During the Winter, I visited Madrid to see a longtime friend who was living there. She had just moved there a month prior and knew some of the best places to eat, drink, and be a tourist. I was able to experience both the tourist-y side of Madrid and act like a local.
As someone who has started travelling alone throughout Europe and is a known extroverted-introvert, being in a new place with a friend is very comforting and stressful at times. While I had so much fun with my friend after not seeing her for months, my social meter seemed to get low very quickly.
Therefore, the following recommendations are not specifically for introverts, but can be options for introverts to choose to do by themselves or with friends (new or old!). I’ve found that when I want to be social but am unsure of how to talk to a random person, I just go to a social setting where other solo travelers will be. This is particularly resourceful at hostels and on tours. Usually an extrovert will begin talking to me and then the conversation becomes more natural and I’m able to make a friend, whether for most of my trip or just for the brief time. Also, you could get another Insta follower and that never hurts! (JK!)
- Uber: I do not recommend Uber-ing around the city as everything is fairly close and within a walkable distance. Also, Madrid does have a metro system which is super convenient. I used Uber only to and from the airport as recommended by my friend, but that was ridiculously price-y (€40 to my friend’s place and €20 to the airport). You’re better off taking a bus or the metro into the city center.
- Metro: Madrid’s metro system is SOO convenient and relatively inexpensive. Depending on how long you will be in the city, I highly recommend a 10 trip card if you plan on visiting all over the city. It costs roughly €18, but does not work for traveling to or from the airport which requires a different type of ticket.
- Sandeman’s New Europe tours: The first time I used this tour service was in Madrid! My friend searched for “tours in Madrid” and came across this FREE tour (you do tip them at the end, I recommend 5-10€/person depending on how good you view your guide). Usually the tour is 2.5-3 hours long but it is a more affordable way to see the city and receive a fun history lesson as well (if you enjoy history as much as I do!). They have locations in many cities across Europe, which you can find here and the free tour for Madrid here. TIP: If you already have their loyalty card make sure to carry with you – ideally in a bag that you always have on you – as getting a new card will make it WAYYY more difficult to consolidate your stamps later. This is my only complaint with the company, I’ve mostly had great guides and an overall great experience with them.
Affordable Things to See
- Parc de El Retiro: This park has everything from a large pond where you can row around to an art museum. The boat riding was the highlight of my visit as it was 72F/21C degrees out and large enough to explore all day. The line gets busy quick if the weather is nice, so make sure to get there early! The cost for one boat for 45 minutes is 6€ during the weekday and 8€ during the weekend. Also, if you enjoy running then I definitely recommend coming here to do just that, as it is only 1 mile/1km from the city center. Definitely visit the Palacio de Cristal and Palacio de Velazquez during your stay, as they always have new exhibits every few months.
- Palacio Real de Madrid: The Royal Palace is definitely a must-see when you visit Madrid! It reminds me of Versailles with the hundreds of rooms, and the large garden just behind it. The gardens are free to the public, as is the plaza just in front of the palace where you can walk around and relax on a sunny day. To enter the palace the cost is 10 euros, but the price can be reduced to 5€ if you are a student in the EU and under 25 years old. The list of criteria can be found here.
- Museo Nacional del Prado: If you enjoy art museums then definitely visit the Prado! They have art from almost every century, and you could likely get lost in there as it is one of the largest museums I’ve ever been to. Entry to the museum is FREE Monday – Friday from 6-8pm and Saturday – Sunday from 5-7pm. TIP: get to the building at least 30 minutes before the start of the free admission time period.
- Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia: Another amazing art museum if you enjoy modern art. They also have FREE entry after 7pm and is free for students under 25 if you’re studying in Europe. My father recommended it to me and encouraged me to find Picasso’s “Guernica” painting which covers a whole wall in the museum (granted I could not find it so I plan to go back soon and try to find it!). Dali is also featured in here and is definitely worth the visit as well. TIP: As the free entry is well known to locals, make sure you get there 30 minutes before the free admissions time period.
Let me know what you think about these recommendations! Also, if you think I missed some other amazing places then feel free to leave a comment below 🙂
Full disclosure: I did stay at my friend’s place and did not stay at a hostel. During my next visit I plan on being in a hostel and will write about those experiences in a future blog post.