“Oh, you’re abroad? You must be a student,” said every adult person I met while traveling. “Uhh, no,” said me. One thing that really hits you in the face when you’re a post grad is that life plays favorites, and one of its teacher’s pets is the student. People care about you more if you are a student. You get free things as a student. You get discounts as a student. Students are allowed to sing and act obnoxious and eat McDonalds loudly in the metro station and everyone forgives them because they are simply a student.
But nevertheless, even if you’re not a student anymore, you can still (usually) take advantage of all those sweet scholarly discounts! No matter what your age is, bring along your college ID or an international student ISIC card to Europe. Waving that magical key around can really cut down on costs, especially in Spain’s capital city.
Here are a few MUST-DO cultural attractions in Madrid where anyone with a student card can save big.
1: Teatro Real De Madrid, Opera House
The Madrid Opera House is known as Teatro Real, and boasts over 1700 seats. Originally opened in 1850, it closed in the 1920s and reopened in 1997 with the intention of catering to mostly operatic performances. Tickets for a show at Teatro Real run anywhere from $75-$1,000.
If you are a student or under 25 years old, that pricey ticket goes down considerably. Every day before a show, youngsters can head to the theater after 4 o’clock and purchase tickets at a 90% discounted rate. That’s right. NINETY PERCENT DISCOUNT.
Me and new pals from Oregon and Canada lucked out with baller seats. We sat front and center on the second deck in seats which were originally over $100. We paid about $17 each. YES.
The show was Richard Wagner’s take on Shakespeare’s classic comedy, Measure for Measure. The performance was entirely in German, and 4/5 of the audience couldn’t understand a thing. Thankfully the Teatro has a subtitle screen that displays the opera lyrics in Spanish and English.
2: Museo Del Prado, Classical Art Museum
The Prado is a huge museum in Madrid that houses over 22,000 artworks including paintings, sculptures, and drawings. It is one of the largest European art collections in the world and features classical art from the 12th-19th centuries. If you were to look at each painting for 30 seconds, it would take you a few weeks to get through the whole museum.
Big highlights include Las Meninas by Diego Velasquez, The Garden of Earthly Delights by el Bosco, and The Third of May by Francisco de Goya. There are literally hundreds of depictions of the crucifixion and lots of religious art with gold embellishments.
Students can head to the Prado for FREE all day long, while everyone else can go for free between 6-8 pm Monday-Saturday and 5-7 pm on Sundays.
3: Reina Sofia, Modern Art Museum
If classical art doesn’t tickle your bones the way an Andy Warhol pop art piece does, then the Reina Sofia is the place for you. Spanning four floors with a wide courtyard below, this modern museum houses collections by Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso as well as changing exhibitions by 21st century artists.
The building used to be an old hospital site so the layout is extremely spread out for an art museum. Admittedly it is a bit difficult to navigate, but that makes it extra fun once you stumble upon an epic artwork. I went into a plain room and was blown away by Guernica, one of Picasso’s greatest works. It is so huge that it takes over a whole entire wall and requires ample security guards yelling at people to cease their picture taking. Everyone stares at the mural with their mouths wide open, unable to imagine how someone could translate a bloody war scene into squares and half circles of grey, black, and white.
The greatest part of the Reina Sofia is the Dali room on surrealism and revolution, The room features over 15 of the late painter’s works from The Face of the Great Masturbator to The Invisible Man. The work is BEYOND INCREDIBLE and a must see. I’ve got such a fixation for Dali’s clean lines, blue hues, and organic, flowing objects. His paintings look effortless.
As a student, admission is FREE every day except on Tuesdays when the museum is closed to the public. Non-students can go to the museum for free on Monday and Wednesday-Saturday from 7-9 pm. On Sundays, free admission is 1:30-7 pm.