Are you spending the days around Xmas in Madrid with kids? If so, you need to try all of these must do in Madrid with kids. I have summed up some of the most typical things, but also some alternatives to avoid the crowds 🙂
First of all, you need to know that in Madrid (and in Spain) the Xmas holidays last until 6th January, the day the children open the presents from the “reyes magos” (=three wise men). So if you have enough time, it will be worth it to stay until the 6th. But let’s start with something you can do from beginning December:
Luces de Navidad & Navibus
As soon as November is ending, the whole city gets lighted up with Xmas lights and decorations. Each street and each corner are decorated with lights. Each one with different motives. And also changing from year to year. This is way going into the city center and taking a tour to see the lights has become the most popular thing. The “Navibus” is a public bus that offers a tour around the city for just 2€/person. This year, it was only possible to buy tickets online and it is so popular that by mid-December all tickets were already sold out.
But even if you don’t have tickets for the Navibus, you can head to Plaza de Colón, where many sponsored bus are also taking you on the tour for free. Normally there’s a lot of people, so be early in order to avoid a long queue. If you don’t mind to spend money, you can also take one of the city tours from Madridvision.
In case you want to avoid queues and crowds, but still want to see Xmas lights, then go to Torrejón de Ardoz.
Ciudad de los Sueños (Torrejón de Ardoz)
Torrejón de Ardoz is in the surroundings of Madrid and it’s very easy to reach with the Cercanias. The stop has the same name as the city, any cercanias going to Guadalajara ó Alcalá de Henares will stop here. From the train station, you can walk to the Ciudad de los sueños in just five minutes. The Plaza Mayor has changed into a light and musical show (there’s a show every whole hour), plus a lot of attractions for the little (and old) ones: the house of Santa, one train going in circles in the Plaza Mayor and the other one going around a couple of streets, Tio Vivo and cars. A card with 6 rides costs 10€, but if your child is quite young, you can “accompany” him for free 😛
Around the Plaza Mayor, there’re some bars, but also a “churrería”, we saw it too late, but otherwise, we would have tried their chocolate con churros. Another of our must do in Madrid. You can eat chocolate con churros almost in each bar, but the most typical chocolateria is San Ginés.
Chocolate con churros in San Ginés
San Ginés is the oldest and most typical chocolateria in Madrid and for a reason!! If you go there, you won’t only meet tourist but also locals. San Ginés is just good for any age, at any time. And I say at any time, because when you go out in Madrid, just before going home to sleep most of the people take a stop in San Ginés to have a chocolate con churros. It’s close to the Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor, so easy to combine with other activities like Cortilandia or the Xmas market in the Plaza Mayor. Around Xmas and especially around 16:00-17:00 it will be very busy.
Roscón de Reyes from La Miguiña
Together with the chocolate con churros, you need to try a “roscón de Reyes”. Normally the roscón is specially made for the 5th and 6th of January (therefore its name), but nowadays you can buy them already mid-December and also until mid-January. If you want to try the best roscón in town, order one at La Miguiña. They prepared them artisanally with the best ingredients.
Mercado de San Miguel & El Señor Martín
Also in el Mercado de San Miguel you can find the best ingredients and tapas. This old-fashioned market has been renovated and transformed in a culinary hotspot. However, if you are going with children, it can be difficult to find enough places to sit down as in the evenings it’s a very popular meeting point. If you want still to try some high-quality tapas and fish dishes, just head to Chiringuito – el Señor Martín (it’s in Calle Mayor, on the way to Mercado de San Miguel). If you opt for fish, you can just pick the one you like from the display and they will cook it for you. Croquetas will be the best choice for the little ones 🙂
Mercadillo de Navidad & bocadillo de calamares in Plaza Mayor
If you don’t mind to eat while sitting outside, then you should try a “bocadillo de calamares” at the Plaza Mayor. During the Xmas holidays, there’s also a market (selling all kind of Xmas decorations and party articles). This market isn’t as big as in Nordic countries, but still very enjoyable for the kids.
But without a doubt the major kid attraction during the holiday season in Madrid for kids is Cortilandia. An exhibition with lights and music specially created for the little ones. For me, there isn’t Xmas without Cortilandia. My grandmother used to take us there every year and we loved it!! For many madrileños, Cortilandia is a very special tradition. Well, it’s so popular that it’s always quite crowded. Pick the very little ones in your arms because otherwise, they won’t be able to see much.
Tren de la Navidad
No matter if your children believe or not in the Reyes Magos, the Xmas train is the perfect family activity. The wagons of the train are historic ones, from the Museo del Ferrocarril (also worth a visit). It runs only 27, 29 and 30 December as well as 2, 3, 4 y 5 January. The train on the 5th has a very big surprise: the Reyes Magos will be also present in the train!! The rest of the days, there’re “pajes” (reyes Magos’ helpers) to entertain the children and also to pick their letters for the Reyes Magos.
Last year, we took Liam and also my grandfather to the tren de la Navidad and I cannot say how enjoyed more 🙂 Take some drinks and snacks with you, as you cannot buy anything on board.
Last, but not least take a ride on the Teleférico. For just 5,9€ per person, you can enjoy a return trip and the best views of the city. I couldn’t remember the last time I took a ride on the teleférico and my sister either. That was the reason to plan a trip together.
The trip can start either in Casa de Campo or in Pintor Rosales. The last one is just in walking distance from El Templo de Debot and the Royal Palace. When we arrived, there weren’t so many people (we just waited 5 minutes), but once back the queue was much bigger. You can disembark on both sides. If you start in Pintor Rosales, you can go for a walk in Casa de Campo (highly recommended) and then take the Teleférico back to the start. Take a picnic with you, and you’ll have the perfect way to spend a day.
I hope you have some ideas on what to do during the Xmas in Madrid with kids. What would you add to this list? Have you done any of them? What will be your favorite one?
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This post is linked at Weekend Wanderlust and