“Six of the Best” Free things to do in Madrid
Museums, cultural centres, monuments and public parks … there is plenty to do in Madrid for free. If you are planning a trip to Madrid, you might be wondering how best to spend your time. The list of free activities is practically endless, so with this in mind we have compiled a list of our six favourite free things to do in Madrid as part of our “six of the best series”. So, put the wallet away, have a look at our selection, and start enjoying the best that Spain’s capital has on offer!
Palacio de Cristal
Located in Retiro Park, this beautiful glass palace dates back to 1887, when it was built to pay homage to the exposition of the Philippine Islands. The building is a work of art, and the glass windows lend themselves to creating the feeling you are in a paradise. It is partnered with the famous Reina Sofia art museum, and as such often has wonderful art exhibitions, such as statues or pieces of paintings. There is a lake right outside the palace, where the main attraction is the turtles that inhabit it. Coming to Retiro Park and checking out this Palace is a must-do in Madrid!
Paseo de Cuba, 4, 28009, Madrid, Spain
Temple de Debod
An unlikely addition for an article on Madrid, but this Egyptian temple is right in the centre of Madrid and is too beautiful to be missed! The temple itself dates back to the 2nd century BC and was eventually dismantled and sent to Spain as a token of appreciation for their help in building the Aswan Dam to help Egypt prevent flooding. It is a marvellous building, lying on a small water feature which at night-time reflects the building in a beautiful way. Also, attention love-birds – it has become a hotspot for watching the sunset … for those looking for romance on a budget, this is your place!
Calle de Ferraz, 1, 28008, Madrid, Spain
This is the official residency of the King of Spain, although he doesn’t live in it nowadays. It also happens to be the biggest palace in Western Europe. It contains a wide collection of paintings, statues, and upholstery … all of which can be enjoyed for free at specified times: from April to September from Monday to Thursday entry is free between 18:00 and 20:00. For the rest of the year the hours change to 16:00 to 18:00. The queues can get long, but it is definitely worth the wait and save the usual 11-euro entrance fee. Also, worth seeing is the change of guard which occurs every Wednesday every 30 minutes for 3 hours, from 11:00 to 14:00. In front of the palace lies a small garden area with a water fountain, perfect for lying down in the shade while admiring the beauty of the palace!
Calle de Bailén, s/n, 28071, Madrid, Spain
Sunday’s in Madrid wouldn’t be the same without El Rastro market. This tradition goes back 400 years and is famous across the city. It is an outdoors market; with everything you could ever imagine a market having. From the stall that sells 700 different types of Cacti, to second-hand books, to jewellery, you are sure to be blown away by the creativity on display. The side-streets are where you will find the hidden gems, in particular check out the wonderful paintings from the talented artists. If you are lucky enough to be in Madrid on a Sunday, El Rastro is the perfect place to go for free, and there are also lovely tapas bars around for you to grab some local food afterwards!
Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores, 28005, Madrid, Spain
Casa De Campo
Casa De Campo is huge, beautiful, and most importantly … free! It has 1,722 hectares of open space, where you can cycle, walk, find the hidden historical gems (like an old bunker from the Civil War!) or simply find somewhere nice to sit down and watch the world go by. They have a lake area with lots of shops and restaurants around the periphery, with great backdrop views of the Madrid Skyline. There is a cable car from the centre that brings you to Casa de Campo which costs 4 euro, but is worth it for the views, and the destination!
Paseo de Puerta del Angel, 1, 28011, Madrid, Spain
The Prado museum is the epicentre of art galleries in Madrid, and while not usually free, can be accessed for free at certain times. From Monday to Saturday between 18:00 and 20:00 access is free, on Sundays from 17:00 to 19:00 access is free. Also, if you happen to be travelling to Madrid in the wintertime, 19th of November is the museum’s anniversary, and is free. As well as these times, certain groups can enter for free at any time: students, children, people with disabilities can all enter free of charge at any time of day! The gallery itself is definitely an amazing place to visit, it is said to have the world’s best collection of European art, dating back to the 12th century.
Calle de Ruiz de Alarcón, 23, 28014, Madrid, Spain
By James Ansell