Each sight on this page should cost less than 5€ to get in - and much of what you see here is completely free of charge!
Madrid on a Budget - Food and Lodging
First of all, let's get the essentials out of the way. You need somewhere to sleep and something to eat.
Note that the accommodation and food will cost you more than 5€.
Madrid Budget Accommodations
If you want a cheap place to sleep, consider a backpackers hostel. They're not the barebones places they were in the 1970s and they're no longer just for the young. If you pay a little more (but still far less than a room in an expensive hotel) you can get a small room with just a couple of other guests. And most hostels have lockers for you to put your valuables, so you don't have to worry about security either.
Finding Inexpensive Food
To eat well on a budget, eat like the Spanish do. So that's a coffee and a pastry at the bar for breakfast (about 2€) followed by a large lunch (for around 10€).
Then in the evening, you can try one of the lighter options mentioned later in this article.
Go for a Walk!
Walking is free, and walking around Madrid is one of the best things you can do. But many visitors to the city are unsure of where to go. Madrid doesn't have the obvious sights that, say, Barcelona has. But that doesn't mean they're not there!
- Puerta del Sol - The heart of Spain.
- Plaza España - A tree-lined plaza surrounded by the oldest skyscrapers in Spain.
- Gran Via - Madrid's most famous boulevard.
- Post Office - Madrid's most beautiful building?
- Templo de Debod - A genuine Egyptian temple in the center of Madrid!
- Plaza Mayor - Madrid's grandest plaza.
- Plaza Oriente - The plaza in front of the royal palace. Stop for coffee here.
- Arab Wall (Muralla Arabe) - The oldest remains in Madrid.
- Plaza Paja - Formerly Spain's most important plaza.
- Calle Segovia - Some nice restaurants and the impressive viaduct.
- Plaza de Santa Ana - Ernest Hemingway's haunt.
- Calle Huertas - Jazz cafes and street musicians.
- Cervantes House - Where author Miguel de Cervantes is thought to have died.
- Parque de Retiro - Madrid's most famous park
- Lake - A lake in the Casa de Campo park. Not to be confused with the lake in the Retiro.
- Window Shopping on Calle Serrano - Buying anything here will break the bank - but looking won't.
If in doubt, go to a museum. Though museums are often the default choice for people who visit a city but don't know what to do, Madrid has some excellent museums that are well worth checking out. All of the museums on this page cost under five euros to get in (prices as of August 2018) while many are free (at least some of the time).
- Reina Sofia - Modern art museum. Free every evening after 7 pm (except Tuesdays).
- Museo del Prado - Spain's most famous art museum. Free every evening after 6 pm and Sundays after 5 pm.
- Contemporary Art Museum - Free.
- CaixaForum - Modern art museum, 4 euros.
- Metro Museum - This disused metro station is now a free museum.
- Blind Museum - Free entry.
- Casa Encendida - Free entry exhibition space with inexpensive concerts and films (3-5 euros).
- Telecommunications Museum - Free entry.
- Museo de San Isidro - History of Madrid. Free entry.
- Archeology Museum - 3 euros, free Saturday after 2 pm and Sunday mornings.
- Museo Lazaro - Private art collection. Free after 3:30 (closes at 4:30).
- Sculpture Museum - Free entry.
- Book Museum and National Library - Free entry.
- Planetarium - Entry is under five euros.
- Transport Museums - Each one (air, railway and navy) are under 5 euros to enter, except for the railway museum which is 6 euros Monday-Friday.
- Museo de las Americas - Three euros for entry to this museum about the colonization of the Americas. Free on Sundays.
Madrid has no Sagrada Familia, but it does have these great churches:
- Convento de Descalzos - About five euros to get in. Features a famous art collection.
- Madrid's Cathedral - Free entry.
- Basilica de San Francisco - Three euros entry.
- Iglesia de San Andres - Free entry.
Go to a Cafe
Spain has a strong cafe culture. Whether it's a traditional cafe with a cafe con leche at the bar or a milkshake in a funky modern place, everyone in Spain goes out to cafes. Cafes in Madrid are where you'll find the real Spain - in all its forms. So where better for someone on a tight budget to spend a little time during their trip to Madrid?
- Cafes on Calle Espiritu Santu - Retro La Lolina or the very social J6J English bookshop and cafe. Coffee for under two euros.
- Cafe Commercial - One of the most famous cafes in Spain. Coffee for under two euros.
- Moroccan Teahouses - More than just mint tea - sample one of dozens of spiced teas for about three euros.
- Cafe Barbieri - Classical music and the best cafe bonbon in Madrid!
Get a Bite to Eat
If you've followed the earlier advice and had a large lunch (when it's cheaper), you'll be able to get by with something small for dinner. And that's what tapas was invented for! Here are some great options for tapas and other light snacks that should keep you under 5 euros:
- Casa Labra - Try a small beer and cod croquettes.
- Casa de las Torrijas - Spanish bread pudding and a glass of sweet Spanish wine.
- Casa Granada - Madrid's best-hidden bar.
- Chocolateria de San Gines - The best chocolate con churros in Spain (and you’ll probably want to share one between two anyway)
- Calamares Sandwich at El Brillante - Spain is famous for its calamare, but unfortunately, it's often hours-old and soggy. Not here! Big enough to share.
- El Tigre - The cheapest tapas in Spain? Get a beer and three (or four(!) tapas.
- El Magister - Beer brewed on site and a free tapa with every drink.
When You've Done All That...
A few less categorizable sights for you:
- Royal Palace - The Royal Palace has free entry Monday - Thursday evenings (only for EU citizens).
- Rastro - Madrid's most famous flea market is a great way to spend a Sunday morning.
- Botanical Gardens - About 4 euros entry.
- Atocha Train Station - More than just a transport hub - there's tropical garden (complete with terrapins) and a moving tribute to victims of the 2004 terrorist attack.
- Cable Car - Under a fiver to get you from central Madrid to the Casa del Campo park.
- "Faro" Look-Out Point - 3 euros to ride up this "lighthouse" to get a good view of the city.
You've had a long day! But if you still have energy, why not sample Madrid's famous nightlife?
- La Solea - Free flamenco in an informal setting (as it should be). Just buy a drink.
- Via Lactea - A truly iconic bar, with beers for about three euros.
- Diplodocus Bar - HUGE drinks. Share one among friends and you'll be drunk for five euros!
- Bars on Calle Ave Maria - A pleasant street in Lavapies with some nice bars.