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Madrid: Free and reduced times to visit the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums

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The Reina Sofia is free to all weekdays (7 pm - 9 pm) and weekend afternoons. Photo: T. Meyers
The Reina Sofia is free to all weekdays (7 pm - 9 pm) and weekend afternoons. Photo: T. Meyers

It’s always interesting to see who among my visitors is a “Museum Geek.” Some friends come and get a museum pass to see all of Madrid’s museums at a discount, while others could care less where Picasso’s Guernica is located, and skip museums opting for city strolling and shopping.

If you are a “Museum Geek,” or at least feel more tempted by the Prado than Prada, you’ll want to keep in mind these money-saving museum tips, as visits to Madrid’s galleries can really add up fast.

Get thee to the Prado early to avoid lines... or late to get in for free.

Prado Museum

Opening times-
From Monday to Saturday 10 am – 8 pm
Sundays and holidays 10 am – 7 pm
Closed: January 1, May 1, and December 25
Reduced opening hours: 10 am – 2 p m: January 6, December 24 and 31.

The Prado is Madrid’s most popular museum, so be prepared to wait in line. Why is it worth the wait? Because it houses paintings such as Las Meninas by Velázquez and  The Third of May: the Executions on Príncipe Pío by Goya.

At €12 a pop (or €22 with a guided tour), it’s worth looking into the Prado’s free days and discounts. Those 65 and older, or who have the Carné Joven, or are part of a “familia numerosa” (large family) get half off, paying just €6 per person. The museum is free for everyone under the age 18, journalists, tour guides, students with a valid ID between the ages 18 -25, the unemployed, the handicapped, and members of the organizations listed here.

Plus, the Prado museum is free for all Monday to Saturday from 6 pm to 8 pm and on Sundays and holidays from 5 pm to 7 pm. On November 19 and Museum Day, the Prado is free all hours.

Reina Sofía

Opening times-
Monday – Saturday from 10 am – 9 pm
Sundays from 10 am to 2:30 pm
Tuesdays Closed
The Museum is also closed on: January 1 & 6, May 1 & 15, November 9, and December 24, 25 and 31.

The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía shows art produced from the late 19th century to present day. The museum has over 20,000 pieces and is one of the most important museums in Spain. Look for paintings and art by Alexander Calder, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, Picasso and Antoni Tàpies among many others.

At just €6 a ticket to see the permanent and temporary collections, this national art museum is not expensive. If you are only interested in the temporary exhibition, then it’s just €3 to get in. The museum also offers plenty of free days, including the International Museum Day, Mondays – Fridays from 7 pm to 9 pm, Saturdays from 2:30 pm to 9 pm, Sundays from 10 am to 2:30 pm, the 18th of April, the 12th of October and the 6th of December.

In addition, the museum entrance fee is waived for everyone under 18 years of age, students with a valid ID, everyone 65 and older, the handicapped, those who accompany the handicapped, tour guides and journalists.

Thyssen-Bornemisza

Opening times-
Tuesdays to Saturdays- 10 am to 11 pm.
On Sundays and Mondays, 10 am to 7 pm.
Closed Monday August 20th.

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum offers visitors an overview of art from the 13th century to the late 20th century. In addition to a permanent collection, there are temporary exhibitions throughout the year. From June to September 2012, Hopper’s works will be on display.

If you’re under 12 years of age or unemployed then you get into Thyssen-Bornemisza for free. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay €9 for general admission and €6 if you’re a student with a student ID, 65 or older, have the Carné Joven, are a Fine Arts professor, handicapped, or part of a “familia numerosa” (large family). A combined ticket for Thyssen-Bornemisza Collections and Hopper exhibition is €15.

The only day that the museum is open to all for free is on the International Museum Day, once a year. Also, all of you out there born in 1992 get into Thyssen-Bornemisza for free during 2012 in honor of the museum’s 20th anniversary. You can buy tickets online here.

The Madrid Card

It may also pay to get a Madrid card for about €38 for 24 hours if you’re into to seeing all the museums. The Madrid Card  will get you into the three biggies listed above, plus many other museums in the city.

At this price though, you’d have to see at least four or five museums in 24 hours to make it a deal, and that’s a lot of art in a short time span, even for your most enthusiastic “Museum Geek.” Another option is Tarjeta Paseo del Arte, which gets you into the Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza for about €22. This is probably your best bet if you can’t hit the free days or times. The Tarjeta Paseo del Arte can be purchased at any of the three museums.

Also in our guide: If you’re in the process of researching a trip to Madrid and are looking for budget-friendly hotel suggestions, be sure to swing by our Madrid guide. Our editors have visited and inspected affordable hotels all over the city’s center.

About the author

Regina W Bryan

About the author: Regina W.Bryan is a Barcelona-based freelance writer and photographer. When not eating tapas and exploring Europe, she is tending her balcony veggie garden and practicing Catalan. For more of her thoughts on Spain, check: www.regwb.com and www.thespainscoop.com.

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