If you’re planning a visit to Madrid, chances are that you’ve already figured out what you want to see there, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve made a big list. If that list has a lot of museums and similar attractions on it, it's definitely time to consider investing in the Madrid City Pass.
The Madrid City Pass is a card designed for tourists. It provides you with a discount for a lot of Madrid's top tourist attractions. And in this review I will go into detail on how and why it makes sense for you.
Note: Since there are several "Madrid Cards" available for purchase, I’ll be focusing on the City Pass available on gomadrid.com in this review.
Why You Should Buy The Madrid City Pass
- If you plan to visit a lot of museums in Madrid and hate waiting in line, then definitely consider getting the card. It offers priority access to two of Madrid’s busiest attractions, The Prado Museum and the Real Madrid Stadium Tour.
- You will save money on transportation, with the free 24h Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour ticket and the two-way shuttle airport transfer! A taxi ride from the city center to and from the airport could set you back up to 60€, and this alone will almost break you even.
- 20% discount on excursions. You can save money on a number of different excursions, so if you were planning to visit Toledo or the Las Rozas Village, consider investing in the pass.
- There’s no time limit on the card. Once you purchase it, it is valid for an entire year, after the first time you use it. So, if you know you will visit Madrid several times this year, then you’ll definitely get your money’s worth with the City Pass. This applies only to this particular City Pass – other city cards do have a time limit, which you choose upon purchase.
- You get 20% discount on other popular tourist attractions in Madrid. Get the card if you really want to immerse yourself in Madrid’s culture.
- 20% discount for bus and bike tours of Madrid. The Beer Bike tour is one of the most popular bike tours, and it is included in the pass. If you are travelling in a large group, the City Pass could save you up to 60€ on this attraction.
- You can buy it online. The pass will be emailed to you, along with a discount code (the discount applies only to tickets purchased via ticketbar). You don’t have to exchange it for a real physical card, or pick it up somewhere.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy The Madrid City Pass
- It’s hard to break even. With a price tag of 80€ for adults, you won't get your money's worth unless you visit pretty much everything you can with the card. And, visiting museums you aren't interested in just to break even will make your trip feel like a chore.
- Many museums in Madrid offer free entry at some point. The Prado Museum offers free entry after 6 PM (after 5 PM on Sundays and holidays). However, the lines during this time are very, very long, so bring some snacks.
- You still have to pay for transportation. The free Hop-On Hop-Off bus ticket is good for the first day, and after that you still have to buy the Metro Card if you want to get around town. I suggest The Madrid Tourist Travel Pass, as if it will save you a ton of money on transporation.
- If you are travelling with your family, the City Passes get really expensive. Passes for you, your partner and 2 kids (5+ years old) will set you back 248€. If you ask me, you are better off spending that money on extending your stay in Madrid.
Discounted Attractions You Can See With The Madrid City Pass
These are just some of the many attractions available to you at a discounted price, if you get the City Pass. And, they are so worth it!
The Prado Museum
Goya, Velázquez, Rubens and El Greco are just a few artists whose paintings you can see in this museum. It is one of the largest museums in Spain, and one of the most visited museums in the entire world. Honestly, it should be a crime to visit Madrid and not visit the Prado. You wouldn’t leave Paris without going to the Louvre, would you?
The Reina Sofia Museum
It is the home of Picasso’s Guernica, and I think this alone is a reason to pay a visit to this museum. It is mainly dedicated to Spanish 20th century art, but it does feature a number of works by international artists. The Reina Sofia Museum is also one of the largest museums in the world, which is the home of modern and contemporary art.
Real Madrid Stadium Tour
I myself am an FC Barcelona fan, so this doesn’t really sound like an appealing way to spend my time. However, for any die-hard Real Madrid fans, this sounds like a dream come true. You get to see the locker rooms, the trophies exhibition, the presidential box, and literally every corner of the stadium.
Royal Palace Walking Tour
Even though the Spanish Royal Family does not actually reside here, it is their official home. If you are lucky enough, you might be able to see the change of guards. It is an incredible event that happens just a few times every year, and it involves hundreds of infantry, cavalry and horses! A must-see if you happen to be in Madrid when it happens. If you want to really experience the history of Spain and the way its royals lived, definitely check out the Royal Palace.
Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
The double-decker bus will take you to all the destinations I mentioned above, and to many others. You can also experience both the new modern Madrid, and the historic one, with the 2 different routes of the bus tour. Choose a route and stick to it, or hop off the bus and get on the one doing the other route – it’s completely up to you. You can even just stay on the bus all day long, admiring the architectural beauty of Madrid, with audio commentary in 14 different languages!
Beer Bike Madrid
If you love to go on tours, then you shouldn't miss this one. The Beer Bike Madrid is a city tour on a tandem bike for 16 people. It's the perfect way to experience a new city, especially if you are travelling in a large group. Single tickets are also available, if you don't mind riding around with a bunch of strangers. Since it is a Beer bike, you can actually order beer and sangria, which is really cool. You just can't drink them during the ride itself, but feel free to do so before or after the tour.
Is The Madrid City Pass Worth It?
I honestly don't know, as this entirely depends on the amount of time you want to spend in Madrid. If you're just visiting for a couple of days, then it will be very hard for you to get your money's worth out of the pass. If you're going to stay in Madrid for a while, then the card is a good investment.
The best advice I can give you is to sit down and make a plan. Figure out what attractions you really want to visit, and check out how much the individual tickets cost. If the individual tickets will cost you less than the pass, then there's no point in getting it. You don't want to feel an obligation to visist museums you aren't even interested in just to get your money's worth.
On the other hand, if you want to visit more than one tourist attraction a day, and you will stay in Madrid for a while, then the City Pass is a really good investment. Especially because you get to skip the line for the 2 busiest attractions in Madrid. The card really does have a ton of benefits, and if you think you can get your money's worth with it, it really is worth purchasing.