HI Hostels Blog

Food and culture in Madrid

The Royal Palace Madrid

Planning a trip to Spain’s capital city? Keep reading for tips on where to go to get your budget-friendly dose of culture and food!

The Royal Palace Madrid
The Royal Palace

If you’re looking for free entry into some of the city’s most popular museums, the secret is to go in the evening. Museo del Prado and its abundance of historical paintings offers free entry Monday – Saturday, 6 – 8 p.m., and Sundays and holidays, 5 – 7 p.m. For something more modern, head to Reina Sofia Museum where you can visit for free 7 – 9 p.m. Monday – Saturday (closed Tuesdays), and 1:30 – 7 p.m. on Sundays. If you happen to be in town April 18, May 18,  October 12, or December 6, the museum is open and free all day. Snag your free entry to the Royal Palace by going Monday – Thursday, 4 – 6 p.m. October through March and 6 to 8 p.m. April through September.

Get your bearings as you learn about the city with a free walking tour from SANDEMANs New Europe, plus get 25% off their paid walking tours for HI members.

Make your way through Madrid’s largest flea market, El Rastro, which is open every Sunday and public holiday from 9 a.m – 3 p.m., as you hunt for one-of-a-kind finds and unique treasures with tourists and locals alike.


The perfect follow-up to a morning or afternoon of flea market strolling is to get yourself some tapas and beer. For big appetites and small budgets, try El Tigre, where you can get generous portions of tapas for under €2. Alternatively, you can stick with the market theme by heading to Mercado San Miguel, a feast for the eyes and stomach, however expect to spend more than you would at the wallet-friendly El Tigre.

Satisfy your sweet tooth and take a bite out of Madrid history at Chocolateria San Gines, home to Madrid’s best churros and chocolate. This place is open 24/7, every day of the year, and has been making churros since 1894. Be sure to check out their photo-covered walls with pictures of famous customers through the years.

What better way to get to know a country’s cuisine than learn to cook it yourself! If you’re prepared to test your culinary prowess and want to take the flavours of Spain home with you, why not take one of Cookly’s seven different Madrid cooking classes? Learn how to make traditional tapas, irresistible paella, or embark on a market tour where you’ll learn how to pick the best products, then cook up a feast with the items you’ve purchased. And since we love good food as much as you do, we’ve partnered with Cookly to offer you 10% off the cooking class of your choosing.

Food + Culture

The best of both worlds, soak up one of Spain’s most beloved traditions over dinner at a flamenco show (you can also opt out of the meal and select just drinks and the show). One of the best budget flamenco shows in Madrid is Las Carboneras, and they even offer a 20% discount for HI members, simply mention that you’re a HI member when you make your booking.

The Hat Madrid rooftopAs always, we’ve got you covered with affordable accommodation. Stay at eco-friendly The Hat, located in a palace in the heart of the city. Most rooms come with private bathrooms and a balcony, it’s home to one of the city’s best rooftop bars, is open 24 hours (no curfew!), and has bikes available for rent.

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