Need a break from the hip and crowded streets of Barcelona? Hop on the high-speed train for a quick trip to Madrid just 2 hours and 30 minutes away. Stately, refined, and dignified, even in its grungier quarters, the Spanish capital is a fantastic destination for budget travelers.
Here are five tips for simple ways to save in Madrid, from finding a perfect pastry and scoring free museum admission to booking a cheap and charming hotel in a convenient location.
• How to save on your trip to Madrid
• 10 Spanish phrases every traveler should know
• Search for cheap hotels in Madrid
1. Visit the Reina Sofia and Prado museums for free
Madrid’s Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is free for evening admission from 7 pm to 9 pm on Mondays and Wednesday through Saturday. On Sundays, admission is free from 1:30 pm to 7 pm. If you happen to visit Madrid on April 18, May 18, or October 12, or December 6, lucky you — the museum is open to visitors free of charge for the entire day!
Meanwhile, the permanent collections of the Museo del Prado are free every evening from 6 pm to 8 pm, except Sundays and holidays when the free hours are from 5 pm to 7 pm.
Tip for the young travelers: In addition, guests under 18 and students between 18 and 25 years of age (with an ISIC card) can always visit the Reina Sofía and the Prado free of charge.
Related: How to save time and money at the Prado Museum
2. Find a perfect croissant
Yes, you read that right. This is a list of budget-friendly tips for Madrid, not Paris, but the Spanish capital’s exceptional La Duquesita (Calle Fernando VI, 2) bakes a fantastic croissant for €1.80. It’s flaky and soft — pretty close to perfect. It’s not a bad way to start the day for just a handful of change.
3. Stay at a great hotel for a low price
Hostal La Plata (Gran Vía, 15) is a dependable, tried-and-trusted cheapo option. Family-run run since 1972, La Plata has a central location and a level of charm that plenty of inexpensive and mid-range hotels don’t quite capture. There are cheaper beds in Madrid, but few of these match the convenience or comfort of La Plata.
Related: Budget hotels in Madrid under $100 per night
4. Save with a public transportation pass
Madrid’s Tourist Travel Pass covers one day of travel in Zone A for just €8.40 (two days for €14.20; three for €18.40; five for €26.80; one week for €35.40). Zone A includes Madrid-Barajas Airport. The pass is valid through 5 am on the day following the expiration date.
Spend a little bit of time with maps of Madrid to figure out where you want to spend your time. If you intend to move about a fair amount, this pass can end up saving you some valuable euros.
5. At lunchtime, go for the Menú del día
Spain’s “menu of the day” lunches are a great way to eat a two- or three-course meal for what you might reasonably expect to pay for a single course at night. If you enter a restaurant at lunchtime and a menú del día isn’t advertised, just ask for one. For a great menú del día deal in Madrid, check out Restaurante Momo (Calle Libertad 8 in Chueca). You get a nice three-course meal for only €12.50.
More ways to save in Madrid
Looking for more budget tips for Madrid? Check out all of our Madrid posts here, and be sure to explore this list of recommended cheap hotels in Madrid.