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The 10 Best Museums in Madrid, Spain [2024]

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Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

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Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
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Keri Stooksbury

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As Spain’s political and cultural capital, Madrid houses some of the nation’s most important art pieces and artifacts in its many museums. From modern art to archeology, the city’s exhibits cover virtually any topic under the sun. The rich culture of the Spanish capital guarantees that no matter your interests, there’s a gallery that will make your Madrid trip unforgettable.

The Best Museums in Madrid

1. CaixaForum Madrid

CaixaForum Madrid
Image Credit: Perejaume, VEGAP via CaixaForum Madrid

Since opening in 2008, the CaixaForum Madrid has been one of the most ever-changing art centers in the city. The museum doesn’t have a permanent collection. Instead, the facility’s galleries change throughout the year to showcase different artists from around the world.

The center’s location in a decommissioned power station gives the structure the space indoors and outdoors to host a variety of types of art. It also has the room to host events, which it does periodically throughout the year. These events vary from cultural discussions to educational workshops and activities. However, keep in mind that many of these are held in Spanish.

Some of the most popular past exhibits held at the CaixaForum have included an exhibit about the sculpture “The Thinker” and the retrospectives done on Auguste Rodin and Vincent van Gogh. The museum is also near the “Vertical Garden” living art piece.

Admission is generally €6 (~$6) for all visitors. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The nearest metro station is Estación del Arte.

  • Address: Plaza del Prado, 36, 28014 Madrid, Spain

2. Matadero Madrid

Matadero Madrid
Image Credit: Matadero Madrid

Like many of the city’s museums, the Matadero Madrid uses a decommissioned industrial building, this time using an old slaughterhouse, which gives the site its name. Due to the site’s history, much of the art showcased at the museum is avant-garde or experimental.

The museum is divided into 14 facilities. Some, like the “Abierto X Obras,” are gallery areas, while others are used for archive research, events, meetings between artists and the public, and more.

Notably, the museum doesn’t have a true permanent collection. Instead, the structure rotates its exhibits periodically throughout the year, showcasing artists from around the world who work with various mediums. The museum also hosts artistic and educational programs. For example, its music program is particularly popular.

Admission is free for all visitors. Some special events may require a ticket. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. The nearest metro station is Legazpi.

  • Address: Plaza de Legazpi, 8, 28045 Madrid, Spain

“Matadero is a center of contemporary culture and also a public meeting place, always open to visitors. There are many ways to experience it: from the plastic artists who develop their artistic residencies here, to those avid theater, dance or cinema spectators who fill the Cineteca and the Naves del Español.”

José Luis Romo, art director, Matadero Madrid

3. Museo Arqueológico Nacional (National Archaeological Museum)

National Archaeological Museum
Image Credit: National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum, often shortened to the MAN in Spanish, was founded in the 1860s to house the royal archeological and cultural artifacts collection.

Initially, the museum housed numerous pieces found and brought back to Spain by explorers and colonists. However, as their collections grew, many of these artifacts have been moved to their own facilities. Today, most of the items in the MAN can be traced back to the Iberian Peninsula and cover the thousands of years between prehistory and the early years of the Modern Age.

The museum itself is divided into 9 wings, 3 of which are focused on collecting pieces from other regions like Greece, Egypt, and Italy. Some of the most renowned pieces housed in the MAN are the “Dama del Cerro de los Santos” sculpture, the “Bull of Osura” sculpture, and the “Mausoleum of Pozo Moro.”

Admission is €1.50 (~$2) for students and €3 (~$3) for everyone else. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The nearest metro station is Serrano.

  • Address: Calle de Serrano, 13, 28001 Madrid, Spain

4. Museo Nacional de Antropología (National Museum of Anthropology)

National Museum of Anthropology
Image Credit: National Museum of Anthropology

The National Museum of Anthropology in Madrid opened in 1875 and is often thought to be the country’s oldest museum of its kind. The museum’s exhibits are spread out across 3 floors, with each broadly covering a different topic through artifacts, documents, artwork, and other cultural items.

The ground floor is devoted to the cultures of Asia, especially countries like the Philippines, which had a notable presence of Spanish colonies. This is also the floor that typically hosts the museum’s temporary galleries. The next floor, instead, showcases the history of Africa’s cultures. Once again, particular attention is paid to countries that Spain colonized.

The last floor houses the museum’s displays of artifacts from the Americas. In addition to the museum itself, the facility regularly hosts educational events, like lectures and panels, and has a hall set aside for such events.

Admission is free for children under 18 and seniors 65+, €1.50 (~$2) for those who qualify for a reduced ticket, and €3 (~$3) for everyone else. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The nearest metro station is Estación del Arte.

  • Address: Calle de Alfonso XII, 68, 28014 Madrid, Spain

5. Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (National Natural History Museum)

Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales
Image Credit: Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales

Spain’s national natural history museum, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, opened in its current form in 1987. However, its origins go all the way back to 1771. The museum’s collections can be divided into 4 categories: scientific, historical, artistic, and research documents.

These categories are further divided into specific immersive exhibits to help visitors learn about evolution, minerals, and the earth’s history and civilization. Among some of the museum’s top pieces are the Megatherium skeleton, a preserved African elephant from the 17th century, a model of a giant squid, and the Diplodocus skeleton.

The museum has 5 research departments that use the facility’s many artifacts and documents to study volcanology, geology, paleobiology, biodiversity, and evolutionary ecology. Additionally, special events and activities are periodically hosted in the museum. However, while many displays are written in multiple languages, most events are in Spanish only. 

Admission is free for children under 4, seniors 66+, and visitors with disabilities, €3.50 (~$4) for children 4 to 16, students, and unemployed visitors, and €7 (~$7) for adults 17 and over. The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The nearest metro station is Gregorio Marañón.

  • Address: Calle de José Gutiérrez Abascal, 2, 28006

6. Museo Nacional del Prado

Museo Nacional del Prado
Image Credit: Museo Nacional del Prado

The Museo Nacional del Prado is Spain’s national art museum. Housing over 9,000 works of art from Europe’s greatest artists, it’s considered one of the world’s best collections of fine art. However, special attention is paid to Spanish artists in particular.

In addition to the pieces permanently on display, archived items and artwork on loan from other facilities are often showcased in special exhibits throughout the year. Special events are also hosted at the museum.

Some of the highlighted pieces in the museum are “The Descent from the Cross” by Rogier van der Weyden, “The Pearl” by Raphael, “The Knight with His Hand on His Breast” by El Greco, and “The Third of May 1808” by Francisco Goya. While most of the museum’s pieces are paintings, sculptures, murals, and other art forms are represented in the gallery.

Admission is free for children under 19, €7 (~$7) for those who qualify for a reduced-rate ticket, and €15 (~$16) for adults. The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The nearest metro station is Estación del Arte.

  • Address: Calle de Ruiz de Alarcón, 23, 28014 Madrid, Spain

7. Museo Sorolla

Sorolla Museum
Image Credit: Sorolla Museum

Housed in what used to be the home of Joaquín Sorolla, the Sorolla Museum commemorates the artwork created by the artist and his family.

The residence was converted into a biographical museum after the deaths of Sorolla and later his wife and is meant to remember the lives and careers of the family. Particular attention is paid to Joaquín and his daughter Elena, as they had the most successful careers as artists.

The house’s main floor displays Sorolla’s work and personal effects, with many of the same furnishings that adorned the home while he was alive. However, part of the upper floor is set aside to host temporary exhibits, sometimes including work from other non-related artists. Some of the most beloved Sorolla pieces displayed in the museum are “Strolling along the Seashore” and “Types of Lagartera or Lagarterana bride.”

Admission is €1.50 (~$2) for those who qualify for a reduced ticket and €3 (~$3) for everyone else. All ticket fees are waived on Saturday afternoons at 2:30 p.m. and Sundays. The museum is open Thursday to Saturday and Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The nearest metro station is Gregorio Marañón.

  • Address: Plaza del Gral. Martínez Campos, 37, 28010 Madrid, Spain

8. Museum of Illusions Madrid

Museum of Illusions Madrid
Image Credit: Museum of Illusions Madrid

Madrid’s Museum of Illusions allows visitors to experience tricks of the eye and forced perspective in real life. Using 20 different interactive exhibit displays, the facility lets guests act out famous optical illusions.

Some illusions, like the “Clone Table” and “Head on the Platter,” use life-size, immersive sets, while others, like the “Hollow Face Illusion” and “Turntables,” put a little more distance between the public and the illusion. That distinction is great for those who are prone to sensory issues.

The Museum of Illusions usually takes between 45 and 90 minutes to complete, depending on the ages and enjoyment of the people in a group, but there are notably no time limits. The museum even has a playroom with toys, puzzles, and creativity games for families with kids who might need something more age-appropriate and enriching to do in between illusions. Taking photos is also welcome.

Admission is free for children under 4, €10 (~$11) for children 4 to 12, €11 (~$12) for unemployed visitors, teachers, students, seniors 65+, and visitors with disabilities, and €14 (~$15) for adults.

The museum is open Monday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. The nearest metro station is Tirso de Molina.

  • Address: Calle del Dr Cortezo, 8, 28012 Madrid, Spain

9. Patrimonio Nacional (Royal Palace of Madrid)

El Salon de Columnas del Palacio Real de Madrid
Image Credit: Royal Palace of Madrid

The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish royal family. It’s also home to some of the country’s most significant national artifacts, making it a must-see museum for visitors.

Since the palace is one of the largest in Europe, with over 3,000 rooms, a handful have been set aside to be part of the museum for guests to explore. These areas include the Throne Room, the Hall of Columns ballroom, and the Main Hall.

The palace is also home to the Royal Armoury of Madrid, which houses the personal weapons, armor, and more of Spain’s kings, as well as works of art depicting scenes of combat, war, and conquering. Though many like to focus on the art and furnishings of the museum, it also has a notable collection of historical science and technology artifacts, especially in the Royal Pharmacy.

Admission is free for children under 5, members, teachers, unemployed visitors, and visitors with disabilities, €7 (~$7) for children 5 to 16, seniors 65+, and students, and €14 (~$15) for everyone else. Ticket fees are waived for everyone on May 18 and from Monday to Thursday for evening entries for citizens of the EU.

The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The nearest metro station is Ópera.

  • Address: Royal Palace of Madrid, Calle de Bailén, s/n, 28013 Madrid, Spain

10. Sweet Space

Sweet Space
Image Credit: Sweet Space

Sweet Space is an interactive modern art museum that utilizes modern technology to curate an immersive experience. The museum consists of multiple vibrant and whimsical sets, many of which are themed around candies and other sweet treats, that can be explored up close.

Since a different artist designs each set, and they occasionally change entirely, each room’s designs are completely different. Interacting with the environment is encouraged, and so is taking pictures.

Though the space was explicitly designed to be kid-friendly, visitors of all ages are welcome and can have fun exploring the exhibit rooms. The staff is even there to explain more about each room’s theme. It’s worth noting that some sets can be dark and may not be appropriate for guests with certain sensory concerns. Make sure to call ahead for more information if needed.

Admission is free for children under 5, €8 (~$8) for those who qualify for a reduced ticket, €12 (~$13) for children between 4 and 12, and €18 (~$19) for adults. The museum is open daily from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The nearest metro station is Rubén Darío.

  • Address: Calle de Serrano, 61, 28006 Madrid, Spain

How To Get Free or Reduced Admission to Madrid Museums

We’ve indicated with each museum whether or not children, students, or seniors receive free or reduced admission. Several other programs offer similar concessions.

The Madrid City Card allows holders access to some of the city’s most meaningful sites. The card can be purchased for a validity of 1 to 5 consecutive days and grants access to the Almudena Cathedral Museum, the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bonemisza, the Royal Palace, and more.

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) grants its members free access to a variety of museums. This card gives free entry to Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Museo di San Isidro, the Royal Palace, and more.

Participation is subject to change; please verify participating museums and entry conditions before your visit.

Final Thoughts

Madrid is at the heart of Spain’s culture and art scenes, so it’s not surprising that it’s home to some of the country’s best museums. Whether you’re a history fan, an art lover, or just looking for a one-of-a-kind experience, there’s a gallery or exhibit in Spain’s capital worth visiting. We hope this list has helped you narrow down the museum options for your Madrid itinerary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are museums free in Madrid?

While there are certainly museums in Madrid that charge visitors for entry, many of the city’s main and publicly-owned exhibits and galleries host free-visit days for all guests. Some museums even waive ticket fees daily to allow everyone to experience them.

What is the most important museum in Madrid?

It’s hard to definitively claim which of Madrid’s many museums is the most important. However, the Museo Nacional del Prado is, by and large, the most famous among both locals and out-of-towners because the collection is so vast.

How many museums are in Madrid?

There are over 40 different museums in Madrid, spanning topics from art to culture. However, a handful of galleries and exhibits aren’t included in that count due to their size or temporary nature. This number is also likely to change.

Is Madrid an art city?

Madrid is often called Spain’s cultural heart, so it’s often a hub for local and global artists. It is home to a plethora of art museums and artistic architecture to help inspire both up-and-coming creatives and those with a casual interest.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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