a viewpoint from where you can truly witness Madrid in all of its glory.

Free entry: first Wed of the month and 2 and 15 May and 12 Oct

Address: Plazade la Cibeles, 128014

Have a Scenic Picnic At Quinta de los Molinos Park

People walking or resting in the public park called Quinta de los Molinos with the almond trees in bloom in Madrid, Spain

Those hailing from concrete jungles can’t pass up the chance to visit Quinta de los Molinos. Located in the east of Madrid, this hidden-gem park is punctuated by a medley of trees, including olive, pine, and eucalyptus.

Between February and March, stunning almonds trees blossom in the park, providing visitors with the most gorgeous setting for an afternoon picnic or a casual stroll.

Address: C. de Alcalá, 527

Learn About The Spanish History At The Royal Palace of Madrid

The Royal Palace Madrid

The Royal Palace of Madrid bears signs of the rich history of Spain. Built in the mid-1700s for King Philip V, the palace served as the home to several Spanish monarchs, the first being the infamous Charles III, and the last Alfonso XIII, in 1931, when the monarchy was abolished. It is still the official residence for the Spanish Royal Family, although just used for official ceremonies.

With over 135,000 square meters and 3,418 rooms, this majestic Baroque and Neoclassical palace is home to a dazzling array of historical treasures. These include the Royal Armoury — the largest in Europe along with the Vienna one  —, gorgeous frescoes, and masterpieces by Goya, Caravaggio, and Velázquez.

It’s possible to visit the palace for free from Monday to Thursday (4:00 pm to 6 pm), and also witness the spectacular changing of the guard every at no cost! The event, which features parading troops dressed in uniforms of the Royal Guard, takes place every Wednesday and Saturday in the  Armoury Square from 11 am to 2 pm.

Address: C. de Bailén

Visit The Casa de Campo Park To Escape Madrid’s Hustle and Bustle

The Casa de Campo park in Madrid, Spain

While “El Retiro” is Madrid best known public park, there are other idyllic green spaces that are worth visiting in the city. Casa de Campo, for instance, treats visitors to 1535,52 hectares of holm oaks, pines, and verdant rolling hills, making it the largest public park in the city.

Aside from bountiful fauna and flora and plenty of spaces to relax, Casa de Campo also features a plethora of family-friendly attractions, including the Madrid Zoo, and the Parque de Atracciones amusement park.

Address: P.º de la Puerta del Ángel, 1

Tour The Fascinating Casa de Lope de Vega Museum

Lope de Vega’s workroom in the Lope de Vega House Museum.

This fascinating museum will take you on a journey through Lope de Vega’s private universe. Set within the 16th-century house where the “golden age” writer lived from 1610 until his death, in 1635, the museum plays host to a collection of objects, such as furniture and paintings, that once belonged to De Vega.

During the tour, visitors will have a sneak peek of the recovered that the writer used back in the 17th-century, including the studio, the oratory, as well as the back garden.

The entrance to the museum is free.

Address: Calle de Cervantes, 11

Go For A Lovely Stroll Along The Gran Via

The Gran Via, in Madrid, Spain.

One of the best free things to do in Madrid is going for a lovely stroll along the Gran Via — aka the city’s most famous street. Built between 1910 and 1929, this bustling thoroughfare is lined with an array of bars where both madrileños and visitors go for a casual night out. 

The Gran Via is also dotted with a range of big-name stores, making it one of Madrid’s most tempting shopping streets.

While walking down this bustling street, you’ll get to experience the cities’ vibrant atmosphere, aside from spotting one of Madrid’s most iconic constructions: the Metropolis Building (Edificio Metrópolis) with its postcard-worthy Schweppes sign.

Catch A Glimpse Of The Rose Garden In Parque del Oeste

Parque del Oeste Rose Garden, Madrid, Spain.

Gloriously nested in the Oeste Park, in the heart of the city, the Rose Garden is one of Madrid’s most dreamy destinations. This idyllic garden was designed in 1955 by Ramón Ortiz, who was Madrid City Council’s head gardener, and it features around 20,000 specimens of 600 different varieties of modern rosebushes.

The garden was awarded the “Garden Excellence Award” granted by the World Federation of Rose Societies, in 2006, and it’s often considered one of the most spectacular rose gardens in the world.

Address: Calle de la Rosaleda, 128008

FAQ

How much money do you need per day in Madrid?

You should plan to spend between €107 to €115 per day on your vacation in Madrid.

Are museums free in Madrid?

Several major museums in Madrid, including the Prado Museum and Reina Sofia, offer visitors free access on certain days of the week.

What can you do in Madrid for free?

The 13 best free things to do in Madrid:

  • Watch The Sunset At Temple Of Debod;
  • Marvel At Palacio de Cristal, in El Retiro Park;
  • Take In Madrid’s History In Plaza Mayor;
  • Check Out The Architecture Of The Almudena Cathedral;
  • Visit Madrid Museums On Free Days;
  • Go Antique Hunting In El Rastro Flea Market;
  • Admire The Stunning Architecture Of The Cibeles Palace;
  • Have a Scenic Picnic At Quinta de los Molinos Park;
  • Learn About The Spanish History At The Royal Palace of Madrid;
  • Visit The Casa de Campo Park To Escape Madrid’s Hustle and Bustle;
  • Tour The Fascinating Casa de Lope de Vega Museum;
  • Go For A Lovely Stroll Along The Gran Via;
  • Catch A Glimpse Of The Rose Garden In Parque del Oeste.

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