Madrid, Spain’s capital city, is not one to miss. Despite being a modern city, much of the traditional architecture is well maintained. Madrid is also a great stepping stone for a day trip to the unique, quaint and ancient city of Toledo aka the “City of Three Cultures”. We recommend spending at least 2 days here if you plan to take a day trip to Toledo. A trip to Madrid does not need to be pricey and can be done on a budget as well. Here is our guide on visiting Madrid, Spain on a budget.
What to do in Madrid on a Budget
Day Trip to Toledo
If you do one thing while in Madrid, do this. We LOVED our day trip to Toledo. Toledo is only a 30 minute high speed train ride from Madrid. This old city is located on a hilltop, surrounded by the Tagus River on three sides and has a very quaint feel.
It is called the “City of Three Cultures” due to its Jewish, Muslim and Christian influences. The unique architecture that stems from the mixing of these three cultures is definitely worth seeing.
We enjoyed exploring the city streets by foot as well as the Alcazar (Stone Fortification, Army Museum). The best views of the city are from across the river at Mirador del Valle (our first picture is from right before sunset).
Tip: If you spend three days in Madrid, you could also take a day trip to Segovia. We did not have time for this but have heard great things about this city.
Catedral de la Almudena and Palacio Real
Back in Madrid, this Cathedral has a colorful, bright and unique interior. Not your typical dark cathedral and certainly a photographer’s dream!
Right next to the Catedral de la Almudena is Palacio Real. This Palace has 3,418 rooms and is the largest functioning Royal Palace in Europe.
Parque de Retiro
This area is a huge and very pretty park in Madrid. We had this park all to ourselves for an early morning Sunday run. The size and diversity within this park reminded us of Central Park in NYC (see New York City Quick Guide). Though slightly smaller, it is still over 300 acres!
Dear Hotel Rooftop Bar
Great sunset and/or golden hour spot. Grab a drink at the rooftop bar and enjoy the panoramic views of the city.
What/Where to eat in Madrid on a Budget
A very cute tapas bar, only a street or two from Puerta de Sol (the main square in Madrid). This place was recommended to us by one of our friend’s who lived in Madrid for a period of time and we really felt like locals here. The staff were very friendly, the tapas were not only generously portioned but delicious and the atmosphere was really fun. Definitely make a stop here!
Chocolateria San Gines
This cafe specializes in traditional delicious chocolate with churros and has been open since the 1890s. The atmosphere in here feels very traditional.
This delicacy is a very simple yet very delicious dessert. Made out of ground almonds and sugar. Make sure to get some while in Toledo.
Where to Stay in Madrid on a Budget
This accommodation is a very cute bed and breakfast less than 10 minutes from the main square, Puerta de Sol. We were able to walk everywhere we visited in Madrid, including the train station, from this location. The breakfast included was held in a cute main room and was a great start to our days. The front desk staff were also very helpful and kind. We’d highly recommend a stay here!
We hope this post helps you plan your trip to Madrid, Spain on a Budget. Be sure to visit Barcelona while in Spain as well. Anything else you’d add to our guide on visiting Madrid, Spain on a Budget? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions. Leave us a comment.
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Planning a multi-city trip to Europe? See our How to Plan Your First Europe Trip on a Budget guide for more tips on how to do this.