By: Samara Kamenecka
Things to do in Madrid with Kids
Heading to Madrid with your kids? Lucky you! Madrid is an amazing city that’s incredibly child-friendly. What’s more, the people are extremely welcoming and warm, the architecture is incredible, the cuisine is like no other, and the weather almost always cooperates. And then there’s the atmosphere; Madrid is a city that’s always buzzing and there’s no shortage of interesting events and activities in Spain’s capital city.
So without further ado, here’s my pick of the top 10 things to see and do in Madrid with kids.
1. Try New Flavours at the Markets
The markets may very well be crowded with tourists (San Miguel Market more so than San Anton Market), but you simply can’t visit Madrid without going to one of these incredible venues. With so many flavours, colours and aromas under one roof, both locations are perfect for refuelling with some sweet or savoury bites after a long day of sightseeing. From Galician preserves, ajoarriero (traditional cod stew), and elvers (young eel) to croquettes, paella and edible flowers, every member of the family is sure to find something that tickles his or her fancy.
2. Stroll the Trails at Madrid Rio Park
Get some fresh air at Madrid Rio, a unique and extensive park right in the centre of the city. Built along the banks of the Manzanares River, it’s chock-a-block with ponds and fountains, trails for walking and biking (you can rent bikes, rollerblades and other equipment within the park), architecturally interesting bridges, and 17 different play areas for kids, all of which are built from sustainable, natural materials. There are also plenty of cafes where you can stop for something to drink and a quick nosh. The park is also very close to the Matadero, a former slaughterhouse-turned-cultural centre with plenty of interesting activities – another great activity in Madrid for kids.
3. Hang Out at Hemingway’s Old Haunt
Ernest Hemingway spent a lot of time in Spain, gathering research for his novels. And while in Madrid, one of his favourite bars was this little gem in Santa Ana Square, called Cervecería Alemana. Parents can grab a nice cold beer and the family can feast on traditional Spanish fare, such as tripe, Spanish omelet and Russian salad, like the famous author may have done in his time. The café is located in a lovely square that’s usually quite packed, and there are plenty of terraces where you can relax and people watch.
4. Segway Around the Streets
If you’re not already familiar with this fabulous mode of transport, hold on to your hat. A segway is the secret to a smooth ride around the city. There are many tours available which use these battery-powered, electric, two-wheel self-balancing devices. Visit Casa de Campo or Retiro Parks, Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, and just about any of the city’s main neighbourhoods. If you’re looking for a unique activity in Madrid for kids then you may take an evening flamenco and tapas segway tour with your family. You’ll feel spoiled after using this completely unique method of transport and may never want to walk on two feet again.
5. Get Your Modern Art Fix at La Neomudéjar
Although the famed Prado is an incredible museum with a ton of incredible art, La Neomudéjar is the city’s real slice of modern art. From the cutting-edge works and video installations to video-art festivals and experimental art performances, this museum is an experience in itself and is sure to offer plenty of food for thought. The architectural style of the building is also Neo-Mudéjar, a type of Moorish Revival architecture that has close ties to Madrid (and Spain in general) and was developed mainly during the 19th and 20th centuries.
6. Meet the Robots
Got a robot-lover in the family? The Robot Museum takes a look at the past, present and future of robots. Although small, it offers an interesting look at a whole range of robots that kids (and adults) of all ages are going to love. What’s even better is that it’s located on the bottom floor of an awesome electronic toy store that sells everything from drones and remote control vehicles to magic kits, educational toys and a whole range of gadgets.
7. Learn to Cook Like a Spaniard
There’s no denying that Spanish food is among the best on the planet, as it’s home to countless Michelin-star restaurants and world-famous chefs. That makes it the perfect opportunity to take a cooking class with the family and learn how to make some of Spain’s most traditional recipes. You won’t be learning about foams and Spherification, but there are lots of options available where you can get hands-on and pick up the ins and outs of preparing paella, tapas, Spanish omelet, and other Mediterranean favourites.
8. Ride ‘Em Cowboy!
Get out of the city and head to the beautiful Sierra de Guadarrama National Park, which is about an hour north of the city. Spend the day with your kids on a guided tour by horseback. Afterwards, wander around the nearby Granja de San Idelfonso, a small 18th century village that’s home to a stunning palace, which was the Royal Family’s summer residence during the 1720s. Don’t head back to Madrid without trying the roast sucking pig—the area’s delicacy.
9. Get Cultured at the Spanish Opera
Known as the Zarzuela, this is a very unique type of operetta where the actors sing, speak and dance. There’s a mix of opera and popular music, and they wear beautiful costumes and have incredible voices. This is a truly unique experience and the beautiful theatre is usually crowded with enthusiastic Spaniards who purchase season tickets.
10. Pose with the Street Performers
Puerta del Sol is a famous, busy square and is the epicentre of Madrid. It’s busy with people at all hours of day, there are tons of stores and cafes, and it’s home to one of the city’s most important monuments, the Bear and the Madroño Tree. This is where most demonstrations take place, and where people ring in the New Year. It’s also packed with people dressed in costume and street performers who try to outdo one another with increasingly creative and shocking costumes. Pose for a picture with them – but be prepared to tip!
About The Author
Samara Kamenecka is a New York native who packed a suitcase, bought a one-way ticket and went to live in Spain 16 years ago. Today she’s based in Madrid and works as a freelance writer, editor, translator and copywriter. When she’s not chained to her desk, she likes to explore the Iberian Peninsula with her boyfriend, daughter and dog. She blogs over at Tiny Fry. Samara’s best family holiday was on Sanibel Island, which involved hunting for seashells, bird watching, walks on the beach, bike riding, BBQs and copious amounts of ice cream.
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