Not much can top an afternoon spent in one of Madrid’s many museums—except when that afternoon comes free! That’s right, Spain’s capital city is home to some of the most revered history and art museums in the world, and several of them also offer free entry for guests. So if you love the Prado but don’t love the idea of dropping €15 on a ticket (after all, you can get a great lunch in Madrid for less), you’re going to want to take note of these free museums in Madrid.
Museo del Prado
If you haven’t checked out the Prado Museum on your trip to Madrid, have you really experienced Madrid to the fullest?
We don’t think so.
Kick-start your free museum bucket list with the iconic art museum that has attracted admirers from around the world for 200 years now by visiting during its daily free entry hours.
Arguably the most famous of the three legendary museums that make up Madrid’s famed Golden Triangle of Art, the Prado offers free entry every day for a two-hour period. You can enjoy free entry from Monday through Saturday between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. and on Sundays between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Whether you’re a fan of Goya, Titian or Velázquez—or have no idea who we’re talking about but want to learn—the masterpieces in the Prado have undeniably shaped the way we admire art to this day. This experience is a must for anyone looking to make the most of their time in Madrid.
Insider’s Tip: The free hours at the Prado are one of Madrid’s worst-kept secrets—hundreds of other visitors to the city will want to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity as well. To avoid long lines, show up early, rather than at 6 p.m. on the dot (or 5 p.m. on Sunday).
Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
The great thing about this selection of free museums in Madrid: they couldn’t be easier to get to. The Reina Sofía Museum is just a short walk away from the Prado, so if you’re feeling ambitious, you could even try to visit both in the same afternoon (though we’d recommend going to each on a different day to fully take advantage of your time.
While the Prado showcases classical pieces from centuries past, the Reina Sofía highlights contemporary art from the 20th century. Tens of thousands of works bearing big names like Dalí, Picasso, Miró and more await you within the massive complex, which offers free entry periods most days throughout the week.
On Monday and Wednesday through Saturday, you can enjoy the Reina Sofía’s free entry period from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. Sundays sweeten the deal, offering free admission for most of the afternoon from 1:30 until 7 p.m.
Whether you’re just popping in one evening to see “Guernica” and the rest of the iconic Reina Sofía highlights, or you plan to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon taking in as many of the nearly 22,000 works as possible, you won’t want to leave Madrid without taking advantage of this fabulous opportunity.
Panteón de Goya (Goya’s Tomb)
Once you’ve marveled at Goya’s countless masterpieces in the Prado, head to his namesake museum (Glorieta San Antonio de la Florida, 5) to pay tribute to the man himself. Housed in a unique chapel that’s free to visit at any time, it’s home to breathtaking frescoes painted across the towering dome that houses Goya’s all-granite final resting place.
National Archaeology Museum
Let’s step away from the art for a moment and travel back in time to ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Founded by Queen Isabel II in 1867, the Museo Arqueológico Nacional today is one of Madrid’s most-visited museums, holding untold treasures from some of the world’s most iconic cultures.
After an ongoing renovation effort that lasted from 2008 until 2013, the new and improved museum showcases one of Spain’s finest collections in an accessible, easy-to-navigate space. The best part? It’s free on Saturday afternoons after 2 p.m., as well as on Sunday mornings.
If you’ve seen the Netflix original series “Cable Girls,” you might recognize the grandiose façade of the Fundación Telefónica building that graces Gran Vía. A lasting symbol of Spain’s modernity and innovation, the headquarters of the national telecommunications company boasts an impressive number of accomplishments: it was the first recognized skyscraper in Europe and remains at the heart of Spanish communications even today.
With its signature metal spiral staircase and a gallery space housing art, photography and technology exhibitions, the historical building remains one of the most fascinating spaces on Madrid’s most famous street. It’s free to enter at all times, and well worth spending a few hours exploring.
Update notice: This article was updated on June 26, 2023.
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