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The capital of Spain offers plenty of budget-friendly attractions, from the Prado Museum to El Retiro park.

El Rastro flea market
Madrid shakes off the post-summer blues with one of the city’s favourite Sunday pastimes, converging on Europe’s largest flea market. Sift through the junk in search of bargains and treasure – occasionally a lost masterpiece turns up here – before following locals to the bars of the bohemian La Latina district for tapas and vermouth.

Parque del Buen Retiro
Madrid’s most elegant expanse of greenery, El Retiro, is at its best in autumn when leaves turn golden and cooler temperatures draw street performers into the park. It’s a time when rowing boats come into their own, and the ornate glass structure of the Palacio de Cristal, which now hosts exhibitions, no longer feels like a greenhouse.

Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida
Goya left his mark all across Madrid, but this little hermitage (where the artist is buried, minus his head) is the only place where his paintings remain exactly where he painted them. With an end to curtailed summer opening hours, you’ve got all day to see frescoes so vivid that it’s as if the master himself had just climbed down the ladder.

Museo Nacional del Prado
Home to masterpieces by Velázquez, El Greco and a peerless cast of European masters, Madrid’s hallowed Museo Nacional del Prado offers free admission to visitors for the last two hours before closing every evening. There’s too much to see in one sitting – but you could always return again the next day for free too.

Anthony Ham is a resident of Madrid and is currently busy researching Lonely Planet’s new Spain guide.

This article was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Traveller. 

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