Metro Príncipe Pío & Puerta del Ángel • www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/madrid-rio/
This contemporary park near the Puente de Segovia follows the banks of the Manzanares River, and offers gardens, children’s play areas, bicycle and jogging paths, as well as viewing points, fountains and bridges. There’s also a skate park, a climbing wall and facilities for playing basketball, pétanque and paddle tennis. In summer it even boasts its own beach, which attracts Madrileños in droves.
Madrid’s world-class museums all offer free entry at specific times. The Prado is free Mondays to Saturdays from 6–8pm and on Sundays from 5–7pm. The Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza is free on Mondays from noon to 4pm, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is free Mondays and Wednesdays to Saturdays from 7–9pm and on Sundays from 1:30–7pm.
The biggest festival in Madrid is held in honour of the city’s patron saint, San Isidro, and takes place for a week around 15 May. Local people, dressed in traditional costume, head to the Parque de San Isidro for outdoor concerts, picnics and the stalls selling a wide range of food and drink that line the streets. There are plenty of traditional festivals through-out the year, including the Fiestas del Dos de Mayo, held for a week around 2 May in Malasaña, and the Verbena la Paloma which takes place in La Latina in August.
This city-run cultural centre is home to Madrid’s Contemporary Art Museum, and also features an auditorium, a library and several exhibition spaces. All exhibitions, including those in the Contemporary Art Museum, are free.A regular programme of talks, workshops and kid-friendly activities is on offer.
Ronda de Valencia 2 • 902 43 03 22 • Open 10am–10pm Tue–Sun • www.lacasaencendida.es
This fantastic cultural centre, run by a private foundation, offers a wide range of free exhibitions, workshops, courses and family-friendly activities, and has a charming rooftop garden with fabulous views over the city.
Enjoy the fascinating part of Madrid’s city centre, indulge in Spanish gastronomy and explore the interesting events that take place here. The street, is lined with magnificent buildings such as Edificio Metropolis.
The magnificent glass palace (see Palacio de Cristal) in the Parque del Retiro has been converted into one of Madrid’s most beautiful galleries, and it hosts temporary exhibitions run by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. Due to the palace’s unusual construction, there are no visits on rainy days.
This park (see Parque Juan Carlos I) is where Madrileños come to stroll, cycle (free bicycles are available by the hour) and to enjoy a picnic. There are play areas for kids, plenty of free, family-friendly activities at weekends and also a little train to take you around the park.
Parque Tierno Galván, Av del Planetario 16 • 914 67 34 61 • Metro Mendez Alvaro • Opening hours vary, consult website: www.planetmad.es
While the planetarium’s projection shows charge admission, you can visit the exhibition galleries, which have fascinating interactive and audio-visual exhibits, for free.
Many offer free admission, such as the Museo de Arte Público.
1. The Bono Metrobus pass allows you to make 10 metro or bus journeys for €12.20.
2. Fill up with a menú del día (set-price lunch) or plato combinado (dish of the day) on weekday lunchtimes for around €10.
3. An Abono Turístico travel pass is ideal if you are using public transport extensively: valid for 1–7 days, it costs from €8.40.
4. Get 20 per cent off admission and go straight to the front of the queue with the Paseo del Arte card, which provides entry to the Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofía Museums for €29.60.
5. Buy your picnic supplies from one of the city’s fantastic markets and head to a park for an alfresco lunch.
6. Check out Atrápalo for discounted entrance tickets to popular concerts, shows and sports events in Madrid. www.atrapalo.com (Spanish only)
7. Many theatres and cinemas offer reduced ticket prices on the Día del Espectador (Viewer’s Day) each week, usually a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.
8. Some of Madrid’s bars continue the fine old tradition of providing free tapas with your drinks: these include El Tigre (Calle Infantas 23, Chueca), and La Pequeña Grañá (C/Embajadores 124, Embajadores).
9. Companies like SANDEMANs offer brilliant free walking tours, led by locals. Be sure to leave a tip at the end of the tour. www.neweuropetours.eu
10. Hotel breakfasts across Spain are generally pricey and poor value: you’ll eat much better elsewhere for less.