In 2018, the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid – its official name being the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía – had the honour of being the eighth most visited museum in Europe. More than 3.3 million people strolled through their galleries to admire their jewels. A number that surpasses any other museum in Spain. A milestone for this museum, inaugurated in 1992, and part of the famous “Golden Triangle” of art, in Madrid, along with the Prado Museum and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.
Each of the three museums has its own style, the best thing to see in the Reina Sofia Museum is its enormous collection of modern and contemporary art. With a permanent collection of over 20,000 works by some of the most legendary names in the art world in the last century, it is a must-see for art lovers and history buffs alike. However, even curious travellers who are not particularly interested in any of the above will be able to enjoy a visit to the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid.
The museum is huge, and wandering around inside with no idea what the place looks like or what you want to see can be overwhelming when you visit for the first time. That’s why we’ve created this complete guide of tips for visiting the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid:
Tips for visiting the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid
Why should you visit the Reina Sofia Museum?
One of the tips for visiting the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid is precisely the reason for your visit. Here are some compelling reasons not to miss this magnificent temple of art on your visit to Madrid:
The museum houses the extraordinary works of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró.
The Reina Sofía Museum exhibits some 2,500 of the best works of art in Spanish and world history.
With a collection of over 1,000 periodicals, the museum tells the full story of Madrid and Spain.
The building that houses the Reina Sofía Museum is, in itself, a work of art, with its 18th century architecture in which numerous influences from different currents can be appreciated, such as surrealism and cubism.
The lush vegetation of the garden adjacent to the museum allows for a relaxed stroll after exploring the museum.
What is the best time of year to visit the Reina Sofia Museum
Another fundamental tip for visiting the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid is when to visit it. If we refer to the time of year, the truth is that Madrid – a city that has stolen my heart and to which I go several times a year – looks beautiful in any season.
However, in order to take advantage of daylight and take a post-visit tour of the museum to digest all the art contemplated during the day, I would advise you to visit the Reina Sofia Museum during the months of June and July, when it doesn’t get dark in Madrid until after 10 pm.
What are the opening hours of the Reina Sofia Museum?
The opening hours of the main headquarters of the Reina Sofia Museum (Sabatini Building and Nouvel Building) are as follows:
Monday and Wednesday to Saturday, from 10:00 to 21:00 h.
For Sundays and public holidays, you must consult the museum.
The opening hours of the Parque del Retiro (Palacio de Velázquez and Palacio de Cristal) are as follows:
Between April and September, from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Between November and February: 10:00 to 18:00 h.
In October and March: 10:00 to 19:00 h.
Ticket prices for the Reina Sofía Museum
The prices for tickets to the Reina Sofia Museum are as follows:
General individual ticket (advance and online): 8 € + booking fee.
Individual general ticket (at the box office): 10 €.
Combined ticket (box office): €14.50 (Includes the general individual ticket (Collection and temporary exhibitions) and the rental of an audio guide (Collection)).
Individual general ticket valid for two visits: 15 €. This ticket is personal and non-transferable. It allows for two visits to the Museum over the course of one year from the day of the first visit.
How to avoid queues at the Reina Sofia Museum
Bearing in mind that the Reina Sofía is the most visited museum in Spain, we can expect to find queues at its entrances. If you do not want to suffer these waits, we advise you to buy one of the tickets without queues to the Reina Sofia Museum.
When can I enter the Reina Sofia Museum for free?
If the prices of tickets to the Reina Sofia Museum seem a little high to you, don’t worry, because you will be able to enter for free at certain times and dates.
You can enter the Reina Sofia Museum for free:
Monday, and Wednesday to Saturday: 19:00 to 21:00 h (not applicable for groups).
Sundays: from 13:30 to 19:00 h (not applicable for groups).
April 18, May 18, October 12, December 6: 10:00 to 21:00 h.
When is the best time to visit the Reina Sofia Museum?
It’s normal to want to visit the Reina Sofia Museum when it’s free, however, many people think the same way you do and you can find long lines to get in and many people inside.
Therefore, within our advice to visit the Reina Sofia Museum we recommend that you do so during the early hours of the morning, between 9 and 11.
What are the best works to see in the Reina Sofia Museum
There are many interesting works to see in the Reina Sofia Museum, but one stands out from the rest: Picasso’s “Guernica”. This is the undisputed jewel in the Reina Sofia collection. With a height of 3.49 m and a width of 7.77 m, this impressive masterpiece by Pablo Picasso occupies an entire wall.
The “Guernica” comes from dark origins: it represents the bombardment of the homonymous Basque town by the Nazi forces during the Spanish Civil War. Today, millions of people from all corners of the world come to pay tribute to one of the darkest days in the history of Spain and marvel at the work created to commemorate it.
The “Guernica” is the centerpiece of Queen Sofia’s Picasso halls, divided into periods before and after the Spanish Civil War, but there are other 20th century Spanish painters who receive great attention in the museum. The Reina Sofía Museum also has an incredible collection of works by Salvador Dalí (including “Landscapes in Cadaqués”, “The Great Masturbator” and “Figure in the Window”) and Joan Miró (don’t miss “Portrait II”).
However, there is much more to the Reina Sofia Museum than just the big names recognized internationally. The third part of the museum’s permanent collection, “From Revolt to Postmodernity (1962-1982)”, which deals with issues such as gender, globalisation and mass and underground culture in the second half of the 20th century, is noteworthy.
The exhibition of postwar Spanish photography in Room 415 is an excellent place to start.
Guided visit to the Reina Sofía Museum
With so much to see, admire and understand, it may not be a bad idea to take a guided tour of the Reina Sofia Museum. It is the best way not to miss anything and interact with the art exhibited here.
If you don’t want to miss anything from your visit to the Reina Sofia Museum, here you can book a guided tour directly with the best professionals:
How to get to the Reina Sofía Museum
To get to the Reina Sofia Museum you have several public transport options:
By bus: you can take lines 6, 10, 14, 19, 26, 27, 32, 34, 36, 37, 41, 45, 59, 85, 86, 102, 119, C1, C2 and E1.
By metro: Line 1 Arte Station and Line 3 Lavapiés Station.
Plus, if you get to Atocha Station, you’ve got it within walking distance, too.
And now that you know all the tricks and tips for visiting the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, we’ll tell you a little about its history:
History of the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid
Before starting with tips for visiting the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, it’s a good idea to know a little about its history.
Like much of the art found in it, the Reina Sofia Museum itself is not so old (unlike the Prado, which celebrated its second centenary this year). The museum was inaugurated in 1992, gaining an impressive status as one of Madrid’s must-see museums in the less than 30 years it has been open.
The building that houses the museum, on the other hand, has a much denser and longer history. In a previous life, it served as the General Hospital of Madrid, built under the supervision of architect Francisco Sabatini in the eighteenth century.
Centuries later, the continued expansion and growing popularity of the museum made it clear that the existing space was not enough. It was for this reason that the size of the museum was enlarged by a work directed by the French architect Jean Nouvel.
The treasures of Queen Sofia are not found alone in the museum complex itself. In Madrid’s emblematic Retiro Park, Madrid’s lung, you will find two exhibition spaces that also belong to the museum: the Palacio de Velázquez and the Palacio de Cristal.
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