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Madrid International Museum Day

I have two days in Madrid and got tickets to the Prado for May 17. May 18 happens to be International Museum Day which gives free admission to sites like the Palacio Real and the Reina Sofia. I wonder how packed the museums will be on the 18th? Has anyone gone to them on International Museum Day? Would it be better to try to get there really early, or wait until later in the afternoon? I'm not super willing to spend hours in line. Any suggestions for an alternate activity for someone who enjoys art and history?

Posted by
17 posts

Thank you. That's kind of what I'm worrried about. Maybe I will just have to plan a repeat visit off season.....

Posted by
27409 posts

It's my impression that the folks taking advantage of Museum Day tend to be locals. Tourists aren't usually aware of it. I actually did go to the Prado on Museum Day in 2016 without planning to; that's how I first learned about May 18, I think. There seemed little impact that year, but in 2016 Museum Day fell on a Wednesday. I think that was key: Locals who wanted free access to the Museums had to either take a day off work or settle for whatever time they could manage to get to the museum(s) outside their working hours.

The Palacio Real would be a big concern to me, because it is super-popular with locals. Perhaps if you go there to line up before opening time it could work out. I think there's probably a general path people tend to follow (I don't remember for sure), so if you're near the front of the mob, it might be OK. I don't know what the palace's ticket-handling policy is for Museum Day, though.

I'd give the Reina Sofia a shot. There was almost no one in the museum at the time of my visit except for a clot of people in front of Guernica. I think there are always people in front of Guernica. But it seemed that few cared about any of the other paintings, so I think it might be an OK day to see that museum.

Ditto for the Thyssen.

I haven't been to either the Sorolla Museum or the Naval Museum, but both have been praised on this forum. I'd be willing to try them, too (subject to how much total free time I had that day, I mean).

Since we're discussing Museum Day, I want to mention a bit of a wrinkle I experienced in France--though I assume it applies equally in other participating countries: A lot of smaller museums seem to plan to open a new temporary exhibition on Museum Day, so if you're traveling in the period leading up to Museum Day, you may find quite a few smaller museums are either closed for a re-installation period or have some of their display space blocked off for the same purpose. I remember feeling a bit like a kid with her nose pressed against the window of a candy store at times. I'd caution art lovers about planning a first-half-of-May trip if a lot of visits to small museums are anticipated. At the very least, it would call for some intensive online research to determine the status of the museums on the target list.

To the credit of the French museums, if a significant part of their display space is closed, there is usually a reduced admission fee.

Posted by
25 posts

Good afternoon:

If you are going to spend two days in Madrid, I would not recommend that you not try to go to the museums for free because the lines will be monumental on that day.

I recommend the Naval Museum. It is a museum delight. One can understand history from the sea, since Christopher Columbus discovered America and how the world was changing. And one can see it by contemplating how the warships evolved over the years and centuries and the confrontations with the different European powers. The rise and fall of the Spanish empire at sea.

At the Royal Palace there are usually very, very long lines and that's without it being free. I recommend that you do not go to any museum where admission is free.

I also recommend the Thysen Bornemisza Museum.

I recommend getting on the panoramic bus because with the audio guides they will tell you the history of Madrid and where what happened happened.

The Monastery of El Escorial (40 km from the city).

Take a guided tour of the Austrias neighborhood.

You can take the high-speed train that can leave you in Segovia in less than 30 minutes. You can also go to Toledo and it will also take you at most 30 minutes.

To go to either of these two cities, consider spending at least half a day in each of them. You can buy the tickets to the train in here.!11457!3!641478629737!e!!g!!madrid%20toledo%20ave&gad_source=1&gclid=CjwKCAjw3NyxBhBmEiwAyofDYSV6QnOD74MaihGSYawXtZ5iUie7ItKuJ98Atm2yTg7vhZTdFG_MeBoCtm4QAvD_BwE

Enjoy your time in Madrid :))))