There’s no need to dip into your 401k to go on vacation. Madrid is a cool, exciting European capital but without those Paris and London prices. With a little discipline, you don’t need to go over 50 euros a day.
Spanish breakfasts are quite economical. A cup of coffee and a croissant will only set you back two euros. For a substantial lunch, order the fixed price lunch (menú del día) consisting of an appetizer, an entrée, bread, drink and dessert. Otherwise, you can grab a sandwich, a slice of pizza or a falafel wrap for a quick and cheap lunch. For dinner, try some of the tapas from any one of Madrid’s neighborhood café bars.
Accomodation will be the biggest drain on your budget. To get the most bang for your buck, stay in a small, reasonably-priced hotel. But forget the Spanish word hotel completely as in Madrid that usually translates to big and/or expensive establishments; instead look for a room at an hostal – a small, budget hotel. Though the word looks suspiciously similar to a “hostel” (read: dorm beds), this is not the same thing. That said, there are hostales that are getting fancier by the day. So keep in mind that hostal is not automatically the budget watchword it once was. Get firm quotes before you commit to anything.
If you don’t mind not having a room all to yourself, you can choose to reduce your accommodation costs by reserving a bed in a hostel (albergue juvenil in Spanish) or even trying your hand at couchsurfing.
With all of the Spanish capital’s museums, parks and plazas, there is an amazing assortment of ways to keep yourself entertained in Madrid. Even better, they’re free.
You can get into Madrid’s world-class museums for free on certain days and at certain times:
- Prado Museum: Saturday and Sunday afternoons
- Reina Sofía Museum (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía): Weekday evenings except Tuesdays, plus Saturday afternoons, Sunday mornings
- Museum of the Americas: Sunday mornings
- Clothing Museum (Museo del Traje): Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings
- Sorolla Museum: Sunday mornings
- Debod Temple: Always free, mornings and afternoons
Then Madrid’s beautiful parks and plazas are always free, too.
Madrid’s public transportation network of subways and buses is fantastic. It is fast, modern and will easily take you to where you want to go. A single ride ticket costs 1 euro while a 10-trip ticket costs 9.30 euros.
[Photo: Sebastian Dubiel]