Free things to do in Madrid | Travel Guide

Madrid outdoors

If this is the first time you are traveling to Madrid , there are two mythical enclaves, located a short distance away, that should be visited and photographed. You start at Puerta del Sol , where you can find the sculpture of the Bear and the strawberry tree , symbol of the city, and the kilometer zero plaque, another emblem of the place. And you get to the Plaza Mayor , a large porticoed square , declared a Site of Cultural Interest, and presided over by the equestrian statue of Felipe III. On Sunday mornings, under its arcaded passages there is a market with philately and numismatic products, but also books or other ancient objects.

If we are talking about markets, you cannot miss a tour of the Rastro , the Sunday market par excellence, in the La Latina neighborhood . As well as the monthly appointment at the Motor Market where designers and artisans exhibit their creations at the Madrid Railway Museum , between live music and food trucks . And during the week, a walk through the renovated gastronomic and food temples such as the San Miguel and San Antón markets , among others. Of course, if you dare to have a tapa or a beer, the free issue is ruled out.

For a good sunset, whose spectacle does not need to go through the checkout, two enclaves: the Temple of Debod , a temple of Egyptian origin about 2,200 years old, very close to the Plaza de España; and the Royal Palace seen from the outside.

If the weather is good, a good plan is to enjoy a picnic in the Buen Retiro park , one of the most beautiful in Europe. After strolling along its large pond, it is worth going to the Crystal Palace , a beautiful metal and glass construction, carried out in 1887 on the occasion of the Exhibition of Flora of the Philippine Islands. Nowadays it is an exhibition room with samples and installations of the Reina Sofía Museum.

Although the distances can be very long, Madrid deserves to be covered on foot to find references of the city such as the Puerta de Alcalá , the Metropolis building in the middle of Gran Vía, the Cibeles fountain or the lions of the Congress of Deputies.

Plaza de España, Madrid, Spain © Efired / Shutterstock

Plaza de España, Madrid, Spain © Efired / Shutterstock

In addition, in some of its squares, it is a good time to stop and meet some of its tenants. Such is the case of Julia , the work of Jaume Plensa, in the Plaza de Colón , of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza, located at the foot of the monument to Miguel de Cervantes in the Plaza de España , or of the collection of twenty Spanish kings, in limestone, in the Plaza de Oriente.

If you have time (and a bike, convenient given the distances), beyond the center is the Casa de Campo , the largest park in Madrid, a large space that combines sports and leisure areas among which is the Zoo and the amusement park.

Coinciding with the celebration of the 2019 Lorca Year , as a tribute to the hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the poet from Granada  to Madrid, the Community of Madrid organizes various activities that revolve around his illustrious figure. The Night of the Books , an endearing popular celebration at the foot of the street that has been held for some time now, will feature in 2019 a program entirely dedicated to the poet from Granada.

Indoor treasures

Inside, Madrid has an enviable museum offer that, on specific days and hours, is free. This is the case of the National Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando , free on Monday and Wednesday, respectively. Likewise, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía allows free admission from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Mon-Sat and from 1:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and the Prado Museum , which precisely this year celebrates its bicentennial , offers free admission from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday, and from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. For such anniversary , the museum offers temporary exhibitions of great names such as Fra Angélico, Velázquez, Goya, Lavinia Fontana, Rembrandt and Giacometti, among others. Special mention should be made of the Museo del Prado 1819-2019 exhibition, which delves into the history of the art gallery, with its own and invited works.

Some subway and train stations in the capital are well worth a visit, go to take (or not) the aforementioned transport. This is the case of Atocha station , the largest in all of Madrid, which, beyond its admirable architecture, has a unique tropical garden inside, with more than 7000 plants of 400 different species. The station Chamberí, meanwhile, is the so – called ” ghost station “, an old subway station line 1 on the Plaza de Chamberí that after being abandoned, recovered to visit as it was in 1919.

In a more traditional setting, it is worth mentioning the visit to the Las Ventas bullring , the quintessence of Spanish bullfighting, and the Bullfighting Museum, both free (since it is the circuits and bullfights that you really pay for).

The icing on this selection of free proposals for the capital Madrid puts the hermitage of San Antonio de la Florida ,  also known as the pantheon of Goya, since it is here where the remains of the famous painter. In it, special attention deserves its frescoes carried out by Goya  himself in 1798.

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