Madrid

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ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

Madrid Money-Saving Tips

Pick your Last Call Destination Wisely

Despite Madrid’s reputation as a nonstop party city, its bars shut their doors to new customers at 3am. The loophole: Revelers already inside may drink until dawn, so start hunting for a hopping spot around 2:30am.

Sunday’s Park Life

Don’t miss a Sunday afternoon stroll through Parque del Retiro, when just about every Madrileño emerges for outdoor fun.

Watch your Bags

Hold on to your valuables on the wander through El Rastro, infamous for its well-versed pickpockets.

Siesta Time

While many stores stay open all day on weekdays and Saturday mornings, small independent shops traditionally close for siesta, daily between 2 and 5pm.

Big Lunch, Late Dinner

Dinner in Spain is served late, with the earliest seating at 9pm. Do as the locals do and have an abundant lunch.

Bullfight Tickets

Most tickets are sold out a year in advance, but a small percentage are released a few weeks before each corrida. Get them through www.taquillatoros.com or www.las-ventas.com.

Language

Madrileños are a friendly and outgoing bunch but speaking English is not among their fortes. If in a communication bind, approach the younger crowd who are more likely to know a few English words. Most important, brush up on the basics and pack a phrasebook.

Paseo del Arte Card

Save a chunk of change on admission fees to Madrid’s three major museums with this discount card, valid for a single entry to each of the trio and available at any of them.

Plot a Sneaky Tapas Crawl

The popularity of tapas worldwide has made Spain’s mythical free feast increasingly difficult to find, even in Madrid. If you’re set on a full spread of small plates, plan to shell out at the city’s nicer tapas restaurants; otherwise, don’t ask the bartender for a menu until after ordering a drink – you’ll usually get at least one basic bite (typically olives or cheese) on the house.

Indulge in a Prix-Fixe Feast

Save money by eating as the Madrileños do and opting for the set menu del dia, served during weekday lunches at most of the city’s cafés and restaurants. Expect two or three courses, as well as wine and coffee, to cost around $15-$30.

Peruse the Prado Early

Entrance lines curl around this massive neoclassical building, particularly on weekend afternoons, so plan to pay your respects to Spain’s masterpieces during the work week; if your schedule only allows for a Saturday or Sunday visit, queue early to outsmart the crowds.

Sweat it Out

If you can stand the soaring temperatures you’ll get the best bang for your buck from late June to August, with one caveat: Most locals leave the city and many restaurants and bars shut down completely, especially in August.

Micro-theater, Micro Prices

For affordable theater, visit Por Dinero, a micro-theater in the triBall neighborhood with room for just 15 audience members. The 21-person company decides on a specific theme each month and generally keeps each skit under 15 minutes; tickets start at around $4.

Climb High

Skip pricey rooftop bars and restaurants and pay just 3 euros to visit the rooftop (including a 1 euro entry free to the building) of the Circulo de Bellas Artes, a multidisciplinary arts center that housed under-the-table gambling during Franco's rein. The terrace puts on display Gran Via to the northwest; Madrid’s low, red brick-roofed homes all around; and the Cerro de los Angeles (Hill of the Angels), considered Spain’s geographic center, to the south.

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