There are so many things to do in Madrid with kids, they won’t have time to complain about boredom. The Spanish capital is a buzzing metropolis with an abundance of cultural attractions, world-class museums, city parks, and of course, unbelievable food. You could spend a lifetime exploring the different areas of the city. We will help you narrow the list to create the perfect Madrid family vacation.
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Best Places to Visit in Madrid with Kids
During college I lived in Spain, including time spent at Complutense University of Madrid. Since then, we have visited Spain several times with children, covering everywhere from Barcelona to Málaga to Sevilla.
Madrid is one of the most vibrant European cities, and any family trip to Spain needs to include visit. Here are some of our favorite places to visit in Madrid with kids. (And we have another article if you’re traveling to Madrid with teens).
1. Royal Palace and Gardens
A visit to the opulent Royal Palace is an absolute must whether you’re on a weekend city break to Madrid or staying for awhile. The Royal Palace is the official residence of the Spanish Royal family, and it is a fantastic display of grandeur and wealth. For some, this luxurious monument is even more magnificent than Versailles.
Built by the Bourbon dynasty in the 18th century, the Royal Palace is one of the largest palaces in Europe. Inside there are over 3,000 rooms and 135,000 square meters of floor space. It’s a must visit in Madrid with kids.
Entrance to the palace grounds is free, but if you want really want to get transported back in time, consider booking the Madrid: Royal Palace Skip-the-Line Guided Tour. The tours are in English and Spanish and allow you to explore the palace for an ample amount of time.
Is it worth visiting the Royal Place in Madrid?
In a word, yes. The Royal Palace houses a lavish collection of paintings by Caravaggio and Goya, luxurious tapestries from around the world, and rococo-style watches crafted by watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz, among others.
The throne room still maintains its original decoration that dates back to the reign of the former king of Spain, Charles III.
2. Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol is a public square in Madrid’s city center. It is the heart of Madrid, and on any given day there will be street performers, kiosks selling souvenirs, and hundreds of people.
Duck into El Corte Inglés for a peak at a massive European department store. It’s a great place to stock up on local snacks for later or grab a bite to eat and one of their cafés or restaurants.
3. Visit the city’s famous museums
There are some fabulous museums in Madrid, but some are better suited for children than others. Older kids might be able to appreciate some of the art museums, but I wouldn’t recommend seeing a museum each day (unless you just want to). Some of our favorites include:
- Museo del Prado (Prado Museum) – the quintessential art museum for those who love seeing the masterpieces. Famous artists here include: Titian, Rembrandt, El Greco, and more. Take a stroll along the tree-lined Paseo del Prado after your visit and spend time exploring the 125 hectares of El Retiro Park, Madrid’s most famous park. Be sure to stop at the Crystal Palace and admire the glass building built as a greenhouse in 1887.
- Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (National Museum of Natural Sciences) – perfect for kids with a ton of hands-on exhibits and activities. If your kids are into fossils and natural sciences, this is the place to go.
- Reina Sofia Museum – one of the best museums in the city, Reina Sofia is home to Picasso’s Guernica as well as works by Dalí and Miró. This museum is made for contemporary art fans.
- Museum of Illusions – Kids and adults alike will love this museum with a variety of rooms offering unique experiences. The rules here are: take photos, act goofy, and simply have fun.
- The Madrid Railway Museum – this former train station houses a collection of trains and carriages from all over Europe. Train lovers will enjoy the model railroad tracks as well. This is a great spot for a couple of hours with kids.
4. Try Churros con Chocolate at Chocolatería San Ginés
Chocolatería San Ginés is a beacon of culture, history, and the most scrumptious, fried-to-perfection churros con chocolate. You absolutely can’t leave Madrid without having this explosive combo, and this is the perfect place to get it.
Chocolatería San Ginés has been around since 1894. Through the years, they have perfected their famous churros with chocolate, delighting the palates of locals and travelers who wait in line outside of this churrería to get their daily fix.
In case you’re not familiar with this sweet treat, churros are long sticks of fried dough that are sprinkled with sugar. They are very similar to a donut. In Spain, churros are served with a cup of hot chocolate. In other countries like in Argentina, churros are filled with a layer of Dulce de Leche and are served solo or with mate, a traditional herbal infusion.
Chocolatería San Ginés is located in the heart of the city. It is open 365 days a year and 24 hours a day. What more can you ask for?
5. Experience the Highest of Highs at Parque de Atracciones de Madrid
Parque de Atracciones de Madrid is an amusement park that has been entertaining small children and older children alike from across the world for the past half-century. If you’re looking for somewhere that will entertain kids for an entire day, the Parque de Atracciones is the best place to do that.
The famous theme park has more than 20 rides. They range in experience from “soft” to “moderate” to “intense”. Basically, they have rides to satisfy even your family’s biggest thrill seeker.
There are also plenty of options for both meals and snacks to satisfy your post-rollercoaster cravings. There’s everything from sandwiches and hot dogs to frozen yogurt.
Children of all ages will also be able to enjoy the newest area, known as “Nickelodeon Land” which features some of their favorite shows. Rides here are tailored to this age group, so they are more child-friendly.
6. Explore the local markets of Madrid with kids
There are mercados throughout Madrid that are similar to most of the farmers’ markets found in the US. They are a collection of produce, spices, seafood, cheeses, and take-away stands.
One of the must visit ones in Madrid is Mercado de San Miguel. This has been a gathering space for Madrileños and tourists for over 100 years. Young kids will love the vibrant smells and colors, and endless activity that exists within San Miguel Market.
Other popular markets include Mercado de la Paz, Antón Martín Market, and Mercado de la Cebada.
There is also a super popular open-air flea market located along Plaza de Cascorro in the La Latina neighborhood known as El Rastro.
It’s usually open every Sunday and during public holidays from 9 am until 3 pm. With over 3,500 stalls lining the streets, there’s lots of shopping and wandering around to keep you busy. Just be sure to keep an eye on your wallet and the kids.
You can find a variety of items for sale like records, vintage furniture, antiques, children’s toys, books, ceramics, jewelry, clothes, and souvenirs, along with street performances and live music. When your legs need a break, sit down at any of the restaurants and bars in the area and enjoy some tapas.
7. Get tickets to a Real Madrid soccer game
If there’s a soccer (futbol) fanatic in your family, be sure to get tickets to a Real Madrid game as it is quite a spectacle.
For those who don’t have the time or money to go to a game, consider taking a tour of Bernabéu Stadium, their home field.
8. See all of the animals at the Madrid Zoo
The Zoo Aquarium de Madrid is a 49 acre zoo and aquarium located in Casa de Campo park. It is the perfect day out if the kids need a break from the busyness of central Madrid. Come here to relax and enjoy one of the largest zoos in Spain.
9. Try Callos a la Madrileña, Bocadillo de Calamares, or Tortilla de Papas for Lunch
Madrid is overflowing with restaurants and cafés that serve flavorful and savory dishes. Madrileños, much like Italians, love to sit down and enjoy good conversation, fine wine, and of course, tasty meals.
If your family has worked up an appetite, sit down for a moment and order a glass of sangria (you deserve it) and try any of these 3 undisputed Spanish classics:
Callos a la Madrileña: The classical recipe features an array of meats like chorizo and blood sausage that are cooked in tomato sauce with paprika, rosemary, and thyme.
Bocadillo de Calamares: The Bocadillo de Calamares, (squid ring sandwich) is made out of two simple ingredients: fresh bread and flour-covered squid rings, but it’s a true culinary delight.
Tortilla de Papas (also known as Tortilla Española): This savory potato omelet dish can sometimes include onions depending on the recipe, but it’s usually made out of sliced potatoes and eggs.
You can have it for dinner, breakfast, or lunch. Sometimes, this tasty meal is served with a side of spicy tomato sauce. My absolute favorite tapas dish.
One of my favorite spots to sit and people watch is Plaza Mayor. This public square was built in the 17th century and is pedestrian friendly, so parents can enjoy a drink while kids run and play.
A few restaurants and cafés in Madrid that I would recommend are: Botín (the oldest restaurant in the world according to Guinness Book of World Records), Cervecería Alemana (for tapas), and La Revoltosa Prado (hamburgers, sandwiches, and tapas).
10. Bask in the Beauty of Capricho Park (Parque de El Capricho)
Some of the best places in Madrid are tucked away a little outside of the city. If you want to escape the crowds on your Madrid vacation, head to Capricho Park, one of Madrid’s most beautiful hidden gems.
Home to an incredibly fun labyrinth, a lake, romantic gardens, and stunning 18th-century architecture, Capricho Park is a must-see for travelers looking to relax and take in gorgeous views.
What you’ll find at Capricho Park:
- This remote park is located in Alameda de Osuna neighborhood. It is only open on Saturday and Sunday and public holidays from 9 am till 9 pm.
- The park is engulfed by luscious green trees and plants and manicured gardens everywhere you look, so of course, Spring is the best time to visit.
- There are heavy Italian and French romanticism influences everywhere in the park.
- A small lake full of swans and ducks, a labyrinth, botanical treasures, a mansion, and even a bunker that dates back to the Spanish Civil War.
11. Learn some classic Spanish dishes with a cooking class
If you’re traveling with teens, consider taking a Spanish cooking class with Devour Tours. Families will make classic dishes after a visit to a local market.
Afterwords, you will work alongside a professional chef creating Spanish dishes. You’ll get to make tapas, paella, and a fabulous dessert and enjoy all of your hard work when finished. For ages 12 and up.
Day trips from Madrid with kids
There are many Spanish cities that are easy to access as day trips from Madrid. Some of our favorites include: Segovia, Toledo, Salamanca, Parque Warner, and Ávila.
12. Go on a Hot Air Balloon Ride and See Toledo or Segovia (Round-Trip from Madrid is Optional)
A hot air balloon tour is a once-in-a-lifetime experience the kids will NEVER forget! There’s nothing like seeing the surrounding regions of Toledo or Segovia, (located about an hour away from Madrid) from a bird’s eye view. This is the type of adventure the whole family will remember for a lifetime.
This hot air balloon tour flies high over ancient structures like the Cathedral of Segovia, one of the last remaining Gothic cathedrals in Spain, Toledo’s charming Old Town, majestic Roman monuments, and Segovia’s ancient aqueduct.
Once the hot air balloon ride is over, you’ll finish off your adventure with an authentic Spanish brunch with cured meats and a selection of cheeses.
A few days later, you’ll receive HD photos, a flight certificate, and video footage of your trip.
The tour lasts between 3 and 6 hours and you can upgrade the experience to include round-trip transport to Madrid. The tour departs from Segovia, which is easily accessible by high-speed train too.
13. Parque Warner
This Warner Brothers theme park is an easy 30 minute drive from Madrid. It’s also easy to access via public transport. There are five different themed areas of Parque Warner, including Old West Territory, Hollywood Boulevard, Cartoon Village, DC Superheroes World, and Movie World Studios.
The park can entertain kids all day long, offering roller coasters, themed shows, and a water park. When everyone gets hungry, there is a coffee shop, restaurants (both sit down and take away), and even an ice cream kiosk.
Salamanca is one of the oldest university towns in Europe. An easy day trip from Madrid, this private tour explores the city’s history, culture, and historic sites. Recommended for families with older children as most of the city’s highlights are architecture related.
15. Aventura Amazonia Cercedilla
Aventura Amazonia Cercedilla is the largest adventure park and ropes course in Spain. There are seven different obstacle courses, 114 games, and 33 zip lines. If your kids love adventure, this is one place in Madrid they won’t want to miss!
Where to Stay in Madrid with Kids
We hope you enjoyed our favorite things to do in Madrid with kids. If you have anything you would like to add, feel free to let us know!
Book Your Flights – You can find discounted fares using sites like Momondo or Skyscanner. If you want to keep an eye on discount fares, we suggest signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights, a daily newsletter with flight sales around the world.
If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. It’s nice to have a space where you can relax before your flight.
Book Your Accommodation
We regularly use Expedia.com and Hotels.com to find lodging when we travel. It’s a great way to compare vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts.
If your family knows they want to stay in a vacation rental, we recommend looking at VRBO and Plum Guide.
Book Your Transportation
For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. We tend to use Hertz simply for the quality of service. If you need airport transfers, we recommend Welcome Pickups.
When traveling in Europe, we use AutoEurope to make our bookings. They find the best rates and allow you to compare different car rental agencies. Europcar is another option. If you plan to take the train, we recommend using Rail Europe.
Book Your Tours and Travel Photos
We regularly used companies like Viator and GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. Both have great communication and a large variety of activities that work for all ages. Other companies to look at include Tours by Locals and Withlocals.
If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City. Both are worthwhile investments.
Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational-based activities. The former teacher in me loves their tours. For unique, curated activities, check out Headout.
One of our favorite things to do annually is taking photos with Flytographer. They have photographers around the world and we’ve used them on four separate occasions. This is our favorite travel souvenir.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
With the state of travel these days, it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threats, or cancellations. We always travel with insurance and would recommend SquareMouth, Travelex, or Medjet as good options. And if you want to compare different insurance options, use Travel Insurance Master or World Nomads to find the best policy for your group.