This article is part of our Spending Money Guide Series: The WeSwap community spent upwards of £38 million around the world last year. That works out at roughly 1.2 transactions every minute. We’ve taken that data, crunched it and created a series of travel money spending guides, based on how actual travellers travel and spend abroad.
In many ways, Madrid seems to come second best to Barcelona’s in the minds of travellers. Strange as this is Spain’s capital city and it’s not short of great things to do and see. The truth is, Madrid and Barcelona are both great and they both have their own strengths.
This reflects what everyday travellers tend to spend in Madrid. Think mid-range – most of the major attractions, a few cab rides, maybe a big night out, and a bit of shopping on the side. It doesn’t include the cost of hotels or car hire as these are often booked in advance.
Want to see where it all goes? Read on!
Before we get any further, it’s worth noting that not everyone speaks English in Madrid – don’t expect it like you would in other parts of Spain – so take a phrase book and do a bit of swatting before you go…
Real Traveller Average Daily Spend: €40
For a fix of museum Art head to tree-lined The Paseo del Prado where you’ll find the “Golden Triangle of Art”. The world-famous Prado is Spain’s most prestigious and popular art museum. Museo Reina Sofía close by is the national home of 20th century art which means painting by the like of Dali and Picasso.
Rowing in Retiro Park. This park used to belong to the royal family but now it’s open to everyday travellers (and royalty too of course, if they want to).
This still feels like a royal park, the gardens are impeccable, the bushes are pruned and the sprinkles always on. The park is especially lively on weekends, when street musicians, jugglers, and sidewalk painters entertain.
The boating lake is great fun and for any sun worshippers out there, it’s an excellent way to get a tan. And tone up your arms at the same time of course. Double whammy.
Real Traveller Average Daily Spend: €38
Chocolateria San Gines: The food establishment where WeSwap travellers spend the most in Madrid is a Chocolateria! Of all the spending guides we’ve created, this is the only time that has happened. Actions speak louder the words so the message is: go and experience this chocolate.
The impressive glass and wrought-iron Mercado de San Miguel is one of the liveliest culinary spots in the city and has been since a six-year restoration completed in 2009. It’s filled with stalls selling scrumptious food of a typically European variety: cured meat, olives, cheeses and of course, wonderful paella. Go before the midday rush if you want a seat.
Our “cocktail with a view” choice is the Gau&Café. This one is the definition of a hidden gem in that it’s actually hidden. There are no signs on street level so double check the address before you set off. The terrace is on the fourth floor of the university library. The area is split into two zones, for eating and drinking.
Staff pick: El Tigre. If you can actually make it through the door, order a beer or a cider and marvel at the hefty tapas that come with it – patatas bravas, ‘jamón serrano’, Spanish omelet… it’s all free, and each plate varies (and gets bigger) with each round. The bar itself is incredibly noisy and always absolutely rammed. But it does disprove the theory that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
WeSwap tip: The Spanish eat their big meal of the day during lunch time. Most restaurants offer a menu of the day from Monday to Friday for lunch only. This is usually a bargain and may cost between 8 to 13 euros, as of writing.
Real Traveller Average Daily Spend: €17
First and best advice: take the metro! It’s cheap, extensive, and extremely easy to navigate, even if you don’t speak Spanish. The metro is well connected to the city center, a trip that takes about 45 minutes from the airport. All metro rides are 1 euro, and there’s a 1 euro surcharge for airport trips.
Real Traveller Average Daily Spend: €52
Madrid is a very interesting city for shopping. International brands mix with local shops opened until very late (normally from 10 am to 10 pm), where you can find almost everything: clothing, shoes, food, wines, souvenirs… from very different styles, at very different prices.
Salamanca District – This is one of the most upscale neighborhoods of the city centers, where you can find cool restaurants, fashion bars and expensive shops. The main avenues are Calle Serrano and Calle Velázquez, but it is recommended that you also explore the small streets of the area, as you can find some surprises in them. Calle Claudio Coello and Calle Lagasca are filled with a wide variety of shops.
Last checked and updated: 15.03.2017. All travel, accommodation, and entertainment costs are taken from the provider’s official website – but don’t forget to double check yourself first before you head off.
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