Rainy Days Call For Museum Dates

Museums in Madrid are free after 19:00

Our second day in Madrid was a rainy day – which meant it was the perfect day to visit museums! Madrid has an entire street dedicated to art museums called El Paseo del Arte. There are four major museums worth noting: Museo del PradoMuseo Reina SofíaMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, and CaixaForum. The first three make up the Golden Triangle of Art. There are several options in visiting museums in Madrid. You can purchase tickets online in advance (which is highly recommended to avoid long queues), you can purchase individual tickets at the museums in person, you can visit the museums for free after 19:00 (museums tend to be crowded around this time), or you can buy a museum pass that allows you to visit the three major museums within one year.

Paseo del Arte Card Fee: €29,60
The Paseo del Arte Ticket must be redeemed at the ticket offices of the museum where the online purchase was made
You can purchase the pass online at Museo Reina Sofia, Museo del Prado, or Museo Thyssen

We decided to narrow our museum choices down to Museo Reina Sofia and Museo del Prado. If we had more time, we definitely would have purchased the museum pass and visit Museo Thyssen as well since it appears that the major masterpieces were divided amongst these three museums. The queue for Museo Reina Sofia was quite long when we arrived so I ended up purchasing tickets online to avoid wasting time. I managed to find tickets for 11am so we ended up going to a small cafe called La Infinito for breakfast!


I ordered a huge breakfast – the Tostada Carmen, which is crushed tomatoes on toast with jamón, café bombón, freshly-pressed orange juice, and café con leche. Café bombón is actually an espresso with a 1:1 ratio of condensed milk and café con leche (“coffee with milk”) is an espresso with a 1:1 ratio of milk, similar to caffè latte. And yes, I did eat this all by myself!

After breakfast, we walked back over to Museo Reina Sofia for our appointed entrance. I’ve realised that museum planning in Spain is very similar to the experience in Italy. Because most of these art museums contain iconic masterpieces, people tend to queue up for hours just to purchase a ticket for entry. As a result, it’s much smarter planning to buy them online and plan around your appointed time rather than waste at least an hour waiting to get in.

TIP #1:
Museo del Prado Entrance Fee: €8,90
You can purchase tickets online in advance here


Reina Sofia is the one museum that houses Picasso’s Guernica, a mural-sized oil painting that is regarded as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history. The painting was created in response to the bombing of Guernica by Nazi Germany during the Spanish Civil War. You get to see his sketches of his masterpiece before it became a painting and the dissection of the representations seen in the painting. It’s incredibly powerful and very dark and I found it to be quite emotional as well. You also get to learn a lot about Picasso’s sketches and work during this time period. 

The museum is mainly dedicated to Spanish art from the 20th century and include extensive collections of Picasso and Salvador Dalí, Spain’s two greatest masters of what we now consider modern art. It’s definitely worth stopping by for at least an hour or so to learn more about Spanish art and the progression of the Modernism movement.

Our next stop was Museo del Prado but we made a quick visit to the CaixaForum, which is a museum and cultural center with a vertical garden. There is an entrance fee for the exhibitions inside (€4) but we skipped the exhibition and just checked out the vertical garden, which happens to be the unique aspect of the center anyway.

TIP #2:
Museo del Prado Entrance Fee: €15
You can purchase tickets online in advance here

We finally made it to Museo Nacional del Prado, the main Spanish national art museum. I opted to visit this museum over Thyssen because it is more widely known to have one of the finest European art collections in the world. I’m talking about Italian Renaissance masters like Fra Angelico, Raphael, and other European artists like Pieter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt, and El Greco. Museo del Prado also houses Francisco de Goya’s The Second of May 1808 and The Third of May 1808. I definitely recommend purchasing tickets in advance.

The last museum worth visiting is Museo Thyssen. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to squeeze this into our schedule, which was a shame because it is another museum filled with pieces from the Old Masters and like Caravaggio, Van Eyck, and Rubens and other renowned artists like Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Mondrian, to name a few. Museo Thyssen houses paintings spanning over 700 years!

TIP #3:
Museo Thyssen Entrance Fee: €12
You can purchase tickets online in advance here

Once we finished our museum visits, we went to the other famous food market for dinner: Mercado San Anton. One of our favorite snacks to eat in Spain is pimientos – I don’t normally eat peppers because my tolerance for spice is very low but these are Padrón peppers that are blistered on a skillet and sprinkled with salt. It is so delicious! This mercado is only three floors but a lot more local and pretty cheap so it is highly recommended. Now this is how I prefer to spend my rainy days!

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