Spain Day 7: Madrid: Reina Sofia

Location: Travel and Madrid Spain: Reina Sofia Museum
Cost: 8-12 €, but free T-S from 7-9, and Sunday from 1:30-7:00
Time: 2-4 hours, depending how long you like to look at pieces and read history 
Website: Reina Sofia 
Tip: It’s a very large museum, so even on crowded free days and times it’s still easy to see everything

Reina Sofia Outside

When we hopped off the long train from Southern Spain back to Madrid, we had a few hours in the late afternoon and evening to fit one thing in. We knew the Reina Sofia museum was at the top of the list of things to do in Madrid, and we headed straight there after dropping off our luggage and saying hi to our friends we were staying with who had just returned back to Spain from the U.S. that day.

Spain is such an amazing country with so much to offer, and the different cities are often compared to different cities in the United States. Madrid is said to be the New York of Spain, complete with a Times Square. It’s a bustling big city with just about everything you can imagine, some of the best museums in the world, and some of the best food from all over the world in one place.

Reina Sofia Outside

The Reina Sofia is a modern art museum that houses some of the best art in the world! It was formerly a hospital but has had a serious makeover to be one really cool building that can house a lot of different exhibits and traveling exhibits. It sits in the heart of Madrid, and there are two glass elevators right out front that overlook the city while you travel from floor to floor.

Reina Sofia Madrid Archtecture

I should also mention you can get in free most evenings, which helps the travel budget big time! If you can plan your visit before you go, you can 2-3 free hours in. It’s a little more crowded, but it’s a huge museum so it’s easy to swing it and I personally think very worth it to save the 8-12 €.

It’s actually the largest modern art museum in the world! And we spent our fair amount of time looking at a few sculptures and pieces just realizing we aren’t profound enough to get it. Like when Jacob predicted this was probably ET phoning home…

Visiting the Reina Sofia

But aside from some giggles, there was definitely a lot of amazing pieces! Let’s talk about the highlights! This Van Gogh obsessed girl loved checking a few more see-in-person paintings off the list!
Visiting the Reina Sofia Van Gogh

But the museum is most known for housing many works by Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. I’ve also been intrigued by Picasso, he’s someone who nailed classic painting so young and did it so well that he moved into a much more emotional space and is one of the pioneers of abstract. I think for many Americans we like looking at the weird objects all over the place, and we think of it more in terms of this than anything else. We had even been to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona previously and were still thinking this way until we really dug into the most famous painting at the Reina Sofia, the Guernica, and I felt foolish for not taking more time to realize how profound he was and the role Picasso played in WWII! The painting tells the story of Guernica, a city in Northern Spain essential given to Hitler and the Nazi party to bomb and test weaponry on. Although Spain remained neutral, this was one huge thing that was kind of swept under a mat until Picasso painted the painting symbolic of the carnage and death. It ended up touring and raising a lot of money to fight fascist forces.

We couldn’t take a picture of it in the museum, but it’s so worth consulting Google on! I did look at the remainder of the Picasso paintings differently and with a lot more respect. And I’m so glad I had the moment to realize how amazing history is and how little I know about most the world’s history.
Visiting the Reina Sofia

We could have stayed longer, but closing time came and we realized our stomachs were getting the best of us. The good news is there was a really well-rated amazing Italian place around the corner. I love that there’s a lot of really good French and Italian food all over Spain.

Madrid dining Madrid dining Madrid dining


I couldn’t get over how creative the decor was, and how much we enjoyed our calzone and pasta. Madrid dining

It was one of those perfect dates abroad, and I can’t believe we got to have such an amazing experience for free with such a great meal around the corner right after!

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  1. that’s awesome that this museum is (at times) free!
    We have the Dali museum here and they had a Picasso exhibit last year. So amazing to see them side by side!

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