Which Museum in Madrid Should You Visit?

Published:

Modified: August 27, 2021

by Rina Bernardo

Prado Museum in Spain

When it comes to culture and art in Spain, Madrid is the best city to visit. Not only is it famous for its calamari, high-end boutiques, and its football team, but Spain’s capital city is also a hub of world-class museums. That being said, seeing centuries-old art at various museums in Madrid is a great way to spend the day in the city. Best of all, you can purchase Madrid tourist passes and enjoy discounted or even free entry to these places.

However, with a lot of different museums in Madrid to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which ones to visit. Well, fret not because we’ve got this handy guide so you can carefully plan your museum-hopping itinerary!

 

How Many Museums Are There in Madrid?

 

Row of marbled heads at a museum
Photo by Engin_Akyurt on Pixabay

As of today, there are more than 130 museums in Madrid. These include art museums, history museums, arts and cultural centers, as well as university museums. In addition, the city also has one defunct museum in Madrid, the Carriage Museum, which closed during the 1990s. Without a doubt, Madrid is, indeed, one of the best cities to visit in Spain for art and history junkies.

The Golden Triangle of Art in Madrid make up the three most famous museums in the city. These include the Prado Museum, Reina Sofía Museum, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. If you want an introduction or an overview of the city’s art and culture, you can visit one or all of these three museums.

 

Best Museums in Madrid

1. Reina Sofía Museum (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía)

 

View from one of the parks near Reina Sofía Museum
Photo by Alberto Giron on Adobe Stock

Address: Calle de Santa Isabel, 52, 28012 Madrid, Spain
Admission fees: 10 EUR (Adults), free for students under 25 years old and children under 18 

The Reina Sofía Museum is a museum in Madrid that makes up one-third of the popular Golden Triangle of Art. Named after the former Queen of Spain, the museum proudly displays artworks from big names like Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, and more. Find 20th-century Spanish paintings, sculptures, and other forms of art. Because of the sheer number of artworks, halls, and exhibitions, it might take you hours to see everything here. But the main star of the museum is Picasso’s Guernica, widely considered by many as the best anti-war painting of all time. Although the museum features work from foreign artists, there is a special emphasis and importance given to Spanish artists. After browsing the artworks, stop by the cafe-restaurant for a much-needed break.

 

2. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza)

 

Exterior façade of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid
Photo by Luis García on Wikimedia Commons

Address: Paseo del Prado, 8, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Admission fees: 9 EUR (Adults), 6 EUR (Students and senior citizens), free for children under 18 

Boasting more than 1,000 artworks, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum houses one of the world’s largest private collections of art. It started out as a private collection from Baron Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza during the 1920s. In 1992, the museum opened, showcasing 715 works from different artists. Then in 1993, the Spanish government bought these collections for 350 million USD. Spanish socialite and former Miss Spain Carmen Cervera also loaned hundreds of her art and was involved in the overall design of the museum. At the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, find works from 17th to 20th-century artists like Van Gogh, Hopper, Dali, and Monet spread across three floors. You can also purchase souvenirs and merchandise inspired by the different collections at the gift shop.

 

3. Prado Museum (Museo Nacional del Prado)

 

View of Prado Museum on the outside with visitors
Photo by donfalcone on Pixabay

Address: Calle de Ruiz de Alarcón, 23, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Admission fees: 15 EUR (Adults), 7.50 EUR (Senior citizens), free for students 18 to 25 years old, children under 18, and persons with disabilities 

The Prado Museum is a world-class museum in Madrid, set in a Neoclassical building designed by Juan de Villanueva. While the Reina Sofia features 20th-century art, the Prado Museum contains mostly pre-20th century works from renowned painters such as Francisco Goya, El Greco, Titian, and more. With more than 20,000 paintings, sculptures, and drawings, you’ll need more than a day to see all these. Join guided tours instead where you can get a deeper insight into Prado Museum’s highlights accompanied by an expert guide. Once you’re done exploring the halls and exhibitions, take a break and enjoy a relaxing stroll at Retiro Park. This famous park, one of the largest in Spain, is only a short five-minute walk from the museum.

 

4. Naval Museum of Madrid (Museo Naval)

 

Naval Museum of Madrid from the outside
Photo by Alex Krassel on Adobe Stock

Address: Paseo del Prado, 3, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Admission fees: 3 EUR donation 

Learn more about the history of Spain’s naval forces at the Naval Museum of Madrid. Dedicated to one of the oldest active naval forces in the world, the museum in Madrid packs a lot of history and knowledge within its halls. Since opening the museum to the public, it welcomed millions of visitors wanting to know more about the history of the naval forces as well as the Spanish rulers. Find well-reserved navigation instruments, maps, paintings, and weapons used back then. Although the museum has over 20 halls, you can easily navigate through them since they are arranged chronologically. When you visit the Naval Museum, don’t miss the Map of Juan de la Cosa, the earliest preserved map of the Americas. Other interesting finds in the museum include ceramics from the San Diego shipwreck, a torpedo gyroscope, and jewelry from past expeditions.

 

5. Sorolla Museum (Museo Sorolla)

 

Front view of the Sorolla Museum with the gardens
Photo by tktktk on Adobe Stock

Address: Paseo del General Martínez Campos, 37, 28010 Madrid, Spain
Admission fees: 3 EUR 

Surrounded by a charming garden, the Sorolla Museum houses the masterpieces of the famous painter Joaquín Sorolla. The museum is his house, which became a museum after the death of his widow. Learn more about his family as you check out his collection of drawings and sketches he made for his house. Aside from paintings, the museum showcases jewels, sculptures, ceramics, as well as personal objects from Sorolla. As you explore Sorolla Museum, get a chance to see his elaborate studio where canvasses take up the space of the wall. While other rooms feature his paintings, you can also find special exhibitions in the rooms upstairs. Head outside and relax at the Andalusian-style gardens or take Instagram-worthy shots here.

 

6. Cerralbo Museum (Museo Cerralbo)

 

View inside one of the rooms at Museo Cerralbo
Photo by Emilio on Flickr

Address: Calle de Ventura Rodríguez, 17, 28008 Madrid, Spain
Admission fees: 3 EUR (General admission), 1.50 EUR (Concessions), free for students 25 years old and under, children under 18, and senior citizens 

Find yourself surrounded by lavish interiors and gilded ceilings at the Cerralbo Museum. This museum in Madrid served as home and headquarters for the 17th Marquis of Cerralbo. After his death in 1922, the house was converted into a museum and opened in 1944. Since the museum contains most of the Marquis’ private collection, find an extensive collection of art from different countries. With a whopping 50,000 objects in the museum, you can see paintings, ceramics, armors, drawings, clocks, archaeological objects here. The Cerralbo Museum also features works of art by El Greco, Jacopo Tintoretto, Alonso Cano, and more. Eventually, the family of the Marquis donated the property to the government for it to be more accessible by everyone. 

 

7. National Archaeological Museum (Museo Arqueológico Nacional)

 

View of the National Archaeological Museum of Spain from the outside
Photo by Carole Raddato on Flickr

Address: Calle de Serrano, 13, 28001 Madrid, Spain
Admission fees: 3 EUR (General admission), 1.50 EUR (Concessions), free for students 25 years old and under, children under 18, and senior citizens 

Madrid’s National Archaeological Museum is perhaps one of the best archaeological museums in Europe and in the world. After a six-year renovation, the museum opened its doors to the public, allowing its visitors a glimpse into the origins of the world. New and modern additions to the museum include informative and interactive panels, mockups, and replicas that visitors can touch. Find artifacts from prehistoric times up to the 15th century, with most pieces coming from excavations in Spain. One of the highlights of the museum is The Lady of Elche, a limestone bust discovered in 1897. It is famous for its equal proportions as seen in Greek art, but with a local twist because of her tunic and headdress. Is she a goddess, a queen, or simply just a civilian? No one really knows, but it is definitely worth seeing. Additionally, don’t miss the giant mammoth tusks, a favorite among children.

 

8. Museum of the Americas (Museo de America)

 

View outside the Museum of the Americas
Photo by josevgluis on Adobe Stock

Address: Av. de los Reyes Católicos, 6, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Admission fees: 3 EUR (General admission), 1.50 EUR (Concessions), free for students 25 years old and under, children under 18, and senior citizens 

With more than 25,000 items on display, the Museum of the Americas highlights the history of the Americas. It also contains artifacts and pieces from different American cultures and religions during the pre-Columbian era. The museum has five areas that tackle the culture, society, daily life, development, and discovery of the Western continent. Inside the museum, find carvings from the Mayan city of Palenque and one of the four surviving Mayan glyph manuscripts. Additionally, the museum houses a collection of paintings, textiles, masks, and sculptures that date back before the Spanish conquest.

 

9. Lázaro Galdiano Museum (Museo Lázaro Galdiano)

 

Exterior view of the Lázaro Galdiano Museum
Photo by Luis García on Wikimedia Commons

Address: Calle de Serrano, 122, 28006 Madrid, Spain
Admission fees: 7 EUR (General admission), 4 EUR (Students and senior citizens), free for students 25 years old and under, children under 12 

Like the Sorolla Museum, the Lázaro Galdiano Museum was a former house turned into a museum. As Galdiano’s residence, you’ll find the original interiors featuring baroque painted ceilings that were commissioned by Galdiano himself. Inside the museum, there are thousands of paintings and items collected by the famous art collector, financier, and journalist. Visit the library where you can learn more about his life within its 20,000 books and manuscripts dating back to the Romantic Period. As you explore the museum, you can find works of art by renowned painters like Francisco Goya, El Greco, Diego Velázquez, and more. Lázaro Galdiano Museum also showcases silver, ceramics, ivory, and bronze jewelry from different parts of the globe.

 

10. Museum of Romanticism (Museo del Romanticismo)

 

Grand piano, elegant furniture, and paintings at the Museum of Romanticism
Photo by manuel m. v. on Flickr

Address: Calle de San Mateo, 13, 28004 Madrid, Spain
Admission fees: 3 EUR (General admission), 1.50 EUR (Concessions), free for students 25 years old and under, children under 18, and senior citizens 

If you’re a fan of period films, the Museum of Romanticism is a must-visit museum in Madrid. Set in a stunning 18th-century palace, the museum boasts a collection of paintings, furniture, and decorative art that emulates Spain’s Romantic Era. Perhaps the museum’s main star is its ballroom, a wide living space filled with gorgeous antiques, furniture, and a piano that make you feel as if you’ve been transported into the old times. Pieces of jewelry, ceramics, silverware, and other flashy artifacts can also be found at the Museum of Romanticism. Before leaving the museum, have a cup of coffee along with a slice of homemade cake at the garden cafe.

 

11. National Museum of Natural Sciences (Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales)

 

Inside the National Museum of Natural Sciences
Photo by Benjamín Núñez González on Wikimedia Commons

Address: Calle de José Gutiérrez Abascal, 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain
Admission fees: 7 EUR (General admission), 3.50 EUR (Concessions) 

Learn more about geology, volcanology, biodiversity, and more at Madrid’s National Museum of Natural Sciences. This museum in Madrid dates back to the 18th century when it was established as the Royal Cabinet of Natural History. Now, the museum attracts half a million visitors annually, making it one of the best and most popular museums in the Spanish capital. See skeletons of dinosaur species like the Stegosaurus, Megatherium, and the Diplodocus. On the other hand, at the Mediterranean section, find giant models of underwater creatures such as the giant squid as well as a Gorgonian coral. The hands-on and interactive exhibitions are also perfect for kids and young adults. 

 

Tips When Visiting a Museum in Madrid

 

Man visiting a museum
Photo by StockSnap on Pixabay

 

  1. Avoid waiting in line for hours and purchase your tickets in advance. You can book through the museums’ official websites and present your booking confirmation to claim your tickets. However, if you purchase free or reduced tickets, you may have to go to the ticket office to present proof of age.
  2. To avoid waiting in line, you can also purchase skip the line tickets for faster entry to any museum in Madrid. You can also book online via the official museum website or via a third-party booking site.
  3. Do advance research and know when museums have free admission if you want to save money. However, be prepared for larger crowds.
  4. For convenience, you can purchase a Madrid Tourist Pass, which comes with free entry to certain museums and attractions. Be sure to check which museums are included in the pass.
  5. Be mindful of the things you bring with you to your museum visit. Umbrellas and large bags are not allowed in the museum. 
  6. Respect the house rules. In some museums, visitors can’t take pictures or videos so avoid sneaking in your cameras or phones.
  7. Get a deeper sense of appreciation for the artworks and join guided tours or take an audio guide with you. That way, you can learn more about the artists or the history behind the work.
  8. Instead of just walking aimlessly around the museum, do research on the collection and focus on those that interest you.
  9. Don’t be shy and ask the museum staff for the best way to explore the museum.
  10. While you want to make the most out of your time in the city, avoid visiting several museums in a day. Give some time to let the information sink in before heading to your next museum in Madrid.

 

Discover Madrid’s Rich Art & Culture

With a plethora of museums and art galleries, Madrid is definitely one of the best places to visit for art. The city also houses some of the best museums in the world, with collections spanning from prehistoric fossils, ancient artifacts, to national treasures. If you want to get a summary of the city’s art, choose between any of the three museums in the Golden Triangle of Art. Meanwhile, if you’re traveling with kids, the National Museum of Natural Sciences is sure to keep them entertained. For fans of art and literature during the Romantic Period, don’t miss the Museum of Romanticism. 

So if you’re an art geek or a curious traveler, visit a museum in Madrid and marvel at different artworks and sculptures. After visiting a museum, why not hang out at a bar or cafe for the best tapas as you take in all the art you’ve seen in a day?