Europe Spain Madrid How to Buy Tickets to the Prado Museum in Madrid

How to Buy Tickets to the Prado Museum in Madrid

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Are you traveling to Madrid and trying to figure out which museums to visit? Well, tourists can’t go wrong with a stop at the Prado Museum (or Museo Nacional del Prado, as it’s known in Spanish). Located on the Paseo del Arte, or Art Walk in English, this centuries-old museum is filled with exquisite artworks by some of Europe’s most notable painters, like Titian, Rubens, and Bosch. The Prado Museum is over 200 years old and is the main national Spanish art museum with a collection of over 8,000 paintings from the 11th-19th century. The museum’s collection is quite unique as the Prado Museum is often referred to as “A museum of painters, not paintings.” This is because the collection began in the 16th century when monarchs and art collectors focused more on accumulating as many works from their favorite artists rather than aiming for a more well-rounded, comprehensive collection. This approach means the museum has the largest collection of works by artists like Titian, Bosch, El Greco, Goya, and more! 

With such a unique collection and historic building, it’s no wonder that over two million visitors make their way to the Prado Museum every year. In this guide, we’ll share our tips and tricks for visiting the Prado Museum, along with all your ticket and tour options so you can decide how to buy tickets to the Prado Museum that fit your travel needs.

Quick Answer – How to Buy Tickets to the Prado Museum: To avoid spending your holiday standing in the hot sun, we highly recommend booking a skip-the-line ticket to the Prado Museum or opting for a guided tour. The latter is generally the better choice, as it provides deeper insights into the artists and the masterpieces on display. Additionally, you can bundle a visit to the Prado Museum with the Reina Sofia Museum or the Royal Palace into one guided tour, giving you the best bang for your buck.

Prado Museum facade and Cervantes statue in Madrid, Spain
Anibal Trejo / shutterstock.com

Best Way to Get Tickets to the Prado Museum

If you’re wondering where to buy tickets for the Prado Museum, then you’re in the right place. Whether you’re looking for a private guided tour, free tickets, or you simply wish to skip the ticket line, we have all your options laid out below. 

Line-Up in Person (Not Recommended) 

While you can buy tickets to the Prado Museum directly at the museum, we recommend against doing so. While the Prado Museum isn’t as busy as the Reina Sofia Museum, it can still have time slots that sell out and long lineups outside, especially for temporary exhibits. Instead of rolling the dice and waiting in the hot sun for a ticket, we recommend purchasing your tickets in advance online. This way, you can save time (and a possible sunburn) by skipping the ticket office line at the museum. 

However, if you’re hoping to score free tickets to the Prado Museum during their free access hours, then it is mandatory to line up outside at the ticket office. The museum offers two free access hours at the end of every day, but the museum does not allow access 30 minutes before closing, so you’ll have to get there early. The line for free tickets can vary anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on how busy the city is and whether it’s a weekend, so we recommend getting there a minimum of 30 minutes before the free access hours start so you can get the most out of your free ticket. You can get free Prado Museum tickets in person Monday to Saturday from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. (museum closes at 8 p.m.) and Sundays between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (museum closes at 7 p.m.). 

Book Online (Recommended) 

Booking tickets for the Prado Museum in advance online is the smartest route to go. Not only does the pre-purchased pass act as a skip-the-line ticket for the Prado Museum but it can be purchased from the comfort of your own air-conditioned hotel. Booking online in advance also means you’re guaranteed a ticket since the museum runs its tickets on a timed entry system. This is especially important if you’re planning a packed itinerary as you’ll want to be guaranteed you can enter at a time that works with your group’s schedule. Tickets can be bought on the Prado Museum’s official website or through a third-party seller like GetYourGuide. The benefit of using the ladder, if your home currency isn’t the Euro, is that you’ll get to pay in your country’s currency since GetYourGuide offers several currency options. This means you can avoid bank fees for charging your card in another currency.

Book a Guided Tour

If you want to learn more about how the collection was acquired, the artists behind the masterpieces, and the masterpieces themselves, your best option is to book a guided tour of the Prado Museum. 90-minute tours are available during checkout for a general admission ticket on the official website or you can book a guided tour from a third-party seller. We recommend this 90-minute tour of the Prado Museum as the ticket is refundable up to 24 hours in advance (Prado Museum official website is non-refundable for all bookings), comes with a knowledgeable guide, and has the option to add a tapas tasting after the museum tour. You also have the option to use GetYourGuide’s reserve now, pay later feature, which means you can book and be guaranteed a ticket and worry about paying for it at a later date. 

Interior of the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain
Photo: s4visuals | Depositphotos

Book a Combo Guided Tour Ticket

If you don’t have much time in the city and would like to tour other Madrid attractions like the Reina Sofia Museum or the Royal Palace of Madrid, then why not combine the tours to create a great morning of art-filled fun and knowledge?

This combo-guided tour of the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum starts at 9:45 a.m. where you’ll be led on a 90-minute museum tour followed by 30 minutes of free time to explore the artworks on your own. After, the group will walk down the Paseo del Arte to the Reina Sofia Museum where you’ll tour incredible contemporary and modern works by Spanish artists like Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Joan Miró for 75 minutes. 

If you want to combine a tour of the Prado Museum with a guided tour of the Royal Palace of Madrid, then check out this five-hour combo tour from GetYourGuide. The tour starts at 9:45 a.m. at the Prado Museum for a two-hour guided tour of the museum and its works. After, you’ll head a 15-minute walk down the street to the Royal Palace where your tour group will enjoy a two-hour guided tour of the royal residency.

Purchase a Tourist Pass

If you’re a traveler who likes to soak up as many attractions and experiences as you can on holiday, then a Madrid tourist pass might just be the right call. There are two fantastic tourist passes that won’t only grant you access to the Prado Museum, but also over 30 other Madrid attractions and tours as well, like the Reina Sofia Museum, a Madrid city highlights tour, a Flamenco show and tapas tour, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum.

The Go City All-Inclusive Pass is the ultimate tourist ticket as you can enjoy savings of up to 50% on entrance and tour prices along with access to 30+ attractions. The pass works on validity days, meaning you choose how long you want the pass to be valid for you to use. You can choose a pass valid from one day to five days and use the Go City App to find city maps and instructions on how to access each attraction. 

The Go City Explorer Pass is perfect for those who don’t plan on packing in as many attractions to their Madrid itinerary. Instead of choosing how many days you’d like the pass to be valid for, you instead pick how many attractions you’d like the pass to include. Choose from three to seven attractions and then you’ll have 60 days from the time of first use to visit all the attractions. 

Purchase a Paseo del Arte Pass

Art and museum lovers planning on visiting the big three museums (the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofia Museum, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum) on the Art Walk (Paseo del Arte) might be interested in this all-encompassing museum pass. The Paseo del Arte Pass allows unlimited visits to all three museums for one year. It can be purchased on any of the three museum’s official websites and picked up at the same museum. 

Visitors inside the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain
Photo: NeyroM | Depositphotos

Useful Information for Visiting the Prado Museum

What’s the Best Time to Visit The Prado Museum?

The best time to visit the Prado Museum to avoid crowds is on weekdays during the morning right when the museum opens. This way, you avoid the weekend travelers and locals off of work. Mornings also tend to be less busy as most tourists prefer entry times between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. High season will also make a difference in how many visitors are inside, so if you can, visit the museum during shoulder season (March to May) or low season (November to February). 

What Are The Prado Museum’s Hours of Operation?

The Prado Museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. The only days the museum is closed are January 1, May 1, and December 25. Visitors will find the museum also runs on a reduced hours schedule on December 24, December 31, and January 6. Free access hours are Monday to Saturday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. and Sundays/holidays from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. 

How to Get to The Prado Museum?

The Prado Museum is located on the Paseo del Arte in the heart of Madrid. There are several ways to get there, either by walking, taking transit, or by rideshare. Those looking to drive and park at the museum won’t find any on-site parking but there are paid parking garages nearby. For those looking to take public transit, bus numbers 001, 10, 14, 27, 34, 37, 45, and C03 all have stops within walking distance of the museum. The same goes for the Metro; both the Blue Line 1 and Red Line 2 stops are roughly a 10-minute walk away. Those who have purchased a Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus ticket will also find a stop nearby. 

How Do Prado Museum Tickets Work? 

Prado Museum tickets work on a timed system meaning there is a limit on how many people can enter each hour or each timeslot. To enter, either purchase tickets for the Prado Museum in advance online or at the museum’s ticket office. We recommend showing up at least 15 minutes before your entry time as you might have to wait in line for a ticket check and never know when traffic may slow you down on your way to the museum. Simply show your ticket on your mobile device or in printed version at the gate and then you’ll be granted access to the museum. 

The halls of the Museum Del Prado in Madrid, Spain
Photo: giuseppemasci.me.com | Depositphotos

How Much Do Prado Museum Tickets Cost? 

Prado Museum tickets are quite reasonable and there are several complimentary tickets available. A general admission price is €15 including access to timed exhibitions. Tourists can opt to add on a 90-minute guided tour for €10 or an audio guide for €5. Reduced general admission for €7.50 is available for those over the age of 65, holders of a Youth Card, and large families consisting of at least one adult and three children or two children if one has a disability. 

Children under the age of 18, students between the ages of 18 and 25 years old, people with a disability degree of 33% or more, active teachers, journalists, and students aged 25 or older studying an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in the arts within the Spanish Education System all qualify for free tickets to the Prado Museum but will need to show proof. This means you will have to bring proof (i.e., student ID, etc.) to the box office the day of your visit to validate the free ticket, but you can get the free ticket online on the official website to ensure you have a timeslot saved. 

What Are the Best Hotels Near the Prado Museum?

Seeing as the Prado Museum is dead smack in the heart of the city and near attractions like El Retiro Park, the Naval Museum, and the Royal Palace of Madrid, you and your group might fancy staying nearby. Hotel Catalonia Las Cortes is an excellent choice for tourists, especially those looking for a pet-friendly hotel in Madrid. The four-star hotel offers air-conditioned, soundproof rooms decorated in a contemporary style, along with an on-site restaurant and cafeteria offering free snacks and sandwiches. The Catalonia is located a 10-minute walk from the Prado Museum and Plaza Mayor, and only a block from the tapas bars and lively restaurants of Calle de las Huertas. 

Only YOU Hotel Atocha is also a fantastic option for those who want to be within walking distance of several attractions. This four-star hotel is located right beside the Royal Observatory of Madrid and is less than a five-minute walk down the street from El Retiro Park. Inside this modern hotel, visitors will find an on-site café, bakery, and rooftop restaurant, along with soundproof rooms and private parking. 

Those who prefer to cook their own meals might be interested in booking a room at the Bob W Arte Hotel. This stunning aparthotel offers comfortable contemporary rooms equipped with a full kitchen, washer and dryer, and air conditioning. Free breakfast is also provided to guests. The hotel is located just down the street from the Reina Sofia Museum and less than a 20-minute walk from the Prado Museum, the Railway Museum, and El Retiro Park. 

What is Security Like at the Prado Museum?

The Prado Museum has a security and bag check that all visitors must go through before entering the museum. Large bags (bigger than 40 cm by 40 cm), outside food and drink, scooters, and bicycles are all prohibited inside the museum, including water. Guests can leave backpacks, coats, and larger bags in the cloakroom in a locker for free during their visit. The Prado Museum also holds a strict no-photography rule, so cameras will need to be left in the locker as well. 

What About Visiting the Prado Museum With a Disability?

Like other museums in Madrid, the Prado Museum has taken great strides to make its attraction as accessible as possible for those with a disability. Not only do those with a 33% degree disability or more receive free entry but there are also wheelchairs, audio guides, Signoguides in LSE, and magnetic induction loops available free of charge. The museum also offers an accessibility tour plan that outlines an accessible and friendly path to 10 museum masterpieces as well as a schedule of accessible activities and touch meninas for those who are blind or have low vision. 

The halls of the Museum Del Prado in Madrid, Spain
Photo: giuseppemasci.me.com | Depositphotos

Facts About the Prado Museum

What is the Prado Museum?

The Prado Museum is the main national Spanish art museum with an incredible collection of Spanish and European artworks ranging from the 6th century BCE to the 19th century. Spread across three floors with over 7500 paintings, visitors will find masterpieces by artists like Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, Rembrandt, and Velázquez. 

What Must-See Paintings Are at the Prado Museum?

There are several impressive works on display at the Prado Museum, but the top five must-see to see are The Garden of Earthly Delights Triptych by Bosch, The Gentleman With His Hand on His Chest by El Greco, Las Meninas by Velázquez, The Third of May by Goya, and Saturn Devouring His Son by Goya. 

Where is the Prado Museum?

The Prado Museum is located in the heart of Madrid, right beside the Real Jardín Botánico and two blocks from El Retiro Park. 

How Old is the Prado Museum?

The Prado Museum is one of the oldest museums in the world and was founded in 1819, making it just over 200 years old! 

Who Built the Prado Museum?

The original design of the Prado Museum wasn’t for artwork at all. It was actually designed by architect Juan de Villanueva in 1785 on orders from King Charles III as a new home for the Natural History Cabinet. However, it was the king’s grandson, King Ferdinand VII, who made the final call that it would in fact be used as a national museum for the Royal Museum of Paintings and Sculptures, which in turn became the Prado Museum. 

How Long Should I Spend Inside the Prado Museum?

It’s impossible to see everything the Prado Museum has to offer in one visit. However, visitors should aim to spend between three to four hours inside to get the most out of their ticket and see some of the most famous paintings.  

Can I Get Free Tickets to the Prado Museum?

Yes, free tickets are available every day at the museum ticket office during the last two hours before closing. Free tickets are also available online for kids under the age of 18, students, active teachers, and more. 

Are There Audioguides at the Prado Museum?

Yes, audio guides can be rented for €5 either when booking your tickets in advance or at the audioguide desk. 

Can I Buy Skip-the-Line Prado Museum Tickets?

Yes and no. Technically, any ticket purchased in advance online allows you to bypass the initial ticket office line just like a skip-the-line pass. However, there is no skip-the-line ticket for the Prado Museum that allows you to bypass the security line. Priority is given only to those with disabilities. 

Now that you’re an expert on how to tour the Prado Museum in Madrid, all that’s left is to figure out how you want to visit this amazing attraction! We hope you soak up all the incredible artwork on display and make lasting memories in Spain’s capital city.

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