Madrid: perhaps the most evocative name in Western Europe and a beacon of culture and modernity, all elegantly packaged into one affordable location. |
Great for a visit as a couple or with friends, Madrid is an enlightening destination. There’s plenty here to keep the autonomously-minded busy for days. Furthermore it can appeal to those on a budget – there are loads of free museums and cheap, good food to go with the chic urban vibrancy.
Here is a tantalising list of things to see and places to visit, and advice on how to make the most of the Spanish capital (even with your purse strings tightened).
Stay in One of the Central Hostels
The most cost-effective way to explore any city in the world is by choosing hostels over hotels. They are no longer the beer-stained slums of yesteryear, and you can stay in private accommodation or, if you’re counting your pennies, a dorm. They are also vastly cheaper than most alternatives, and provide a unique way of meeting new people and forging friendships.
Use Public Transport
The public transport systems in Madrid are excellent, relatively cheap and rarely more than €1.50 a journey. The metro, bus and local commuter train all ably service the population.
Madrid isn’t spread out in the same way that London is, so walking around the centre is also an option. And the best thing about travelling by foot is that it’s absolutely free!
Eat in the Cheap Tapas Bars
Madrid is in Spain, and Spain is tapas. Not surprisingly, there are loads of tapas bars (and cheap ones among them). This will be a case of trial, error and patience as you will have to work out exactly which are best.
Top Tip: Avoid the highly concentrated touristy areas, as that’s where savvy owners hitch up the prices.
Explore the Markets
Even less money than tapas bars, however, are the markets. Mercado San Miguel is the most famous in Madrid – and the busiest. It’s home to high quality, inexpensive food and wine – whether you’re after tacos, paella, pizza or something else, it’s more than likely that someone will be selling it.
Visit Museums on Free Days
The tourism standard. Enmesh yourself in a cultural landscape by seeing some modern art at Reina Sofia, Museo del Prado or CaixaForum. They are all free on most evenings – but make sure you do your research to confirm exactly when. There are also exhibits on all aspects of human civilisation – and for no entry fee if you know where to look.
There’s no better way to align yourself with the rhythms of a new place than by hitting its streets, smelling its smells and experiencing it up close and personal. Explore one of the many gardens, take in the architecture and revel in the sights of the Egyptian Temple or the Royal Palace.
The Last Word
No matter how tight your budget is, you should always think about taking out a single trip travel insurance policy. You never know when disaster could strike you or your belongings, and there’s no greater nightmare than getting stranded without any means of helping yourself. Even if your dream Madrid extravaganza is just a cheap single trip, travel insurance could save you in more ways than one.
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore, an award-winning team of specialists in global, annual and single trip travel insurance policies. Besides offering great deals on travel insurance, Patrick also collects and shares the best free travel competitions to help his clients get the most out of their holidays.
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