Has the travel bug inspired you to get on a flight and explore more of the world but worried about the price-tag on a trip of a lifetime? Traveling does not necessarily have to be as expensive as many believe it to be. Madrid, the capital of Spain, for example, is a city that can be navigated and enjoyed on an affordable budget. Whether it be amazing and authentic Spanish tapas, cheap yet comfortable accommodation or fun and exciting activities, this city has a lot to offer that will not break the bank. This is a city of world-class museums, stunning and pristine monuments, vibrant nightlife and delicious cuisine, this is Madrid.

Before navigating the beautiful city, it is important to have a metro card in order to quickly and efficiently get to your destination. One way to save money doing this is by purchasing the ten ride card instead of a single ride card. A ten ride card will cost 12,20 euros and a single ride card can range between 1,5 and 2,0 euros. Purchasing metro cards at the airport will result in a higher fee, so it is best to wait until you are at the metro station to purchase your card. One passenger, after being asked if he recommends using the metro to tourists, said, “Absolutely, the metro is fast and easy. In terms of seeing good views of the city, the bus is the better option. But I definitely recommend the metro.” 

Temple of Debod at dusk | Olivia Debes

One of the many appealing aspects of Madrid are the breathtaking public parks that are open and free to the public. The Temple of Debod, located in the Parque del Oeste, is a great place to visit at sunset. Pack up a picnic and visit this incredible Egyptian temple that includes a lovely park with an overlook and view of parts of Madrid. The Temple of Debod is open to the public free of cost throughout the summer season on Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Relaxing at Parque del Oeste, near Temple of Debod | Olivia Debes

The Museo del Prado, known as being one of the most famous art museums in the world, holds many astonishing works of art. A general admission ticket during the hours of operation costs about 15 euros. However, the museum offers certain hours of free admission. From Monday to Saturday, the museum is free from 6 pm to 8 pm and on Sundays and holidays, the hours are from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

Wooden boat rentals at Casa De Campo | Olivia Debes

Looking to spend an afternoon in nature? Casa De Campo is the place for you. This park, which borders a beautiful lake, has activities for everyone. Renting one of the small wooden boats is a must-do at Casa De Campo. Carmen, one of the workers at the park, said, “the boat service is six euros per 45 minutes on weekdays and allows for four people maximum. On the weekends, the boat service costs eight euros for 45 minutes.” Do you want to see the city of Madrid from above at an affordable rate? The Teleférico De Madrid is the perfect way to go to and from Casa De Campo and includes amazing views of the city. This gondola ride will not leave you disappointed, especially for the price of 4,50 euros one way or 6 euros round trip. 

Sunny lake days at Casa De Campo | Olivia Debes

While traveling abroad, it is tough to have access to a full kitchen to be able to cook meals at home. Fear not, Madrid has many affordable restaurants that make eating out and experiencing Spanish culture firsthand affordable. 

Many restaurants offer a menu del dia on weekdays that provide a substantial amount of food for a relatively inexpensive price. A menu del dia is essentially equivalent to a price fix menu and includes an appetizer, a main course, bread, beverages and dessert. One restaurant I visited during my time in Madrid was the Restaurant Cafeteria Dublin. For the price, the meal included a very impressive amount of food. My meal included a four cheese spaghetti, two pieces of chicken with fries on the side, a coffee and a glass of sangria. The entire meal cost 10,40 euros. While the service was not top tier, who could complain at that price? 

Looking to enjoy and try different tapas throughout your time in Spain? El Tigre has you covered. With the purchase of a drink, a few different tapas are included with no additional cost. There are a variety of tapas brought to your table, which adds to the exciting atmosphere. Some of the potential tapas include patatas bravas, tortilla española, croquettes and pan tumaca. For a liter of sangria and an array of tapas, the total was 6 euros. If you go for a drink with a group of people, more tapas will be included at the table. One tip for a successful night at El Tigre is to go on the earlier side before the dinner rush. I went on the earlier side, around seven in the evening, and was able to get a table for nine people. 

Spicy chicken and mushroom and cheese one euro tacos | Olivia Debes

Tapas are not the only food that can be enjoyed on a budget in Madrid. Takos Al Pastor is known for its one euro tacos. Some of the taco options include tinga de pollo (spicy chicken), champiñon and queso (mushroom and cheese) and papas, chorizo and queso (potatoes, chorizo and cheese). Don’t be discouraged by the long lines that Takos Al Pastor will generate during lunch hours, the service is fast and finding a seat is not impossible. For two tacos, the total was 2 euros. The tacos are quite small, two were perfect for a light snack but five or six should be ideal for a meal. 

Impressive interior at Manolo Bakes | Olivia Debes

Trying Spanish pastries and coffee is essential to the Spain experience. Manolo Bakes is an affordable but delicious bakery. If you choose to sit down, you can purchase a stuffed croissant and a coffee of your choice for just 3,50 euros. If you choose to do take-away instead, you can purchase a pastry or coffee at separate prices, however, the prices remain cost-effective. During my visit to Manolo Bakes, I purchased a croissant roll stuffed with feta cheese and the price was 2,50 euros. 

The stigma that traveling is costly and takes a major toll on your bank account does not need to be the case, and Madrid is a great example. Madrid has so much to offer that can be done on a cheap, or even free, basis. Don’t let the fear of high costs deter you from experiencing the art of travel and all of the amazing things that come with it. The capital of Spain is easily navigable on a budget. 

Temple of Debod Calle de Ferraz, 1: Inside of Parque del Oeste Closed Mondays, Weekdays from 10 am-2 pm and 6 pm-8 pm and Weekends from 9:30 am to 8 pm Free entry

Museo Del Prado Calle de Ruiz de Alarcón, 23 Regular Hours: Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 8 pm, Sundays from 10 am to 7 pm Free Hours: Monday to Saturday from 6 pm to 8pm, Sundays from 5 pm to 7 pm 15 euros for regular admission, free during specified hours

Casa De Campo Paseo Puerta del Ángel, 1 24 hours, 7 days a week Free entry, cost of additional activities varies Boat rentals: 6 euros per 45 minutes on weekdays, 8 euros on weekends Teleférico De Madrid: 4,50 one way, 6,00 round trip

Restaurant Cafeteria Dublin Calle de la Princesa, 29 7 am to 12 am, 7 days a week Menu del dia: 10,40 euros

El Tigre Calle de las Infantas, 23 or Calle de la Hortaleza, 23 Monday to Thursday and Sunday from 12 pm to 12 am, Fridays from 12 pm to 1 am, Saturdays from 12 pm to 1:30 am One liter of sangria plus tapas, 6 euros

Takos Al Pastor Calle de la Abada, 2 Tuesday to Sunday from 1:30 pm to 12 am, closed Mondays 1 euro per taco

Manolo Bakes Calle del Conde de Peñalver, 68
8 am to 9 pm, 7 days a week Price varies by pastry, about 2,50 to 3,50 euros 

Edited by Julissa Ramirez.