Not packed in a bus. Not herded with a group. Self guided walk is the SAFEST way to sightsee while observing SOCIAL DISTANCING!

Museums Walking Tour (Self Guided), Madrid

Madrid is not only a big cultural center in Spain, but in the entire Europe as well. Having a great and interesting history behind, Madrid developed a vast culture over time. The city became world-famed for its museums and galleries. The following tour will guide you through the most famous museums in Madrid.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

Museums Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Museums Walking Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Madrid (See other walking tours in Madrid)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Author: emma
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
  • CaixaForum
  • Museo Nacional del Prado
  • Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
  • Museo Naval
  • Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas
  • Museo Arqueologico Nacional (National Archaeological Museum)
  • Museo del Romanticismo
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia

1) Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (must see)

The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (MNCARS) is the official name of Spain's national museum of 20th-century art. The museum was officially inaugurated on September 10, 1992, and is named for Queen Sofia of Spain. It is located in Madrid, near the Atocha train and metro stations, at the southern end of the so-called Golden Triangle of Art (located along the Paseo del Prado and also comprising the Museo del Prado and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza).

The museum is mainly dedicated to Spanish art. Highlights include excellent collections of Spain's two greatest 20th-century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. Certainly the most famous masterpiece in the museum is Picasso's great painting Guernica. The Reina Sofia also has fine collections of the works of Juan Gris, Joan Miro, Julio Gonzalez, Pablo Gargallo, Lucio Munoz, Luis Gordillo, Jorge Oteiza, Jose Gutierrez Solana and many others.

Why You Should Visit:
If 20th-century art is your thing then this is an outstanding museum; if not, the great collection here is still worth a look.
The inner garden is a pleasant cool oasis while the top floor has a view deck of Madrid.
There is a pricey restaurant in the basement and a small coffee bar which is reasonable.

It's better to get an online Paseo del Arte combined ticket to access the main three museums and to save time and money.
If you want to go in for free but you are not under 18 or over 65, or a student below 25, you can go from 7pm to 9pm Monday through Saturday, except Tuesday.

Opening hours:
Mon, Wed-Sat: 10am-9pm; Sun: 10am-7pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

2) CaixaForum

When you arrive at the Caixa Forum you will be immediately struck by two aspects of this extraordinary building. The first thing to draw your eye is the vertical garden adjoining the Forum; the second feature will take your breath away: the building appears to be floating off the ground!

When the Caixa Foundation acquired the disused power station they wanted to create a modern multicultural center, but the building was classified as a historical monument and they couldn’t have it pulled down. Instead, they hired Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron who created this truly amazing building, incorporating the ancient station with top floors in “rusted” steel. To make the building “float”, they removed the crumbling base to create a covered plaza and provide the entrance to the Forum.

There is a central staircase to take visitors of the 2000 square meters of the exposition rooms from the two underground levels to the top floor where the administration offices and a restaurant are to be found. The underground levels house an auditorium and a theater. On the other floors, you will find a library, a bookshop, exposition rooms that house both temporary and permanent exhibitions of post-modern art, conference rooms and concert rooms.

The vertical garden is over 25 meters high and is a beautiful contrast to the brick and steel Forum. The garden was designed by the French botanist Patrick Blanc, who invented the concept of mural gardens.

Why You Should Visit:
For a cheap price, you have access to exhibitions of great quality and the upper floor has a nice and comfy coffee shop to rest your legs.
They also have an exquisite gift-shop where you can do all your gift-shopping, albeit their special designs are not so cheap.

Since the exhibits are on a rotational basis, check the website before planning a trip to make sure you want to see what they have.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo Nacional del Prado

3) Museo Nacional del Prado (must see)

The Museo Nacional del Prado is a museum and art gallery that features one of the world's finest collections of European art, from the 12th century to the early 19th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection. Founded as a museum of paintings and sculpture, it also contains important collections of more than 5,000 drawings, 2,000 prints, 1,000 coins and medals, and almost 2,000 decorative objects and works of art. Sculpture is represented by more than 700 works and by a smaller number of sculptural fragments. The painting collection comprises about 7,800 paintings, of which only about 1,300 are at public display, mainly because of the museum's lack of space. A new, recently opened wing enlarged the display area by about 400 paintings, and is currently used mainly for temporary expositions. El Prado is one of the most visited sites in Madrid, and it is considered to be among the greatest art museums in the world.

***Hemingway's Madrid***
Although Ernest Hemingway was not a usual lover of museums, Prado was an exception for him. He recognized this cultural site as a treasure, with its exhibited works by Picasso, Velazquez, Goya, El Greco and many other international artists. The writer was especially fascinated by Goya, whom he considered a genius.

Why You Should Visit:
The sheer number of masterpieces is mind-boggling, the iconic works truly humbling.
The rooms are very well organized, the map is easy to figure out, the signs are very informative and they're all translated into (very good) English.

Buy online tickets one day or several days ahead and skip the (usually long) lines.
Purchase your ticket with the added museum guide at the ticket booth, which essentially saves you €10 if you plan to purchase it individually inside.
If you plan to visit all the 'big ones' - El Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofía, purchase the "Art Walk" ticket at the ticket office as it is quite affordable.
Free visit for the last 2 hours (get there early) – great idea to reduce your travel budget and still see something, but too short if you want to take your time.
Another tip is that you can have both your ticket and audio guide stamped and leave the museum for lunch.

Operation Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-8pm; Sunday and holidays: 10am-7pm.
Free for those under 18 years of age.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

4) Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (must see)

Founded by Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza and his son Hans, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza is housed in a 19th-century Neo-Classical mansion near the Prado Museum. It is one of the finest private art collections in the world and was ceded to Spain by Baron Hans in 1992.

The museum is part of the “Golden Triangle of Art” and has a truly wonderful collection of Impressionist and Expressionist European and American art, Renaissance, Mannerism, Rococo and Romanticism art dating from the 13th to the late 20th century.

The Baron and his son weren’t lovers of religious art, so in this museum, you will find few religious paintings, but mainly portraits and landscapes executed by great artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Degas and Cezanne. In 2004, the Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza (widow of Baron Hans) lent her extensive art collection to the museum.

You can admire Ghirlandaio’s “Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni”; Carpaccio’s wonderful “Portrait of a Knight”; “Our Lady of the Dry Tree” by Petrus Christus and a diptych of the “Annunciation” by Van Eyck. In the part of the museum devoted to Pop Art, you will find the original “Woman in Bath” by Roy Lichtenstein.

Why You Should Visit:
A very cozy, relaxing, interesting and well-organized gallery, with all great pieces commented by an outstanding audio guide.
You can get close and examine the techniques used, take photos of your favourite works, or just admire them.
The artwork is more varied than in the Prado – there are more artists/styles represented, and something to suit all tastes.
Good cafe/restaurant for either coffee, snack or lunch – you can either sit inside or outside in the courtyard.

If you go on a Monday, check out the temporary exhibitions on the top floors first as they close at 1pm.
Otherwise, either start on the top floor and work your way down or do it vice-versa if you prefer contemporary art.
Also, bring your earphones so you can plug into the audio piece.

Operation Hours:
Tue-Fri, Sun: 10am-7pm; Sat: 10am-9pm; Mon: 12am-4pm, free visit and access.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo Naval

5) Museo Naval

When you visit the Museo Naval on the Paseo del Prado, don’t forget to take an ID with you (passport, driver’s license, etc.), as you will need to show it before you can admire the artifacts in this impressive museum.

Arranged in chronological order, the museum houses a collection from the 15th century to the present day and is clearly a tribute to Spanish naval superiority. The model ships are to exact scale and most of them were made at the same time that their life-sized counterparts were built. You will, of course, find a model of the Santa Maria, the flagship of Christopher Columbus’ first expedition to the Bahamas.

In another part of the museum, you will find figureheads, artillery, compasses, brass sextants, weapons and uniforms. There are also portraits of Spanish sailors, paintings of battles and many navigation charts, including a map executed in 1500, which is the first chart of America ever to be made.

One room is devoted to famous Spanish achievements and navigation instruments from the 15th century to the high-tech devices of the present day. You will see reproductions of ships cabins and a collection of curios taken from shipwrecks.

Why You Should Visit:
The museum's chronologic layout is a great way to see the evolution of ship design through the many models of ships on display.
You can also see the evolution of weaponry and navigational equipment as well as portraits of key people in the Spanish navy's history.
Explanations are mostly in Spanish but you can rent an audio guide device that explains most everything in English.
There is also a gift shop area at the entrance with a variety of items that seem of better than average quality and well-priced.

You can walk the entire museum in about an hour if simply surveying the items.
If you want to spend time looking over the various exhibits you can easily spend 2 to 3 hours here.
While there is no admission cost, they do suggest a €3 donation.
Make sure you have ID on you – it's required to get in.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-7pm; (Aug) Tue-Sun: 10am-3pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas

6) Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas

Near the Plaza de la Cibeles and overlooking the Parque del Retiro you will find the four storey 19th century mansion that is the home of the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas. This excellent museum is certainly worth a long visit.

In the museum’s 60 rooms you can admire over 30.000 artifacts that graced the palaces and mansions of 16th to 20th century Spain. The collection is arranged in chronological order and from floor to floor you can see the changes in taste and fashion of the Spanish upper-class.

The collection includes 16th and 17th century Gothic crosses, carvings, alabaster figurines and tapestries. You can marvel at Baroque four-poster beds, furniture and exquisitely detailed dollhouses, toys and musical instruments as well as ceramics from Talavera de la Reina, silverware and crystal glassware. A small chapel is richly decorated with leather tapestries.

Undoubtedly, the best part of the museum is to be found on the 4th floor, where an 18th century Valencia kitchen has been installed. As well as original cooking utensils, pots and pans, you can admire a wonderful panel made of over 1500 hand painted ceramic tiles, depicting domestic servant life of that time.

Operation Hours: Tuesday - Saturday: 9.30 -15.00; Thursday: 17.00 -20.00; Sundays and during holidays: 10.00 -15.00.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo Arqueologico Nacional (National Archaeological Museum)

7) Museo Arqueologico Nacional (National Archaeological Museum) (must see)

If you have an afternoon to spare, consider spending it at the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid. Founded by Royal Decree of Isabelle II in 1867, this museum is housed in a splendid 19th-century Neo-classical building, beside Plaza Colon, and boasts an excellent collection of Prehistoric, Iberian, Roman, Greek, Celtic, Visigoth, Muslim and Christian artifacts.

The most notable among its highlights are the Iberian sculptures, namely: the 4th century BC bust of the Lady of Elx; the Lady of Baza, a limestone statuette also from the 4th century BC; and the strange Bicha of Balazote, the 6th century BC statue resembling a cross between a doe and a snail.

You can also admire here part of the Treasure of Guarrazar: 26 votive crowns and gold crosses offered by the Visigoth kings to the Roman Catholic Church in the 7th century AD, and the Crucifix of Ferdinand and Sancha, an ivory cross crafted in 1063, the earliest known cross to bear the body of Christ. There are also bell-shaped pottery jars worth checking out, dating back over 4,000 years, found during excavations in Madrid.

In the museum gardens, there is a short flight of steps leading down to a perfect replica of the Cave of Altamira, which is the first cave ever discovered with Upper Paleolithic paintings gracing the walls and the ceiling.

Why You Should Visit:
The museum is beautifully set out – modern lighting, outstanding displays, and clear and informative labeling (also in English!).
Lunch in the cafeteria downstairs is fairly quick and easy, with your ticket allowing you to re-enter at leisure.
Admission fee is modest, the museum is very quiet, and lockers are €1 each, so you don't have to carry much stuff around.

You can easily spend half a day here, but if you have only an hour or so, get a leaflet showing the top 10 items and try to find those.
Admission is free on Sunday morning (expect crowds); children's entry is always free.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sat: 9:30am-8pm; Sunday & holidays: 9:30-3pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo del Romanticismo

8) Museo del Romanticismo

The Museum of Romanticism (Spanish: Museo del Romanticismo) is housed in a late 18th-century building in Madrid. It was inaugurated in 1924 and declared Bien de Interés Cultural in 1962. It captures the essence of Madrid's 19th century middle-class life. Famous writers used to gather in the ballroom of the museum for literary evenings. Works on display include 19th-century decorative objects; famous masters featured in the collection include Goya, Federico de Madrazo, and Leonardo Alenza. The museum, formerly known as the Museo Romantico, was reordered in 2009 and relaunched with its current, slightly different name. The museum's exhibits include items related to the romantic writer Mariano Jose de Larra.

Why You Should Visit:
If you want to get an insight into this particular era of Spanish aristocracy living, then this is for you.
Everything of interest internally is on the 1st floor and easily navigated, especially since a useful room plan is made available.
The collection is quite varied, but 'majors' on paintings and furniture - the rooms are, without exception, beautifully decorated and most things have explanatory placards.
There is also a cloakroom, a small gift shop, cafe and charming garden area.

You are free to take advantage of the generous 'free visit' Saturday after 2pm, but if you can't make that you should note that the standard entrance fee is rather low for what you can see.

Operation Hours:
(Nov 1 - Apr 30): Tue-Sat: 9:30am-6:30pm; Sun: 10am-3pm
(May 1 - Oct 31): Tue-Sat: 9:30am-8:30pm; Sun: 10am-3pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Madrid, Spain

Create Your Own Walk in Madrid

Create Your Own Walk in Madrid

Creating your own self-guided walk in Madrid is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Madrid Food Tour

Madrid Food Tour

While Spain is internationally reputed as a major gastronomic power, the capital city of Madrid – home to vibrant food markets and a plethora of places serving traditional Spanish and typically Madrid delectable treats – promises visitors a soul-warming food experience. On this self-guided walk, you will get a chance to visit some of the local spots that left a mark in the gastronomic and...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Hemingway's Madrid Walking Tour

Hemingway's Madrid Walking Tour

There have been many writers who've expressed a love for Madrid, but one who did so quite famously was Ernest Hemingway – a frequent visitor of the city, in which he found his muse, popular success, and critical acclaim. Don Ernesto, as he was called in Spain, was a welcomed and frequent visitor to a few places in Madrid that have since become tourist attractions. Follow this self-guided...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Madrid Introduction Walk I

Madrid Introduction Walk I

A city of elegant boulevards and expansive, manicured parks, the Spanish capital is renowned for its rich repositories of European art, portico-lined Plaza Mayor, baroque style Royal Palace and many other cultural and historical monuments.

Although the site of modern-day Madrid has been occupied since prehistoric times, the first historical document about an established settlement here dates...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Souvenirs Shopping Walk

Souvenirs Shopping Walk

It would be a pity to leave Madrid without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Madrid, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Gran Via and Sol Nightlife

Gran Via and Sol Nightlife

Citizens of Madrid are famous for being dynamic and very outgoing. Living in one of the liveliest cities in Europe, locals enjoy the nightlife, when Madrid transforms into an array of colors and music. Check out the most popular nightlife spots in Central Madrid in this self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
Salamanca Walking Tour

Salamanca Walking Tour

Madrid is a vibrant metropolis made up of 21 districts. This walk brings you to and around Salamanca, one of the wealthiest and most expensive neighborhoods of the Spanish capital, home to Madrid's Golden Mile with stylish boutiques and upscale venues, and many other prominent historical and cultural attractions. To see what makes Salamanca a famous destination, take this self guided tour and...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Madrid Souvenir Shopping Guide: Top 15 Spanish Products

Madrid Souvenir Shopping Guide: Top 15 Spanish Products

They call Spain "magnificent" for a reason, as there're loads of fascinating stuff a visitor to the country might want to take home and share with family and friends. Luckily, in Madrid one can find nearly all that Spain is famous for - wine, food, fashion, arts, sports, etc. Good...
Top 16 Bars in Madrid

Top 16 Bars in Madrid

Madrid, the third largest city in Western Europe, is packed with an eclectic mix of bars that offer a scene for every style. In Spain’s Capital city, alcohol flows without end. Just take a walk down the streets of this vibrant city, and it seems as if every other building is a café or bar...
10 Uniquely Madrid Foods to Try in Spanish Capital

10 Uniquely Madrid Foods to Try in Spanish Capital

There’s no better way to fall in love with a city than through its traditional cuisine. Complete meals, appetizers, beverages and sweets: all of them draw a path to a tourist heart. Madrid, the Spanish capital, has its very own unique and original dishes that can make a stay in this city a...
A Self-Guided Food Walk in Madrid

A Self-Guided Food Walk in Madrid

The reputation of Spain as a major gastronomic power to reckon with goes a long way. The capital city of Madrid has a lot to offer visitors in terms of soul warming food experience. On this walk you will visit some of the city's most vibrant and lively food markets and other places serving...
Madrid´s Latin Quarter Tapas

Madrid´s Latin Quarter Tapas

This app is a description of bars and cafeterias of tapas and pinchos in the Latin Quarter of Madrid. Tapas and pinchos are generally bar snacks and finger foods, with pinchos generally originating from the Basque Country. The custom of tapas and pinchos-eating refers to eating at the bar, sometime...