When you’re just getting to know a city it can be hard to determine if you’re paying “local” prices or “tourist” prices. Chances are if you’re in a very popular, central area of the city and the menu is translated into 20 languages, you’re paying a premium.
While rates and prices vary, here’s what I would generally expect to pay in Madrid:
A drink at a bar
Depends on the bar! A very swanky spot in Madrid could sell their cocktails at €15 a piece, or more. Generally though, a beer goes for between €1.50-3.50, and it’s about the same for wine. If you end up in a wine bar look carefully at the prices because they will vary depending on the label. A fine glass of wine from one of Spain’s best cellars can easily go for €5-€6, which is still a pretty good deal!
Normally, a mixed drink in an average bar will go for €7, maybe less if there’s happy hour or the place is a bit of a dive. Locals usually drink beer before dinner if they’re just having a drink with a friend. Wine is had with dinner. Cocktails and mixed drinks are had after dinner.
A bottle of wine at the store
At €1.50-3.50 a glass, you might as well go get a bottle at the grocery store! While you will find bottles of Spanish red, white and rose for as low as €1.50 a bottle, please do not buy these, they are for cooking.
As a rule of thumb, spend more than €3.50 for an acceptable bottle of wine. Spend between €8 and €12 for a darn good bottle, and over €20 for something really special.
Of course it’s possible to spend a lot more, but most of us stick to the €5 range. For example, if I am going to a dinner party, I will spend more on the wine I take than if it’s for me. At home I’ll drink €4 bottles, but to a party I’d bring something in the €8 and €12 range.
I also take care to look at the label and DO, or where the wine is from. Wine is like art, everyone likes something different; but I tend to go with a Priorat or Rioja for red, a Rueda or Penedès for white, and Navarra for rosé.
A cafe con leche, etc.
Again, it depends on where you are, but a coffee with milk or, cafe con leche, really shouldn’t cost more than €2-€2.50. A cortado will cost between €1.20-€1.50. A normal tea should be around €2, but will be much more if it’s some fancy blend served in a french press. A freshly squeezed OJ usually costs just under €3, and soft drinks and water around €1.50-€2.
Aspirin, toothpaste, etc.
You’ll notice that in Spain the pharmacy works a little differently than in North America. The pharmacy is the place to get a box of Aspirin for your sangria headache, but it’s also the place to buy a toothbrush, floss, Q-tips, lotions and sunscreen. While Aspirin and other drugs can only be found in the pharmacy, other items, like a toothbrush, can be found at your local grocery store for much less.
A box of Aspirin costs about €3 and if you buy it in powder form (works faster if you’re really suffering) it costs €6. Sunscreen can go for as low as €6 to €17 for specialty brands like Avene.
Lunch and dinner
The best deal is always the menú del diá, which is usually served Monday – Friday in most restaurants and bars. If the restaurant you’re in does not offer a menú del diá between 1 pm and 4 pm, then you’re probably in a touristy place or a really pricey establishment.
A menú del diá or set three course lunch, can go for as low as €8 and as much as €20 (or more), while the average is about €12. Outside of menú del diá times, the average for a sit-down meal in a restaurant is between €15-€30. Of course you’ll always pay less if you just grab something quick at a cafe or bar (as low as €5 for a sandwich and a drink).
Your top price?
Would you pay more or less for anything Regina has mentioned here? Share with us in our comments section!
Also in our Madrid Guide: If you’re particular about the top price you’d pay for a place to sleep, check out our reviews of hotels in Madrid, all visited and inspected by our editors and chosen because they’re clean, central and cheap. Read more in our Madrid guide.