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7 tips for international students in Madrid

Phoebe

Mar 12 • 4 minute read

Whenever you’re in an unfamiliar city, it’s hard to know all of the tips and tricks that can make your time there more convenient, a bit more budget-friendly and packed to the brim with memorable moments. Staying in Madrid, Spain’s capital and its most international city, is no different. Yet, what does Madrid have that makes it so special, instantly appealing to its six million visitors each year? Let’s start with its people, the food and the cultural experiences that are just waiting for you.

However, when planning an extended stay in a city such as Madrid, there are a few things that you should definitely remember when trying to get the cheapest deals or to arrange the best excursions. So we've made a list of the top things to keep in mind when going to Madrid.

1. Never purchase individual transport tickets

If you’re going to use public transport, which is one of the easiest ways to get around the city, don’t purchase individual bus/underground tickets. If every little bit counts, then don’t waste one single euro!

There's a 10-trip ticket available that you can buy at any machine in the underground, and you can use this when traveling on both the underground and the buses, offering a nice discount off the individual ticket prices. Plus, if you're going to stay in Madrid for at least a month or longer, the best option for you is the seasonal ticket. This is a steal at only 20 euros per month, allowing the use of any kind of public transport within all travel zones. But keep in mind that the seasonal ticket is only offered to travelers 26 years old and younger. For longer stays, there’s even an annual pass that you may want to consider. For more information, visit the Metro’s site for pricing and regulations.

2. Look out for free walking tours

Whenever you’re in a new city, taking a walking tour can be one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with places to eat, museums to visit or beautiful parks to offer a few hours of relaxation. But if you’re on a budget, guided tours can get really expensive.

But guess what? The tourist office offers FREE walking tours that depart regularly from Plaza Mayor, and the informative guides have fantastic ratings!

If you’ve had a long day and aren’t really up for a walk, then another option is purchasing a ticket for the hop on–hop off bus, which will take you all around the city centre, stopping at the most important tourist spots. As the name implies, you can “hop off” any time to have lunch or spend a few hours at an art gallery, and then you can simply wait for the next bus to take you to your next destination.

3. Don’t pay for the gym

If you’re a student and you enjoy sports or like to keep up with a fitness regimen, don’t pay for an expensive gym with a contract that you may have to sign. Most universities usually have sports facilities you can utilize at a discounted, student price, along with teams for football, rugby, basketball and more.

If you’re more of an outdoors person, Madrid has a multitude of parks, with most neighborhoods sporting at least one, so that you are never far away from a nice green space. Many of Madrid’s parks offer trails that are ideal for running or walking. Plus, spending time at a park is a great way to meet new, like-minded people as well! Learn more in our Things to Do section of our Madrid City Guide.

4. Always be on the lookout for cheap student tickets

One of the top reasons that people just love Madrid is due to its alluring culture. You will never find a shortage of enthralling museums, art galleries or traveling exhibitions. But if you want to spend an afternoon viewing ancient textiles or discovering the next emerging local artist, don’t immediately jump to buy tickets.

Students in Madrid can get a loads of special discounts. For example, the Prado Museum is absolutely free if you show your student card. Many other museums offer discounted or free days. If you’d rather spend some time at the cinema, be sure to visit on a Tuesday, as that it’s a bit cheaper than the rest of the week. Remember that every euro counts!

5. Avoid visiting in the summer

If you plan on visiting Madrid, if at all possible, avoid doing so during the summer months. Not only is it much warmer, but the queues for all attractions will be much longer, and accommodation is typically at a premium.

The best times to visit Madrid are in the autumn or the spring, before or after the hot weather, the crowds and the expensive prices! If you really enjoy skiing, you may also opt to visit during the winter months, as that Madrid has a popular sky station located not too far from the city. Whatever the season, you’ll always find plenty to do in this fascinating city!

6. Rent a bike instead of buying one.

Madrid may be a large city, but the city centre is easily navigated. Most of the residents of Madrid travel from one side of the city to the other by bike, so who wants to get around like a local?

When you’re looking at biking as your main method of transportation, consider renting a bike, rather than actually purchasing one. Madrid offers a fantastic bike rental system, with locations all across the city. The rental prices are low, and the convenience of picking it up or dropping it off at numerous different areas of the city is priceless. Plus, you can skip the traffic you might run into by driving, arriving at your destination in less time than walking.

Learn more about Madrid’s transportation options!

7. Try to make friends with people who work at clubs

If you like to get out and explore some of Madrid’s many popular nightclubs, the entrance charges can really add up, not to mention if you find yourself having to order full-price drinks. Having fun can get expensive!

Always remember if you make friends with someone who works at a bar, DJs on the weekend or maybe runs promotions at a large nightclub. Any type of discount, whether it be at the door or off your bill at the end of the night, can help out if you’re on a budget.

Check out Madrids local hotspots

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