With over 6 million tourists visiting Madrid each year, the capital of Spain is one of the most visited cities in Europe.

Its central location makes it a great base for traveling to other cities in Spain such as Barcelona, Sevilla, Malaga, Valencia, Pamplona, Bilbao, and many others.

The Spanish capital also has plenty of beautiful and free places to explore.

Travelers visiting Madrid on a budget should know that most of its landmarks are free to the public, free for students, or may cost a small fee.

Let’s take a look at these 10 amazing places to see in Madrid on a budget.


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Visit Madrid on a Budget

Did you know you can explore Madrid’s cultural landmarks, museums, and art galleries without spending a fortune?

There’s no need to purchase expensive tickets when many of Madrid’s iconic attractions are free of charge.

Plus, Madrid’s gastronomical scene offers fantastic meals at an inexpensive cost. With delicious and affordable tapas, sandwiches, and a variety of traditional Spanish dishes, foodies won’t find it hard to dine well without breaking their budget.

All in all, Madrid is an economical and enjoyable destination for a budget vacation.

10. Temple of Debod

Debod Temple, and Egyptian temple in Madrid
The Temple of Debod is open from 10 am to 7:30 pm

Are you looking for ancient ruins in the capital of Spain? Just a few steps from Madrid’s Plaza de España, you’ll find an authentic Egyptian temple. The Temple of Debod is a second-century B.C. Egyptian temple located in the Cuartel de la Montaña Park.

In 1968, the Egyptian government gave the temple as a gift to the city of Madrid to save it from the threat of the Aswan High Dam. It was later rebuilt stone by stone in its current location near the Royal Palace. 

Temple of Debod - Top Places to See in Madrid
Temple of Debod at night

At the Temple of Debod, you can experience Egyptian art, history, and architecture in a beautiful park setting. In fact, some of the best views are at sunset when the sun creates a magical spectacle illuminating the temple.

Cost: Free to the public

How to get there: Metro Plaza de España, Metro Príncipe Pío

9. Gran Vía, Madrid

Gran Via Madrid
Gran Vía Madrid

If you’re looking for a bustling and exciting street to explore during your visit to Madrid, look no further than Gran Vía.

With a history dating back over a hundred years, this avenue is one of the most famous and popular in all of Spain. You’ll find countless shops, restaurants, and entertainment options as you wander along its sidewalks.

Take a stroll down the street, and you will find popular Spanish brands such as Stradivarius, Zara, and Berksha. Book lovers will love La Casa del Libro, a bookstore that is almost 100 years old and offers a wide variety of fiction, non-fiction, and academic books in multiple languages.

Foodies will also love all the restaurants, coffee shops, and terrazas (outdoor seating) available on this buzzing street. Many Madrid hotels and hostels are located in the area as well, making it a convenient choice for your visit.

Just don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll want to spend all day exploring this amazing street.

Also, you can easily walk to other Madrid highlights like the Fountain Cibeles, Alcalá Street, Plaza Mayor, and San Miguel Market from Gran Vía.

So, take a stroll or grab a bike to explore Gran Vía and nearby places. Whether you join a free walking tour of Madrid or create your own walk, you won’t be disappointed by the magic of Madrid city life.

Cost: Free

How to get there: Metro Gran Vía

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FREE Madrid Walking Tours:

8. Casa de Campo

Casa de Campo  - Top Places to See in Madrid
Casa de Campo Madrid

Covering 4,257 acres, which is about 5 times the size of Central Park in New York, Casa de Campo (Country House) is considered Madrid’s largest park.

Its history dates back to the mid-16th century when King Phillip II moved his court to Madrid. Interestingly, it was used by the royal family until the 1930s when it was opened to the public.

Fast forward to 2023, and Casa de Campo has become one of the most popular places in Madrid for outdoor and leisure activities. In fact, you’ll find an amusement park, the Madrid Zoo and Aquarium, the Madrid Arena, and conference centers.

In the mood for Spanish tapas and drinks? There are plenty of bars and restaurants surrounding the lake. While some of these activities require a small fee, the park itself is free to the public.

So go ahead and rent a kayak, go for a bike ride, play some tennis, or go for a swim at the large public pool. The options at Madrid’s Casa de Campo are endless!

Cost: Free to the public (5 EUR for pool access)

How to get there: Metro Batán, Metro Casa de Campo, Metro Lago, Metro Puerta del Ángel

7. Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Plaza Mayor in Madrid
Phillip III Statue in the center of Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor is a vibrant square in the heart of Madrid featuring stunning architecture, a variety of restaurants, and a multitude of shops.

Opened in 1620, Madrid’s Plaza Mayor used to be a marketplace and the main site for historical events. It is now a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

Known for its lively atmosphere, the Plaza serves as a meeting place for people from all walks of life. It is a place for celebration, connection, and enjoyment.

Whether soaking in the beautiful architecture or laughing with friends over coffee or a meal, Plaza Mayor is one of the top things to do when visiting Madrid. This beautiful place is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Cost: Free to the public

How to get there: Metro Opera and Puerta del Sol

6. Royal Palace

Royal Palace Madrid - Best Places to See in Madrid
Royal Palace Madrid

Did you know the Royal Palace in Madrid is the largest palace in Western Europe?

Completed in 1755, the Royal Palace in Madrid was the residence of Kings and Queens until 1931 when King Alfonso III left Spain to avoid a civil war.

Nowadays, the Royal Palace is no longer the home of the royal family. However, it is still considered their official residence.

With over 3,000 rooms and over 1,450,000 sq. ft, the Royal Palace is used for state and cultural events. It is also open for public tours.

Each covered area is decorated with uniquely crafted wood carvings, frescoes, tapestries, and artwork, with the majority of the Palace’s artworks originating from the Royal Collection.

The Royal Palace is a must-see sight for tourists in Madrid, showcasing the grandeur and prestige of Spain’s royal family. From its architectural grandeur to its cultural heritage, the Royal Palace is a place of magnificence and beauty that will leave an everlasting impression on its visitors.


  • Entry to visit the Royal Palace is FREE for EU and IberoAmerican citizens/residents Monday-Thursday 5 pm-7 pm.
  • Students up to 25 years of age are offered a reduced rate between 6-7 per person.
  • Regular tickets cost between 12-13 per person.

How to get there: Metro Plaza de España, Metro Ópera

5. Almudena Cathedral

Almuneda Cathedral
Almudena Cathedral

Next to the Royal Palace, you will find the Almudena Cathedral. The Cathedral’s majestic building can be seen from Casa de Campo and from different Madrid landmarks miles away.

Built in 1883, the Almudena Cathedral serves as the seat of the Catholic Archdioceses in Madrid. This is where several royal events have taken place throughout the years. In fact, the wedding of the current monarchs, King Phillip VI and Queen Letizia of Spain, was performed at the Almudena Cathedral.

Visit this beautiful Madrid Cathedral and experience its amazing architecture, art, and history. Additionally, you can tour the Cathedral’s crypt, the final resting place for some of Spain’s most noble families.

FREE Madrid Walking Tours:

The Almudena Cathedral also houses several priceless treasures, such as a Romanesque Cross and the Lady of Almudena, which was designed by artist Paloma Navares. These special relics truly add to the splendor of the Cathedral and its historical importance.

It is important to note that the Almudena Cathedral has had a long-standing presence in Madrid. From the coronation of the Spanish kings to the wedding of the current monarchs, its connection to the Spanish Royal Family is indisputable.

Its presence in the heart of Madrid makes it accessible to all visitors, and it serves as an incredible reminder of Spanish history.

Cost: The Almudena Cathedral is free to visit, however, a small 1 donation is suggested.

How to get there: Metro Plaza de España, Metro Ópera

4. Mercado San Miguel

San Miguel Market in Madrid featuring different types of food
San Miguel Market opens from 10 am to 12 am

Located in the heart of Madrid, Mercado San Miguel is much more than your average food market. It’s a feast for the senses, where vibrant smells of locally sourced fresh food mingle with the sights and sounds of the city.

Originally built in 1916, the market was restored in May 2009 to create a unique space devoted to traditional Spanish food and culture. From tapas to paella and wines to cheeses, Mercado San Miguel Madrid has something to offer everyone.

And with a truly welcoming atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to explore Spanish gastronomy. Just try to get there early to avoid the hungry crowds.

Cost: Free entrance. While small tapas may cost between € 1,00 and € 3,00, a paella plate may cost between € 10,00 and € 20,00 depending on the size and ingredients.

How to get there: Metro Opera and Puerta del Sol

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3. Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol Madrid
Puerta del Sol Madrid

The Gate of the Sun (Puerta del Sol in Spanish) is one of Madrid’s most popular public squares. It’s the starting point for all the radial roads in Spain, and the converging point for many main streets in Madrid.

From Puerta del Sol, you can easily access most of the iconic sights in Madrid. In fact, Puerta del Sol is the meeting point for most Madrid sightseeing tours. Also, several top-rated hotels surround this area making it a very convenient location to tour Madrid.

It’s also a very special place for Madrid locals who gather here to welcome the new year by eating 12 lucky grapes, as they listen to the 12 chimes of the midnight clock.

Looking for a Quick Bite?

You will find plenty of deli shops around this area, including the famous Museo del Jamón. These shops sell traditional products such as Iberico ham, Spanish cheese, Spanish tapas, and freshly baked bread.

Bocadillos in Madrid
Bocadillos in Madrid

If you want to grab a bite to eat, go for some “bocadillos“. These Spanish sandwiches are usually made with a Spanish-style baguette, olive oil, Serrano ham, Manchego cheese, and tomatoes or peppers. Spanish bocadillos tend to cost between 2 and 6.

A couple of blocks away, you will find El Corte Inglés. This popular Spanish store offers quality clothing, accessories, and jewelry items for all kinds of budgets.

However, the best things to do in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol are free. Here you will find lots of free walking tours at all hours of the day. Just choose one and have fun touring Madrid with expert guides.

Cost: Free

How to get there: Metro Sol

FREE Madrid Walking Tours:

2. Prado Museum | Museo del Prado

Prado Museum Madrid
Prado Museum Madrid

Opened in 1819, the Museo Nacional del Prado is one of the must-see destinations in Madrid.

Not only is it the home of the world’s largest collection of Spanish art, but it also boasts an impressive 8,600 paintings and over 700 sculptures (including works from Rome and Greece).

To ensure you make the most of your visit, make sure to plan ahead and pick out the pieces you’d like to view. Del Prado has something for everyone – no matter what your tastes may be!

View the Museo del Prado Collection

Discover over 800 years of art history at the Prado Museum. Explore an awe-inspiring collection, beginning with 11th-century masterpieces and advancing to the early 20th century. Experience the evolution of art through the ages, all in one breathtaking location.

Some of the most famous pieces the Prado Museum houses include:

  • Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez
  • The Third of May 1808 in Madrid by Francisco de Goya
  • The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hiëronymus Bosch
  • The Holy Trinity by El Greco
  • The Cardinal by Raphael, and more.

The Prado Museum’s website offers 3 itineraries that can be completed in 1, 2, and 3 hours covering its most famous paintings.

Cost: Visiting the collection is FREE on these days and times:

  • Monday to Saturday from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
  • Sundays and holidays from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
  • It’s also free for students between 18-25 years old, and for Fine Arts university students.
  • Regular tickets cost 15 per person.

How to get there: Metro Banco de España, Metro Estación del Arte

Cibeles Palace in Madrid
Cibeles Palace, Madrid

A few blocks from the Prado Museum, you’ll find the famous Cibeles Palace. Built in 1909, this palace currently serves as the office building for the Madrid Ayuntamiento (City Hall).

This gorgeous palace also offers some amazing views from its rooftop bar. For €10 (€15 after 8 pm), you can get a drink and get access to the rooftop where you can enjoy some Instagram-worthy city views.

FREE Madrid Walking Tours:

1. El Retiro Park

El Retiro Park
The Crystal Palace at El Retiro Park, Madrid

Welcome to El Retiro Park, Madrid’s most renowned public green space! With its beautiful gardens, tranquil lakes, and cultural attractions, El Retiro is a must-visit destination for any traveler to the Spanish capital.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, El Retiro Park measures approximately 350 acres. As you stroll through the park, you’ll discover sculptures, fountains, and monuments, each with its own story to tell.

Feel free to take a free guided walking tour to learn more about the park’s history and highlights.

El Retiro Park Sculpture in Madrid
Garden Sculpture at El Retiro Park, Madrid

Some cultural events are hosted at the Crytal Palace (Palacio de Cristal), one of the most majestic buildings in the park along with the Velazquez Palace (Palacio de Velázquez). Both buildings usually function as art galleries where you will find rotating exhibits.

The Museo Reina Sofia (Queen Sofia Museum) also offers free art exhibits at both the Crystal Palace and Velazquez Palace in Madrid.

One of the most impressive places in the park is the Fountain of the Galapagos, also known as the Queen Isabella II Fountain. It was built in 1832 to celebrate the birth of Princess Isabella, who would later become Queen Isabella II.

The fountain features three fairy-like figures offering their gifts to the princess, and it is said to symbolize good wishes for her future.

Curious fact: Queen Isabella’s real-life story mirrors Rhaenyra’s fictional story in House of the Dragon. As a woman, she had to overcome lots of challenges before assuming the throne. She was also forced to marry her cousin, and she was accused of having many lovers.

Fountain of Queen Isabel II in El Retiro Park
Fountain of the Galapagos or Queen Isabel II in El Retiro Park, Madrid

El Retiro also offers several green areas for fitness, leisure, and relaxation. You can boat, jog around the park, do some yoga, or meditate at one of the gardens. And don’t forget to bring a picnic or try some local tapas at one of the many cafes and terrazas in the Park.

El Retiro Park is conveniently located near many of Madrid’s main tourist attractions, so make sure to include it on your itinerary. Best of all, access to the park is free, making it an affordable and enjoyable way to spend your day in Madrid.

Cost: Free to the public

How to get there: Metro Atocha, Metro Ibiza, Metro Retiro

FREE Madrid Walking Tours:

Last Thoughts: Exploring Madrid on a Budget

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Madrid on a budget, look no further. Madrid offers a wide range of attractions and experiences that don’t have to cost a fortune.

From the beautiful parks and cathedrals to the incredible street art and markets, Madrid is full of opportunities for budget travelers to explore.

Plus, with its abundance of authentic tapas bars and nightlife, Madrid is a great place to experience the Spanish culture without breaking the bank.

So why wait? Take the plunge and experience Madrid on a budget. As the saying goes, “Hoy en Madrid, mañana en el mundo” – Today in Madrid, tomorrow the world!

Studying in Madrid

If you are interested in visiting Madrid, you might also be interested in studying in Spain. These posts include guides on how to study in Spain, as well as top colleges and universities in Spain for international students.

About the Author: Denisse Romero is the founder of As a frequent traveler, she’s always looking for budget travel opportunities to share with her readers.

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