Free activities in Madrid

Over christmas, my boyfriend and I were spending 2 weeks in Madrid. I want to show you that even if you are on a budget, Madrid can be a great city to visit. Therefore I would like to devote this post to some super fun and above all free activities in Madrid!

Parque del Retiro & Palacio del Christal

Parque del Retiro is a huge park in the eastern part of the city. With its 125 hectares it’s easy to get lost there. Don’t have the whole day to discover El Retiro? Take an hour to visit the Palacio del Cristal (the Glass Palace), dating back to 1887. In this so-called ‘Palace’ many temporary expositions are being held. Entry is free. Close to the palace you can find a beautiful pond (Estanque Grande del Retiro). With good weather, boats can be rented here. Not really a fan of water? Enjoy the impressive monument behind the pond (Alfonso XII).

Mercado El Rastro

The Rastro Market is a street market held on Sundays and public holidays, that can be found in the Latina neigborhood. A fun activity, even if you are not looking to spend any money. Musicians are playing live music and the ambiance is great! If you do have some money to spend, then this market is the perfect place for shopping souvenirs, vintage clothing and second-hand books. You can even have a customized poem written for you. Make sure you get there before 3 PM, as the market ends around that time.

Templo de Debod

The Debod temple can be found in the Parque Oeste. Debod is an ancient Egyptian Temple, from the 2nd Century BC, dedicated to the gods Amun and Isis. It was a gift from Egypt to Spain. Besides the beautiful temple the Oeste park also offers a nice view over the city. Good for sunsets!

Palacio Real

The Palacio Real (Royal Palace) is the former home of many Spanish royals. It is still in possession of the royal family, but they no longer live there. Through the gates you can catch a glimpse of the imposing building. Want to admire the building from the inside? Then make sure to check out the official website – as free admissions are allowed during several days of the week. Also, don’t forget to pay a visit to the Almudena cathedral (right beside the Royal Palace).


Yes, even museums can be part of free activities in Madrid! My favorites:

– Reina Sofia: many museums in Madrid offer free admission during certain days of the week. Luckily the Reina Sofia (the Spanish national museum) does so too! If you’re an art lover, then make sure to check out Picasso’s Guernica and all the other beautiful modern and contemporary art in this museum.

– Del Prado: this museum is one of the most visited museums in the world. It dates to 1819 and shows works of: Velázquez, Rubens, Goya and Bosch (Garden of Earthly Delights). It mainly focuses on the earlier periods and the Golden Age, but also many portraits can be found here. And yes, Del Prado offers free admissions as well. Make sure to check out their website for more information!

– Sorolla: visit the former house (and now museum) of the Spanish painter Sorolla . Sorolla’s furniture and artworks are exhibited here. The place also has a beautiful garden. Almost as if he still lives there. Tickets cost just 3 euros, but during some days of the week you can visit for free.

Madrid Río

The former Madrid Río (river) has been renovated and turned into a huge park. Great for biking (make sure to rent a bike!), running or simply strolling and enjoying the nice views. Weather not so good? Try out the Madrid Rio shopping center. A great place to shop as it’s not as crowded as the shops in the center (make sure to avoid the Sol area!). The mall also has a mirador (viewing point).
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Matadero is a must-see when you are already visiting the Madrid Río district. A cool place as it is a former slaughterhouse, that has been turned into a cultural hotspot. With a cinema, exhibitions, (seasonal) markets and cafés/restaurants. The great thing is that entry is free! Regular concerts are being held. Keep an eye on their website for their current events.

With these free activities in Madrid you will be sure to get the most out of your trip to the sunny city.


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