You’ve booked your plane ticket and hotels; now you’re ready to explore Madrid and why not save some money while you’re at? There are a variety of fun things to do in Madrid that won’t cost you a dime (I mean euro)! Here are a few of our favorites:
Relax in Retiro Park
You know we love a good park so of course a visit to Retiro Park tops the list of our favorite free things to do in Madrid! The park is more than 300 acres with beautiful gardens, museums, a variety of activities, and even some wild peacocks (if you can find them!)
See the art exhibit at the Crystal Palace
While you’re in Retiro Park, make sure you visit the Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace). This is one of the two art exhibits within the park that’s part of the Reina Sofía museum. (The other is Velázquez Palace) The rotating art exhibits are free and the building they’re housed in is beautiful in and of itself!
Explore the Egyptian Temple
The Temple of Debod was a donation from the Egyptian government and opened to the public in 1972. It dates back to the 2nd century BC. You’ll find it in Parque del Oeste. While we were there the inside of the temple was closed to visitors, but you could walk along the walkway around the temple and take photographs for free.
Admire the view at Parque del Oeste
You’re already in Parque del Oeste to see the Egyptian Temple, so why not stay and wander the park for a bit. From just behind the temple, you can get a great view of the city. While in the park, you should also check out the Rose Garden of Ramón Ortiz (also free!) and then hop on the cable car to Casa de Campo (€6 round trip).
Visit popular museums
Yes, you can visit some of Madrid’s museums for free! On Mondays and Wednesdays-Saturdays, the Reina Sofía (don’t miss it!) is free to the public from 7:00-9:00pm. Another popular museum, The Prado, is free from Monday-Saturday from 6:00-8:00pm and on Sundays and holidays from 5:00-7:00pm.
TIP: If you’re in Madrid during high season, you’ll definitely want to get in line for these early!
Take your photo at The Bear and the Strawberry Tree statue
El Oso y el Madroño (The Bear and the Strawberry Tree) is the official symbol of Madrid so you’ll want to visit this spot and take a photo. It’s located in popular Puerta del Sol.
Stand at Kilometre Zero
While you’re in Puerta del Sol, search for Kilometre Zero – the official “center” of Spain. All of the country’s national roads start from this point.
Need help finding the marker? Head over to our post on 15 Things to Do in Madrid for some tips on where to find it!
Look for royalty outside the Royal Palace
The Palacio Real (Royal Palace) is the official home of the royal family, although they don’t actually live there anymore. You can watch the Changing of the Guard on Wednesdays and Saturdays, weather permitting, and the Solemn Changing of the Guard on the first Wednesday of each month (except January, August and September).
Of course, if you do want to spend some money, the palace is open for tours (as long as there is not official business on the day you’re visiting).
Wander the Sabatini Gardens
Once you’ve snapped enough photos of the palace, head around back to wander the gardens and check out the wide variety of plants, statues, fountains. Plus, you’ll get a different viewpoint of the Palacio Real.
People watch and take fun photos at Plaza Mayor
OK, so technically the photos aren’t completely free. If you take a photo with a character (you’ll see all sorts of things from Mickey Mouse to superheroes) or at one of these props, you need to leave a tip. But that’s a small price to pay for a fun photo and – of course – all the people watching at the Plaza Mayor doesn’t cost you a thing!
Explore the Crypt of Almudena
Entrance to the crypt at Almudena Cathedral is free but a donation is requested. The crypt is a bit of an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and is eerily quiet. It’s located near the Palacio Real so you may want to incorporate this visit at the same time.
Need more Madrid inspiration?
Check out these other articles to help you plan your trip to Madrid: