A comprehensive guide to the top things to do in Madrid with kids from must-see sites to parks and kid-friendly attractions.
So far, however, I haven’t covered one of the main aspects that make me go back over and over again: how family-friendly Madrid is and how easy it is to visit Madrid with kids.
There are many attractions in Madrid for kids, from its zoo to its theme parks, but what I think makes it suited for a family vacation is that it is so rich of sights and easy to navigate that you don’t have to sacrifice sightseeing to make your little ones happy.
This is, to me, what makes it ideal for a city break with kids.
You may also like: Madrid best family hotels and family friendly areas
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Top things to do in Madrid with kids: practical tips
The easiest way to enjoy Madrid is by public transport. Buses and an excellent metro system serve the whole city and while not all stations are accessible to buggies, many are (info panels are on the trains and in the stations themselves)
Tickets are sold in all metro stations and you have several options including single journey and the tourist card, handy for multiple journeys. Children under 11 pay half price.
If you prefer, excellent hop-on hop-off bus tours are also available and are a good option especially for visitors with only a short time in the city. You can book your tickets in advance here
Going to Madrid with kids? Don’t forget to also check out our family guide to Madrid’s best areas and hotels for families.
What to do in Madrid with kids: sightseeing
Take a stroll in its charming city centre streets
One of the best things to do in Madrid with kids is to take a stroll in its beautiful city centre.
Madrid city centre gets very busy and must-see squares such as Porta del Sol or even beautiful Plaza Mayor can be a challenge if visiting Madrid with a toddler and a buggy or stroller.
However, as soon as you leave these majour landmarks you find many small streets with limited traffic but loads of charm.
Restaurants and cafes are everywhere and many have areas that are specifically designed for kids with books, toys and sometimes workshops adults and kids can take together (usually advertised on the shop windows).
See Madrid’s main landmarks
The following are some of Madrid’s landmark you can include in your itinerary when visiting Madrid with children.
Plaza Santa Ana
This is a city centre area buzzing with activity day and night. This area is full of restaurant and cafes and Plaza Santa Ana has a small playground with climbing frames little kids will love.
This is an imposing square entirely enclosed by beautiful buildings. It can get busy but kids will love the fact that is close to traffic and may even get street performers to keep them entertained for a while!
Mercado De San Miguel
Mercado de San Miguel is a great spot for lunch as it offers great variety and the informal atmosphere of the market. Try to avoid the busiest lunch and evening meal times, especially if you have a buggy with you, as there is very little elbow room: the place gets packed!
Always a hit with kids for two main characteristics: the speed trains that depart from here and the fact that the station is built like a greenhouse and host high palm trees.
A beautiful building surrounded by stunning gardens, the royal palace sits on a large square with street performers, cafes and a public, manicured green space. Running in the large esplanade in front of the castle, with live music as a companion, is one of the most pleasant things to do in Madrid for kids.
Madrid is full of beautiful museums and some of them can be easily visited with children. The Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, near Atocha, offers workshops and family events and so does the Thyssen Bornemitza gallery (ask at the reception desk for the family programme).
Another museum older kids might enjoy is the Naval Museum that hosts, among other memorabilia, a world map dating back to the 1500s
Admire its imaginative street performers
While walking through Madrid’s city centre, my mind lost in wanderlust-filled thought, I was suddenly brought back down to reality by a goat screaming at me ‘MEEEEEEEEEHHHHH’!
It wasn’t, of course, a real goat, but rather a street performer who sits quietly in the street with a goat costume and makes its presence known giving a fright to distracted tourists!
He/she was only one of the many street performers we encountered (and surely the funniest one). Dance and circus acts seemed to be everywhere and they give the city a buzzing and dynamic vibe.
Seek out its unusual architecture
Madrid is a city with a long history and this is reflected in its varied architecture. Baroque churches sit side by side with flashy skyscrapers, creating an architectural continuum that spans over the course of many centuries.
Some buildings stretch your sense of time and space: did you know that Madrid has a true ancient Egyptian temple right in the city centre? And that from it you can reach the XVI century Royal palace with a short walk?
The photo of the temple of Debod always tricks me into thinking it is taken in Egypt but no, it’s right in the heart of the Spanish capital!
The temple of Debod is surrounded by a lovely park. This, as well as its peculiar architecture, makes it one of the best things to do in Madrid with kids.
Eat churros and chocolate
If all of the above hasn’t made your kids fall in love with Madrid, the city has one last trick up its shoulder: churros and chocolate!
Churros are a sweet treat made of deep fried dough sprinkled with sugar: they are served piping hot and with a cup of hot chocolate and you have to dunk the in it before taking a bit. The establishment of choice to taste them is the legendary Chocolateria San Gines, in Madrid city centre.
Madrid with children: Madrid’s most beautiful parks
Madrid is a very green city.
Its wide boulevards are often lined by tall trees and manicured lawns and parks such as Casa de Campo or El Retiro are great for picnics and a for letting the kids run around.
They are the perfect oasis to take a break while visiting Madrid with children and one of the best things to do in Madrid with kids in spring and summer.
One of the most popular spots for families visiting Madrid with kids is the park El Retiro, located just beside the Prado museum and within easy reach from many of Madrid’s landmarks.
The park was originally the property of the Royal family and its beautiful architecture bears witness of the experienced hands of architects and landscapers that shaped it, but it is now a public space and one families love.
The area close to El Retiro is a great base to visit Madrid: you can find family friendly accommodation options in Madrid in this post, where i list my favourite neighbourhoods, hotel and tourist apartments for families.
Top tip for families visiting Madrid with kids: as well as the big parks, I have found many smaller spaces that are equipped for kids. Many larger plazas have either green patches or full on play equipment for little ones and often have street performers to keep adults and kids entertained (see also below): this makes for easy frequent stops without bringing you away from your sightseeing itinerary
Madrid for kids: theme parks and animal encounters
Madrid has several areas that are equipped especially for kids. Among the most popular you will find:
Parque de attractiones
Located in Casa de Campo, the large green space at the back of the Royal palace, el Parque de Attractiones is an amusement park with rollercoasters and rides for all ages. Little children will meet characters like tv heroes Dora and Diego and can have lunch at the Nickelodeon cafe, while older kids (8+) are likely to get excited by the many rides. The park is very popular especially in summer when many attractions include splashing about in the water.
Madrid Zoo Aquarium
located in casa de campo, just beside the Parque de attractiones, Madrid zoo hosts over 6000 animals of 500 different species, including pandas and gorillas. The zoo also has a shark tank, a petting zoo and a small train kids love. You can find more information about the zoo here
Located outside Madrid city centre, Parque Warner, like the name suggests is a theme park devoted to the Looney Toons and the super heroes of the Warner Bros family.
This park competes with main European attractions such as Disneyland Paris and covers over 150 acres of land: plan ahead to make sure the kids have the time to meet the characters of their dreams!
Faunia is not a theme park as such but a space in between a park and a zoo: it is a large, natural area where animals are left free to roam around.
The space has four areas replicating four ecosystems so that animals from several parts of the world can feel at home. One of the most popular areas is the one recreating the South Pole, where kids can see penguins.
Please note: we haven’t been to Faunia and I have not researched how sustainable for the animals this attraction is – I am including it in this list on this list for information purposed only.
I hope you found the answer to the question: what are the best things to do with kids in Madrid. Safe Travels!
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