A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Shanghai vs. Madrid for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Couples

Should you visit Shanghai or Madrid?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Shanghai and Madrid. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.


Shanghai is a bustling, trendy, and modern port city. It's an amazing and huge city with tons of activities and things to do. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. Other reasons to visit include museums, nightlife, and food.


Madrid is a cultural, diverse, and compact city. With plenty of activities and things to do, it's a huge city that draws plenty of visitors. And you can't forget about the live music, food, and shopping.

Shanghai and Madrid: Pros and Cons

  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Big city activities

How is Shanghai different from Madrid?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Madrid and Shanghai. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Shanghai or Madrid Better for Museums and Historical Sights?


Plenty of people visit the sights and museums in both Shanghai and Madrid.

The museums, monuments, and landmarks in Shanghai are among the most recognizable in the world. The city's sights mix culture with modern innovation. From the futuristic skyline and the iconic waterfront area known as the Bund, to the classic Yu Garden, there are a diversity of sights around the city. There are also museums like the Shanghai Museum, which educate visitors on Chinese culture.

Madrid offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. There are a number of cultural sights in the city including Museo Nacional del Prado, the Royal Palace and Gardens, and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.

Is Shanghai or Madrid Better for Food?


Foodies will find both Shanghai and Madrid both to be unique destinations.

Eat your way through Shanghai, as it has many local or world renowned restaurants to choose from. The city's cuisine has a long history with many distinct traditional dishes. The foods incorporate a lot of soy sauce and sugar and you'll find most dishes are rice based as opposed to using wheat products. Popular local dishes include the famous Shanghai soup dumplings, steamed crab, and braised pork. The city is also famous for its snacks, which can be purchased at one of the many snack houses or street stalls.

For foodies, Madrid is an obvious choice, as it is one of the food capitals of the world. The city has a mix of flavors that come from all of Spain. Local favorites include roast suckling pig, Spanish omelette, and meat and chickpea stew.

Is Shanghai or Madrid Better for Nightlife?


With more options to choose from, you'll find a more vibrant nightlife in Madrid.

People head to Madrid just to party. Many tourists and international students hang out in the Huertas area, while Malasaña has a bohemian, hipster vibe with small clubs that play indie music. Chueca is a fun area that's known for being gay-friendly with many good bars. Finally, you'll find that the area around Avenida de Brasil is where famous DJs often perform.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Shanghai. A night out can quickly become very expensive. Many of the venues are spread out so you'll likely spend at least some of the time in a taxi. The Bund is one of the most popular areas for nightlife, but this area also has the most expensive bars and clubs. They often offer impressive views of Pudong and the Huangpu River though.

Is Shanghai or Madrid Better for Shopping?


Both Shanghai and Madrid are good shopping destinations.

The abundance of shops in Shanghai make it a world-class shopping destination. The city has many large shopping malls with department stores, name brand fashion, and trendy shops. It is also known for its cheap electronics and tailor-made clothes.

Many people travel to Madrid specifically to go shopping. Gran Vía is a main thoroughfare in Madrid that is also popular for shopping. Calle Fuencarral is where you'll find the fashion shops and Calle Preciados is a fun pedestrian area to explore.

Is Shanghai or Madrid Better for Families?


Both Shanghai and Madrid are family-friendly destinations.

Shanghai is a very kid-friendly port city. Of course there's Disneyland, but kids will also enjoy soaking up the city's culture, trying fun new snacks, and exploring the many science and kid-friendly museums. There are also parks and outdoor spaces as well as skyscrapers and towers that offer incredible views of the city.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Madrid. Kids love splashing around at Madrid Río, taking a ride on the cable car (Teleférico), and exploring the city's many parks and playgrounds. There's even a maze at Sabatini Gardens. Restaurants around the city are also very kid-friendly.

Is Shanghai or Madrid Better for Couples?


Shanghai and Madrid both fun destinations for a couple.

Shanghai is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. With its east meets west personality, couples will be able to enjoy an amazing culinary experience, beautiful gardens, and luxury hotels and spas. There are many romantic areas around this bustling city, making it the perfect place for a romantic city getaway.

Madrid makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Fun and romantic activities around town include taking a boat ride at Casa de Campo, riding a bike in one of the many parks, and enjoy dinner and show in the evening.

Is Shanghai or Madrid Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?


Both Shanghai and Madrid are popular destinations for backpackers.

Shanghai is a great port city to visit for backpackers. The city is expensive, but there are hostels and cheap eateries that make it accessible even for the budget conscious. Business travelers and local workers give the city a more professional vibe during the day, but if you find the right place to stay you'll quickly be able to meet likeminded travelers.

A large number of backpackers visit Madrid, as it is a very popular port city for budget travelers. The many hostels around town make it easy for backpackers to find affordable accommodation while also meeting other travelers.

Is Shanghai or Madrid Better for Students?


Shanghai and Madrid are both good destinations for students and younger travelers.

Many students visit Shanghai. The city attracts international and study abroad students who enjoy its long history and fascinating culture. It's a world financial capital with many businesses headquartered here, so employment opportunities are abundant.

Many students frequent Madrid. With several great universities, this city is popular with international and study abroad students. The city also has a diverse population and an active nightlife that appeals to students.

Is Shanghai or Madrid Better for Public Transit?


Both Shanghai and Madrid offer public transit options.

Shanghai has some very good public transit options. There is a metro system as well as buses and taxis which are relatively affordable.

Visitors in Madrid can get around quickly with the extensive public transit system. The system includes the Madrid Metro, buses, and a light rail system.

Is Shanghai or Madrid a more walkable city?


Shanghai and Madrid both are comparable when exploring on foot.

Shanghai is a very walkable port city. It's possible to explore the major tourist areas on foot but it can be very hot and humid during the summer months.

It's very easy to get around on foot in Madrid. Most tourists stay in the central part of Madrid where it's compact and relatively easy to walk to most tourist sights.

Should I spend more time in Madrid or Shanghai?

How long in Shanghai or Madrid?

In either Shanghai or Madrid, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. You can fill a similar amount of time in either place.

The ideal length of time for a trip to Shanghai is 2-5 days, and the ideal length of time for a trip to Madrid is 2-5 days.

  • How many days in Shanghai or Madrid? Ideal Length of Stay
    Shanghai 2-5 
    Madrid 2-5

One day in Shanghai or Madrid?

Shanghai is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

The city of Madrid offers museums and nightlife. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

A weekend in Shanghai or Madrid?

Shanghai is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Madrid is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this city makes for a great vacation. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Madrid, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Five days in Shanghai or Madrid?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Shanghai. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. With all of its activities, you can easily fill five days here. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Madrid is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Madrid, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A week in Shanghai or Madrid?

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the trendy big city of Shanghai. This port city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Madrid is a great place to explore. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This city offers something for everyone.

Which city is cheaper, Madrid or Shanghai?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Shanghai is $98, while the average daily cost in Madrid is $116. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Shanghai and Madrid in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Shanghai $69
    Madrid $64
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Shanghai $138
    Madrid $128
Compare Hotels in Shanghai and Madrid

Looking for a hotel in Shanghai or Madrid? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Shanghai

Hotels in Madrid

Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.

Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Shanghai Hotel Prices and Madrid Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Shanghai $3.31
    Madrid $16
Typical Local Transportation prices in Shanghai

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Shanghai:

  • Taxi Ride
  • Two Subway Tickets

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Shanghai

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Shanghai:

  • Private Day tour of Xi'an From Shanghai Including Transfer Service: $1,100
  • Private Mutianyu Great Wall Tour From Shanghai's Hotel Including Transfer: $1,100
  • Private Beijing One Day Tour From Shanghai 's Hotel Including Transfer Service: $1,036
  • Private Day Trip Of Xi'an From Your Shanghai's hotel Including Transfer Service: $1,000
  • Private Day Tour Of Beijing From Shanghai's Hotel Including Flight And Transfer: $1,000
  • 2-Day Huangshan Tour by Cable Car with Private Transfer and Lunch from Shanghai: $653
  • 3 Days Shanghai Suzhou Tour Package with Airport Transfer: $555
  • 1-way Transfer Between Shanghai Pudong Airport and Yiwu Per Vehicle Price: $388
  • Shanghai Luxury Airport Transfer: $332
  • Transfer from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Nantong Downtown Per Vehicle Price: $265
  • Shanghai Disneyland with Transfers Plus 2-Night Accommodation in 4-Star Hotels: $264
  • Super High-End Luxury Private Transfers Between City and Shanghai Airports: $240

Typical Local Transportation prices in Madrid

Some typical examples of transportation costs in Madrid are as follows:

  • Taxi Ride

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Madrid

Also for Madrid, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Ultra - Madrid Private Airport Transfer from Madrid airport MAD to city centre: $9.41
  • Ultra - Madrid Private Airport Transfer from city centre to Madrid airport MAD: $9.41
  • Hotel Madrid City Private Transfer To Madrid Barajas Airport: $29
  • Private Airport Transfer: Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport (MAD) to Madrid: $29
  • Private Airport Transfer: Madrid to Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport (MAD): $29
  • Transfer in private vehicle from Madrid City to Madrid Barajas Airport: $31
  • Transfer in Private Vehicle from Madrid Barajas Airport to City: $31
  • Madrid Barajas Airport Private Transfer To Alcorcón, & cities close to Madrid: $33
  • Madrid to Madrid Airport (MAD) - Departure Private Van Transfer: $34
  • Madrid Airport (MAD) to Madrid - Arrival Private Van Transfer: $34
  • Madrid Barajas Airport Private Transfer To Madrid City: $34
  • Premium Private Transfer from Madrid Airport to Madrid Hotels: $37

Is it cheaper to fly into Shanghai or Madrid?

Prices for flights to both Madrid and Shanghai change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.

  • Food Meals for one day
    Shanghai $18
    Madrid $30
Typical Food prices in Shanghai

Some typical examples of dining costs in Shanghai are as follows:

  • Dumpling Breakfast
  • Desserts in Jinmao Building Observatory
  • Ajisen Lunch for Two
  • Cantelope
  • Dumplings and Soup
  • Duck Dinner
  • Pastries
  • Barbeque Dinner

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Shanghai

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Shanghai.

  • Online Chinese Cooking Class: $22
  • Old Shanghai Breakfast Food Tour: $52
  • 3-Hour Shanghai Summer Night Local Dinner and Shopping Private Tour: $65
  • Private Chinese Cooking Class in Shanghai with Vegetarian Option: $69
  • Private Authentic Chinese Cooking Class in Shanghai with a Lovely Local: $70
  • 3-Hour Shanghai City Walking Tour with Dinner: $74
  • Shanghai yummy food tour: $75
  • A Bite of Shanghai Small-Group Food Tour: $80
  • Shanghai Hairy Crab Dinner: $85
  • Shanghai Evening Food Tour/Shanghai tour gastronomico nocturno: $85
  • Night Market & Street Food Tour in Shanghai: $95
  • 3-Hour Flexible Private Shanghai Night Tour with Local Dinner Option: $100

Typical Food prices in Madrid

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Madrid:

  • Coffee
  • Ice Cream
  • Kebabs (for 2)
  • Croissant
  • Lunch at Airport (for 2)

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Madrid

For Madrid, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Virtual Cooking Class: The Spanish Paella Experience: $24
  • Florida Retiro Dinner Show: $38
  • Murder Mystery Dinner Experience: $49
  • Virtual cooking - spanish "tortilla de patatas": $50
  • Murder Mystery Dinner Experience: $50
  • Flamenco Workshop and Show with Dinner and Drinks: $51
  • Skip the Line: Flamenco Show with Dinner and Workshop in Madrid Ticket: $52
  • Homemade pasta cooking class and lunch in the heart of Madrid: $58
  • Mamaz Social Italian Dinner in Madrid: $60
  • 3-hour Virtual Spanish Cooking Class in Madrid: $62
  • Iberico Ham and Spanish Wine Small-Group Food Tour: $67
  • Authentic Italian Dinner in Madrid: $68

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Shanghai $7.20
    Madrid $29
Typical Entertainment prices in Shanghai

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Shanghai are as follows:

  • 30 Minute River Cruise for Two
  • Zoo for Two

Tours and Activities in Shanghai

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Shanghai are as follows:

  • 1 Day Bus Tour in Amazing Shanghai Highlights: $113
  • 1 Day Hangzhou Private Tour: $312
  • 1 Day Shanghai Airport Layover Private Tour for City Highlights: $202
  • 1 Day Shanghai Highlight Small Group Tour: $124
  • 1 Day of Shanghai Premiere Experience: $730
  • 1 day Nanjing tour from Shanghai by train: $400
  • 1 day Shanghai City Mini Group tour: $92
  • 1-Day Authentic Shanghai Tour by Walking & Metro: $193
  • 1-Day Private Shanghai City Tour to See Its Past, Present and Future: $204
  • 1-Day Private Shanghai to Wuzhen Tour to Admire the Classical Water Town: $271
  • 1-Day Private Tour to Hangzhou by car from Shanghai: $305
  • 1-Day Private Tour to Shanghai Museum,Yu Garden, the Bund and Nanjing Road: $178

Tours and Activities in Madrid

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Madrid.

  • Prado Museum Self-Guided Audio Tour App: $3.97
  • Madrid's Private Tour with your Family: Highlights & Hidden Gems: $4.04
  • A local's Tuck into the city's history and some tapas on an audio tour: $5.00
  • History Tour of The Town Too High To Die Walking Audio Tour by VoiceMap: $5.13
  • Let's Tapear! The Madrid Tapas Route Walking Audio Tour by VoiceMap: $5.43
  • Madrid from the Inquisition to Multiculturalism Walking Audio Tour by VoiceMap: $5.43
  • Madrid Private Tour: Fun Old Town Exploration Game: $7.45
  • Skip the Line: Museo Lázaro Galdiano Admission Ticket: $8.71
  • Madrid 90 Minutes Kickstart Private Tour: $9.95
  • Skip the Line: Ticket for the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid: $9.95
  • Tours from Home: Intro to Madrid: $10
  • 2 Hours Secrets of Madrid Retiro Park Tour: $11

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Shanghai $6.28
    Madrid $17

Sample the Local Flavors in Shanghai

Also in Shanghai, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Shanghai Luxury Bar Crawl in 5-star Hotel or Boutique Hotel: $255
  • 3 Hour Local Craft Beer Crawl with Brewery Tour: $350

Typical Alcohol prices in Madrid

Some typical examples of the costs for nightlife and alcohol in Madrid are as follows:

  • Beer
  • Drinks and Tapas (for 2)

Sample the Local Flavors in Madrid

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Madrid:

  • Pub Crawl in Madrid: $15
  • Pub Crawl Madrid by Madpartycrew: $19
  • Wine Tasting near Plaza Mayor: $20
  • Wine Tasting Experience: $32
  • Wine Tasting Experience: $43
  • Madrid Tapas and Mysteries Walking Tour with Private Option and Pub Crawl: $47
  • Wine Tasting and Flamenco Master Class in Madrid: $58
  • Segovia and Spanish Versailles Full-Day Tour with Wine Tasting: $62
  • Old Town Madrid Gourmet Tapas and Wine Tasting Walking Tour: $82
  • Gourmet Tapas & Wine Tasting Experience In Madrid: $91
  • Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour: $93
  • Madrid Tapas Diaries- A Premium Food & Wine Tour in the old city of Madrid: $123

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Shanghai and Madrid, we can see that Madrid is more expensive. And not only is Shanghai much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. Since Shanghai is in Asia and Madrid is in Europe, this is one of the main reasons why the costs are so different, as different regions of the world tend to have overall different travel costs. So, traveling to Shanghai would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Shanghai and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Madrid would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Madrid than you might in Shanghai.

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Shanghai vs. Madrid Travel Comparison

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