You don’t have to break the bank to see all of the incredible sights and experiences that Madrid has to offer. Here are 25 completely FREE things to do in Madrid.
1. Relax at Parque del Retiro
Madrid’s most popular park attracts locals and foreigners alike. Skaters, cyclists, street artists, and musicians can be found all along the paths at the Parque del Retiro. Complete with fountains, gardens, a giant boating pond, and much more, you’ll never run out of things to do and see in this giant city park.
2. Walk Around the Royal Palace Grounds
There is a small admission price to tour the inside of the Royal Palace, BUT you can pretend to be royalty for free. Explore the maze-like hedges of the Sabatini Gardens, see the changing of the guards at noon on Wednesdays, and enjoy the buzzing city life in the Palace courtyard.
3. Learn Salsa
While there aren’t many 100% free places to learn Salsa in Madrid, you can get an hour of dance for free with a drink purchase at F**kin’ Mondays (but without the stars — this blog is family-friendly guys) on Mondays at 10pm. BeMadrid also puts on a free salsa lesson every Monday for exchange students at Le Boutique Club from 10pm to midnight.
4. Admire the Egyptian Templo de Debod
Not many people would expect to find an Egyptian temple in the middle of Madrid. The Templo de Debod was originally from Aswan, Egypt. It was dismantled and sent to Madrid as a gift in 1968. You can admire the sunset from here or tour the inside for free.
5. Learn about Bullfighting at the Museo Taurino
You won’t see an actual bullfight during the free museum visit. However, you’ll find famous bull heads, paintings, and matador suits on display. The museum is open every day from 10am to 6pm.
6. Visit the Palacio de Cristal
Inside the Parque del Retiro you’ll find this magnificant glass palace. A work of art in and of itself, this impressive structure also holds free exhibitions on a regular basis. This impressive structure is open from 10am to 10pm every day.
7. Enjoy World-Class Art at the Prado Museum
For free admission to the Prado Museum, visit Tuesday to Sunday from 6pm-8pm, or Sundays from 5pm-8pm. The Prado is considered to have one of the world’s finest collections of European art, dating from the 12th to the early 20th Centuries.
8. Or at the Reina Sofia Museum
Enjoy the 20th Century collections in this impressive museum in the heart of Madrid. Admire works from famous Spanish artists such as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Free on Monday and Wednesday to Saturday from 7pm to 9pm. Also free Sundays from 1:30pm to 7pm.
9. Stroll down Gran Via
Gran Via is an absolutely iconic street in Madrid. Endless shops, bright lights, and magnificent theaters line the avenue. You’ll find giant multi-story stores like Zara or Mango, but you can also wander down one of the side streets for smaller shops and boutiques.
10. Enter the Cathedral de Almudena
Most churches in Spain charge an entrance fee. The Almudena Cathedral in Madrid is one of the best exeptions. Entrance to the church and the crypt are completely free, although donations are suggested. The crypt is home to a 16th century image of the Almudena Virgin.
11. Enjoy the Views at Palacio de Cibeles
On the first Wednesday of each month, you can pay a visit to the top of the Palacio de Cibeles for free. Explore the large glass-domed courtyard and take in the panoramic views from the rooftop terrace.
12. Check Out Street Art at La Tabacalera
Once a tobacco factory, this building is now an open space for theater, music, dance, and art. The center’s tunnels are covered in graffiti and murals. Open 6pm-10:30pm on every day but Mondays.
13. Shop the Deals at El Rastro Flea Market
One of my favorite free things to do in Madrid. On Sundays, do as the locals do and head to the La Latina neighborhood for the biggest open-air flea market in Madrid. Thousands of stalls line the streets here and you can pick up various vintage accessories, clothes, home goods, and locally-made items. You also may or may not find stalls full of knockoff Game of Thrones apparel if that’s your thing. Just look out for pickpockets!
14. Cool Off at Madrid Río
Madrid’s newly renovated riverwalk area is one of the best spots in the city to cool off for free. There’s no sand there but locals still refer to it as “the beach”. There’s a grassy area to relax in and fountains to wade in.
15. Visit an Abandoned Metro Station
Anden 0 is an old metro station-turned-museum in Madrid. You can walk through the underground tunnels for free. There are still advertisements up from when it was a working metro station. Spooky and budget-friendly.
16. Get vintage at the Mercado de Motores
During the second weekend of every month, the Mercado de Motores opens shop at the Museo de Ferrocarril (Railway Museum). You can shop the booths of local designers, chefs, and artists, enter some of the museum’s vintage trains, or grab a bite to eat at the different food trucks in the courtyard.
17. Get Cultured at El Matadero
Once a slaughter house, this complex is now a cultural hub. They regularly hold exhibitions, workspaces, cinema, theater, and a once-a-month design market. Open every day from 9am to 10pm.
18. Learn a New Language
Brush up on your Spanish or learn an entirely new language from a native speaker. Intercambios, or language exchanges, can be found all around the city. For a free one, J and J Books and Coffee holds one on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8-10pm.
19. Enjoy Views of the City at Corte Ingles
On the 9th floor of this giant department store, you’ll find a cafe/food market with incredible views of Gran Via and the surrounding area. Grab a drink or snack or just snap a panoramic shot of the city.
20. Eat Free Tapas
Okay, these are technically only free if you buy a drink. Free tapas are becoming somewhat rare now in Spain but there are still a few places in Madrid where you can get an entire plate of food for free with a drink. El Tigre is the most famous, serving up giant plates of food to go alongside any drink purchase. Yes, the food is questionable and greasy, but it’s plentiful and free so who can really complain.
21. Pay Tribute to the 11-M Terrorist Attack Victims
Inside of the Atocha Station, the site of the 2004 terrorist attack in Madrid, you’ll find a memorial dedicated to the 191 people who lost their lives on March 11, 2004. Featuring a large cylinder with thousands of messages of condolence inscribed on the inside.
22. Become a Foodie at Mercado San Antón
Free to enter, Mercado San Antón in the heart of the Chueca neighborhood is THE foodie spot to be in Madrid. You’ll find everything from traditional Spanish food to sushi to gourmet popsicles. There’s also a fantastic rooftop terrace and bar on the top floor.
23. Check out the vertical garden at the Caixa Forum
The vertical garden is built on the wall of a former power plant and overlooks a small plaza. The impressive green wall is four stories high and contains over 15,000 plants. The perfect spot for a breath of fresh air or an *aesthetic* instagram shot.
24. Hunt for cherry and almond blossoms
Spring in Spain means almond and cherry blossoms galore. You can enjoy these gorgeous pastel-colored trees in bloom all around the city. One of the best spots is Parque La Quinta de los Molinos which houses a field full of almond trees. The best time to see the trees in bloom varies from year to year but usually lasts for a few weeks at the beginning of Spring.
25. Catch Some Live Music
There’s always music playing somewhere in Madrid, you just need to know where to look. You can always catch live performers at some of the city’s markets. Triskel Tavern holds open-mic nights on Thursdays from 10pm and Sala Búho Real on Wednesdays from 9:30pm.
26. Relax in the Gardens in Atocha Station
One of the main train stations in Madrid, the Atocha Station is also home to a free indoor tropical garden. The rooftop garden is home to 4000 square meters of plants, complete with ponds full of turtles. Talk about a relaxing place to wait for your next train.
27. See the Spectacular Dome at Basílica de San Francisco
There are plenty of free things to do in Madrid, but unfortunately not many free churches. Thankfully one of the most magnificent churches is also completely free. This huge neo-classical church is hard to miss. The main attraction is its spectacular dome that spans 180 feet (33m) in diameter. The basílica is home to an early Goya painting and several other works by artists dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries.
28. Watch the world go by at Plaza Mayor
Madrid is full of buzzing squares that are great for sitting back and watching the world go by. The main city square is Plaza Mayor. This historic square dates back to 1619 and is popular with tourists and locals alike. The huge rectangular plaza is lined with restaurants and boutique stores, housed in charming Baroque architecture.
29. Head for the hills
All those free tapas weighing your down? You may or may not know it but Madrid offers some pretty impressive hiking just outside of the city. Mountains, waterfalls, and lush forests are all within reach from the city center. Check out this post for an overview of some of the best trails near Madrid.
30. Join a free walking tour
Okay, they have these in most cities but a walking tour is a great way to familiarize yourself with a city and decide what you want to go back and explore further. Check out freetour.com for over 70 free tours in Madrid.
There you have it, 25 completely FREE things to do in Madrid. There are an endless amount of things to do and see in Madrid without spending a single euro, but these are a few highlights that cover the main attractions — as well as more local ones.