Madrid is a city that is now growing as a tourist destination, an up and coming rival for the popular city of Barcelona and is the perfect city to visit with your entire family. The city is a young and vibrant one with lots of things to do that will children entertained.
The Spanish are experts at socializing with children, you will see children up and about at all hours of the day and night. You will find that there are many places which cater for families, offering playgrounds and activities to keep them busy whilst you enjoy a meal and a nice cool beer or glass of wine, giving you a well-deserved break.
Here we will give you the ultimate guide to Madrid with kids!
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What to expect in Madrid
Madrid is a vibrant city with plenty of activities that will keep the whole family entertained. Spanish people love children and you will see children everywhere, including late at night and in bars and restaurants. There are plenty of attractions and amusement parks as well as famous parks that are fantastic for families.
The currency in Madrid is the Euro and most places accept payment by card. Though Madrid is a tourist destination, English is not as widely spoken as in other European cities. Most people do speak some English, especially around the tourist areas of the Madrid City Centre.
Tipping is not obligatory as a service charge is included in the bill, however, it is much appreciated when a tip is provided to tour guides or restaurant waiting staff. Spanish people are not great tippers and any more than 10% is not common. Most people only leave a euro or two after having a meal in a restaurant.
Where to stay in Madrid with kids
There are many family friendly hotels in Madrid, and Airbnb also has some fantastic options which will allow you to feel right at home in the Spanish capital. The best areas to stay in Madrid are around Sol, Lavapies, La Latina, Gran Via, though these areas have a vibrant nightlife scene and may be noisier at nights. For quieter accommodation in Moncloa/Arguelles area or around Alonso Martinez. We have also written an extensive guide on Where to Stay in Madrid.
Here is a selection of the very best in Madrid city centre:
Home Suite Alfonso Apartments is one of the highest rated apartment rentals on the market, the rooms have a terrace and a home-from-home feel. You can find a selection of entertainment for children including books, DVDs and CDs as well as hypoallergenic pillows
Lollipop Flats City Centre Suite IV, situated in Calle Amparo in Lavapies, the multi-ethnic and colourful neighbourhood that is fast becoming the trendiest area of the city. It is also a fantastic option for families, with an excellent rating on Booking.com and located close to Lavapies metro. You can rent a 6-bedroom apartment with full facilities in the heart of Madrid with a balcony and a view to boot for only €151 per night.
Gran Via Capital is situated on the main street Gran Via, within a stone’s throw of Sol and major attractions and landmarks. This highly-demanded upmarket hotel offers apartments, a fitness centre and large, spacious, well-decorated rooms for €364 per night upwards depending on the number of bedrooms required. Book early to avoid disappointment as the apartments are often fully booked well in advance!
Apartamentos Matute 11 is a fantastic arty hotel with large spacious rooms in Plaza de Matute, right in the centre of all the action! The rooms are fully equipped with a kitchenette and the décor is cool and contemporary. The apartments start at only €255 per night for a two-bedroom apartment.
Another hotel that is well-equipped for families is the Hotel T3 Tirol just off Paseo Pintor Rosales, which leads to the beautiful Templo de Debod and just a short walk from the Almudena Cathedral and Madrid Palace. The hotel has a dedicated children’s area as well as a breakfast catering for children and a “kids room” within the family apartment which has a bunk bed, toys and other things that will keep the children entertained. Prices start at only €117 per night.
Getting around Madrid
Madrid is a city made for walking and if you’re staying in the centre, strolling around the city will be an experience in itself, where you can take in the sounds, smells and sights of the city and discover little side streets with charming restaurants and independent shops.
If you’re staying a little out of the centre the best way to get around Madrid is by using public transport, especially the very efficient and well connected metro. Madrid has introduced a transport pass card which can be purchased in the train station at Barajas Airport. This card gives you access to buses and metros and can be shared among the whole family. The card costs €2.50 and can be topped up at any metro station, a 10 trip top-up usually costs around €12,20.
Where to eat with kids in Madrid
Madrid is a gourmand’s paradise and there is every cuisine under the sun on offer in the restaurants and bars of the city. Not all restaurants carry high chairs or have easy access for pushchairs, but here we will give you the lowdown on where Madrileño parents take their kids when they have a family meal out. You can always ask for a “trona” or high chair when you arrive and most restaurant staff are kind and helpful.
Finding child-friendly restaurants is a breeze with our guide to some family favourites in Madrid:
Chocolateria San Gines is a Madrileño favourite and a classic place to taste the famous churros con chocolate, deep fried churros that are dipped into little cups of thick, oozing chocolate. Go to the restaurant just between Sol and Opera, tucked away into a tiny side street, and marvel at the photos and autographs of the many celebrities who have enjoyed a taste of Madrid’s most famous churros. A sweet dessert breakfast like this one is sure to keep children happy but beware of the sugar rush!
La Excéntrica is another local favourite with authentic and tasty Spanish dishes as well as a supervised children’s play area which will leave the adults free to enjoy a hearty meal and relax.
Casa Mingo is a legendary Asturian restaurant located near Principe Pio, it’s speciality is roast chicken which it has been serving since 1888. The old-school appearance and atmosphere of the restaurant makes this place a favourite for families to go on the weekends.
Mama Campo is set in the charming square near Bilbao metro and is ideal for children. This ecological restaurant serves lovingly prepared dishes made from organic and fresh produce and is absolutely delicious! They have a dedicated area which is called La Cocinita or “the little kitchen” which hosts workshops where children can experiment with food and learn to cook. The square is a pedestrian area and children can play with the other Madrileño children without having to worry about cars and traffic.
Things to do in Madrid with kids
Visit traditional vintage toyshops
In Madrid you can find original hand-crafted toy shops offering toys that are one of a kind. You can check out handmade educational toys at El Lobo Feliz or “The Happy Wolf”, in English or at the Italian toyshop called Geppetto Italia which has charming marionettes and wooden toys which are unique and exclusive in design.
Take a stroll around Retiro Park
Retiro is the green heart of Madrid, it is one of the most well-loved gardens around the city and there are plenty of monuments, art galleries and sculptures to be discovered. Here you can find coffee shops where you can enjoy a café con leche whilst taking in the views of the world passing you by, there are ice cream stalls, musicians, performers and you can also rent a rowboat to laze around in the lake. Highlights in the Retiro Park include the Jardines de Cecilia Rodriguez, where you can get up close the resident peacocks and the Palacio de Cristal, a large palatial greenhouse which houses art exhibitions.
Walk on the wild side at Faunia
Madrid’s zoo and botanical gardens are home to a large variety of species including komodo dragons and penguins. The park is spread over 14 acres of land. The areas are defined into four different ecosystems and will keep children occupied for four or five hours. There is even a petting zoo where they can stroke and feed the animals and exciting activities such as pony riding or swimming with sea lions can be reserved via their website.
Ride down the Madrid Rio
Visiting Madrid Rio is a perfect activity for families in the weekends. This long promenade that runs along Madrid’s Manzanares river is flat, easy and ideal for riding a bike or strolling. You can easily rent a bike near the Madrid Rio at one of the rental places, such as My Bike Rio. There are dozens of cafes along the stretch of river, fountains which children can play under as well as adventure playgrounds where they can scramble, climb and explore. There are several interesting bridges to cross, at the end of the route in Legazpi you can find the Matadero, a cultural and arts centre built on what once was an old slaughterhouse. Here, you can find interesting exhibitions and an excellent restaurant on site, as well as weekend markets.
Explore the Train Museum of Madrid
In Delicias you will find the Museo de Ferrocarril which is the train museum, home to several historic trains which you can hop on and explore. Once a month there is vintage and handicraft market held inside the museum called Mercado de los Motores, set to the backdrop of the historic trains. Here you will find live music, food stalls and a lively atmosphere.
Visit Plaza Mayor
The iconic Plaza Mayor is completely enclosed by buildings and surrounds a statue of King Philip the third upon his horse. This historical site has lived through all kinds of historic events including a fire that nearly destroyed the whole Plaza, witch hunts, public executions and even played host to football games and bullfights! Today the Plaza is a gathering place for many Madrileños and is dotted with plenty of coffee shops and restaurants. Just on the outside of one of its walls, next to the firehouse, is the famous La Ideal, home of the most famous Bocata de Calamares in Madrid (Calamari sandwich). This Madrileño bar is always full as people come from near and far to eat the steaming, fried calamari stuffed into a sandwich.
Ride a cable car for bird’s eye views
The Teleférico de Madrid is a cable car system that straddles the Manzanares River, towards Casa del Campo, Madrid’s largest park. The short ride will give you a bird’s eye view of the most famous of Madrid’s sights such as the Almudena Cathedral, the Egyptian Templo de Debod, the Royal Palace and Plaza de España. The restaurant at the top has a children’s play area which will keep them busy. Casa de Campo is a great place to spend the day as it offers many cycle trails and some small ponds that are perfect for picnics!
Vintage shopping at El Rastro
Visit the most famous flea market of Madrid which is held from 9am to 3pm every Sunday near the La Latina district. Here you can find all kinds of wares, second hand clothes, vintage furniture, art, plants and much more. Curio hunting will keep children entertained and there is plenty of people watching to do from the coffee shops that line the street. Be wary as there are hundreds of people visiting El Rastro and it is a hotbed for pickpockets, so keep an eye on your phone and your wallet!
Sample Spanish flavours at San Miguel Market
San Miguel Market is a must for visitors to Madrid, this iconic market attracts over 10 million visitors every year, drawn to the variety of seafood, olives, Spanish Jamón, sherry and cava on offer from all the small upmarket stalls. Here you can sample different tapas dishes and introduce children to some new and authentic Spanish flavours. As this is a tourist hotspot, be careful of your belongings as there are many pickpockets on the prowl in this market.
Experience the Spirit of Flamenco
Flamenco is the soul and spirit of Andalucía and was listed in 2010 on the UNESCO Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, but you can still see excellent flamenco shows in Madrid. The passionate stamping and swirling dancers accompanied by live frantic guitar rhythms will inspire children and is an amazing experience for them as well as a way for them to connect with the cultural heritage of Spain. For authentic gypsy flamenco, check out Casa Patas near Tirso de Molina metro.
Tours in Madrid with kids
For football lovers a tour of Santiago Bernabeu stadium is an unforgettable experience. Home to the legendary Real Madrid football team. You can learn all about the players, visit the stands, the locker rooms and the press room and for an extra fee, you can even have a photo with one of the players!
You can visit many of the sites such as Casa de Campo, Madrid Rio and the city centre via Segway. Tours start at €35 per person for a guided Segway tour.
Want to learn how to travel on a Budget? Check out our dedicated “Budget Conscious Travel Guide”
Recommend budget tours in Madrid
- Madrid Highlights: Guided Segway Tour
- Direct Entry Ticket to Bernabeu Stadium
- Arabian Baths Experience at Madrid’s Hammam Al Ándalus with 45 minutes massage (a goodie for the parents!)
- Sagrada Familia: Fast Track Guided Tour with Towers Access
Get your guide is a Great company, that often offers heavily discounted tours! Check out a few options below: