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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 28 May, 2023
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

This vibrant city was the epicentre of Spain’s 16th- and 17th-century ‘Golden Age’, when the kings and clergy patronised artists such as Velazquez, Murillo, Zurbaran and El Greco, and couldn’t purchase enough paintings by Titian, Hieronymus Bosch, Rubens and others.

Then, in the 19th century, came Picasso and Goya; the latter’s portraits of the Spanish royal family, Madrid’s citizens, its fiestas and demons are seared into the city’s soul.

The result was an unrivalled hoard of artistic treasure that you can see in the ‘Triangle of Art’ – the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia museums. These three are home to scores of masterpieces and each rank among the world’s greatest art museums. The Reina Sofia is home to arguably the most famous painting of the 20th century, Picasso’s Guernica.

If you have time for more, the Real Academia de Bellas Artes, the Lazaro Galdiano Museum and the Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida won’t disappoint – in any other city, they’d be top attractions.

Recommendations

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Art Madrid

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

Aerial view down onto a large exhibition room filled with art stalls and lots of people wandering between them

A world-renowned annual contemporary art fair featuring painting, sculpture, photography, and digital art from both national and international galleries and artists. It takes place over four days in February, in the majestic setting of the Palacio de Cibeles.

Adult price: £13

Best for ages 13+

Duration: 5 days

When: February 23-27

Frequency: annually

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Cerralbo Museum

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

exterior facade - a plain house with wooden front door

The Marques de Cerralbo’s horde of artworks and curio includes El Greco’s Ecstasy of St Francis and fantastic Japanese armour.

Adult price: £2

Best for ages 18+

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Convent of the Descalzas Reales

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

Exterior view of the facade

This royal convent was founded by the daughter of Emperor Charles V in 1559 – it’s now packed full of Golden Age art, priceless masterpieces and valuable religious relics, all paid for by the dowries of former nuns accumulated over the centuries.

Adult price: £4

Best for ages 18+

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Royal Chapel of St Anthony of La Florida

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

View of the domed roof with exquisite Goya frescoes

Goya devotees should see his work at its most delightful in this chapel (now a museum), that’s also the artist’s final resting place.

Best for ages 18+

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Lazaro Galdiano Museum

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

Display artworks and large glass casing inside the Lazaro Galdiano Museum

A fantastic private collection of over 12,000 ceramics, jewellery, small bonzes, coins, carvings, manuscripts and other fascinating artefacts from the nineteenth century back to the prehistoric period. It’s housed in a historic Madrid, with original baroque painted ceilings.

Adult price: £6

Best for ages 18+

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Prado Museum

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

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Bucket List Experience
The grand exterior of the Prado Museum. Made of white stone with multiple pillars, and a carved stone mural set at the top of the entrance building, there is a flag flying atop it. A large statue of a figure cast in dark metal sits in front of the entrance.

Madrid’s most renowned museum, home to the single best collection of Spanish art and arguably the world’s finest collections of European art, dating from the 12th century to the early 20th century.

Adult price: £13

Best for ages 18+

Reina Sofia National Museum

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

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Bucket List Experience
Exterior facade looking at the front. a plain stone building with twin glass elevator towers on either side

Spain’s National Museum of 20th-century art is the third of Madrid’s world-class art museums. Reina most famously contains Picasso’s Guernica, and outstanding collections of Spain’s two greatest 20th-century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.

Adult price: £8

Best for ages 18+

San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

External view of the museum facade - a beautiful golden stone ornate building

One of the most prestigious art schools in Spain, founded in 1744. It houses a superb collection of Goya paintings, plus others by Arcimboldo, Velazquez, Rubens, Van Dyck, El Greco, Murillo and Zurbaran. Look out for some excellent temporary exhibitions.

Adult price: £7

Best for ages 25+

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Sorolla Museum

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

External view of the beautiful yellow stone building

The Madrid home of early 20th-century artist Joaquin Sorolla, known as ‘the master of light’, is now filled with his neo-Impressionist works.

Best for ages 18+

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Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

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Bucket List Experience
The walkway in front of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. There are blue flags advertising the museum.

One of the world’s greatest art museums, home to an outstanding collection of art, from 13th-century Italian Gothic paintings to 20th-century Pop Art.

Adult price: £10

Best for ages 18+

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Skip the line: Prado Museum with Reina Sofia Museum Guided Tour

Madrid

Skip the line: Prado Museum with Reina Sofia Museum Guided Tour
Hit the Prado Museum as the first visitors when the doors open to the public on this 4-hour Madrid tour. This experience offers access to the museum early in the morning before the crowds arrive. An expert guide will lead you through this beautiful building and you’ll see works such as Velazquez’s ‘Las Meninas’ and El Greco’s ‘The Annunciation’. Learn about the artwork from a guide, and then after a small break, head to the Reina Sofía Museum and admire abstract and surrealist works by Picasso, Dali and more. Do not miss this chance to visit two of the most important museums in Spain!

Price: €65

Min age: 0

Rating 4.01 / 5 [244 ratings]

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Hidden Art Galleries and Artist's Studio in Madrid

Madrid

Hidden Art Galleries and Artist's Studio in Madrid
Join a local Spanish artist to discover some of the coolest hidden contemporary art galleries in one of Madrid’s most artistic neighborhoods. I’ll take you to visit some of the coolest and hidden contemporary art galleries in the beautiful Salesas-Chueca neighborhood, including Max Estrella, Juana de Aizpuru, and Michael Soskine. We’ll meet some of the owners, learn about current art trends in the city, and hear the process behind putting together each show. so you can feel how this artistic neighborhood breathes. After that, we'll walk to my personal studio, where I'll share my own art, while we chat over some cheese, olives, other tapas. Of course, the food will be paired with a nice Spanish wine, beer, or soft drinks.

Price: $68

Min age: 1

Rating 4.97 / 5 [35 ratings]

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Skip-the-Line Madrid Guided Tour: The best of Prado & Reina Sofia

Madrid

Skip-the-Line Madrid Guided Tour: The best of Prado & Reina Sofia
Discover on a half-day tour the Art Walk in Madrid! Enjoy preferential access to Madrid’s two great pictorial museums: Prado Museum and the Queen Sofía National Museum Art Centre.

Price: €87

Min age: 0

Rating 4.75 / 5 [12 ratings]

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Destination guides

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Madrid

Madrid Region, Spain

Exterior of La Almudena Cathedral in the late afternoon.

Spain’s sunny capital offers up world-class art, super shopping, renowned tapas and late, late nights.

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