I wrote a list of the best things to do in Madrid for free in 2021. If you are feeling like doing something but you don’t want to spend any money, have a look at some of the top 14 activities you can do in the city for free.
1. Museums in Madrid
Madrid has some of the best art museums in Spain. Prado Museum, Thyssen and Reina Sofía make the golden triangle. There are certain days when it’s free visit, check out when in the best museums in Madrid article.
Museo del ferrocarril
This museum once was a train station. Here you’ll see some trains and replicas.
They charge a small entrance fee. However, once a month the museum turns into a vintage market. This is one of my favorite things to do for free on the weekend. The market takes place every second weekend of the month.
Anden 0 in Chamberí
The Madrid metro system is over 100 years old. You can visit this museum for free and learn about how this system has evolved over the years.
2. Parks in Madrid
Madrid has some beautiful green areas. One of my top free things to do in Madrid is going to Retiro, taking a walk and reading a book on the grass. It helps me clear my mind.
Enjoy some fresh air and discover some of the best parks in Madrid.
3. Sunset in Madrid
I love watching the sunset in the city. Often times we live immersed in the buzzing of the city and disregard the simple things. I have written a list of the best sunset spots in Madrid.
4. Day trips from Madrid
You might be skeptical about this one. You might be wondering, day trips for free?
5. El Rastro – Madrid flea market
El Rastro is a flea market close to La Latina. It’s free and takes place every Sunday. It’s a great place to buy souvenirs, antiques and pretty much anything you can think of. The bars nearby get packed with lots of people enjoying the morning sun.
6. Touring Neighborhoods
Barrio de las Letras
Walking around Barrio de las Letras is a cool free thing to do in Madrid.
In this neighborhood lived some of the most famous Spanish writers, Cervantes, Lope de Vega and Quevedo lived here.
On Calle Huertas, you’ll see some quotes from these writers. Fun fact, the street gets its name because a long time ago there were vegetable gardens (Huertas) all over the place.
This quiet street turns into a party hub at night. Among the free things you can do at night are singing at Karaoke bars or enjoying some live music at other bars in the area.
Malasaña neighborhood – Trendy
In the ’80s Malasaña was a slum neighborhood with drug addicts and all sorts of problems. Nowadays it’s the trendiest neighborhood in the city and one of the best things to do in Madrid for free. I love strolling around and seeing the vintage stores. I swear, they open a new store every week in this neighborhood and unfortunately only a few last.
Lavapies, as well as Malasaña, has been revamped in the last few decades. Nowadays it is the most multicultural neighborhood in Madrid. People from all over the world coexist in just a few yards. If you want to enjoy some Indian or Ethiopian food, this is the place to go, although, I am afraid that won’t be free.
7. Atocha’s inside garden
Atocha is the headquarters of Spain’s train system. If you are planning a trip around Spain, odds are you’ll have to go to Atocha. Inside the building, there’s a garden with some palm trees and vegetation alike.
What most people don’t know, it’s that up until 2018 there were turtles inside the building. However, they had to move the turtles out because people used to abandon theirs in the pond.
8. Views from El Corte Inglés
El Corte Inglés is a department store chain that’s all over Spain and Portugal. They also have a supermarket in the basement.
These stores are usually located in some of the most touristy areas. Discovering the incredible views from the top floors at the different locations is a cool free thing to do.
9. Explore Madrid Markets
Madrid has numerous markets with fresh produce where you can have a drink or get some food as well. Sometimes they have free stuff so you can try different bites before buying anything. You might think it’s a bit cheeky but, people do it all the time. Mercado de San Miguel, San Ildefonso and San Antón are worth visiting.
10. Visit the Crystal palace
Visiting the Crystal palace in Retiro is one of the top free things to do in Madrid. Made of glass, this palace is home to different exhibits throughout the year. There are lots of free activities to do in Madrid’s Retiro Park.
11. Bike around Anillo Verde
This is a 40 mile bike lane that goes around Madrid. Though, in theory you can complete it in about 5 hours, I wouldn’t do it in one sitting. There are some steep uphill portions that your legs may resent.
12. Free things to do in Madrid at night
If you are a night owl and you are looking for some free live music, here’s a list of bars for you:
- Café la Palma (Palma, 62): open mic
- Buho Real (Regueros, 5)
- Costello club (Caballero de Gracia, 10)
- Honky Tonk (Covarrubias, 24)
- Marula Café (Caños viejos, 3)
- Wurlitzer Ballroom (Tres Cruces, 12)
Notice that these bars sometimes might require a drink or even a ticket depending on the concert.
13. Improve your Spanish at the Language exchange venues
If you want to learn Spanish faster, take part in a language exchange, these are some bars where you can practice your Spanish. I would suggest double-checking in case they have changed the times.
- Beer Station (Santo Domingo, 22): Thursday from 10:00 p.m.
- James Joyce Irish Pub (Alcalá, 59): Monday at 8:30 p.m.
- J&J Books and Coffee (Espíritu Santo, 47): Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday
- Carmencita Bar (San Vicente Ferrer, 51): Tuesdays at 09:00 p.m.
- Café Madrid (Mesón de Paños, 6): Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m.
14. Facebook groups and Meetups.
Check Facebook and meetup.com to find some more free things to do in Madrid. There are so many options out there and it’s a great way to make friends in Spain.