Monday, August 12, 2013

11 Unforgettable Things You Can Do In Madrid, For FREE!

Flights, hotels, eating out; travelling can be pretty expensive, especially if you’re in one of Europe’s capital cities, and Madrid is no exception  Fortunately, there are some really worthwhile sights and activities that you can do for nothing at all!

Photo by Nieves Sebastián
1. Visit the Prado Museum
Normally, visiting the Prado will set you back a not-insignificant entrance fee, but there are certain times during which you can browse the collections of Spain’s national gallery for free.  Stop by between 18:00 and 20:00, Tuesday through Saturday, or 17:00 and 20:00 on Sunday.

2. Explore Parque Juan Carlos I
This green space in the northeast of the city is one of several parks in Madrid, but the only one with free bicycle rentals so you can explore it on two wheels! For those who prefer to stay on foot, there are eight miles worth of marked walking trails across the park.

3. See the Palacio Real
The official residence of King Juan Carlos I, entry to the stunning royal palace costs as much as 11€, unless you have the right passport.  European Union citizens can get free entry to the Palacio Real on Wednesdays.

4. Explore an Abandoned Metro Station
While old subway and metro stations in some cities are restricted to being film sets or worse, just gathering dust (looking at you, London), Madrid has converted its former Chamberi station into a small, yet fascinating museum focusing on the city’s subterranean transport system.  Entry is free every day, except Mondays when the museum is closed.

5. See Art Beneath A Bypass
Transforming an unremarkable urban environment beneath a local road into an intriguing and very modern gallery, the Museo Arte Público exhibits abstract, open-air pieces for free off Paseo de la Castellana.

Photo by Daniel Dionne
6. Check Out Gran Via
The city’s most famous promenade, Gran Via, is packed with interesting architecture, upscale boutiques and even theaters.  See if you can spot the attempt to recreate the avenues of Paris and what features led people to compare it more to those of New York City.

7. Go Window Shopping At El Rastro
While filling your suitcase with new purchases might not be cheap, there’s nothing wrong with checking out what’s available and soaking in the atmosphere of a flea market, and El Rastro between Plaza Mayor, La Latina and Puerta de Toledo is one of the best.  Come along between 7:30 and 14:30 on Sundays, browse the wares and soak up the atmosphere!

8. Visit the Reina Sofia Museum
The national museum for modern art, like the previously mentioned Prado Museum, offers free entry to visitors during limited hours.  Head there from 19:00 to 21:00, Monday to Friday, 14:30 to 21:00 on Saturday, or 10:00 to 14:30 on Sunday.

9. Chill Out In The Retiro
Right at the heart of Madrid, El Parque del Gran Retiro is the largest park in the city and offers locals and visitors alike a chance to escape from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis.  Plentiful open space, small lakes and some chapel ruins provide a pleasing backdrop to a great place to relax.

10. Look to the Stars
While the view of the night sky might be obscured slightly by the lights of the city, you can still find out about the universe for free at Madrid’s Planetarium.  Particularly oriented towards children with plenty of interactive, hands-on exhibits, entry to everything but the projection hall is free.

11. Visit Any Museum You Like
There’s a small caveat to this one: this offer is only valid for three days a year.  The vast majority of museums in Madrid are free to enter and explore on International Museum Day (May 18), as well as Hispanidad Day (October 12) and Constitution Day (December 6).

Jerome Franco is a freelance writer and travel enthusiast. He’s currently working with to help them reach audience online. When not writing about travel, he is planning his next adventure.


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