As befits a European capital, Madrid is not a cheap city. However, there are ways to see the greatest attractions of the Spanish capital completely free – all you have to do is read the following post and plan your trip well :)
Have you ever bought super cheap airline tickets and then found out that on the spot you will spend crores on accommodation, commuting, museum entries, etc.? Big on-the-spot costs are to be expected in many cities, but fortunately there are ways to see quite a bit for free, as we just found out in Madrid.
Below you will find a list of interesting places, including Madrid’s famous museums, which you can enter completely free – you just need to know when.
Table of contents
Attractions open to the public and free of charge
But let’s start with the fact that in Madrid there are many public places such as plazas, parks and churches that will allow you to learn about the city, its history, culture, customs or simply see how Spaniards live in the capital. You don’t have to spend a dime on them, and what’s more, they are all in the so-called “free” area. “walking distance” so you can also save on commuting.
Our number one when it comes to outdoor attractions is Park Retiro, a beautifully landscaped park with gardens, bodies of water, sculptures and statues. Even though we were at the end of November, it was still possible to enjoy the autumn colors and even allow ourselves to walk around without jackets. Of course, there are attractions here for an additional fee like taking a boat ride on the pond, but even without them, a stay in the park will be an interesting experience. There is a glass pavilion in the park – the Crystal Palace(Palacio de Cristal), where exhibitions are held and entry is free.
We also recommend the Parque de la Montaña, where you’ll find the Debod temple and a viewpoint of the Royal Palace and cathedral, and the Parque Casa de Campo located across the Manzanares River.
If you’re looking for places that aren’t necessarily quiet, and want to enjoy the urban space and architecture more, just go to the bustling Plaza Mayor and walk the adjacent streets. We also recommend the Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, where it is just as loud, bustling and colorful. In general, being in Madrid, you have to get used to and accustomed to the harmony and noise that prevails almost everywhere. Spaniards are loud by nature, and this can be all the more disturbing at first when you enter cramped bars and restaurants. Nevertheless, don’t be discouraged, it’s worth squeezing into the same places, trying tapas and local delicacies :)
For free, in theory, you can also see the churches, but it is recommended to leave a symbolic donation at the entrance. The ones we’ve been to and recommend taking a look at are: Almudena Cathedral and crypts and Basilica of San Francisco el Grande.
But let’s move on to places where, by definition, you have to pay, but if we just organize our trip properly, we can enter most places for free.
Many museums in Madrid can be seen for free, you just need to know when. We didn’t manage to get into each one for free and had to pay for the entrances, but this was due to the fact that we were only in Madrid for a weekend (3 full days to be exact), not a full week.
Since we are committed to providing you with the most reliable and clear information possible, we have prepared, in addition to the list of facilities, a graphic and map to help you plan your trip to Madrid. We collected material before our trip by scouring the nooks and crannies of the Internet, and the compilations prepared served to help us organize our time on site. So we hope you find them useful! :) Of course, the information is current as of the date of publication of the entry, but it is always worth looking at the official websites to see if anything has changed.
Let’s start with the facilities, which are only available for free on selected days and times (you’ll also find a clearer graphic and map below). Several of them are top museums with some of the largest collections in the world, so all the more reason to take advantage of free entry:
- Prado Museum(Museo Nacional del Prado) – Monday through Saturday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Sunday 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- National Museum of the QueenSofía Art Center(Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía) – Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., Sunday 1:30 to 7:00 p.m.
- Museum of Thyssen-Bornemisza(Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza) – Mondays from 12:00 to 16:00 pm
- Royal Palace (Palacio Real de Madrid) – Monday through Thursday from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. during the winter, and from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. during the summer.
- National Archaeological Museum (Museo Arqueológico Nacional) – Saturday from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm and Sunday from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm
- National Museum of Decorative Arts and Crafts (Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas) – free of charge from July 1 to August 31, other months on Thursday from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Saturday 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm and Sunday 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
- Sorolla Museum (Museo Sorolla) – Saturday from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm and Sunday 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
- Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando (Museo de Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando) – on Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
- Museum of Costume (Museo del Traje) – Saturday from 14:30-19:00 and Sunday 10:00-15:00
- El Pardo Royal Palace (Palacio Real de El Pardo) – Wednesday and Thursday from 3:00 to 6:00 pm during the winter, and from 5:00 to 8:00 pm during the summer.
- National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropología) – Saturday from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm and Sunday 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
- Lázaro Galdiano Museum (Museo Lázaro Galdiano) – Tuesday through Saturday from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
- Museum of Romanticism (Museo del Romanticismo) – Saturday from 14:00-18:30 in winter, and from 14:00-20:30 in summer, Sunday 10:00-15:00
- Museum of Cerralbo (Museo Cerralbo) – Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Saturday 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Below you will find the mentioned graphic with a schedule of when which museum you can see for free:
And the promised map with the museums listed above:
It is also worth mentioning that there are museums in Madrid that are free all year round and we can enter them at any opening time without spending a single Euro. Although they are a little less popular, it is worthwhile to familiarize yourself with their offerings, and if possible and interested also look into:
- Museum of the History of Madrid(Museo de Historia de Madrid)
- National Mint, Museum of the History of Money(Museo Casa de La Moneda).
- Museum of the Fire Department (Museo de los Bomberos)
- Corrida Museum(Museo Taurino)
- Former Anden 0 Metro Station – This may not be a typical museum, but in addition to the historic and now defunct Chamberí Metro Station, there is an exhibit on the history of the Madrid Metro.
- Museum of Public Art(Museo de Arte Público) – an unusual museum, as it is located in a public space, hence open 24/7.
- Museum of Contemporary Art(Museo de Arte Contemporáneo)
- Museum of the Origins of Madrid and the Museum of San Isidro (Museo de los Origenes. Museo de San Isidro)
- Museum of the National Library(Museo de la Biblioteca Nacional).
- Municipal Printing House(Imprenta Municipal-Artes del Libro)
- House of Lope deVega (Casa Museo Lope de Vega) – advance reservation required
- Museum, House of Cervantes (Museo Casa Natal de Cervantes)
- Museum ABC of Drawing and Illustration(Museo ABC de dibujo e ilustración)
- Mining/Minerals Museum(Museo Geominero)
- Maritime Museum(Museo Naval) – admission is free, but a voluntary donation of 3 euros is recommended.
- Museum of Africa(Museo Africano)
- ICO Museum(Museo ICO)
- Alameda Castle(Castillo de la Alameda) – ruins of a castle dating back to the 15th century.
We were very surprised by how many places there are in Madrid where, with a little good trip organization, you can take advantage for free. All the more so because among such facilities are some of the most popular museums in the world!
We hope that the information we have gathered will help you make the most of your stay in the Spanish capital.
Which museums have you been to? Or have we left something out?
Sources: Lonely Planet and National Geographic Madrid guidebooks; Tourist information materials; Materials collected locally, at museums and official websites of museums and