How to Enjoy Madrid on a Budget

Madrid is a culture behemoth—you can’t imagine all the wonderful knick knacks, tasty treats, wonderful sights in the Spanish capital.  There’s simply no other city like Madrid. While it can be a very expensive place to taste test on your travels, it definitely doesn’t have to be!

Choose Where to Splurge – Madrid

There’s always something you REALLY want to do when traveling, and Madrid has lots of options. You should definitely experience them – well, at least some of them!

When it comes to being satisfied with a visit anywhere, try starting with a list of things you could never forgive yourself for missing. For a weekend trip, try limiting it to one must-do item. For a week long trip, allot two or three favorites. Then you can prioritize how you want to spend your time.

For example, my best travel buddy adores wine. So, we always splurge on one great restaurant with an incredible wine list. She also loves experiencing new cities by bike, so no matter what our plan is, we always rent bikes.

When you prioritize, your money always goes towards what makes you happiest – ensuring you have a great time without sacrificing your budget!

Eat Smart

Madrid is the home of the tapas, which means that eating well could be in a five star restaurant, or at a hole in the wall cafe. Try these restaurants for budget eats and definitely make sure you get your hands on a few of these dishes!



  • Huevos Rotos
  • Bocadillo de Calamares
  • Oreja a la Plancha
  • Callos a la Madrileña
  • Churros con Chocolate

Check Out Travel Apps

Budget-minded apps are great for keeping your spending on track but also to make sure you’re looking out for things that could be free or helpful in other ways. I always travel with DarkSky (hyperlocal weather app, absolutely worth the app price because it tells you how far a storm is in minutes), InkCards (send personalized postcards to your friends and family back home and forego buying trinkets), and Trail Wallet (to track your budget).

For Madrid specifically, I suggest downloading  HearPlanet for personalized, solo-walking tours throughout the city, Metro de Madrid app (perfect for navigating the city’s budget friendly public transport), and Madrid Travel Guide and Offline City Map to discover more great things to do and see!

To save even more, make sure your cell is unlocked and grab a travel SIM card instead—it’ll mean bigger savings in the long run because local prices in Spain will obviously be cheaper than your overseas carrier. They’re available at the airport and easy to install, so it’s the perfect way to stay connected without blowing your budget!

 Take Advantage of the New Sharing Economy

Hostels are very popular (and very affordable) in Europe, and Madrid is no exception. For those of you trying to save when it comes to accommodation, I recommend Hostal Luz Madrid (free wifi and breakfast TOC Hostel Madrid (hipster hostel with an in-house bar and pool), or Mad Hostel Madrid (free breakfast, wifi, private and shared rooms and a rooftop terrace.) They’re all in ideal locations, have super wonderful atmospheres for solo travelers, and are budget-friendly.

 Plan Ahead

A big part of being budget friendly is making sure you have a plan set for incidentals or any bumps in the road along the way. This could include expenses incurred by a missed flight, lost passport, injury, etc. An emergency fund and travel insurance are crucial in protecting you against the unexpected. Best of all, if you don’t end up using it, you’ll have even more cash to fund your next trip.

These tips should help you be able to live large on a small budget and prevent you from having to postpone your dreams due to the average millennial financial woes. Some save Paris until they can afford a suite at the Ritz,  opera tickets, and the most expensive champagne. In all honesty, those people may never make it to the City of Lights. So forego all of the things you think you have to do  and enjoy the moment!

Until next time…bon voyage!

Many thanks to Claire for contributing this guest post to Head Elsewhere!

About Claire: I’m Claire – a self-confessed travel nut. I’ve been travelling around the world for longer than I would care to admit! You can read all about my adventures through 48 cities in 26 countries on 4 continents on my blog

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