Spain’s sunny capital offers up world-class art, super shopping, renowned tapas and late, late nights.
Travel bucket list idea:
Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum
Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain|www.museothyssen.org|
This outstanding art collection – accumulated by Swiss industrialist Baron Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza – tells the story of 800 years of art history, from 13th-century Italian Gothic paintings all the way up to 20th-century Pop Art. One of the world’s largest private collections, this treasure trove of nearly a thousand paintings is housed in a grand 18th-century neoclassical palace
Major highlights include paintings by Ghirlandaio, Durer, Titian, Raphael, Degas and Kandinsky. There’s usually at least one temporary exhibition on, too, and a lovely terrace bar on the rooftop.
Getting there & doing it
The nearest metro station is Banco de Espana.
The collection is overwhelming and requires several visits. If you’re just going once, check out the section on the website listing the main masterpieces, so you know the ones to look out for. There are also themed sections.
There are numerous local operators offering expert-led guided tours (see our recommendations below) – these have the advantage of taking you to all of the masterpieces, and giving insights and background to the paintings and their artists. If you prefer to go it alone, you can purchase an audio guide at the entrance to download to your phone (ideally bring your own headphones), or the museum’s own device. There’s also an online virtual guide of each gallery you can access as you go.
The bar-restaurant in the courtyard is pleasant but pricey. In summer, the excellent open-air Las Terrazas restaurant opens up on the rooftop.
If you’re planning on seeing lots of art, the Paseo del Arte joint ticket gives a 20% discounted entry to the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums. The pass is available at any of the three museums, which can be visited on different days.
When to do it
The museum is open all year round, seven days a week. Arrive first thing in the morning at 10am, or mid-afternoon, and you’ll be more likely to beat the crowds. It gets very crowded between 11am and 2pm, and also after 6pm (when admission is free on most days). These free admission hours will save you a buck, but don’t expect to have the place to yourself.
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