Madrid, the vibrant capital of Spain, is a haven for fashion enthusiasts seeking style inspiration without breaking the bank. Unlike other fashion capitals across Europe, it appeals not only to people with the means to spend big on clothes but also to those who operate on a budget, delivering a host of attractions, shops and experiences that won’t have you falling into credit card debt.
The capital of Spain has become a popular destination for tourists of all types, not least due to the availability and access from elsewhere in Europe. Over six million people visit Madrid every year, and that isn’t purely for fashion. Indeed, holidays in Spain have been popular since the seventies, with sun-soaked beaches, vibrant cities and warm seas attracting people from across the continent. In 2023, it isn’t just sun, sea and sangria bringing in the tourists; it is also fashion, which brings us back around to the stylish city of Madrid. Those holidays see tourists flocking not only to beaches but also to the welcoming streets of the capital.
If you’re a fashionista on a student budget, there’s plenty for you to do when you visit Madrid. Here’s a brief guide for students looking to explore the city’s fashion scene while keeping a budget in mind.
Indulge in Spanish fashion at Zara on Calle Serrano
If you are looking for chic and affordable fashion on a budget, but in a more up-scale neighborhood, Zara on Calle Serrano 23 is the place to go. Calle Serrano is Madrid’s equivalent of New York’s Fifth Avenue. The building itself is spectacular, too; it dates back to the 1920’s and its restoration preserves the original exposed brick structure. What better setter than to spend a few euros on a pink blazer or a few basic bodysuits that went viral thanks to Rosie Huntington-Whiteley?
Shop ’til you drop at Primark on Gran Vía
Primark’s multi-story store on Calle Gran Vía 32 opened back in 2015, and ever since, has become almost like a tourist attraction in Madrid. There’s always a crowd and the surrounding streets are filled with pedestrians sporting Primark shopping bags. It’s a favorite among students. In fact, Spanish Primark stores were even credited with keeping the chain afloat post-pandemic. Your best bet is to go early on a weekday if you want to avoid long lines and actually be able to try things on without having to wait for hours…
Discover unique finds in Malasaña
Coming away from these two iconic shopping streets, fashion fans should find time to stroll through Malasaña, a neighbourhood bursting with character and a treasure trove of unique stores. Discover hidden gems, vintage boutiques, and independent fashion outlets, all offering one-of-a-kind pieces to elevate your style. Some stores even sell vintage clothes by the kilo, so you just pay by weight!
Find fashion bargains at El Rastro Flea Market
Where better to find a fashion bargain than a flea market? We’ve all found a hidden gem for a few euros in the past, and Madrid’s El Rastro allows you to immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere full of possible fashion gems. You can get lost hunting for both new and pre-loved clothes and accessories at reasonable prices. The market opens every Sunday morning – arrive early to avoid the crowds and stay to grab a tapa or two at one of the many bars in the La Latina neighborhood.
Explore Spanish fashion at the Museo del Traje
If you’re not specifically in Madrid to shop, then there’s still plenty for the budget-conscious fashion traveller. You could explore the Museo del Traje, a fashion museum showcasing the evolution of Spanish attire. Students between 18 and 25 years odl, with valid student ID, can enter the museum for free. If that’s not you, the museum is also open to the public for free on Saturdays after 2.00 p.m. and Sundays from 10.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m.
Get tickets to a runway show at Madrid Fashion Week
You might have specifically jetted into Spain to experience the glamour of Madrid Fashion Week and to see the latest designers showcasing their pieces. Madrid Fashion Week, unlike some other fashion weeks, recently changed its attendance policies; it used to be invitation only, but now, everyone can buy a ticket. The shows take place in February and September every year. Check the IFEMA website (IFEMA is the fairground where the runway shows are held) in advance for early bird rates to get the best prices.
Shoot that Insta-worthy content
Madrid is a glamorous, picturesque city, offering you the chance to be the star of the fashion shoot – at no additional cost. Why not try to capture stunning Instagram moments: indulge in churros at Chocolatería San Ginés, witness the breathtaking sunset at Templo de Debod, or enjoy panoramic city views from the Círculo de Bellas Artes Terrace. If you want a cool background to take photos – go to Calle Palma 18 for Madrid’s most famous IG photo background (see photo above – #feedgoals to say the least!). Perhaps you could even use the paparazzi filter on TikTok to make your story even more striking!
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