Free Madrid | 12 Free Things To Do In The Spanish Capital!

Mirador del Palacio de Cibeles | www.rtwgirl.com

Regardless of your budget, it’s always awesome finding free things to do when you travel. Why wouldn’t you want to save some money and apply those said savings say to some sangria or cañas instead? Over the last few years, I have been spending quite a bit of time in Madrid since my brother and his wife moved there from Canada. Since I spend a few months in the Spanish capital every year, I thought I would share my favourite free Madrid things to do!

Read more: The Best Itinerary For Madrid If You Only Have 24 Hours

Originally published in 2017. Republished and edited for any corrections.

1. Retiro Park

Do you love the outdoors? I do! Even if you don’t, Retiro Park is beautiful and worth the visit. It is very close to the Prado Museum and other popular attractions so definitely squeeze in a visit.

My family lives in the Salamanca neighbourhood and just a few blocks from Retiro so I was very lucky to be close to Retiro Park. I went on my first day in Madrid and walked by it or through it almost daily. I also ran through the park to get some exercise and spent many days here just relaxing. It’s a definite must when visiting and not to mention it’s free! You’ll not only see other travellers exploring but locals enjoying this beautiful park. It’s one of my favourites in the world.

Retiro Park | rtwgirl
Retiro Park | rtwgirl

Palacio de Cristal | www.rtwgirl.com

Don’t forget to find Palacio de Cristal inside Retiro

Palacio de Cristal | rtwgirl

Checking out a new exhibit within Palacio de Cristal

**Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. There is no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, I may make a commission.**

MORE TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES

HELPFUL GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS

  • Flights: Find a cheap flight using Skyscanner or Momondo. I like these two booking sites because they both search all websites and airlines around the globe including budget airlines.
  • Accommodations: I use Booking.com or Tripadvisor to find the best rates on hotels. Hotels.com offers a free night after booking 10 nights.
  • Get up to $40 off your first Air Bnb stay by using this code!
  • Travel Insurance: Having gotten sick on my travels in the past, I never travel without being insured. You never know when something may happen. For my round the world trip and extended long-term travel, I use World Nomads. For other trips, I have used Roam Right and they cover activities like extreme sports.

Look up the best hotel rates with cancellation for Madrid here:


Booking.com

 
2. Plaza Mayor

A central plaza in the city built during the 15th century, here you will often find markets and special events. When I went here 5 years ago, there was a jamon festival! During Christmas time you’ll find a Christmas market with vendors selling everything from toys, gifts, and even trees.

Plaza Mayor | www.rtwgirl.com

3. Puerta Del Sol

Puerta Del Sol is another central plaza in Madrid not too far from Plaza Mayor. This is considered to be the starting point of the network of the roads in Spain. I often came here to meet friends or just people watch as well as shop at the big El Corte Ingles. 

Puerta del Sol | www.rtwgirl.com

Puerta del Sol | rtwgirl

A massive Christmas tree in Puerta del Sol during Christmas

Read more: The Best Markets In Madrid

4. Free Madrid Museums 

One of my favourite things about Madrid is that there are tons of museums and many of them have free times where admission is complimentary. Reina Sofia and the Prado have free hours daily but many of the other museums have a free day at least once a month if not once a week! Check museum websites for more info!

Reina Sofia | www.rtwgirl.com

Photo credit: Flickr

Museo Thyssen-Bornemizsa | rtwgirl
5. Gran Via

Visit this popular main drag for shopping and restaurants and beautiful buildings.

Gran Via Madrid | rtwgirl

I love this building

Gran Via - Free Madrid | rtwgirl
Gran Via Hotel Atlantico | rtwgirl

I also love this building when it’s lit up at night

6. Templo de Debod

Very close to the Royal Palace of Madrid is Templo de Debod. It is an ancient Egyptian temple that was given to Spain as a thank you when they helped Egypt save temples when the Aswan dam was being built. The temples were dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid.

I love how they look as the sun is setting. Photos of them on social media look like there is no one there but there are big crowds here all the time.

Templo de Debod - Free Madrid | rtwgirl
7. Madrid Rio 

I had seen photos of a really cool bridge on social media so one day I decided to get on the Metro and find it. I was pretty stoked to find Parque de la Arganzuela. There were lots of areas for kids to play, pitches to play futbol, places to skateboard and ride bicycles or run. There is also an area called the Matadero which used to be a slaughterhouse that has now been turned into a cultural center with galleries, restaurants, and more.

Madrid Arganzuela Footbridge - Free Madrid

Futuristic vibes at Arganzuela footbridge

Matadero Madrid

Went to Matadero when they were having a monthly market and food truck festival

Matadero Madrid | rtwgirl

An art installation at the Matadero

8. El Rastro

Every Sunday and public holiday is El Rastro which is an outdoor open-air flea market. Vendors sell things new and used. I just came here to see what was happening but if you’re a shopaholic, you may be tempted to drop some Euros.

El Rastro | www.rtwgirl.com

El Rastro | rtwgirl
9. Palacio de Cibeles

This gorgeous building used to be the Palace of Communications but now houses Madrid City Council and a cultural center called CentroCentro. On the second floor, you’ll find tourist information and correct me if I’m wrong but free wifi and couches! On top of the building is a viewpoint that is free on the first Wednesday of the month. Free Madrid views!! Can’t beat that!

Palacio de Cibeles

Mirador del Palacio de Cibeles | rtwgirl

View from the Mirador

Mirador del Palacio de Cibeles - Free Madrid

A different view from the Mirador

10. Casa de Campo

Casa de Campo is the biggest park in Madrid. It used to be a royal hunting estate and is located “behind” the palace. There’s a lake within the park along with an amusement park, trails, cafes, and restaurants. If you’re a runner, it’s a great place to go for a run.

Lago de Casa de Campo - Free Madrid

11. Sandemans Free Walking Tour

Who doesn’t love a free tour!? I did the Sandeman’s Free Madrid Walking Tour during my round the world trip in 2011. The tour is complimentary but it’s always suggested to give their excellent tour guides a nice tip!
Sandemans Free Madrid Walking Tour

Our Sandeman’s tour guide and group in front of Palacio Real

12. Explore different neighbourhoods 

I stayed in Salamanca which is a bit ritzy but I also loved Malasaña and Lavapies. There are so many different neighbourhoods in Madrid and each has its own vibe. I love experiencing things like the locals like going to a neighbourhood bar to eat tapas and have drinks!

Malasana | rtwgirl
Malasana

And there you have it!! 12 of my favourite free Madrid things to do!! Do you have any suggestions that are not on my list?! Please leave them for me in the comments and I’ll be sure to visit them the next time I’m in the capital!

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12 Things To Do In Madrid, Spain That Are Free | rtwgirl

**Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. There is no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, I may make a commission.**

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