Madrid with Kids

Posted on Apr 4, 2017 in Madrid
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If you have planned to visit Madrid with your kids, we have good news for you: Madrid, like Spain in general, is one of the most child friendliest destinations in Europe. The Spanish take their children everywhere … to bars, restaurants and sometimes even to pubs. The locals come out to play at night, and it’s not uncommon to see a family with young children headed to dinner at 10 pm.

What makes Madrid such a great travel destination? Well, it’s got everything, from world renowned museums, palaces and amusement parks to zoos. And each step of the way you and your family will experience the thrill of Spanish culture. The city is full of great monuments, like the Royal Palace, the Plaza Mayor or the many statuettes, and for people interested in art, the museums El Prado, Reina Sofía or Thyssen have some of the most fantastic collections of famous Spanish painters like Velázquez, Goya, Picasso or Miró. Madrid’s extensive and beautifully maintained parks and garden offer inhabitants and visitors the chance to enjoy the sunshine, stroll or row on its lakes, in one of the greenest capitals in Europe. The parks and the museums in the city usually organize special activities for children and teenagers. There are plenty of places and activities to do for the children and for the entire family.

5 Reasons Why to Take the Kids with You to Madrid:

  1. The city is bustling, energetic and vibrant, and offers all kind of interesting things to do and see.
  2. Kids and teenagers are welcome in most public places and represent an integral part of daily life.
  3. Museums, galleries and sights throughout Spain either offer discounts or free entry for children (it’s often free for under-4s or even under-7s), and it’s the same on trains, sightseeing tours, boat trips and most other usual tourist attractions.
  4. The food is delicious; your kids will love the diversity of tapas and endless food options to choose from
  5. Madrileños like to spend time outdoors; due to Mediterranean climate, you can emerge into outdoor activities almost all year round.

Our 5 Top Recommendations

Casa de Campo and Teleférico

Teleferico

The best way to take in a bit of nature without leaving the city is to head for La Casa de Campo, and take time to explore, on foot or by bicycle, its beautiful nature. The Casa de Campo is the biggest public park in Madrid. It is located in the western are of the city, nearby La Latina neighborhood. With over 1700 hectares, it is five times larger than the New York Central Park. It was created as a hunting private area for the Spanish monarchy, but in 1931 was turn into a public area. There are several attractions inside the Casa de Campo Park, like Madrid Zoo, Madrid Aquarium, Amusement Park, Madrid Arena Stadium, and a cable car. The Teleférico cable car is a fun way to get to the park and children especially enjoy it; it runs from the Paseo del Pintor Rosales (Metro Argüelles or Moncloa) to the Casa de Campo;

Casa de Campo Park is connected by public transportation to the city. Take the Madrid metro, line 10 to stop Casa del Campo. If you want to visit the lake take until spots Lago or Puerta del Ángel. Also you can take buses 31, 33, 36, 39, 65 and 138.

Important to Know When You Are Taking the Kids:

  • There are play areas with swings scattered throughout the park, a large pond where you can rent a boat and feed the fish and ducks, and plenty of bars and restaurants;
  • It is common for families in Madrid to spend days in the park, enjoying nice weather, and looking at the wildlife that can be seen around (squirrels, rabbits, and different birds);
  • During the weekend, many families with kids come to the park for a picnic;
  • The park’s restaurants area is fully equipped for families with children and special need guests;
  • Teleferico de Madrid cable car is one of the most unique and fun family attractions of Madrid. This peaceful method to view the cityscape of Madrid provides stunning views of the Royal Palace, the cathedral, Manzanares River and parklands of western Madrid;
  • The Teleferico de Madrid cable car is open every day between 12pm until 9pm during the summer months, with the hours significantly reducing during the early spring and late autumn. In the winter the cable car is only open at the weekends. A single ticket costs €3.75 with a return ticket price is €5.50. The single journey takes 11 minutes and travels just under 2.5km;
  • The return trip is free for children under three years old;

http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/casa-de-campo/

 

El Retiro Park

El Retiro

El Retiro is Madrid’s huge park, right in the center of the city. The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it became a public park. It has an immeasurable amount of atmosphere, absolutely loaded with life at weekends. A stroll round the Retiro Park will always content the kids. Head for the boating lake area called the “Estanque” where there is always a lot of street theatre, buskers, puppet shows etc.

Important to Know When You Are Taking the Kids:

  • You can rent a rowing boat and let your little ones do the rowing (with your assistance), or take a solar powered barge, the “Barco Solar,” for a leisurely turn around the lake (get there early to take the Barco, the lines can get long);
  • If you want to create your own diversion, take a football along with you for a kick around, or play with balloons in one of the many open spaces;
  • El Retiro also has two playgrounds, one just west of the Puerta de Hernani (north entrance to the park) with super climbing and play structures (even bigger kids have fun at this playground), and another at Paseo de la Argentina and Calle de Alfonso XII;
  • The park has lots of cafes and snack stands, or you can bring a picnic;
  • Sunday is one of the better days to visit.

http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/parque-del-retiro/

 

Parque de Atracciones (Amusement Park)

Parque de Attractiones

The park is only about a 10 minute walk from the Casa de Campo metro stop, thus easy to access using public transport – unlike other parks in Europe that are far from the city.  With over 30 attractions for both children and adults, the city’s amusement park is one of the most popular weekend destinations for both locals and tourists. It is open almost every day during the summer months (May to mid-September) and weekends the rest of the year.

Important to Know When You Are Taking the Kids:

  • The Park has six distinct adventure zones, filled with exciting adventures and activities. There is the Naturaleza or Nature zone, the Maquinismo or Automation zone, the Tranquilidad or Tranquility zone, the Infantil or Infant zone, the Gran Avenida or Grand Avenue zone, and the Trispace Virtual or Virtual World zone;
  • Attractions such as The Tornado, The Shuttle and The Turbine can be found alongside legendary roller coasters and water rides. In contrast, the Tranquility Area offers more relaxing activities such as boat ride through the jungle, and 15-metre high big wheel;
  • Children have their own special area with roller coasters and water rides, bumper cars and a pirate ship, all in „mini“ size; Additional attractions include puppet theatres, train rides and an adventure playground.
  • Numerous bars and restaurants, together with outdoor shows and street theatre make it a whole day fun.
  • Tickets start from EUR 19,90. Kids up to 100cm of height enter for free!
  • Free entrance is available for holders of the 72-hour version of the Madrid Card.

http://www.parquedeatracciones.es/

 

Zoo Aquarium

Zoo Madrid

The Zoo and Aquarium are located just a few meters from the amusement park in the Casa de Campo. It currently houses about 6,000 animals of 500 different species, some unique in Spain like the koala, the anteater and the panda, which is one of the stars of the zoo. Arriving by bus is the best option as it leaves you right at the door; if you take the metro to Casa de Campo, you’ve a 15-minute walk from the station, or you can take bus 37 from the station for one stop.

Important to Know When You Are Taking the Kids:

  • Its aquarium is spectacular, and kids will have fun with the shows starring sea lions and dolphins;
  • There is the chance to get up close to many animals at the Little Farm known as La Granja. Many species of animals including donkeys are kept there as part of an educational program so that children can easily understand the workings of the farm. Generally, it is seen that children are more excited with these animals as they can come close to them.
  • Weekends can be busy, so try and visit during the week, although check the opening hours online before setting out. It might also be worth checking online the program for the day (there are dolphin shows and the like) and planning your visit accordingly.
  • Tickets start from EUR 17,90. Kids under three years old enter for free;

http://www.zoomadrid.com/

 

Churros con chocolate

Churros con chocolate

Chocolate with churros is a real Madrid experience, and something you and your kids should not miss! This is a thick rich hot chocolate accompanied by a doughnut-like pastry. These crispy, warm strips of fried dough goodness are soft and springy and utterly delicious. One of the most popular places is Chocolatería San Gines close to Plaza Mayor that dates back in 1894.

Important to Know When You Are Taking the Kids:

  • Due to its popularity among both locals and tourists, the queues to place orders can be very long, so be patient;
  •  Here is how to get your order: go to the register and place your order, find a spot (there is seating downstairs as well), and a waiter will approach you. Give him the ticket you got at the register and he will bring your order to you;
  • Powdered sugar is available in shakers on the tables, but the true way to enjoy a churro is by dipping it in your cup of molten chocolate.

http://www.chocolateriasangines.com/

Educational Recommendations

There are four museums in Madrid kids are guaranteed to love. Two are in the heart of the city, another an easy walk from Atocha, and the fourth is more than worth a short metro or bus ride.

 

Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (National Museum of Natural Sciences)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If your kids love dinosaurs and anything to do with Jurassic Park, definitely plan a visit to Madrid’s Museum of Natural Sciences, the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales. Founded by King Carlos III in 1772, the museum and research and science center is of world importance and houses more than six million items.

It is the Historia de la Tierra y de la Vida or “History of Life and the Earth” that will have your budding biologists, anthropologists, scientists, archeologists, and film makers enthralled. From giant dinosaurs and prehistoric birds to the most important and impressive skeleton – a megatherium, a giant sloth-like creature found in Argentina in 1788, estimated to be 1.8 million years old.

Then swing past the Salón de Aves y Mamíferos, the Hall of Birds and Mammals, for a close-up experience with amazing creatures from around today’s world.  South American monkeys to leopards to penguins are only a few of what is on display.

Centrally located on Paseo de la Castellana in Barrio de Salamanca

Hours: Tuesday to Friday: 10am to 5pm; Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays: 10am to 8pm

Admission: General: 7€; Kids 14 and under: 3,5€ and no charge for those 4 years and younger.

 

National Archaeological Museum and National Library of Spain (Museo Arqueológico Nacional and Biblioteca Nacional)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even if you and the kids are ‘museumed out’ there is one stop that everyone will love.  Just below the Archaeological Museum’s Gardens in the heart of Madrid, are stunning life sized reproductions of some of the oldest cave paintings in Europe.

The museum’s splendid reproductions of the Cuevas de Altamira (Caves of Altamira), circa 12,000BC, located in Cantabria in Northern Spain, are not only easier to get to but far more accessible as the actual caves must strictly limit visits in order to preserve them.

Either before or after visiting the caves, do as the Spanish do; let the kids play in the park while you relax.

Centrally located on Calle de Serrano, 13, beside Plaza de Colón

Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 9:30am to 8pm and Sundays from 9:30am to 3pm.

Admission:  General: 3€; Kids 4-12 years 1,50€, 4 and under are free.  Do check to see if there is a discounted fee for the park and caves only.

 

Madrid’s GHOST Station, Estación Fantasma; officially the Chamberí Station Metro Museum

Take the kids on an adventure into the past. Let them experience everyday life in the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s when commuting was an adventure and traveling even a few miles on the metro was an epic event.

King Alfonso XIII officially opened Madrid’s metro in 1917.  Back then it was only one line stretching four kilometers, not quite 2.5 miles long, from Puerta del Sol to Cuatro Caminos.

The station closed in 1966 when the rail lines were increased in width to accommodate wider trains. Thirty years later Madrid’s Regional Transportation Authority restored the Chamberí metro station to its original state and converted it into a museum. The story of how Estación Fantasma, the Ghost Station, once a major inner city metro stop, came to be a beloved museum is one of creative repurposing of a lovely and historic bit of Madrid.

The beautiful old station has been restored top to bottom – floors, walls, vaults and a new very elegant entrance. Complete with antique furniture, fixtures and a recreated spiral staircase you really do feel as if you’ve gone back in time. Lining the curved walls of the platform are replicas of decades old brightly colored advertisements for perfumes, bottled water, light bulbs and other daily necessities.  All are individually designed and reproduced along the exact lines of the originals; many are fashioned from hand cut and hand painted ceramic tiles.

I’ve never met a kid, or an adult for that matter, who didn’t absolutely love visiting Madrid’s Ghost Station. And it sure beats watching old movies to find out what Grandma’s life was like when she was their age.

Located on Plaza de Chamberí at the corners of Calles de Santa Engracia & de Luchana.

If you prefer not to walk, take either Metro Bilbao/Iglesia or Bus #s 3, 40, or 147.

Hours: Tuesday to Friday 10am to 7pm; weekends and holidays from 10am to 2pm.

Admission: Free.

 

Museo del Ferrocarril de Madrid (Madrid’s Railroad Museum)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember being a kid and utterly fascinated whenever there was a train set around?  Odds are your kids feel that way too. Why not treat them to a life sized, climbable version of those dreams?

Museo del Ferrocarril, Madrid’s Railway Museum, located in Delicias station which was inaugurated in1880 and in use until 1969, serves as the home of the Railroad Museum. Visitors are encouraged to climb aboard a variety of old trains and make believe to their heart’s content.

From steam to diesel to electric engines plus appropriate passenger cars – it is all there. Along with track infrastructure, installations and traffic control systems.

Swing past the Sala de Modelismo, Room of the Models, where you’ll find a plethora of fully operable miniature train and carriage displays.  

Museo del Ferrocarril is perfect for children as well as those who still feel like kids. Almost everything can be touched and climbed onto which makes for a truly a hands-on experience for all ages.

Centrally located and an easy walk not far from Atocha, or take the Metro, line 3, to Delicias station.

Hours: Tuesday to Friday: 9:30am to 3pm; Saturday and Sunday: 10am to 3pm.

Admission: Adults: 6€; Kids 4-12 years: 4€, Free for under 4 years.

Note: If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Madrid during the Spring or Fall you might want to hop onboard the Tren de la Fresa (the Strawberry Train) which departs Delicias station every Saturday and Sunday, runs to Aranjuez, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, then back to Madrid.  The ride on the historic train is replete with staff in period costumes.

The museum also sponsors the Tren de Navidad (Christmas Train) rides during the time leading up to Christmas.

Both require early bookings.

Author – Wendy Crawford – the author of the Kids’ Travel Guide – Spain guide book.

 

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