Do not worry! If you are short on time, you can still take in some of the highlights of the world-class Prado museum in as little as an hour.
Pre-book Prado museum tickets
Entry to the Prado museum is free after 6pm, but there are frequently long lines by then, so if your time is limited the best way to beat the crowds is to pre-book your Prado tickets online at www.museoprado.es.
These advance tickets offer a slight discount but require you to arrive at the Prado at a pre-assigned time. However, their main benefit is that they allow you to make your way straight into the museum through the Velazquez entrance, and avoid the queues.
The quietest times to visit Prado are when the museum opens its doors at 9am or during the two hours after 3.30pm, when most locals take their lunch break.
Follow routes in the Prado visitor guidebook
For many visitors, the museum’s ‘masterpieces’ are the biggest draw, with the top works by the likes of Goya, Bosch, El Greco, and Rubens (to name but a few) being the highest priority.
The Prado visitor’s guide available from the museum’s information kiosks lists the location of these pieces, and although they are spread out and so require a bit of walking, the booklet lists suggested routes for one, two, and three hour visits.
If you arrive early before the museum starts to get crowded, and roughly plan your route using the guide, it is possible to get in, see the best-known Prado works, and leave within an hour. If you’re really pushed for time, a slightly condensed version of the one hour route can still include the most important works.
Not-to-miss Prado works
Assuming you’ve pre-booked Prado tickets and gone in through the Velazquez entrance, turn left in the main hall in towards galleries 56A, 56B, and 58. These rooms feature iconic Renaissance-period pieces by Bosch, Raphael, and Botticelli.
Take the elevator up to the first floor and admire the long gallery which runs the length of the building, making sure to look in galleries 40 to 44 close to the elevator, which are home to the Prado’s Venetian collection.
Most of the rooms at the far end of the central gallery are dedicated to romantic painter Goya, so be sure to make your way down to the end of the hall before heading to the ground floor and back towards the way you came in.
The Prado National Museum is Madrid’s premier tourist attraction - and showcases a stunning collection of European art. Regardless of whether or not you have any interest in art, the works on display are spectacular and range from more than 850 years old to more recent 20th century pieces.
More than two million people visit annually, and if you have the time and interest, it is easily possible to spend an entire day wandering the long corridors.