Visiting the exceptional museums in Spain is a rite of passage on a trip to the country. You’ll find some of the world’s greatest art museums, science museums, dance museums, and even a museum dedicated to chocolate in Spain.
While recently exploring Spain for two months, I couldn’t believe the array of interesting museums. However, with the bounty of amazing things to do in Spain, you may need a little help figuring out which museums are must-sees and which you can skip. Let’s get into it.
Table of Contents
- 15 Best Museums in Spain
- The Prado Museum
- The Dali Theatre Museum
- The Picasso Museum
- The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
- The City of Arts and Sciences
- The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
- The National Archaeological Museum
- The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC)
- Museo del Vidrio y Cristal de Málaga
- Flamenco Dance Museum
- Museu de la Xocolata
- Barcelona Erotic Museum
- The Fundació Joan Miró
- Casa de Cólon
- The Museum of Torture
- FAQs About Museums in Spain
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15 Best Museums in Spain
The Prado Museum
This Madrid art museum houses more Spanish paintings than anywhere else in the world.
The Prado Museum is one of the best things to do in Madrid and one of the top art museums in all of Europe. Over 2.4 million people visited Museo del Prado last year, making it one of the most-visited museums on the continent.
This swell of visitors flock to the Prado for its exquisite collection of 7,600 paintings. You’ll see signed works by artists like Francisco de Goya, Diego Velázquez, El Greco, and many more European painters here.
The Prado Museum even has its own version of the Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo da Vinci. However, this edition of the famed artwork was created by one of Da Vinci’s students.
👉 Pro Tip: The Prado Museum is only a five-minute walk from another iconic Madrid museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. It has one of the best collections of artwork by Van Gogh in Spain.
The Dali Theatre Museum
Located in the Catalonia Region, this museum contains the largest collection of mind-bending Salvador Dali artwork on the planet.
One of the best day trips from Barcelona for art lovers is the Dali Theatre Museum in the town of Figueres. This quirky museum is housed in the city’s old municipal theater and features one of the most extensive collections by the famous surrealist artist Salvador Dali.
Salvador Dali was actually born in Figueres, so it’s fitting for the most iconic display of his work to be located in the little Spanish town.
The pieces in the Dali Theatre Museum are oozing with creativity. Even the facade of the museum itself is surrealist artwork. The fantastical, colorful nature of the Dali Theatre Museum makes it a fitting museum option for families with young kids.
👉 Pro Tip: While it’s fun to just wander the Dali Theatre Museum, it’s even cooler to know the history behind the pieces. That’s why I’d strongly recommend joining a tour, like this Dalí Small Group Tour from Barcelona. It also makes it way easier to reach the town from Barcelona.
The Picasso Museum
An homage to the world-renowned Pablo Picasso featuring more than 4,200 pieces by the Spanish artist.
Barcelona’s Picasso Museum is a glowing testament to the artwork of the celebrated Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. The permanent collection features 4,200 individual pieces of Picasso’s art. There are also temporary exhibitions that you can find on the museum’s website.
Many of the pieces displayed in the Picasso Museum were created in the artist’s younger years. It’s a very interesting way to see how his style developed over his career and learn about one of the most influential figures in Spanish art history.
The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
A distinguished Madrid modern art museum with a mix of works by various artists.
The Reina Sofia Museum stands out among all the intriguing museums in Madrid as one of the best. It’s a modern and contemporary art museum housed inside a 16th-century hospital.
There is a range of artwork at Reina Sofia. The permanent exhibition focuses on Spanish art from creators like Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, and Joan Miró. There is also work by less renowned artists whose pieces are equally as intriguing.
You’ll come across sketches, sculptures, collages, photographs, paintings, and even films. There is something that everyone will find interesting at this Madrid attraction. It’s the ideal solution when you only have time for one museum, but you want to see as much art as possible.
The City of Arts and Sciences
An enormous museum complex that includes a science museum, an opera house, an aquarium, an Imax cinema, and a laserium.
Need a break from all the fine art museums? Spain has you covered in that department as well. The City of Arts and Sciences museum located in Valencia is actually a combination of six separate attractions and you can buy a comprehensive ticket to all of them.
The grounds are so big that they encompass well over a mile of space. In the City of Arts and Sciences, you’ll have the option to visit the Principe Felipe Science Museum and the Oceanogràfic. Oceanografic is the biggest aquarium in Europe and the third largest in the world.
There is also the enormous Hemisfèric IMAX theater and laserium, the Ágora concert space, and the Umbracle sculpture garden. Additionally, the Reina Sofia Palace of the Arts is located at the museum complex.
👉 Pro Tip: There is a lot of ground to cover at the City of Arts and Sciences, so you should visit with a guided tour to make the most of your time. I’d recommend this Valencia City of Arts & Sciences Tour because it comes with a wine and tapas tasting on a rooftop.
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Spain’s version of the internationally acclaimed contemporary art museum offers things to see from the outside in.
Most people are more familiar with New York’s Guggenheim Museum, but Spain’s version is just as incredible. Located in the northern city of Bilbao, Spain’s Guggenheim Museum is a treasure trove of modern art. Even the architecture of the museum is jaw-dropping and contemporary.
The works span from the 20th century to today and include both Spanish and international artists. You’ll see items like enormous sculptures, paintings, and objects that look like they fell from another planet.
There is also quite a nice mix of renowned creatives and upcoming talent featured at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The Guggenheim is another Spain museum that’s great for kids because there are lots of eye-catching, colorful pieces to see.
The National Archaeological Museum
This museum in Madrid provides a glimpse into prehistoric culture with Roman mosaics, intriguing artifacts, and even real mummies.
History lovers will get a thrill out of experiencing the rich collection at the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid. The permanent exhibition features ancient items from a variety of civilizations.
There is an ancient Egyptian collection with statues, jewelry, mummy cases, and sarcophagi. There’s also a room dedicated to the Neolithic age displaying household goods and information about everyday life from the time period. Don’t forget to see the unique pieces from the Cycladic civilization, too.
The National Museum of Archaeology also has rotating temporary and digital exhibitions. There is a staggering amount of historic artifacts to discover here, which is why it’s easily one of the best museums in Spain.
The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC)
This Catalan visual art museum on the top of Montjuïc Hill with over 260,000 pieces is the largest museum in Barcelona.
One of the best things to do in Barcelona for a laidback afternoon is to visit the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, or MNAC. This museum may not sound familiar right away, but it’s one of the most highly regarded attractions in this region of Spain.
This is the only museum in Spain dedicated specifically to Catalan art from the region that surrounded Barcelona. There are sections of the museum for Roman art, Medieval art, modern art, and more. There are more than 260,000 pieces in the National Museum of Catalan Art to discover.
Bonus points, the National Museum of Catalan Art is also located on the very top of Montjuïc Hill. You can catch gorgeous views around Barcelona from the grounds of the museum.
Museo del Vidrio y Cristal de Málaga
A unique museum highlighting the art of ancient glass-making inside a 1700s Malaga mansion.
Museo del Vidrio y Cristal in Málaga is a little different from the other Spanish museums. It’s completely devoted to the art of decorative glass-making. Surprisingly, this has been a pretty big thing in Spain throughout its history.
Inside the Museum of Glass and Crystal, there is a medley of bright glasswork to discover as you learn about this traditional art form. The museum is also located in an old mansion from the 1700s, so it’s doubly cool.
Flamenco Dance Museum
This prized gem of a museum in Seville honors the Andalusian tradition of Flamenco with performances and exhibits.
The Andalusian region around Seville is famous for being the birthplace of Flamenco. As such, there is a brilliant Seville museum in honor of this traditional Spanish dance style. It’s called the Flamenco Dance Museum and it’s perfect for any visitor who loves the art of dance.
This museum near the city center will teach you everything there is to know about Flamenco and the history behind this passionate dance. The permanent collection has things like traditional costumes and paintings inspired by the dance. There are even live shows here.
👉 Pro Tip: The Flamenco Dance Museum is just a 15-minute walk away from the Seville Museum of Fine Arts. Try to fit in both of these iconic Seville museums in one afternoon.
Museu de la Xocolata
A chocolate and food-based art museum featuring elaborate sculptures, tastings, and workshops.
Another one of the uniquely awesome museums in Spain is the Museu de la Xocolata, or the Museum of Chocolate. Located in Barcelona, the Museum of Chocolate is a combination of an art museum and a dessert wonderland. Your entry ticket is even a chocolate bar, right on theme!
The museum houses intricate statues completely crafted from chocolate. You can spot the chocolate version of characters from movies, Spain attractions, and animals.
There is also a little shop where you can go on a chocolate shopping spree and get some sweet souvenirs. Sometimes you can even find workshops here, which are the perfect afternoon activity for kids in Barcelona.
Barcelona Erotic Museum
An in-depth exploration into eroticism throughout history.
You may not want to bring young kids to the Barcelona Erotic Museum, but adults should definitely fit it into their Spain itinerary. This is one of the most interesting museums in Spain and is perfect for people who don’t want the traditional museum experience.
The Erotic Museum covers the history and artifacts of sexuality from ancient times through the modern era. There are exhibits at this Barcelona museum that will make you laugh, wince, and stare in amazement. It’s a super fun museum to visit with a group of friends in Barcelona.
The Fundació Joan Miró
An extensive compilation of surrealist works by the legendary Barcelona-born artist Joan Miro.
Joan Miró is one of the most famous artists from Spain, and the Fundació Joan Miro is where you can do a deep dive into his work right in his hometown of Barcelona. This is an incredibly important museum for Spanish artwork and is also a very entertaining art gallery.
The museum is packed full of 16,000 pieces of Miro’s eclectic work. There are 217 paintings, 178 sculptures, 9 textile pieces, and more than 8,000 gorgeous drawings. This Spanish museum gives you a really good glimpse inside the mind of a prolific artist.
Casa de Cólon
A history museum on Gran Canaria island that showcases Christopher Columbus’ voyage.
Casa Colon on the island of Gran Canaria started accumulating fame after Christopher Columbus stayed there. Today, you can visit the immaculate governor’s house and walk the same halls that Columbus did along his voyage.
The historic site is beautifully preserved. Inside, you can view some artwork and learn some history about Columbus and his travels.
This museum in Spain is also an excellent option for budget travelers in Spain. The entry is very cheap and it comes with a free guide you can download on your phone.
The Museum of Torture
A creepy history museum in Toledo that specializes in Medieval torture devices with over 40 real contraptions.
Out of all the museums in Spain, the Museum of Torture is probably the most morbid. This Spanish museum is located in Toledo and features a very creepy collection of torture devices.
There are more than 40 real-life torture devices in this museum and each one has a horrifying back story to learn. The Museum of Torture isn’t a good match for people who are easily queasy or disturbed. However, it entertains visitors who want a little bit of macabre on a trip to Spain.
FAQs About Museums in Spain
What is the most visited museum in Spain?
The most visited museum in Spain is the Prado Museum in Madrid. It is also one of the most-visited museums in Europe. This famous art museum receives approximately three million visitors every year.
What’s the name of the famous museum in Spain?
What are the 3 most important museums in Madrid?
What is the best art museum in Spain?
You’ve reached the end of my guide to the best museums in Spain! Let me know in the comments which of these Spanish museums is going on your to-do list.
(Featured Image Credit: Rudy Mareel / Shutterstock)
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