You don’t have to break the bank to see all of Madrid’s incredible sights. Here are 23 free things to do in Madrid.
Admire the Egyptian Templo de Debod
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.
Free things to do in Madrid: Retiro Park
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 enormous city park.
Visit the Palacio de Cristal
Inside the Parque del Retiro, you’ll find this magnificent glass palace. This impressive structure also holds free exhibitions regularly. This remarkable structure is open from 10am to 10pm every day.
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.
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 enormous rectangular plaza is lined with restaurants and boutique stores housed in charming Baroque architecture.
Stroll down Gran Via
Gran Via is an absolutely iconic street in Madrid. Endless shops, bright lights, and magnificent theatres line the avenue. So naturally, you’ll find giant multi-story stores like Zara or Mango. Still, you can also wander down one of the side streets for smaller shops and boutiques.
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. So grab a drink or snack or snap a panoramic shot of the city.
Check Out Street Art at La Tabacalera
Once a tobacco factory, this building is now an open space for theatre, music, dance, and art. The centre’s tunnels are covered in graffiti and murals. Open 6pm-10:30pm every day but Mondays.
Shop the Deals at El Rastro Flea Market
One of my favourite free things to do in Madrid. On Sundays, do as the locals do and head to the La Latina neighbourhood for Madrid’s biggest open-air flea market. Thousands of stalls line the streets here. You can pick up various vintage accessories, clothes, home goods, and locally-made items. You may or may not find stalls full of knockoff Game of Thrones apparel if that’s your thing. Just look out for pickpockets!
Get Cultured at El Matadero
Once a slaughterhouse, this complex is now a cultural hub. They regularly hold exhibitions, workspaces, cinema, theatre, and a once-a-month design market. Open every day from 9am to 10pm.
Free things to do in Madrid: Museums
Learn about Bullfighting at the Museo Taurino
You won’t see an actual bullfight during the free museum visit. However, you’ll find famous bullheads, paintings, and matador suits on display. The museum is open every day from 10am to 6pm.
Enjoy World-Class Art at the Prado Museum
For free admission to the Prado Museum, try Tuesday to Sunday from 6pm-8pm, or Sundays from 5pm-8pm. The Prado is considered one of the world’s finest collections of European art.
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.
Become a Foodie at Mercado San Antón
Free to enter, Mercado San Antón in the heart of the Chueca neighbourhood 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.
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). The basílica is home to an early Goya painting and several other works by artists.
Pay Tribute to the 11-M Terrorist Attack Victims
Inside 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.
Free things to do in Madrid for nature lovers
Hunt for cherry and almond blossoms
Spring in Spain means almond and cherry blossoms galore. You can enjoy these gorgeous pastel-coloured 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.
Relax in the Gardens in Atocha Station
The Atocha Station is 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.
Head for the hills
All those free tapas weighing your down? Madrid offers some pretty impressive hiking just outside of the city. Mountains, waterfalls, and lush forests are all within reach of the city centre.
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.
There you have it, free things to do in Madrid. Of course, there are many things to do and see in Madrid without spending a single euro. Still, these are a few highlights that cover the main attractions and more local ones.