Madrid is the perfect destination for culture vultures; I was shocked to discover how many museums and cultural centres the city has to offer.
During my pre-trip research I came across more and more great spots and so thought I’d put together this little guide to provide travellers with a one-stop shop for info on Madrid’s museums.
There’s something for everyone, whether you’re into fine art or niche subjects, but the entry price for some of the museums are quite steep. Maybe that’s just my view, having grown up with free access to London’s amazing selection of museums, but further research led me to discover that many of the venues have set days and times when visitors can enter for free.
City trips can be costly, especially capital cities, so I loved that this option was available, but you’ll need to plan your itinerary accordingly. Also, keep in mind that these free entry time slots are unsurprisingly busy, so be prepared to queue and aim to get there around half hour beforehand in order to ensure you can get in.
So, without further ado, here’s my guide to Madrid’s museums, including opening times, entry costs and information on if and when they offer free entry!
Table of Contents
This cultural centre is always home to a selection of exhibitions – during my visit there was a great show on Disney’s Art of Storytelling, with cartoons playing and stills from some of my favourite Disney movies.
It’s worth a visit just to see it’s quirky external design, shiny staircase and ‘green wall’.
Open Mon-Sun 10am-8pm
Exhibition entry fee is usually €4
The Geominero Museum has an insane collection of minerals, rocks and fossils from all across the different Spanish regions and former colonies, as well as from sites around the world. Many of the specimens here date back to the creation of the Commission for the Geological Map of Spain in 1849.
Keep your eyes open for special events at this museum, as it regularly holds workshops for both adults and children – especially during the weekends and school holidays.
Open: daily 9am-2pm
Museo Anden O
The old Chamberi station was one of Madrid’s first metro lines, but was shut down in the 1960s. This station now houses a museum where you can see tiled adverts for the old bars and shops in the area – a small and quirky spot, but well worth a visit if the timing’s right!
Open: Fri 11am-1pm and 5-7pm, Sat-Sun 10am-2pm
Museo Arqueolgico Nacional
Founded by Queen Isabella II, the National Archaeological Museum reveals the various ways of life and customs of civilisations that have passed through the Iberian peninsula.
Here you can see everything from roman mosaics and Iberian sculptures to Visigoth grave goods and medieval architecture. It’s also home to the famous pre-Roman Lady of Elche stone bust.
An expansive museum – make sure you pick up a map at the entrance!
Open: Tues-Sat 9.30am-8pm, Sun 9.30am-3pm
Entry fee €3
Visitors to Museo Cerralbo are transported back in time to experience what life was like for an aristocratic family in late 19th-century Madrid.
This city palace houses the art collection of the Marquis of Cerralbo’s family and is made up of 50,000 items including paintings, tapestries, furniture, weapons and armour.
Open: Tue-Wed & Fri-Sat 9.30am-3pm, Thurs 5-8pm, Sun 10am-3pm.
Entry fee €3
Free entry Thurs from 5pm, Sat from 2pm and Sun.
Museo de Cera de Madrid
This is the city’s wax museum, so does what it says on the tin!
Here you can see around 450 waxworks of famous folk, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Leonardo de Caprio.
Open Mon-Fri 10am-2.30pm and 4.30-8.30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-8.30pm.
Entry fee €21 for adults, €14 for children.
Museo de Historia de Madrid
Always free to visit, Madrid’s historical museum is a great place to uncover the city’s past and how it’s evolved over the centuries. Items on display include artwork, clothing and porcelain from different eras.
Open Tues-Sun 10am-8pm
Museo del Romanticismo
Dedicated to the Romantic period, this museum is set in a gorgeous 18th century city palace and there’s splendour everywhere you look thanks to the mirrors and chandeliers!
Summer opening hours: Tues-Sat 9.30am-8.30pm, Sun 10am-3pm
Winter opening hours: Tues-Sat 9.30am-6.30pm, Sun 10am-3pm
Entry fee €3
Free entry Sat from 2pm and Sun
Museo Lazaro Galdano
Jose Lazaro Galdano was an important man of his time. Editor of La Espana Moderna, he became a collector of art, jewellery, weapons, books and furniture. This is now displayed in the museum, which is housed in the building that was once his home.
A hidden gem in the city, even some of the locals aren’t aware this museum exists!
Open Tues-Sat 10am-4.30pm, Sun 10am-3pm
Entry fee €6
Free entry during the last hour before closing
Museum of the Americas
The Museum of the Americas covers everything from American prehistory to the present, with special emphasis on pre-Columbian archaeology, ethnography and colonial art.
The collection includes more than 25,000 objects including pe-Columbian ceramics and Fortuny gowns. It also regularly runs special events so be sure to check out the website before arranging your visit!
Open Tues-Weds and Fri-Sat 9:30am-3pm, Thurs 9:30am-7pm, Sun 10am-3pm.
Entry fee €3
Free entry on Sundays
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
Housed in the former Hospital General, the Reina Sofia Museum is home to one of Europe’s most interesting contemporary art collections, designed around Picasso’s Guernica. It has an extensive programme of exhibitions and events, covering all forms of article including performance and conceptual art.
Open Mon, Weds-Sat 10am-9pm, Sun 10am-7pm
Entry fee €8
Free entry Mon and Weds-Sat 7-9pm, Sun 1.30-7pm
Museo Nacional de Antropología
The oldest anthropology museum in Spain, the National Anthropology Museum considers itself ‘a compendium of the world’s cultural diversity’ and a ‘veritable cabinet of curiosities’. What more do you need to know?!
Open Tues -Sat 9:30am-8pm, Sun and hols 10am-3pm
Entry fee €3
Free entry on Sat evenings
Museo Nacional del Prado
The most famous of Madrid’s museums, the Prado houses the largest collection of Spanish art – mainly coming from current and past Spanish monarchs’ painting collections.
It’s also home to masterpieces by Raphael, Rubens and El Greco.
Open Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun10am-7pm.
Entry fee €15
Free entry between 6-8pm Mon-Sat and 5-7pm Sun.
Sorolla Museum was actually a mansion built by the painter Joaquin Sorolla and it now houses many pieces of his work. His work chronicled Spanish society in the early 20th Century, with a focus on social issues of the time.
There’s also a beautiful Andalusian garden to explore.
Open Tues-Sat 9.30am-8pm, Sun 10am-3pm
Entry fee €3
Free entry Sat from 2pm and all day Sun.
The Thyssen-Bornemisza collection came to the Villahermosa Palace back in 1992 and has become one of the city’s most popular museums.
It focuses on portraits, with styles including expressionism, cubism, pop art and surrealism all being represented. Art on display includes pieces from Rothko and Lichtenstein.
Open Tues-Sun 10am-7pm
Entry fee €12
Free entry to the main collection on Mon 12-4pm
Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando
Founded in 1752 by King Phillip V, the academy has led public debate on painting, sculpture and architecture and until 1967, the building also housed the School of Fine Arts, which included students such as Dali and Picasso.
The academy’s art collection, made up of 1,400 paintings, 600 sculptures and 15,000 drawings was only opened to the public in 1986!
Museo del Traje
Madrid’s Garment Museum contains a wide variety of historic and contemporary collections from the 16th through to 20th centuries.
The collection from the 18th century includes an extensive collection of men’s jackets and waistcoats, as well as authentic garments from the majismo movement.
Open Tue-Sat 9:30am-7pm, Sun 10am-3pm
Entry fee €3
Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas
Madrid’s National Museum of Decorative Arts focuses on Spanish pieces, but its exhibits reflect on the influence of artistic developments abroad and the amount of everyday and luxury objects imported over the centuries.
Its oriental art collection is renowned however. Initiated by King Carlos III, he assembled the core of today’s collection for the Royal Cabinet of Natural History.
Open Tue-Sat 9.30am-3pm, Thu-Sat 5-pm, Sun & hols 10am-3pm
Entry fee €3
Free entry on Thurs pm and Sun.
National Museum of Chalcography
In the same building as the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando you can find the National Museum of Chalcography. This was founded in 1789 to undertake important engraving projects that came out of the Enlightenment policies. Its collection includes copper plates once used by Goya.
Open: Tues-Sun 10am-3pm
Entry fee €8
Free entry on Wednesdays
Museum for the Blind
The Museum for the Blind is devoted to the exhibition of artistic works, tools and gadgets which can be felt through the sense of touch.
Currently the museum include models of monuments and national and international buildings, paintings, sculptures, and textile art made by blind and visually-impaired artists, plus documents on the history of blind people.
Open Tue-Fri 10am-2pm and 5pm-8pm, Sat 10am-2pm. Closed in August.
Museum of Popular Art and Traditions
Open: Mon-Fri: 10am-8pm
Museum of the History of Telecommunications
This museum traces the history of telecommunications and is great for anyone with an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.
It covers everything from the earliest communication systems to the latest in real-time, long-distance communication. Specialist, but highly interesting!
Open: Tues-Sun 10am-8pm
This is the largest royal palace in Western Europe! Apart from during state events, it opens its doors everyday as a museum. Its collection of paintings, sculptures and decorative arts is renowned around the world, and the building itself is beautiful in its own right.
Summer opening hours: 10am-8pm
Winter opening hours: 10am-8am
Entry fee: €10
Free entry for EU citizens for the last two opening hours (bring ID!)
Madrid’s Railway Museum is located in the city’s old 19th century Delicias station. Here you can see train railway paraphernalia from across the decades, as the museum takes you on a journey through the the history of the Spanish railway.
In spring an summer visitors even get the chance to travel on a classic train, but there’s always a great selection of interactive features and workshops for families to enjoy.
The museum is also home to the Railway Historical Archives and the Railway Library and Newspaper Library – the only one of its kind in the country.
Summer opening hours: 10am-3pm
Winter opening hours: Mon-Fri 9:30am-3pm, Sat-Sun and Public Hols: 10am-8pm
Entry fee: Mon-Fri €6, Sat-Sun €3
Home to the world famous football team Real Madrid, this stadium is a pilgrimage for devout football fans.
The tour allows visitors to see the team’s impressive collection of trophies, as well as access to the changing room, pitch and bench area.
Open Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun & Hols 10.30am-6.30pm. On match days tours are available until five hours before kick-off.
Entry fee €18
Tour Wanda Metropolitano
If one football stadium tour just isn’t enough, then why not do two?
Here you can tour Atlético De Madrid’s new stadium, where you’ll get to walk through the tunnel, check out the pitch, stands, mixed zone, auditorium and the dressing rooms.
Open Fri 3-8pm, Sat 11am-8pm, Sun & Hols 11am-7pm. Closed on match days.
Entry fee €16
Cultural events in Madrid throughout the year
Through the year there are special cultural events that take place across the city. Here’s a quick rundown of what happens when.
February – Art Week entails various art fairs across the city, in connection with ARCOmadrid.
May – Museum Night takes place around the 18th May every year, when many of the cultural centres open late and hold special events.
June-August – PhotoEspana is a visual arts festival with special exhibitions popping up all over the city.
September – Apertura is an open weekend organised by art galleries which welcome guests with some snacks.
October – Architecture Week includes special guided tours of the city’s most spectacular buildings.
November – Feriarte is an art and antiques fair which has now taken place in the city for over 40 years. It’s renowned for its collectors’ items and furniture.
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All images credit Madrid Destino