Travel is all about learning something new, and there's no better place to do so than a museum. Luckily, museums are something that Madrid has in droves. Its world-class art galleries are perhaps what's put the Spanish capital on the culture map, but that's just the beginning. No matter what your interests may be, there's sure to be a Madrid museum that will fascinate you.
Ready to explore? Be sure to add these 10 Madrid museums to your itinerary.
Let's start with perhaps the most famous of all the museums in Madrid.
For more than 200 years, the Prado has been the Spanish capital's reference for artistic excellence. And with big names under its roof such as Velázquez, Goya, and El Greco, it's easy to see why. Come for the iconic works such as "Las Meninas;" stay for the underrated gems such as Giambattista Tiepolo's "Immaculate Conception."
While the Prado showcases art from centuries past, contemporary works shine at the Reina Sofia. With a collection encompassing the whole of the 20th century, it provides a pleasant contrast to its traditional counterpart.
The big draw here is Picasso's "Guernica," a massive abstract depiction of the brutal bombing of a Basque village during the Spanish Civil War. You'll also find a sizable selection of works by other big-name Spanish artists from the past century, such as Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró.
As the third piece of Madrid's iconic "Golden Triangle of Art," the Thyssen is also perhaps the most overlooked. While it is the smallest of the three major art museums, it still manages to pack a big punch.
Its permanent collection is comprised of more than 1,600 works, making the Thyssen one of the largest private art collections in the world. Works span an impressive seven centuries, ranging from Italian medieval art to modern abstract pieces created mere decades ago.
Let's switch gears from art to archaeology. Founded in 1867 by Queen Isabella II, Madrid's National Archaeological Museum is one of the best of its kind in the world—and once you spend a few hours exploring it for yourself, you'll see why.
Treasures here date from prehistory and encompass some of the most iconic civilizations to ever walk the earth, from the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks to the medieval period and so much more. You'll leave with a greater understanding of how everyday humans have lived throughout history.
Want to learn more about the natural wonders that surround us? Madrid's National Museum of Natural Sciences is calling your name.
Perfect for both kids and adults alike, this museum makes science more fun than ever through interactive, informative exhibits. Whether you're interested in biodiversity, human evolution, geology, or anything in between, this fascinating world of wonders has something for you.
Museo de Real Madrid
Soccer in Spain is arguably a more adhered-to religion than Catholicism, and no team is more highly revered than Real Madrid. And no experience will get you under the skin of this iconic club quite like a tour of their home turf, Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
In addition to stepping into the locker room, press room, and out onto the pitch itself, you'll also visit the team's impressive museum. As the third-most visited museum in Madrid, it's home to jerseys, memorabilia, posters and more relics from the team's past, including more trophies than you've likely ever seen in one place.
Located just south of the city center in the old Delicias station, Madrid's railway museum offers a fun, off-the-beaten-path alternative to the typical tourist track.
The museum is the largest of its kind in Europe and offers guests an up-close look at the crucial role that Spain's railroad system has played in the country's history. You'll see real old locomotives up close, and even have the chance to step into vintage train cars for yourself. If you get hungry, the museums café is housed in a beautiful refurbished dining car from the 1930s.
In its heyday, the Chamberí metro station was one of the busiest on Madrid's extensive public transportation network. Sadly, it fell into disuse in the 1960s and remained abandoned for several decades.
That is, until 2008. That year, the old Chamberí station was restored to its former glory, looking much the same as it did in the 1920s and '30s complete with vintage advertisements and old-school turnstiles. Known as Anden 0 or Platform Zero, the station serves as a sort of miniature museum of the history of the Madrid metro.
Royal Armoury of Madrid
After you visit Madrid's spectacular Royal Palace, don't leave until you've checked out the Royal Armory as well. (And with entrance to the armory included in your palace ticket, there's no excuse not to go!)
The collection of weapons and armor here dates back to the 13th century and spans several generations of monarchs from there on out.
A sociocultural center for the modern age, Caixaforum provides fascinating temporary exhibitions on everything from art to music to architecture. It's likely you'll never see the same thing twice here, no matter how many times you visit Madrid and come back—and that's exactly what makes it so interesting.
The center also provides special exhibitions and programming for children, so if you're traveling with little ones in tow, it'll keep them interested as well.