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Things To Do In Madrid Spain When You Are On A Budget
Having just come back from a whirlwind trip to Madrid Spain, I wanted to offer a few tips for those of you who might be visiting the city on a budget. I had three days and about 300 Euros and these are the things I managed to see.
Madrid is a vibrant and energetic city with a ton of great food, architecture, and nightlife. Though not near the water, it still is a mesmerizing place to visit. If you are interested in museums and other tourist attractions that cost money, you can visit a website like Trip Advisor, but I have specifically given tips for places that are mostly free!
Madrid is full of beautiful buildings. Everywhere you look, there are massive structures, palaces, and colorful storefronts that are a feast for the eyes. The nice thing about this is that it is a free to walk on the grounds of most of these places. You simply take the metro to the part of the city you want and enjoy the scenery. Make sure to have a camera ready!
Palace of Communications
Located in the Plaza de Cibeles, you can get off the Banco De Espana Metro station and it is a short walk to this incredible building. Both the palace and the fountain are symbolic of the city of Madrid and you'll see why when you step on the grounds. To get to the palace from the Metro station I mentioned, you will also pass the gate of Independence- another great photo opportunity.
Plaza de Santa Anna
This plaza is just a short walk from Puerto de Sol (that is the metro station you will take) and has a beautiful hotel that was famous for hosting winning bullfighters. On the opposite side of the hotel is the oldest theater in Madrid. Surrounding these two buildings are fantastic tapas restaurants.
Parque del Buen Retiro
If you have children, this is a great park to take them to when they are tired of the busy and crowded urban atmosphere. Aside from the fact that it is ENORMOUS, there are gorgeous fountains, buildings, and endless paths to explore. The park takes up a large part of the eastern side of the city, so be sure to give yourself some time inside of it.
You will notice that there are lots of street performers and artisans selling things along the sidewalks. You might even have a little Spanish lady try to sell you a sprig of Rosemary. I couldn't understand her so I'm not sure what that is about.
There is also a lake where you can rent little boats to row. Across the lake is the Pool of the Retirement, which you can get to on foot or by boat.
And whatever you do, do NOT miss the Crystal Palace. It is a gorgeous building and free to go inside!
When and if you get hungry, there are several little buildings along the way that serve coffee, chips, pastries, and other similar items.
The Royal Palace
To get to this building, exit the SOL or Opera metro station. The palace grounds include magnificent fountains and symmetrical gardens that make terrific photo opportunities. It is open to the public when it is not in use by the royal family. Next to the Louvre Palace, this building is the second largest in Europe. Don't miss it.
There are lots of places to shop in Madrid, including some very expensive boutiques in central Madrid. However if you are on a budget, you should stick to SOL as your souvenir place. There are lots of stores competing for your business, so you should find some good deals there. You can find everything from clothes to books to toys, paintings, and lots of packaged cookies, ham, and cheeses.
Another place to go is inside the Atocha train station on the southern end of the city. Lots of artists have booths set up with goods that are quite reasonable. I bought a scarf for only 2 euros!
Food isn't cheap in Madrid, but here are some tips to help you find reasonable prices.
- If you ask for water, you will have to pay. The standard offering is bottled water, which is around 2.50 Euros.
- A glass of house wine is usually the cheapest drink you can buy!
- When you order alcohol, most of the time they bring a little tapas for you to eat, compliments of the house.
- In SOL, there are lots of restaurants that sell the standard Spanish fare for reasonable prices. However the quality of the food isn't as good as other places like La Latina and Plaza de Santa Anna.
By far, the best restaurant I found was on a street named Calle de la Cava Baja. You can reach it by getting off the La Latina metro station. This street is lined with restaurants and bars that are FABULOUS. If you want authentic tapas, goat cheese, jamon, and other goodies, take the extra time to get to this part of the city.
What can you expect to pay?
Average Price in Euros
Pitcher of Sangria
How to get around Madrid
- Getting Around Madrid as a Tourist- Using the Metro
Plain English directions for using the Metro in Madrid.
Traveling on a budget
Guess what? The cheapest way to get around Madrid is to simply walk! The city is not that large and a lot of ground can be covered in a day. However, if you'd like to not get blisters, you can use the Metro as an efficient and inexpensive way to travel.
There are also tour buses (for about 25 euros) that allow you to hop on and hop off at different spots. The most expensive option is a taxi.
Where to find it!
Main shopping area
Train station with gardens inside
All the best tapas
Great tapas and a theater and hotel