We will be in Madrid in mid May, we know we need to get tickets ahead of time, but just how early do we need to get them? It would be nice to be able to get them just a day or two ahead so we could chose when we wanted to go depending perhaps on the weather.
Unless there is some kind of special exhibition going on during that time, I
doubt you have to get tickets ahead of time at all. The Prado is a large museum.
Also, don't forget the free hours from 6-8pm each night (Sundays 5-7). If you
do that, you may be daunted by the large line, but it moves fast and then you
have 60-90 minutes to enjoy the museum (they start clearing you out around 7:45).
Hi from Wisconsin,
I know we all want to budget our travel money wisely. Yes, the 'free hours' exist. 90 minutes is not an appropriate amount of time for a museum as grand as the Prado. Plus. I feel I should support these places. I have money enough to fly from the USA to Madrid and I can't support the institutions I came to see?
Anyway, enough preaching, I would encourage you to do 90 minutes or two hours, then eat at the restaurant inside the Prado, pretty good food at pretty good prices, and then I would launch myself for another 90 minutes to 2 hours. I get easily tuckered walking around a museum so I break visits in half, and never pass a bench for a quick sit-down.
I agree with Wayne about the time the Prado deserves and the value of taking a break in the cafe there. I got my ticket way ahead of time, just to get it done and avoid the ticket-buying line before the security line. As I recall, it was for a specified day but not a specified time, which was enough flexibility for me.
Go to the Prado website and start a dummy ticket purchase for a few days from now, see what the availability is. Do that again closer to your trip. You'll get an idea of how long you can wait to purchase -- keeping in mind that May will be busier than March. My guess is that you're right, you won't need to buy far ahead.
Not being a huge museum/art person, in the three times we visited the Prado since 1978 we’ve never spent more than a couple hours there. Heck, back in 78 one could carry backpacks in, and take photos and video; no lines and no crowds. In 94 my children couldn’t get out of the museum fast enough. Ten minutes was too long for them. In 2022 the free hours were more than enough time. Only you know how much time you’ll need.
My guess is you’d have no trouble getting tickets a couple days in advance.