You Can Get it for Free (in Madrid)

Weird : Quirky : Fun

by Julie Espinosa


There are tons of free things to take advantage of in Madrid, but this post goes beyond the normal standbys of parks, museums during certain hours and public healthcare. If you are hunting down frugal activities in the city, be on the lookout for the phrase, “entrada libre hasta completar el aforo,” free entrance until full. Search various event listings and check out the resources listed (in Spanish) here.

1. Art: For hip and fresh art spaces I recommend a visit to the Matadero and NFM’s perennial favorite, La Casa Encendida.

2. Clothes: Sincoste is an experimental “store” where the ropa is all free. It’s located in a sort of hippie-collective building that, according to a friend, calls to mind both Berlin and the U.S. Food Not Bombs movement. The name is an anti-capitalist riff on the Lacoste brand.

3. Books: Madrid’s library system offers a network of municipal libraries plus metro-based mini-libraries. To qualify for a borrower’s card, present your Spanish ID or passport, if a foreigner. Some English-language reading material and plenty of versión original DVDs available.

4. Tapas: OK, technically you do have to shell out for your drink to qualify for this offer, but several bars—like El Tigre—do a great job attracting clients with this freebie.

5. What would you choose as the best free thing in Madrid? Add your comments below!

See map below for locations mentioned above:

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Comment from José Miguel
Date: April 25, 2008, 8:16 am

The changing of the guard ceremony held every Wednesday outside the Royal Palace. Four members of the Royal Guard take part in the ceremony at the Puerta del Príncipe entrance to the Palace. Two foot soldiers will change guard every half hour, and two horseback soldiers once an hour. Each change lasts seven minutes, and will involve 27 guardsmen and six horses throughout the morning until 2 pm. A larger ceremony takes place affair on the first Wednesday of the month – the Relevo Solemne, a 40-minute ceremony involving more than 400 men and 100 horses.

Comment from Julie E.
Date: April 27, 2008, 3:03 pm

Great addition, José Miguel. Perhaps one of these Wednesdays I can get over there see it. I don’t think they had any changing of the guard the last time I visited the Palacio Real a few years ago.

Comment from Moira
Date: April 28, 2008, 11:13 am

Our local community center always has a great schedule of free activities. Everything from Jazz concerts to children’s theater. We’ve found them to be of excellent quality. Watching the children’s theater in Spanish is helping our kids and us with our Spanish comprehension. Just search for “centro cultural” on to bring up a list of all the centers. Then look at the ones for your district to see what’s scheduled.

I was also surprised to find that you can hire mountain bikes and take a “train” (it is car made to look like a railway train) ride around Parque Juan Carlos for free!

José Miguel thanks for your suggestion. Does the Relevo Solemne take place once or several times during the first Wednesday of the month? If just once, then please can you tell us at what time?