Enjoy more amazing Travel Tips for Madrid
by Flitter-Flutter’s Madrileña Mom GUEST BLOGGER
Madrid is a great place to visit with children; it is local and authentic, people are open and friendly (especially when children are involved!), it is not expensive, it is very easy to navigate and, of course, the weather could not be better! Some may say it is not as stunning as other Spanish cities but I would disagree, it’s a pretty beautiful city, but Madrid is not only about landmarks and sightseeing, it is about getting a real flavour of what local Spanish life is really like without being surrounded by hordes of tourists to spoil the experience…
Two important tips before getting into specific details and recommendations on what to do:
- Try to avoid July and August. During these summer months the temperature rises to unbearable levels and when it comes to August, in particular, most Madrileños leave the city for Summer holidays meaning everything closes down. If you have no choice but to visit during the peak of the Summer, take comfort in the fact that you will be dealing with dry, as opposed to humid, heat, something to look forward to!
- Try to get a babysitter (it is very easy!) when/if you go out for dinner. Spaniards take their kids everywhere but it is not common to take them out at night, maybe because we are known for having very late dinners… It is unlikely you come across families having dinner out, unless you visit hotel restaurants. Ask your hotel for babysitter services and try to go out on your own, at least once, Madrid is all about nightlife so it is worth getting a sense of what all the fuss is about!
You can start your day at la Puerta de Alcalá and enjoy breakfast at one of the local places, either Mallorca for a very traditional cafeteria style breakfast or Magasand for a hipper and healthier version. You can have a walk around the Retiro park (try to avoid Sundays as it gets a bit crowded) and visit an art exhibit at Palacio de Cristal or Palacio Velazquez. These venues are run by the Museo de Arte Moderno Reina Sofia meaning they tend to show cracking exhibitions. Stopping for an “aperitivo” at one of the bars in the Retiro is always a good idea.
You can then walk to el Museo del Prado, which is obviously a must-see. Right across the Prado is Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, which hosts an incredible permanent collection and runs top art exhibits. By then, you’ll be ready for lunch and you can choose to walk to Plaza de Santa Ana and sit at one of its sunny terraces. All these places are walking distance from each other.
In the afternoon, if you want to get an extra-dose of contemporary art you can visit the Reina Sofia museum, which houses the Guernica by Picasso and/or Caixa Forum, another top art venue with a great cultural offering and plenty of creative activities for kids. If you still have any energy left go to the Jardin Botánico for a stroll where you will be assured peace and beauty after a hectic day.
For dinner, if you want to go out with children try any of the Lateral or Cinco Jotas restaurant branches. These are all child-friendly and serve good tapas style food. If it is just grown ups, why not try Sacha, one of my local favorites. If you are looking for something a bit more fun and trendy any of the restaurants part of Larumba group will offer you just that. Habanera is a good choice as it turns into a nightclub after 12pm, tables are removed and you can dance non-stop until 3pm, which is very sensible for Madrid standards!
I highly recommend hopping on and off a City bus to get to see all of the relevant landmarks of Madrid. Barrio de Salamanca is probably the best known and more upscale shopping neighbourhood in the city. It is both residential and commercial, which makes it particularly pleasant and interesting for walking, window-shopping and people-watching.
Calle Serrano is a good place to start. Callejon de Jorge Juan and Calle Jorge Juan probably have the best shops and restaurants in the area. I would recommend stopping for lunch at La Maquina. It looks formal from the outside but it’s actually not, and the food is amazing. At the Callejon you can also find one the best Spanish fashion brands for women, Masscob, and a lovely children’s clothes shop, Hadas. A couple of blocks up is Calle Velazquez, where you can find EKS and Ekseption the coolests multi-brands stores in town. If you like yummy organic food the place to go is Greenbla bla, also on Calle Velazquez, just across from these stores.
You can hop on the bus again and get off at Calle Almirante. This is one of Madrid’s trendiest areas and it has become quite upscale in the recent years. You can have lunch or a snack at Mama Framboise and visit the bookshop Antonio Machado for a great children’s books selection. For great educational and sustainable toys do not miss El Lobo Feliz. Very close is Plaza de la Villa de París, one of Madrid’s prettiest and most intimate squares. While you relax and enjoy the surroundings the children can enjoy its playground, one of my favorites. Another favorite playground is in Plaza de Oriente, right next to the Palacio Real. If you don’t have time to visit the Palace, make sure you walk around this whole area as it is quite magnificent and you will be able to experience Madrid at its essence.
This can be day to experience a completely different side of Madrid. Head off to the Northern part of town where you can have churros con chocolate at La Madrileña for breakfast. Then try to visit the Real Madrid football stadium. The tour of the stadium is fantastic and indispensable if your kids are as fanatic about football as the average Spanish kid. Do not skip the store on the ground level which children love as they can find the uniforms of their favorite players (at exorbitant prices!). If you do manage to be in Madrid during the Champions league try your best to go to a Real Madrid game, it’s one of those experiences you and your children will not forget.
Lunch can be at an Italian place across the stadium called Alduccio. For dessert the best ice cream is just a few minutes away, in Gelateria La Romana, Calle Paseo de la Habana. In the afternoon you can head to Madrid’s cable car, the Teleférico, which offers the best panoramic views of the city and dates back to 1969. The Zoo and the Parque de Atracciones are also great options for entertaining children although I would leave these as a last resort! Madrid has so much to offer that you might find yourself skipping these all together…