Attention all art lovers. There's no shortage of creativity in the bustling European city of Madrid, and each museum has its own distinct feel. When you travel with Journy, your personal trip designer will strategically fit art galleries and museums into your itinerary based on your ideal pace of travel, interests, and preference between private and guided tours—making sure to logistically optimize everything so you're not criss-crossing on the Metro from one end of the city to the next.
But in the meantime, if you need help deciding where to go, here's our guide to the best museums in the Spanish capital.
1. Museo Nacional del Prado
Calle Ruiz de Alarcón, 23
2. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Calle de Santa Isabel, 52
The Reina Sofía Museum is Spain's national museum of 20th-century art. It houses some of the world's most extraordinary contemporary pieces, including Picasso's masterpiece, "Guernica." The large majority of the works exhibited are the creations of Spanish artists, including some of the most famous names of the past century: Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Joan Miró, as well as artwork by other famous international artists such as Diego Rivera.
3. Museo Cerralbo
Calle Ventura Rodríguez, 17, 28008 Madrid, Spain
Located in an antique mansion and former home of politician, poet, and archaeologist Marqués de Cerralbo, the Museo de Cerralbo houses the late marqués’ art collection, along with many of his former possessions. You'll feel like you've traveled back in time as you wander through the opulent rooms decorated with suits of armor, swords, 18th-century tapestries, antique musical instruments, and other treasures.
4. Museo Nacional del Romanticismo
Calle San Mateo, 13, 28004 Madrid, Spain
Located in an 18th-century building just outside of the city, the Museum of Romanticism contains a vast collection of paintings, antiques, and more. Upon entering, you are given a hefty book (which must be returned upon leaving) with a description of each room, including the objects on display and the names of the people in the portraits. Most remarkable is the decor—the intricate carpets and ornate light fixtures make it feel as though you really have gone back to the Romantic period. Be sure to take a look in the garden and grab a quick bite in the courtyard.
5. National Museum of Decorative Arts
Calle de Montalbán, 12, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Set in a 19th-century palace overlooking Parque Retiro, The National Museum of Decorative Arts showcases a vast collection of furniture and ceramics, in addition to decorative pieces from Spain that date back to Phoenician times. It's spread over five floors and divided into 60 rooms, with highlights including a perfect reproduction of an 18th-century kitchen from Valencia, ceramics from the town of Talavera de la Reina, and tapestries from the 16th and 17th centuries.
6. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Paseo del Prado, 8, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Located near the Prado Museum and inside the Villahermosa Palace, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is one of Madrid’s most famous art museums. The museum hosts over 1,000 works of European art ranging from the 13th to the 20th centuries, including Italian Renaissance works, French Impressionist paintings, and even Pop Art. If you're a Van Gogh fan, this is the place to be.
7. Museo Sorolla
Paseo del General Martínez Campos, 37, 28010 Madrid, Spain
It's here where you can see the works of Spanish impressionist painter Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida at his Madrid mansion, where he lived from 1911 until his death in 1923. As one of the best preserved house-museums of an artist in all of Europe (which still retains its original decor), Museum Sorolla contains the largest collection of his works, including sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, clothing, letters, photographs, and over 1200 paintings and drawings. The house is surrounded by gardens designed by Sorolla himself and located in the Chamberi neighborhood of the city, just off Castellana Avenue.
8. Museo La Neomudejar
Calle de Antonio Nebrija, S/N, 28007 Madrid, Spain
Museo La Neomudéjar is a hub for artistic innovation in Madrid. Situated next to Atocha Train Station, it hosts several video and art festivals, live talks, and temporary exhibitions by artists-in-residence throughout the year. Designed in a distinctly Madrilenian Neo-Mudéjar (i.e. Moorish Revival) style, the museum is housed in the former Adif railway offices.
9. Madrid Railway Museum
Paseo de las Delicias, 61, 28045 Madrid, Spain
This museum, which opened in 1984, houses a vast collection of historical railway materials, including locomotives, carriages, photographs, individuals pieces and elements, and recreations. As you progress through the themed rooms, you'll discover the long history of the Spanish railroad. And if you visit during spring and autumn, you'll also have the opportunity to travel on a real, old-fashioned train between Madrid and Aranjuez. Be sure to carve out time to admire the exterior facade as well, which is a stunning example of 19th-century cast-iron architecture.
10. Museo Arqueológico Nacional
Calle de Serrano, 13, 28001 Madrid, Spain
Founded in 1867 (and renovated in 2014), the National Archaeological Museum of Madrid houses an impressively large collection of archaeological, ethnographical, and decorative art spanning pre-history to the early modern age. Although many of the artifacts have been sourced from the Iberian peninsula, there are also some works from Ancient Greece and Egypt. It's conveniently located on Serrano Street near Columbus Square (Plaza de Colón).
11. Museo Naval
Paseo del Prado, 5, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Although Madrid's Naval Museum dates back to 1792, the current location in the Navy Headquarters on the Art Walk opened in 1932. The collection of more than 12,000 pieces is displayed chronologically and contains model vessels and maps (some of the best in the world!), astronomical instruments, weapons, flags, and personal belongings of the sailors.
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