17 things to do for free in Madrid

Inside the Crystal Palace, in Retiro Park - Madrid, Spain (95)

17 things to do for free in Madrid

The best things in life are free as the old adage goes and we here at HitchHikers Handbook live and die by it. Here are our 17 things to do for free in Madrid and still leaving with some cash in your pockets.

Street performers getting ready, taken on Main square - Madrid, Spain (13), 17 things to do for free in Madrid

1. The Templo de Debod (Temple of Debod) (Paseo del Pintor Rosales, 2) is an ancient Egyptian temple that was relocated and rebuilt in Madrid in the 20th century as a token of gratitude for the help provided by Spain in saving the temples of Abu Simbel. It can be found to the north of the city centre near the Pio Principal train station.

2. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Queen Sofía Museum) (Calle de Santa Isabel, 52), home to some of Dalί and Picasso’s greatest works, is Free on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturdays 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

3. Plaza de España (Spain square) is one of Madrid’s best known squares and contains a stone sculpture of Cervantes, overlooking bronze sculptures of his two most famous creations Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

4. Museo Nacional del Prado (Prado Museum) (Paseo del Prado, s/n) arguable the greatest art gallery in the world is Free to all 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. from Monday – Saturday and 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. on Sundays. The queue is always huge so start queueing up an hour before.

5. Take a stroll or scramble depending on the time of day down Gran Via, which contains some of Madrid’s most grandiose buildings and a showcase of early 20th-century architecture, with designs ranging from Vienna Secession style to Plateresque, and Neo-Mudéjar to Art Deco.

6. Palacio Real (Madrid’s Royal Palace) (Calle Bailén, s/n) is the official residence of the Spanish Royal family, and is the largest palace in Europe by floor area. It Free from Oct – Mar: Mon – Thu: 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. and Apr – Sep: Mon – Thu: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

7. If you happen to find yourself at Estación de Madrid Atocha (Atocha Railway Station) waiting for a train. Pass the time by checking out the tropical garden dominating the interior plaza, noting some of the thousands of different species and even an inhabited pond.

8. Museo Taurino (Bullfighting Museum) (Calle de Alcalá, 237), the city’s bullfighting museum is located in the arena and never charges a price. Be warned, not one for vegetarians, small children or the squeamish.

9. Take a stroll through El Parque del Buen Retiro (Buen Retiro Park) which is a lovely place to spend an afternoon. Also be sure to visit the Crystal Palace as well, a free exhibition hall that is by far the most interesting structure in the park

10. The quirky Anden 0 is spread across two sites: the old Chamberí station (Plaza de Chamberí) and the Nave de motores (Valderrribas, 49) and offers an interesting insight into the history of the Madrid as seen through its Metro system. It is open on Friday-Saturday-Sunday and is Free to all. Thanks to Andrea B for helping with this information.

11. The Espacio Conde Duque (Calle del Conde Duque, 9-11) was once a former army barracks but is now contains a number of weird and interesting things, including a contemporary art museum, the city archives as well as libraries of newspapers, history and music. There are also frequent live music concerts in its courtyards.

12. Plaza Mayor (Main square) is Madrid’s best looking square and although nowadays the square is lined with extremely expensive cafés it is still a lovely place for a sit down.

13. The Museo Arqueológico Nacional (National Archaeology Museum) (Calle Serrano 13), is affectionately known as M.A.N. and is Free Saturday afternoons and all day on Sunday. Highlights include a replica of the sprehistoric Altamira cave paintings; an elaborate astrolabe from 11th century Islamic Spain found in Toledo, a Visigoth votive crowns, and many other interesting items.

Inside the Crystal Palace, in Retiro Park - Madrid, Spain (95), 17 things to do for free in Madrid

14. El Rastro market (Calle Ribera de Curtidores) is the largest open air flee market in Spain and is held every Sunday morning and public holiday and runs from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. There are over 3000 stalls and all manner of items of sale.

15. The Museo de América (Museum of America) (Av Reyes Católicos, 6) contains over 25,000 pre-Columbian, ethnographic, archaeological, and colonial objects, tracing the history of Spain’s turbulent relationship with the American continent from its discovery to the contemporary era. Admission is Free every Sunday.

16. Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida (Royal Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida) (Glorieta de San Antonio de la Florida, s/n) is one of the lesser known treasures of Madrid and is best known for its ceiling and dome frescoes painted by the Spanish artist Goya.

17. You can visit the Congreso de Diputados (Congress of Deputies) (C/Floridablanca s/n), which is the lower house of the Spanish Cortes (Government), on Saturday mornings. Just make sure you are there at 10 a.m., no need for a reservation.

written by: Jon

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6 comments

  • Lovely collection indeed! My favourites were the Reina Sofia, el Rastro and the marvellous Retiro. Not sure if this still the case but every (I think it was) Sunday evening there are a bunch of people meeting at the half circle monument with drums and create sort of a “bongo jam” with plenty of people dancing and having a great time… Excellent vibe and highly recommended!

  • Great list as usual guys! We had a blast doing most of the things you listed here. Madrid was definitely one of our favorite places in Spain. One place we really enjoyed that’s not on your list was the Mercado San Miguel. It is the oldest remaining iron market and has been turned into a foodie paradise. It’s free to enter, but unless you’re stuffed and have the restraint of a Buddhist monk you won’t be leaving without buying something! Thanks for sharing.

  • Hi! nice list, thanks! I think the information for Andén 0 is a little confusing…
    Andén 0 includes two different spaces (they don’t hold the title of ‘museum’), the old Chamberí station (located at Plaza de Chamberí) and the Nave de motores (not a metro station, located near Pacífico metro station). They are only open on Friday-Saturday-Sunday, a better link for information should be this one: http://www.metromadrid.es/es/viaja_en_metro/anden_0/index.html

    • Hey Andrea, Thanks a lot for getting in touch. We have updated the information with your suggestions. Thanks again and please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you notice anything else. We aim to please :)