Top 12+1 Free Museums in Madrid
Madrid offers culture and art for all preferences and pockets. Continue reading this post with the best free museums in Madrid and enjoy the best of Spain´s culture completely free, from world-class art galleries to Palaces and historic houses.
My list of the best free museums in Madrid will help you to save money while enjoying the best art and culture in Spain. There is a wide offer of museums in the capital, but I have just included the ones which are really worth a visit for tourists staying a limited time in the capital of Spain.
These top-notch museums are free to the public some or all of the time.
The list with the top free museums in Madrid includes not just art museums but also other galleries offering interesting collections that help to understand the culture and development of Madrid.
Best museums in Madrid
In the first section of this post, I have included the top 5 free museums in Madrid which offer permanent free entry for guests.
In the second section, you will find the other 8 best museums in Madrid specifying the precise days and hours when they are complimentary.
Top Museums in Madrid with permanent free entry
1. Espacio Fundación Telefónica
From Tuesday to Sunday 10:00-20:00.
All Mondays and on the following days: December 25, January 1 and 6.
Permanent free entry
The main goal of Espacio Fundación Telefónica is to spread the knowledge through exhibitions, meetings, and activities that connect innovation, creativity, and technology within society.
The Espacio is a multipurpose facility that offers, without charge, a varied and plural program aimed at adults, young people, and children.
This space, in a unique and emblematic location in the very center of Madrid, is interactive and participative, free for all public.
There are more than 6,000 m² on four floors of the historical headquarters of Telefónica Group available for exhibitions, events, activities, and workshops.
The guided tours available expand the information of the exhibitions as well as the history of the Telefónica building.
The duration is approximately 50 minutes, and no prior reservation is necessary. You just need to show up at the reception and sign up between 5-30 minutes before the visit. The tours are limited to 30 people.
The audio guides are free and are useful to enjoy an enriched experience of the exhibitions. You can access them from your mobile, ask for more information on the information point of Espacio Fundación Telefónica.
The Espacio Fundación Telefónica is located in one of the most emblematic buildings of Madrid and has been one of the symbols of the city since its construction in 1929.
Recognized as the first skyscraper built in Europe, it contributed to giving Madrid a modern and cosmopolitan appearance.
The building was an important target during the Spanish Civil War, due to its height, its proximity to the front line, and for being the most important communications center in the country. Its basements were used as a shelter against the bombings.
2. Naval Museum
Paseo del Prado, 5
Banco de España
From Tuesday to Sunday 10:00-19:00 (August: 10.00-15.00)
All Mondays and on the following days: January 1 and 6, May 1, July 16, December 24, 25 and 31.
Permanent free entry (voluntary 3 € donation)
The Naval Museum is a space for research, conservation, and aims to tell the story of the maritime history of Spain, and one of the best free things to do in Madrid.
The museum is open to the general public and has different visit programs adapted to the interests of the visitors. The entry is free, although a voluntary 3 € donation is requested for its maintenance.
Spain’s maritime museum is situated on the Paseo del Prado, a privileged location, and very close to other top galleries in Madrid like Prado, Reina Sofia, and Thyssen-Bornemisza.
The museum changed locations several times until in 1932 it moved to what was then the Marine Ministry, today the Spanish Navy General Headquarters.
The building, which combines classical and neo-gothic elements, has an Empire style grand staircase built in Carrara white and ochre marble and is crowned by a tower on top of the main façade.
The different sides of the building are decorated and embellished with naval elements, as well as coats of arms of old Spanish domains.
The collection of the Naval Museum is rich and heterogeneous with more than 10,500 objects acquired and donated by private and public institutions.
The collection permits to show the evolution of the Navy from the Catholic Sovereigns to the present day, including astronomical, scientific and navigation instruments; ships’ models and scale models of naval buildings and shipyards; fine and decorative arts; weapons, ensigns and decorations; ethnographic objects and memorabilia of eminent sailors.
The Museum shows through its exhibitions not only the history of the Spanish Navy, its famous officers, and naval battles, but also the different ship-building methods, technological developments in navigation, and the Spanish expeditions and discoveries from the 15th to the 18th centuries.
The map of Juan de la Cosa is on permanent display and stands out among the most interesting historical pieces of the museum. It is the earliest preserved map of the Americas.
It was made probably as an explanatory document to show to the Catholic King and Queen of Spain who had sponsored the expeditions.
For the first time, the African continent appears orientated North/South. On the contrary, the representation of Asia shows a considerable lack of precision as it was based on less scientific sources, such as Ptolemaic theories and chronicles obtained from Italian travelers like Marco Polo.
You can also contemplate a replica of the cabin of the Commander-in-Chief of a ship and the wardroom of a 19th-century frigate.
3. San Isidro Museum. The Origins of Madrid
Plaza San Andres, 1
Latina | Tirso de Molina
From Tuesday to Sunday 10:00-20:00 (Summer 10:00-19:00)
All Mondays and on the following days: January 1 and 6, May 1, December 24, 25 and 31.
Permanent free entry
The San Isidro Museum shows the archaeological heritage of Madrid with the material, social and spiritual testimonies of the cultures that have stayed in this part of Spain, as well as the art and traditions related to San Isidro.
The valuable collections from the disappeared Archaeological Institute and the Municipal Museum are noteworthy, summarizing more than one hundred years of Madrid´s archeology.
Therefore, it is a meeting point for those interested in the history of the current capital of Spain, and one of the must-visit museums with free entrance.
The building was built during the first half of the 16th century and was one of the most important palaces of the Villa.
In the current construction, which includes the necessary infrastructures to accommodate the services of the Museum, all the original elements have been integrated: the 17th and 18th centuries Chapel, the Well of the Miracle, and the 16th century Renaissance courtyard.
The Well of the Miracle is located next to the courtyard and, according to tradition, is where San Isidro saved his son from drowning when the waters rose to the curb.
4. Matadero Madrid
Plaza de Legazpi, 8
From Tuesday to Friday: 16:00-21:00.
Saturday, Sunday and holidays: 12:00-21:00. Matadero St and Square are open to pedestrians everyday 9:00-22:00.
All Mondays. December 25 and January 1.
Permanent free entry
Matadero Madrid is a former slaughterhouse that was converted in 2006 into an arts center when Madrid City Council decided to turn this space into an arts and cultural center for contemporary artistic creation.
It is located close to the Madrid Rio area, a huge recreational and cultural space adjacent to the Manzanares River, and one of the most popular green areas in Madrid. If you are looking for the most popular free museums in Madrid, Matadero is a must!
Matadero Madrid was created as a point of reference for contemporary artistic creation at both a national and international level, focusing on three main action areas: training, production, and dissemination.
It is not only a museum but a creative space hosting all forms of artistic expression: performing arts, cinema, music, design, architecture, urban and landscape planning.
Matadero is a living and changing space and promotes an aid scheme to support creativity. It has become one of the main channels of promotion for artists and collectives in Madrid.
There is always something going on in El Matadero, so make sure to check their activities’ calendar on your visit to the capital of Spain. In addition, you will find spaces to drink, eat something and relax.
Free entrance is one of the distinctive features of Matadero Madrid. Exhibitions and most activities take place in the evening and on weekends. However, the Plaza and the Calle Matadero are open to pedestrians every day from 9 am to 10 pm.
5. Geological and mining museum (Museo Geominero)
Calle de Rios Rosas, 23
December 24, 25 and 31, January 1 and 6.
Permanent free entry
A visit to the Geological and mining museum is fully advisable, especially if you are traveling with kids.
Its main goal is to preserve, investigate and disseminate the richness and diversity of geological, paleontological, and mineralogical heritage through the important collections of minerals, rocks and fossils from all Spanish regions, former colonies like the Philippines or Cuba, and other significant sites around the world.
The wide collection of the museum is displayed in 250 showcases on the ground floor of the building and three perimeter balconies. One of the best museums in Madrid with free entry.
The permanent exhibition consists of the following collections: mineral systematics, mineral resources, rocks, meteorites, fossils, and gems, highlighting ruby, sapphire, emerald, and aquamarine, in addition to 14 replicas of famous diamonds.
Best Museums in Madrid with free entry days
6. Prado Museum
Ruiz de Alarcón 23
Banco de España | Estación Arte
Monday to Saturday 10:00–20:00. Sundays and holidays 10:00-19:00.
January 1, May 1 and December 25.
Free entrance: Mon-Sat 18:00-20:00. Sun & holidays 17:00-19:00.
What days is the Prado Museum free for the general public?
Free entry times to Prado Museum are from Monday to Saturday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and on Sundays and holidays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Is the Prado Museum free for students?
Yes, Prado Museum is one of the free museums in Madrid for students between 18 and 25 years old.
Prado Museum is probably the most relevant art gallery in Madrid and one of the most famous worldwide, housing unique masterpieces by outstanding painters like Titian, El Greco, Rubens, Velázquez, and Goya.
Since its foundation in 1819, the Prado Museum has played an essential role in the evolution of art history in Spain.
Besides, it has been critical for the rediscovery of the Spanish Primitives and emblematic figures such as El Greco, and for positioning Velázquez as the greatest Spanish painter.
So, you can make the most of your travel budget by visiting the Prado museum for free.
However, being one of the most important museums in Europe, you can imagine the main drawback, long lines are usual to access the museum during the free entrance times.
Below, you can find Skip-The-Line tickets for the best free museums in Madrid, so you can save lots of time:
7. Reina Sofía Museum
Santa Isabel, 52
Estación del Arte
Monday and Wednesday to Saturday 10:00–21:00. Sunday 10:00-19:00.
All Tuesdays. January 1 and 6, May 1 and 15, November 9, December 24, 25 and 31.
Free museum days: Mon & Wed-Sat 19:00-21:00. Sun 12:30 to 14:30. All day: April 18, May 18, October 12.
Close to the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofia Museum is one of the 3 most renowned art museums in Madrid.
The ‘Centro de Arte Reina Sofía’ was converted into a ‘National Museum’ in 1988 with the main goal of building up a collection that brought all the various state collections of modern and contemporary art together in one place.
The Reina Sofia’s permanent collection includes excellent pieces of the most remarkable 20th-century painters in Spain, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí.
“Guernica” is one of Picasso’s most recognized works, and it is probably the most famous masterpiece in the Reina Sofia Museum.
The painting reflects the suffering of people during the bombing of Guernica, and experts consider the canvas one of the most remarkable anti-war paintings in history.
“Guernica” has become a universal and powerful symbol warning humanity against the suffering and devastation of war.
8. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Paseo del Prado, 8
Banco de España
Monday 12:00–16:00. From Tuesday to Sunday 10:00-19:00.
January 1, May 1 and December 25
Free entry: Mondays 12.00-16.00
The Thyssen-Bornesmisza Museum houses the largest and best selection of pictures collected by Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, one of the most remarkable art collections with more than 1,500 masterpieces spanning seven centuries of art.
Rubens, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Titian, Kandinsky, Picasso, and Hopper are some of the renowned artists whose works are present in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.
Some of the most outstanding artworks in the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum are:
The Thyssen Museum is located on the opposite street side of the Prado Museum and is the 3rd in the Madrid Art Triangle, together with Prado and Reina Sofia.
Madrid’s Art Triangle is unique in the world, housing three of the most remarkable museums in Europe in less than one mile.
9. Royal Palace of Madrid
April to September: 10:00-20:00. October to March: 10:00-18:00
October 1, 6 and 12, November 28
Free admission: From Monday to Thursday, 17:00-19:00 (16:00-18:00 in Winter), for European Union and Latin American citizens.
The Royal Palace is one of the most beautiful spots in the city, located close to the Royal Opera and overlooking the Sabatini Gardens. When looking for cultural activities in Madrid, the Royal Palace is a must!
The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal family, although now it is mostly used for official ceremonies.
It is the largest functioning royal palace and the largest by floor area in Europe, with more than 3,000 rooms which are ornately decorated with fine paintings, sculptures, and ornaments.
The Painting Gallery houses uncountable works of art, including Virgin with Child by Luis Morales, Portrait of Isabella the Catholic by Juan de Flandes, Salome with the Head of John the Baptist by Caravaggio and works by such artists as Velázquez, Goya, and Sorolla.
The Royal Armory is one of the most significant collections of its kind, housing weapons and armor worn by the kings of Spain and other members of the Royal family since the 13th century.
The splendid Royal Kitchen is one of the oldest and better-preserved kitchens in a royal residence, notable for the size and the excellent state of the accessories.
Changing of the Guard
Don’t miss the Solemn Changing of the Guard, one of the most viewed spectacles in the city.
The play lasts almost an hour and, in total, 400 people and 100 horses take part in the spectacle. It takes place the first Wednesday of the month at noon (except January, August, and September).
Another tradition at Madrid´s Royal Palace is the weekly Changing of the Guard ceremony. A much smaller, but just as meaningful, tradition. It takes place every Wednesday and Saturday at 11:00 (in July and August from 10:00 until noon).
Apart from that, every 10 minutes the mounted sentinels march in front of the palace.
Campo del Moro Gardens
The Palace Gardens, known as the “Campo del Moro”, are a must when you visit the Royal Palace. They are located just behind the Palace, entrance is always free and open to the public at the same hours as the palace.
10. National Archaeological Museum
Serrano | Retiro
From Tuesday to Saturday 9:30-20:00. Sundays & holidays 9:30-15:00.
All Mondays. January 1 and 6, May 1 and 15 , December 24, 25 and 31.
Free entrance: Saturday from 14:00 and Sunday mornings. All day: April 18, May 18, October 12, and December 6.
The National Archaeological Museum is a must for all those interested in ancient civilizations, and one of the free museums in Madrid on Sunday.
It is one of the most visited museums in the city and offers free access on Saturdays from 2 pm and on Sunday mornings.
The Museum’s mission is to collect, preserve and study the valuable cultural heritage and to offer the general public an accurate, attractive, and interesting interpretation of the objects that belonged to the different cultures which populated the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean region, ranging from Prehistory to Early-Modern Age.
However, it is also home to different collections coming from outside of Spain, especially from Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt, in addition to “a small number of pieces” from Near East.
One of the most outstanding items is the Lady of Elche, an Iberian sculpture renowned for her lovely features, rich attire, and mysterious identity.
It is generally known as an Iberian artifact from the 4th century BC, although when comparing it with other Iberian works, the proportion and balance of the face are surprising, indicating a strong influence of Greek art.
Other valuable pieces on display are the Lady of Baza, the Treasure of Guarrazar, the Bull of Osuna, Mausoleum of Pozo Moro, and a collection of Greek vases, considered by specialists to be one of the best in the world.
This museum is also an excellent option if you are traveling to Madrid with kids.
11. Cerralbo Museum
Ventura Rodríguez, 17
Plaza de España
From Tuesday to Saturday 9:30-15:00 (also 17:00-20:00 just on Thursdays). Sundays & holidays 10:00-15:00.
All Mondays and on January 1 and 6, May 1, December 24, 25 and 31.
Free entrance: All Sundays, Saturday from 14:00, Thursday 17:00-20:00. All day: May 18, October 12, November 16, and December 6.
The Cerralbo Museum is one of the few examples of a 19th-century mansion that preserves its original décor.
It was the residence of the Marquis of Cerralbo, Don Enrique de Aguilera and his family, and nowadays is considered one of the most important private collections in the country.
Visitors will be surprised by a magnificent collection that, along with the antique numismatics, bibliographic and documental collections, exceeds 50,000 pieces.
The wide range of objects include 16th to 19th-century European paintings, sculptures, drawings, clocks, coins, medals, archaeology objects, arms and armor, and bibliographic collections as well as a broad representation of decorative arts from all eras and styles (watches, lamps, jewels, ceramic pieces, furniture, rugs, and tapestries).
The former mansion had four floors: lower ground floor, mezzanine, first floor, and attic areas.
The lower ground floor and the attic areas are now the auditorium and the areas for the internal use of the Museum. The collection is displayed on the two other floors: the mezzanine, devoted to the everyday life of the Marquis and Marquise, and the first, or main, floor devoted to social life.
In order to respect the original appearance, there are no elements in the rooms with information on the objects on display. For this reason, a guide with information is provided for the visit.
12. Sorolla Museum
Paseo General Martínez Campos, 37
Iglesia | Rubén Darío | Gregorio Marañón
From Tuesday to Saturday 9:30-20:00. Sundays & holidays 10:00-15:00.
All Mondays and on January 1 and 6, May 1, November 9, December 24, 25 and 31.
Free entrance: Saturdays 14:00-19:15 and Sundays 10:00-14:15.
The Sorolla Museum aims to promote maximum awareness and enjoyment of Joaquín Sorolla’s legacy, hosting most of the objects Sorolla gathered throughout his life.
The artist’s work predominates, mostly paintings and drawings, and it is the broadest and most representative collection of the painter.
The Museum occupies what was the artist’s family home and the collections are displayed in all areas of the home, which has been perfectly preserved.
The collection of paintings stands alongside the furniture and objects originally in the home.
Sorolla’s studio is probably the most impressive and representative space in the museum.
Apart from one of the best free museums in Madrid, this is also one of the best preserved and most complete artist studios that still exist. Sorolla’s original work utensils are on display, and it contains some of the artist’s best-known works.
12+1. Museum of Romanticism
San Mateo, 13
Alonso Martínez | Tribunal
Winter (1 Nov – 30 Apr): From Tuesday to Saturday 9:30-18:30. Sundays & holidays 10:00-15:00. Summer (1 May – 31 Oct) From Tuesday to Saturday 9:30-20:30. Sundays & holidays 10:00-15:00.
All Mondays and on January 1 and 6, May 1, November 9, December 24, 25 and 31.
Free entrance: Sundays, and Saturdays from 14:00. All day: April 18, May 18, October 12, and December 6.
The former palace of the Marquis of Matallana, built in 1776, houses a fascinating collection of 19th-century paintings, furniture, and decorative art that captures the essence of the cultural, political, and everyday life of Madrid at that time.
The House-museum`s initial collection was mostly made up of paintings, furniture and accessories, but was expanded through donations, acquisitions, and legacies, with religious paintings, photography, and miniatures.
The collection includes works by Goya, ceramics, jewelry, porcelain dolls, pianos, imperial and Isabelline furniture, and even the pistol Larra used to commit suicide.
The Magnolia Garden is especially remarkable, organized into four avenues with different trees, including a magnolia, and a circular fountain in the middle.
Visitors will also find here the Museum’s Cafe, an amazing place to relax and enjoy a wide variety of homemade cakes.
What Madrid museums are free on Sundays?
Obviously, it is more convenient to visit Madrid museums from Monday to Friday, when most locals are in the office. But, it is true that it is also a fun indoor activity for the weekends.
Besides, as you have seen on my previous list, the following Madrid museums are free on Sundays for the general public:
In my opinion, these are the best free museums in Madrid, so make sure you save some time in your planning to visit them.
However, the capital of Spain is much more than culture, check the best things to do in Madrid section and my comprehensive Madrid travel guide to save time and money, and make the most of your vacations in Spain.
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