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Madrid on the cheap

4 Jun 2006  After living in Madrid for 5 years, on a Spanish salary, I have lots of recommendations on how to get the most of this wonderful city.
4.5 of 5 stars based on 36 votes

Making the most of Spain's energetic capital the way the locals do, on a budget.

  • Explore locations featured in this Trip List: Madrid
  • Category: Perfect weekend
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Never been before, Repeat visitors
  • Appeals to: Business travellers , Couples/romantics, Singles, Students, Budget travellers , Active/adventure
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Friday evening: Plaza de Santa Ana and Huertas
    Plaza de Santa Ana, Madrid

    Begin your weekend on friday night at Plaza Santa Ana. Its near Puerta del Sol and the Plaza Mayor in the historic center of Madrid. In the summer the Plaza is lined with bars and restaurants with outdoor tables. Don't order a full meal but some tapas to share and a Spanish wine, beer or a refreshing sangria. Afterwards take a walk in the surrounding streets, especially along the walking street Huertas and join in with the locals and dance till 3am.

  • 2. Saturday Morning: Take a double decker bus tour to get your bearings.

    A tour where you don't have to walk, you can listen to headsets describing the sites, you can hop on and hop off at selected stops and for under 15 euros each, a great way to get your bearings in Madrid and get a suntan in the process. There are a few different routes so you can see not only the historic sections but also the business district and upperclass neighborhoods as well.

  • 3. Dinner on a budget at Casa Mingo

    Casa Mingo is a very popular and old cider house offering roasted chicken and natural cider from the northern Spain region of Asturias. Try your hand at pouring the natural cider from above your shoulder or even your head while you hold the glass near your hip. Or try the other sweeter cider which doesn't need to be poured so precariously. Also on the offer are chorizo cooked in cider, goats cheeses, salads, tortilla espanola (spanish omlette) and other side dishes. Everything is very informal, its a big and busy place and neither reservations or credit cards are accepted. But it won't set you back too much in cash either, go in a group and expect to pay about 10 euros each. Its a bit off the beaten track but its worth the walk from the Principe Pio metro stop. In summer there are also tables set out on the expansive rooftop terrace.
    Address. Paseo de la Florida, 34

  • 4. Sunday Morning: Madrid's famous flea market, El Rastro
    El Rastro, Madrid

    The Rastro market is located in Madris center just south of Puerta del Sol beginning around the Plaza del Cascorro. You can find practically everything there. Clothes, shoes, jewelry, lamps, purses, and at the bottom of the hill there are hardware supplies, computer supplies, and even old furniture and a watch repair man. Get there early, around 10 am if you want to avoid the crowds but what most people do is to go around 11 or 12 and afterward go have a lunch of tapas in the surrounding bars and also over in the neighborhood of La Latina.

  • 5. Sunday Afternoon: Prado Museum (Museo del Prado)
    Prado National Museum, Madrid

    One of Euorpes best and most celebrated museums with paintings from many of the great Spanish and European artists. Go on Sunday and its free!
    Another option is to buy a pass for about 8 euros that allows you to see three of Madrid's most famous museums, The Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen.

  • 6. Sunday Afternoon: Retiro Park (Parque del Retiro)
    Retiro Park (Parque del Retiro), Madrid

    Relax in Madrid's answer to Central Park in New York. An expansive park right in the center of Madrid (behind the Prado museum) the Park has 120 hectares full of ponds, trees of all sorts, people playing the bongos, mimes, and lots of paths to walk on and fountains to discover. Buy a "bocadillo" sandwich before you go and have a picnic on the grass near the Palacio de Cristal (Glass Palace) and view a modern art exhibit for free on the inside. For less than 5 euros rent a boat and row around leisurely or buy an ice cream at one of the many kiosks.

  • 7. Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real)
    Royal Palace of Madrid, Madrid

    The royal palace in Madrid is one palace not to miss. Beautiful on the outside and inside. For about 8 euros you can visit glorious decorated rooms with important pieces of art and furniture, including the armory with suits of armor for men and horses. It is one of the few "living" palaces in Europe. The palace is not used as a residence by the royal family but used often for royal functions and entertaining foreign diplomats who come to visit. The Palace is in the center in the oldest part of Madrid and flanked by gardens and plazas on all sides.
    Near metro Opera.

  • 8. See Flamenco dancing on a budget

    Flamenco shows usually cost around 30 euros or more per person but if you are on a budget you can visit Las Tablas. There are shows every night at 22.30 and the cost is about 15 euro per person. Near Plaza de España

  • 9. Backpacker's hostal - Cat Hostal in Madrid's center near the nightlife

    Voted the best hostel worldwide in 2004 its fun, its in a historic building and its cheap. Private and shared rooms.