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How to visit the Prado Museum in Madrid

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

No trip to Madrid is complete without a visit to the Museo del Prado, one of the oldest and finest art collections in the world. Of course, there is an abundance of Spanish art here, but the collection also represents material from around the world.

1 Buying a ticket

Queues for tickets on the door at the Prado can be long. There are three ticket offices, but the Puerto de Goya is the best one to head to as the others often don’t give a full range of discounts for concessions.

If you want to skip the queues and don’t mind paying a few extra euros, you can book your ticket online in advance of your visit. The extra charge gets you free into some temporary exhibitions, so is often very good value. Be sure not to fold your printed e-ticket as they can get grumpy at the entrances with folded sheets of paper. And keep your ticket with you throughout your visit as the staff have a habit of asking to see it again once you’re inside.

Groups of more than six people must pre-book their tickets. Adult entrance is €9,50 (concessions available) and can be bought at http://www.museodelprado.es/en/ingles/

2 Get a good deal

If you are a bit of an art buff, or even if you’re not, and intend on visiting all three of the art museums on the Paseo del Prado (the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia National Museum Art Centre) during your visit you’d do well to buy the Paseo del Arte ticket. They don’t advertise it very well – because it’s such great value – but ask for it at any of the ticket offices. All three museums for €14,40.

You can escape the complicated ticket system completely by visiting on one of the free entry days: October 12 (Columbus Day), 19 November (Anniversary of the Museo Nacional del Prado), December 6 (Spanish National Holiday), May 2 (Official Holiday for the Region of Madrid) or May 18 (International Museum Day). Be warned, the Museum is very busy on these days.

Also, if you’re seeking good value, don’t forget that a regular ticket to the Prado also gets you free into the Cason del Buen Retiro, nearby. It’s where much of the Spanish art from the 1800s is displayed.

3 Choose your entrance

Getting into the Prado can be bit of a nightmare and the queues are often very long. There are three entrances:

Pueroto de Velasquez – the main entrance to the Museum

Puerta de los Jerónimos – enter here if you have tickets for temporary exhibitions.

Puerto de Murillo – officially for pre-booked groups only, but if you have individual tickets and smile nicely they’ll often let you in here as well. It’s worth it as it has much shorter queues. This entrance points you in the direction of the classical sculpture galleries and the Italian renaissance.

If you intend to bring a disabled vehicle to the Museum, they prefer it if you call in advance and let them know (+34) 91 330 2800

4 Get your bearings

This Museum is enormous. It’s well worth picking up a free paper map when you arrive. They are available at all the main entrances. All the rooms are numbered from 1 to 102. The rooms are all numbered in Roman numerals. You’d do well to swot up on your I, V, X, L and C.

5 A quick tour

There are many guidebooks to the Museum, available for sale in the two shops (upper and lower floors). The Prado have created a leaflet called the Quick Visit Guide – a selection of art objects to visit if you want to do the highlights of the Museum in a hurry. Alternatively, take an audio tour of the collection for €3,50.

If you don’t want to pay for the leaflet, there is a tour of the top 15 masterpieces in the Museum available on their website, which you can look at in advance: http://www.museodelprado.es/en/en/welcome/15-masterpieces/

6 Expert knowledge

If you want more information about the major artists represented in the Museum and their works, you can buy inexpensive booklets in the main rooms dedicated to Valazquez, Goya, Titian, El Greco and Bosch.

7 Avoid the rush

In the summer, especially, the Museum can become awash with tour groups who get in the way of the art and block the passageways. Remember though that these groups are often on a tight schedule. If an organised group is blocking your view of an art work, just hang back a few moments and they’ll soon be out of the way.

In general, the Museum is busiest between 10h00 and 12h00 daily. Remember, everything happens much later in Spain, including museum opening times. The building is open until 20h00, so my advice would be to leave the queues to die down and head there in the late afternoon/early evening.

8 Watch art in action in the galleries

The Prado Museum is proud of the fact that it allows access to its collection to art students and professional painters, giving them the chance to copy the art on display. You’ll see people in the galleries painting their own copies of the masterpieces and perfecting their own techniques. This activity is carefully monitored by the Museum though, so don’t bring your easel and paint along unless you have permission. Some of their work is amazing and it’s quite fun to watch them, deep in concentration.

9 A bite to eat

The cafeteria is located on the lower ground floor and is open until 19h30. It gets really busy at lunchtimes, but at other times can be a great way to sit and relax if you’ve taken in too much art.

10 Check out the bling

It’s almost a crime to make a trip to the Prado and not visit the underground vault containing the collection of jewels that belonged to the Grand Dauphin Louis, son of Louis XIV and father of Felipe V (the first Bourbon king of Spain). The collection comprises all manner of bejewelled extravaganzas finely decorated in rubies, diamonds, emeralds and other precious stones. It’s a feast for the eyes.

The Museum del Prado is open 09h00-20h00 Tuesday-Sunday and public holidays. Last entry is 30 minutes before closing and the galleries are cleared 10 minutes before closing time.

Picture of Goya’s “Las Majas”, Prado Museum, Madrid originally posted by Lanpernas 2.0 

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About the author

Venere Travel Blog writer steve slack

Steve Slack is a writer and researcher based in London. He’s most often to be found either in a museum or in the bar. Or even museums which have bars. He writes about the wonderful world of south London for www.dulwichonview.org.uk.

17 responses to “How to visit the Prado Museum in Madrid”

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  1. Kim Gammelgård says:
    November 18th, 2008 at 21:53

    One very important piece of knowledge for the photo-happy tourist: How is the photography policy: can you bring a camera without flash?

  2. Steve Slack says:
    November 21st, 2008 at 16:36

    Photography is allowed in the Prado, but flash is not permitted in some galleries. If you’re in doubt, ask one of the guides in the rooms.

    Tripods are not allowed anywhere in the Prado, without permission.

  3. Jean says:
    May 6th, 2009 at 17:48

    Hi!

    I’m brazilian and I’ll go to Madrid this year.
    I’m curious if we can take some pictures inside de Prado Museum.

    Do you know this information??

    Thanks and sorry my bad english

    Jean

  4. Andrew Smith says:
    June 12th, 2010 at 02:06

    Are there audio guides available for downloading to an iPhone?

  5. Steve Slack says:
    June 14th, 2010 at 08:39

    You can listen to some entries from the Prado podcast here:
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/museo-nacional-del-prado-audioguide/id271799823

  6. Ibermaxx says:
    July 19th, 2010 at 17:13

    Great and very useful info. This what i needed. Thank you so much. I will be there soon again…

  7. rebecca says:
    November 11th, 2010 at 01:04

    I was just in the Prado last weekend and cameras were NOT allowed. Strangely enough they don’t tell you this until you try and snap a photograph (yes even without the flash). Just a heads up.

  8. joanne says:
    January 31st, 2011 at 21:10

    I have a group of 8 coming to Madrid sept 21 thru the 24th. Can a group of our size get a discount on the museum tickets? Also what is the best date and time of day to visit?

  9. Lopez says:
    August 10th, 2011 at 21:28

    Can we get a wheel chair at the Prado Museum? Rent one there?

  10. Constantine Alexander says:
    November 5th, 2011 at 20:26

    iF i PURCHASE A GENERAL ADMISSION TICKET TO THE pRADO, CAN i LEAVE AND RETURN THE SAME DAY USING MY TICKET? oR MUST i BUY A NEW TICKET WHEN i RETURN THAT DAY? tHANK YOU

  11. Amy Truelove says:
    June 21st, 2012 at 19:36

    I have attempted to by advance tickets to the Prado several times but I always get a message that it can’t be done – “no enviar los datos” I believe. It doesn’t make sense. Does it mean that they aren’t selling advance tickets? I am not having any issues with my credit card for any other purchase and it is a Visa, which is accepted by the Prado.

  12. Steve Slack says:
    June 28th, 2012 at 14:02

    Hi Amy,
    I don’t know why the ticketing system is down right now – I’ve not used it for a few years.
    Perhaps you could email them to find out? The best email address to use is atencion.visitante@museodelprado.es

    If you’re visiting soon, do check out the Raphael exhibition – it looks great!

    Good luck, Steve

  13. MUSEO DEL PRADO says:
    September 7th, 2012 at 11:40

    Dear Mr. Slack:
    We’re contacting you on behalf of the Museo del Prado (Madrid, Spain). Having visited your website, we see it is a useful guide and appreciate the inclusion of information about the Museum. Since january 2012 we have made some changes to the opening hours (the Museo del Prado is now open every day of the week) and ticket prices, and would appreciate it if you could update the relevant details on your site. All the updated opening hours and prices are included below

    Opening hours
    From Monday to Saturday: 10am – 8pm
    Sundays and holidays: 10am – 7pm
    Museum Closed: January 1, May 1, and December 25.
    Reduced opening hours (10am – 2pm): January 6, December 24 and 31.
    The galleries are cleared 10 minutes before closing

    Ticket Prices
    General price: 12 €
    General admission + official guide: 22 €
    Reduced price: 6 €
    The ticket allows the holder to visit the museum collection and temporary exhibitions on the same day

    http://www.museodelprado.es

    If you have any queries or would like some more information please do not hesitate to contact us at atencion.visitante@museodelprado.es

  14. http://www.ocseocompany.com/ says:
    April 9th, 2013 at 03:24

    It’s not my first time to go to see this website, i am visiting this website dailly and obtain nice facts from here everyday.

  15. Lorraine says:
    June 2nd, 2013 at 14:10

    For heavy duty museum touring how many days would you reccomned for the Prado?

  16. Sue says:
    June 19th, 2013 at 02:37

    We will be visiting Madrid in late August ie around 21-23. Do we need to book Prado way in advance or is it ok to buy online a day or so in advance? That is, do tickets sell out?

  17. Jean Johnson says:
    January 4th, 2014 at 10:25

    I read somewhere that if you want to come to the Prado with a wheelchair, or scooter, that you must call them in advance. Can this really be true? if so, what a nuisance…Do you know if this is true, or not? I live near the museum & would be there every week, except my feet cannot tolerate all that marble pounding, so will need to rent a scooter. I so wish they had scooters available for people with disabilities. What a great thing that would be, for such a great museum!


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