Best Museums in Madrid

10 Best Museums You Will Ever Lay Your Eyes On in Madrid

Simply put, Madrid is one of the world’s foremost destinations for culture. And the most compelling reason? Its many world-class museums no doubt! In fact, no visit to Madrid is complete without taking in some of the world’s best art and history museums with their extensive collections, wide galleries and top-notch facilities.

Though a number of the city’s museums are concentrated near Atocha train station (like Madrid’s three heavy hitters the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum), you can find many truly exceptional museums throughout the city, such as the Costume Museum, the Cerralbo Museum and the Museum of the Americas in residential Moncloa, the Train Museum and Madrid Planetarium on the city’s south side, as well as the delightful National Museum of Romanticism in Chueca, the Royal Palace on what used to be the western edge of the city and many others.

Madrid is an unbeatable destination for breathtaking art, majestic palaces and interesting artifacts. There is no reason not to visit as many museums as you fancy either, as most of the city’s museums offer free entrance on certain days or at certain times. Check the museums’ websites for more information on getting free entrance. 


At Madrid's Planetarium you can explore the wonders of the universe and learn more about astronomy. The well-equipped planetarium has a 28 meter tall observation tower as well as several exhibition and projection rooms where you can observe different astronomical phenomena like the movements of the planets and the stars throughout the sky, star formation, black holes, and galaxies, and watch multimedia presentations on astronomical topics. The planetarium also offers courses on astronomy, special observation events, children's workshops and school programs for kids of all ages, all in Spanish. Even if you don't speak Spanish, however, the astronomical projections are still quite impressive.

Local Expert tip: Don't forget to explore the surrounding park.

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A relative newcomer to Madrid's scene, the Clothing Museum opened in 2004. It's a real treat for anyone interested in dressmaking, tailoring and clothing through the ages. The chronologically arranged collection spans over 160,000 garments, the very oldest of which are some precious fragments of Coptic cloth and Hispano-Muslim pieces. The rotating displays cover the last six centuries of Spanish fashion, including a few fascinating monographic rooms devoted to luminaries, such as the haute couturier Balenciaga or Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, whose clients included Isadora Duncan. METRO: Moncloa

Local Expert tip: Don't skip the gift shop.

Read more about Museo del Traje →

The 17th Marquis of Cerralbo's home was so beautiful inside and out that, after his death, it was named a museum. The 19th century palace of Italian architecture will take your breath away as you wander through the exquisite halls and beautifully landscaped garden. The Marquis of Cerralbo's home contains an extensive collection of art work that ranges from Spanish, French, and Italian paintings, all the way to the chandeliers that are suspended from the ceiling and the porcelain and pottery that decorate the home. The museum is closed on Mondays and on holidays. METRO: Plaza de Espana or Ventura Rodriguez

Local Expert tip: Like a trip back in time.

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Embajadores & Delicias

The location couldn't be more perfect or poignant for this railway museum, set in the disused Delicias train station with its air of faded elegance and a bygone age. The station opened in 1880, but closed down less than 100 years later in 1969, opening again in 1984 as a museum. Exhibits include the restored locomotives, model railways, railway equipment, film footage and memorabilia you would expect. Additionally, there are various curiosities, such as a room of clocks (including the one that timed the firs- ever rail journey in Spain, from Barcelona to the nearby town of Matar�). Perfect for kids, much of this is a hands-on experience and they are free to climb inside the engines. The museum caf� serves drinks in an old restaurant wagon. METRO: Delicias

Local Expert tip: Attracts both history buffs and kids.

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Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Photo courtesy of Dalbera

Named after Spain's current queen and housed in a former 18th century hospital, the Reina Sofia Museum features an impressive collection of 20th century and contemporary art with an emphasis on Spanish artists. It completes Madrid's well-known Golden Triangle of Art with the nearby Prado Museum and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. The Reina Sofia is best known as the home of Pablo Picasso's famous and larger-than-life 1937 painting Guernica, created in response to the bombing and destruction of the Spanish town of the same name. In addition to Picasso, the collection includes works by artists such as Salador Dal�, Joan Mir�, Juan Gris, Francis Picabia, Fernand Leger, Georges Braque and Diego Rivera.

Local Expert tip: You can't miss Picasso's Guernica.

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The Museum of the Americas holds a wealth of archeological, artistic and ethnographic artifacts from different cultures on the American continent from prehistory up to now. The museum is divided into five areas emphasizing the discovery and knowledge of America, American realities like its landscape and the development of its cultures, society and daily living, religion, and communication and indigenous languages. Though the current museum's location beside University City was established in 1962, Spain has accumulated these unique collections over several centuries (though not all of the cultures represented are wild about the treasures being out of their hands). METRO: Moncloa

Local Expert tip: Go explore the nearby University City too.

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Madrid's National Museum of Romanticism wonderfully recreates the era of Spanish Romanticism (from 1814 to 1868), an intense cultural and intellectual movement that ushered in the modern age, with a collection of beautiful furniture, paintings (including works by Francisco Goya) and decorative objects, like jewels, ceramics and musical instruments. The pistol that writer Mariano Jose de Larra committed suicide with is also on display here. The museum's collections are housed in a former palace built in 1776 and located in what is known today as Madrid's Chueca neighborhood. Go past the museum gift shop and you'll find a charming little tea room.

Local Expert tip: Don't forget to have tea and cake at the museum's tea room.

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With its beautiful Baroque exterior of white stone and opulent interiors designed to impress all who enter, Madrid's Royal Palace is a must see. Madrid's monarchs resided there from Charles III in the 18th century until Alfonso XIII in the early 20th century. While Madrid's Royal Palace is the official residence of Spain's current royal family, the country's royals actually reside at the decidedly less opulent Zarzuela Palace. Admission to Madrid's 3,418-room Royal Palace includes a circuit visit to dozens of rooms like the Throne Room, Porcelain Room and the dining room that is now used for state dinners as well as visits to the Royal Armory and Royal Pharmacy.

Local Expert tip: Don't forget to look up at the ceilings.

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Museo Thyssen Bornemisza
Photo courtesy of Dalbera

Along with the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum forms what is known as the Golden Triangle of Art – Madrid's tour de force in the art world. Housed in Villahermosa Palace, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum contains different collections ranging from the 13th to the 20th centuries, including Italian Renaissance, French Impressionist and 19th century American paintings. The impressive private collection was leased by the aristocratic Thyssen-Bornemisza family to the Spanish state and is considered to complete the gaps in the Prado and the Reina Sofia's more focused collections. Simply put, the museum is a must see when in Madrid!

Local Expert tip: Don't miss the French Impressionist paintings.

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Museo del Prado
Photo courtesy of Dalbera

One of the world's most celebrated museums, Madrid's Prado Museum is an extensive first-class art gallery containing 16th to 19th century European art. The emphasis is naturally on Spanish art as the Prado's collection was originally composed of Spain's Royal Art Collection. Come to walk the high-ceilinged halls primarily built in the 19th century and reflect on masterpieces by Goya, El Greco, Vel�zquez, Bosch, Tiziano, Tintoretto and others. As the gallery is so large, it would be easy to spend days immersed in the Prado, so if you're short on time be sure to strategize well and hit the highlights like Vel�zquez's Las Meninas, Goya's two Maja paintings and Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Local Expert tip: Be strategic in your visit so as not to be overwhelmed by the size of the museum.

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Meet Sarah Rogers

Born and raised in northern California, Sarah grew up to become an expat, traveler and wordsmith. She spent seven years in Madrid, Spain and now calls Buenos Aires, Argentina home. She has had...  More About Sarah