Sunday, March 30, 2014

Museums in Madrid (are sometimes FREE)

One week in March, I made a visit to Spain for eight days. With Madrid as my starting point, I went to Segovia for a day trip (Roman Aqueducts, pretty castle that is said to be one of the castles that inspired the Disney castle), and a three day trip to Cordoba (with the amazing mosque turned cathedral) and Seville (the largest Gothic cathedral, and 30 minutes away by bus the Roman Ruins of Italica, birthplace of emperor Trajan). The rest of the days I stayed in Madrid.

I did not have the most generous budget for the trip, but with careful planning my trip turned out very well and I have nothing to complain. In this post I would like to focus on Madrid and its museums. I took advantage of the many free museum hours, and being a student often means half price tickets. The super big and famous museums like Prado are lovely, but I'd like to talk about some other smaller museums that are just as charming and worth a visit. Please note I did not have a chance to visit all the museums in Madrid, so don't forget to explore other museums that I didn't get to visit, and tell me what you think about them so maybe I'll check them out next time.

Museo Sorolla 

Free Hours
Free Time for all: Sunday 10-15, Sat 2PM -8PM
University students always free.

Normal entry 3 euros.

The home and studios of artist Joaquín Sorolla. Many of his works are displayed through out his house turned museum. While some parts are like a museum gallery, other parts still retain the home feel. I especially like this museum because other than his work you got to see his studio, his really pretty lobby, dining room with wall murals, and the nice garden with colorful tiles and little water fountains. Sorolla had a nice house and its definitely worth visiting, and it's free for students. The second floor houses temporary exhibitions. 
The outside garden of Museo Sorolla

Lazaro Galdiano Foundation Museum

Free Hours
On opening days from 15:30 until 16:30. On Sundays, from 14:00 until 15:00.

Student Entry 3 euro

Normal Entry 6 euros for everyone else, 8 euros for guided tour (reservation required)

The house and collection of José Lázaro Galdiano, a Spanish publisher, financier, writer, and art collector. This house built in 1903 turned museum has works by Masters such as Goya, Velaquez, and Bosch...this museum has a bit of everything, also collections of weapons, jewelry, pottery, and tapestries. While this house has been transformed into a museum, the elements of the house can still be observed and are just as worth looking at as the collection, especially the beautiful ceiling murals. The fun thing about this museum is that along with all the classical works, there were some modern works intertwined through out the collection. I'm not entirely sure if it was part of a temporary collection or the permanent collection, but for example while looking at classical tapestries from the 17th century, you also see a video of a flying statue for example.

Museo Cerralbo

Free Hours 
Free for all :Saturday 2PM-3PM, Thursday 5-8PM, Sundays
Free for students on all opening days

General entry 3 euros

The house of the Marquis of Cerralbo (1845-1922), this house museum lets you see the splendor inside a Marquis' palace. The Marquis loved travelling, and his house is filled with beautiful things he has collected all over Europe. If you enjoyed the Royal Palace, you will enjoy this museum too, as I think it is just as splendid as the Royal Palace. And, you get to take pictures in this palace but not the royal palace. I loved looking at the bedrooms, bathroom, dining hall and imagining how life was in a Palace a century ago.


Free Hours
Sundays 5PM-8PM, Tue-Sat 6PM-8PM

General Admission 14 Euros, Reduced Admission 7 Euros

No pictures allowed in Prado. Since there is so much info about Prado and every travel book and site say it's a must visit, I won't talk much about it. I went to line up at 5.50PM for free entrance, and that was the longest line I have ever lined up for in my life. I was worried I may never get in, but once it was 6PM, the line moved at a steady pace and I was in the museum a few minutes later. Basically they just let everyone in when it's 6, but I am not entirely sure if they have a limit for how many people they let in the museum at once.

Reina Sofia

Free Hours
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Sundays 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Normal Entry 8 euros
Reduced Entry still 8 euros but you get audio guide.

Another must visit art museum, part of the art triangle along with Prado and 


Free hours
Monday noon-4PM to permanent collections.

General entry 10 euros, reduced entry 7 euros to permanent collection.

Palacio Real de Madrid

General admission 10 euro, reduced 5 euros

No pictures allowed inside. Walk through the palace and see many of its beautiful rooms. While the palace is very big, you only get to see selected rooms.  I didn't get an audio guide and relied on the signs in each room which provided only basic information of the space.

Free Hours of other museums that I didn't have a chance to visit, and where to find more free museums and exhibitions

Museum of Decorative Arts 
Free Entry Sunday 10a.m. -3 p.m.

Do go to one of the yellow official tourist information spots near most main attractions to get not only a free map but also this really nice little pamphlet with all the exhibitions and cultural events going on in Madrid. The pamphlet provides a good museum guide and free hours listing, it was on that guide I discovered Museo Cerralbo. I also learned about a free Picasso exhibition going on at Fundacio Mapfre and saw a pretty large collection of Picasso's work for free.

Free museums and student discounts are just lovely are they not?

If you are in Madrid you can also consider making a day trip to Segovia to see the Roman aquaducts and a pretty castle. Or maybe you want read food in Madrid (free tapas with drink, and churros!)


  1. This post is very detailed!! They look so interesting, I would love to visit these places myself!

    1. Thanks Chiang, I'm glad you found the details helpful, and yes, you should visit Madrid!