Madrid is a backpacker’s heaven: warm, relaxed and cheap. With (very) long nights and stomachs full of tapas, travellers are often extremely content in the Spanish capital. Be sure to engage in the aspects of Madrileño culture and let your hair down with some cheap beer, friendly conversations and clubs that run all weekend.
Outside the palace in Madrid
Where To Stay
We shacked up in a gorgeous AirBnB apartment right next to Plaza del Sol for just $50AUD a night between the two of us. There are stacks of rentable apartments in the city centre for very reasonable prices; and with friendly locals in all the bars around town, you don’t miss out on the social aspects of a hostel too much.
Although there are definitely hostels around that cater for all different needs, whether you want chill vibes or a party hostel.
What To Do
- Visit the different Plazas, such as Plaza Mayor and Plaza del Sol to see street performers and admire the vibrant restaurants spilling out into the squares
- The Retiro Gardens are gorgeous in all the seasons, and a perfect (and free way) to relax. Bring a book and sit on one of the benches in the leafy regions, or enjoy all the buskers dotted around.
- The Prado Museum has some of the most spectacular artworks in the world and is definitely worth a visit! The ticket price can be pricey, so check out free times to visit such as Monday-Saturday 6pm – 8pm, and Sunday 5pm – 7pm (although the queues can be long).
- Wander around the Royal Palace (even if you don’t end up paying to go inside) and the accompanying gardens. It’s a stunning palace and a great icon of Madrid.
- Look out for local events – there are always great concerts and live shows around.
- Check out some of the Mercados for great local produce. The Guardian has a great article on it here.
Enjoying a stroll in the Retiro Gardens
Where To Eat
- El Tigre is amazing for backpackers and students. Seriously. You buy a drink and you get a plate full of free food. With drinks being as cheap as €2.50, and plates full of croquettes, paella and patatas bravas, this is a match made in heaven.
- Museo del Jamón is everywhere and has very competitive prices. The food is not amazing, but you can’t go past €1 coffees and bocadillos.
The nightlife in Madrid is amazing and goes around the clock (some clubs actually open on Sunday mornings and run all Sunday for partiers from Saturday night to keep going). Most bars will be a really good time no matter whereabouts you are in Madrid, and clubs don’t really start to get going until 2am at the earliest.
We started our nightlife experience in Madrid by going on an organised pub crawl which was around €15 through Madride. It was actually really great and we would recommend it if you aren’t so sure on where to go yourself.