One Week in Madrid, Spain: 12 Affordable Vacation Experiences

I’ve never been to Spain (except for the countless of times I’ve watched "The Cheetah Girls 2"). In fact, there are only two things that I know of Spain: architecture and sangria. So, when my mother said we were going to Spain during spring break, I felt a mixture of excitement and not really wanting to go. If I didn’t get the full experience that was shown in the "Cheetah Girls" movie, then why bother?  

Besides the architecture and sangria, Spain has a lot of flea markets and museums that are free, especially in Madrid (where I’m going to be spending an entire week). Since my family is naturally trying to save money, I made a list of affordable things to do if you ever decide to spend a week in Spain:

Day One 

After spending more than eight hours traveling on a plane, the first day you’re in Spain should be spent walking around and exploring the area around your hotel or Airbnb. A free option for your first day is to go to Mercado San Miguel. Be prepared to get there early, preferably around 10 a.m., so you can enjoy every nook of the market. After the market, another free option is to go to Cerro del Tio Pio Park.  

Day Two 

Start your second day with museums that have free admission. In Madrid, there's the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum that has free admission from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Or, if you choose to sleep in and spend the day in your hotel, there's the Reina Sofía and The Prado Museum that have free admission from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.  

Day Three

If by your third day you’re tired of going to museums, then spend your day visiting the Palacio de Cibeles, Madrid’s city hall. The city hall also has exhibitions and free entry, but there's a viewing area that costs around $4. After spending a couple of hours in the city hall, make your way to Santiago Bernabéu Stadium (the cost of a ticket to tour the stadium is 18 euros, which is $20). Go on a tour that includes the Real Madrid changing rooms. Hopefully, you're a huge soccer fan (or you have one going with you) so you can enjoy this moment.  

Day Four

Really love the opera and royal families? Even though Spain doesn’t have Prince William or Prince Harry, you should check out Madrid’s Royal Palace and the changing of the guards ceremony. After this, visit the Plaza de Ópera Square and look around the Teatro Real opera house.  

Day Five 

Okay, if you do have the money to spend on a train or airplane ride to Barcelona, do so. Your younger self will thank you. Sure, you won’t be greeted with a group of women singing and dancing to the song “Strut,” but you don't want to miss out on the colorful city. First stop? The Sagrada Familia, one of Spain’s most famous buildings that is still yet to be finished. After this, check out Park Güell, a whimsical and colorful park that's totally Instagram-worthy.  

Day Six 

The quickest way to get the most out of a city is to enjoy a hop-on-hop-off bus. You can choose which areas you get off at, and while you’re enjoying the bus ride, you can listen to a tour guide give you interesting facts about the city. So, sit back, relax and be ready to hop-off at a moment’s notice.  

Day Seven 

Rest, you deserve it. After all, this is your vacation and tomorrow is another day of traveling more than eight hours to get back home. Enjoy a morning in, get dressed and go outside. Walk around the area around your hotel and soak in the culture around you. Maybe this will be the day you finally drink some sangria or meet a handsome man playing the Spanish guitar. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed your seven days in Madrid and found all the interesting things this city has to offer. Now that another country has been checked off your travel bucket list, check out somewhere new! Maybe Asia? Or Australia? Either way, the possibilities are endless.  

Images: 1, 2, 3