City Breaks With Kids
Things To Do in Madrid With Kids
I have been living in Spain for the last 18 years, but I didn’t become a mom until 4 years ago. Although I considered myself an expert in the city’s entertainment for adults; discotecas, bars, museums, and avant-garde restaurants, I quickly became a fan of the varied range of activities for kids, too.
Take it from me, no matter how old your children are, there are plenty of family-friendly things to do in Madrid with kids.
Hop-On Hop-Off Bus: This is an easy way for the whole family to get the lay of the land and an overview of the city. With a one-day pass you can cover a lot of ground, hopping off several times to get a closer look at the architecture of Old Madrid.
Mercado de San Miguel: The beauty of this market that’s smack dab in the center of the city is that there’s so much variety, even my picky toddlers filled their bellies. Open since 1916, this is the place to sample local dishes like banderillos, pintxos, and traditional sangria (for adults only!).
Bike Tour: Travelers over 13 years old can choose a classic or an electric-bike (helmet included) and enjoy a tour that’s as educational as it is enjoyable. There’s plenty of time to ask questions of your knowledgeable guide and even a mid-way break for water and snacks.
Chocolateria San Gines: You can’t go home without tasting the churros y chocolate that are served in an authentic structure built in 1894. Always bustling with tourists and locals, the fact that it’s open 24/7 makes it an instant family favorite!
Flamenco: As part of an authentic and exotic night out, buy tickets to see flamenco, an hour- long performance featuring a female dancer, a singer, and musicians. The emotional “dance of the gypsies” is suitable for all ages (as long the kids can sit still!), and an ideal pre-dinner activity.
The Royal Palace of Madrid: After seeing the Royal Palace, my daughter asked if we could add on to our modest 3-bedroom apartment! With more than 1,400 square feet and over 3,000 rooms, this enormous space is now used for formal ceremonies and is the largest functioning palace in Europe. Be sure to scope out the Painting Gallery and the Royal Armoury with armour and weapons dating back to the 13th Century.
Retiro Park: When the kids need to burn some energy and you’re longing for a break from the bustling city, head to Retiro Park. There are thousands of shady spots, countless playgrounds, and Retiro Pond, a lake where you can row out to get a close look at The Fountain of the Fallen Angel. The Crystal Palace, located on the edge of the lake, is also not to be missed.
Faunia: For the nature and animal lovers in the family there’s Faunia, a zoo/botanical attraction. Learn about 4 different ecosystems through educational and entertaining exhibits (sea lions, Komodo dragons and more!). To take in the whole site takes several hours, so if you’re traveling with a baby or toddler, it’s a good time to pull out the stroller.
El Rastro: Located near Plaza de Cascorro and open every Sunday from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm, this blocks-long extravaganza has stalls bursting with new and antique treasures. For the best experience, go early before it gets too crowded. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, take your family and your treasures to a side-street café for much-needed refreshments.
The Teleferico: Climb aboard the cable cars for what may be the most exciting 11 minutes of your life! Fly over the River Manzanares in one of 80 cable cars (each holds 6 people) and see Madrid from a whole new perspective. At the end of the ride you can rest up at the popular restaurant, El Balcon de Rosales.
Something for everyone
Planning a family vacation can be tricky, especially if you have kids that range in age from toddler to tween. What you need is a place with a diverse menu, robust culture, and enchanting encounters around almost every corner. Plus great options for family accommodation. For me, Madrid, Spain delivers on all of the counts and more!
Samara Kamenecka is a New Yorker living in Madrid. When she’s not exploring the city with her boyfriend, their 2 kids, and their dog, she likes to blog about toddler toys, baby-led weaning, and traveling with her kids over at www.tinyfry.com.