Madrid Atocha is the main train station of the Spanish capital, and it welcomes over 100 million passengers every year to the city. The first station here was built as far back as 1851, and its central location makes it the ideal gateway for exploring the city.
Visiting Madrid is always fun, but it isn’t always cheap. Luckily, if you know where to look, you can find plenty of free activities in the heart of the city, including in the area around the train station. Drop off your bags at a Madrid Atocha luggage storage and try some of these great free things to do in the Spanish capital.
Check out the Tropical Garden at the Train Station
There’s not much left of the very first version of Atocha, with most of the station having been converted into a more modern transportation hub over the decades. However, the old iron-raftered train shed dating back to 1892 has been preserved and is now the home of a stunning tropical garden.
Check out the towering cactuses and other exotic plants on display here. If you’re in need of refreshments, this is also the part of the station where you’ll find many cafés and other shops, but if you don’t want to spend any money, it’s totally free to admire the impressive plant collection. Your visit to Madrid can begin before you even leave the station at this unique spot.
Museo del Prado in the evening
Madrid’s Prado Museum is widely considered one of the very best in the world. Its extensive collection holds art from across the globe, but unsurprisingly, its collection of Spanish works is what really shines here. Visit the museum, and you can see masterpieces by big names in Spanish art like Velasquez, Goya, Picasso, and more.
The Prado is easily one of Madrid’s top tourist attractions, and while it’s a must-visit for art lovers, it’s also a fascinating place to visit for those with more passing interest in art. And while there is an admission fee to admire this stunning collection, if you time your visit right, you can see it all for free.
The museum is free to enter from 6 to 8 PM every evening from Monday to Saturday and from 5 PM to 7 PM on Sundays and holidays. As you might expect, the museum can be very crowded during these times. However, it’s a great way to save some money and see one of Madrid’s top attractions without spending anything. Additionally, admission is always free for anyone under 18, students between 18 and 25, the unemployed, and large families of more than three children.
Madrid’s Plaza Mayor is one of the city’s most popular tourist spots and for good reason. This expansive square has been the center of Spanish life for centuries, and it has been the site of many important events in Spanish history.
The current plaza dates back to 1619, and its beautiful architecture makes it one of Madrid’s most Instagrammable spots. It’s also a great place to people watch, as tourists and locals alike come here to soak up the atmosphere.
If you’re looking for a bite to eat, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes surrounding the square. However, these can be quite pricey. Instead, try one of the many churros stands in the area for a delicious and inexpensive snack. These fried pastry treats are a Spanish specialty, and they make for a great snack or light meal.
El Retiro Park
El Retiro Park is one of Madrid’s largest and most popular parks. This sprawling green space is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and it’s a great spot for picnics, walks, and people-watching.
The park is home to many beautiful sculptures and monuments, as well as a large lake where you can go boating in the summer months. There is also an art museum located in the park, but unfortunately, it does charge an admission fee.
However, even if you don’t want to spend any money, there is still plenty to see and do in El Retiro Park. And best of all, it’s completely free to enter!
La Almudena Cathedral
La Almudena Cathedral is Madrid’s main cathedral, and it’s one of the city’s most important religious sites.
The cathedral was completed in 1993, making it one of the newer buildings on this list. However, its neo-Gothic design makes it feel like it has been a part of Madrid for much longer.
While the Almudena Cathedral is free to enter, there is a small fee to visit the crypts and towers. But, even if you don’t pay to explore these areas, you can still admire the beautiful architecture and stained glass windows of this stunning building.
Temple of Debod
The Temple of Debod is an ancient Egyptian temple that was gifted to Spain in 1968.
The temple was originally built in the 2nd century BC, and it was moved to Madrid stone by stone in the 1970s. Today, it stands as a striking reminder of Madrid’s close connection to Egypt.
While the temple itself is fairly small, it’s located in a beautiful park with great views of the city. And best of all, it’s free to enter! Make sure to visit at sunset for the best views.
As you can see from this list, there is no shortage of great free things to do in Madrid. And because Madrid Atocha is so close to the heart of the city, you can start exploring what the Spanish capital has to offer almost from the moment you step off the train.
Leave your bags behind at luggage storage in Atocha Station, and you’ll find yourself in the perfect position to explore Madrid. Try some of these free activities to make your budget stretch further as you enjoy this beautiful city.