Most visitors to Madrid want to go to the big three museums - the Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofia - but it's really not a good idea to try and do more than one a day, even though they are next to each other. Much better to mix full-on culture with mooching around town, coming across little cafes, bars and shops, or have a museum morning followed by a leisurely lunch - that's the way the locals do it.
Lots of museums are closed on Sunday afternoons and Mondays, but quite a few are open during these times too, so there is always something to do, even if a bit of planning is required. Smaller museums often close for a couple of hours in the afternoon (usually between 2pm and 4pm), but the big ones are open all day, and most stay open till 8pm, so you can fit a lot into a day, even if you do take my advice to have a long lunch and rest your feet.
Admission prices are generally very reasonable compared with other European countries, except when it comes to the more family-orientated attractions, which are on the expensive side.
If you planning to pack a lot of museums and other attractions into your stay, it might be worth getting the Madrid Card or the Madrid Card Cultura, which give access to more than 40 museums and attractions, as well as the Madrid Vision tour bus, and also give discounts at restaurants and shops. Available for one, two or three days, prices start at €32. See the Madrid tourist board website, www.esmadrid.com, for details.
How I’ve picked my things to do:
I've tried to mix must-see museums, interesting areas to explore, and places that the whole family can enjoy. But there are a lot of smaller museums that I didn't have room to include and are really worth seeing, so please check out what else there is to see and do on www.esmadrid.com or www.turismomadrid.es.