Madrid on a shoestring

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Not so long ago, Madrid was the second-cheapest capital city in Europe. Post-euro, not so much; but with these tips and you (and your wallet) will make it through intact.

  • These museums, galleries and chapels open their doors for free at nominated times:
    • Museo del Prado - admission free 6-8pm Tue-Sat, 5-8pm Sun
    • Centro de Arte Reina Sofía - admission free 2.30-9pm Sat, 10am-2.30pm Sun
    • Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporáneo - admission free Tue-Sun
    • Museo Arqueológico Nacional - admission free 2.30-8.30pm Sat & all day Sun
    • Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida - admission free Tue-Sun
    • Museo de América - admission free Sun
  • If you can't make it at those times,  you can still save 20% on tickets to the big three galleries (Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and Centro de Arte Reina Sofía) with the Paseo del Arte card (€14.40, valid up to 12 months for one visit to each gallery)
  • El Rastro is the place for bargain souvenirs on a Sunday. Be prepared to spend a bit of time hunting through the trash, but there are real treasures to be found - every now and then an original Picasso or Goya turns up here
  • For the price of a drink you can buy a ring-side seat to the theatre that is Spanish street life in the Plaza Mayor. Pull up a chair at the outdoor tables around the perimeter of one of Spain's most beautiful squares.
  • The caveat to window-shopping is that it's only free if you don't buy anything. If you fancy pressing your nose wistfully up against a shop window, we recommend Salamanca's Calle de Serrano.
  • For a great sleep on a shoestring, try the polished Albergue Juvenil, the lively Cat's Hostel and Mad Hostel with its rooftop terraces.