I’m preparing two days Madrid with the family and while collecting the best spots to go, I decided to place them online so you don’t have to go over the same process as I have done: looking at multiple sites and combining prices and distances so I can present it to my lovely two girls to decide on what we will do while being there Saturday and Sunday (first weekend of August).
I took a lot from the existing sites and quotes tons, shoot me but it’s just an overview not a bestseller, my sources were: TimeOut, TripAdvisor, GoMadrid, Rail Europe, Travel for Kids, Delicious Baby and Mama Proof. I did not include aquariums and zoo’s since that does not fit always with my philosophy so I’d like to avoid them as much as I can.
Other things I looked at what things to do that give a family an experience that is not necessarily based on expensive entrance tickets. I’m looking for things where they meet other kids, we as parents have the opportunity to meet other parents. We all speak Spanish so most activities should be no problem to attend and enjoy. Here is the menu we will be picking from in alphabetical order. In addition we found out the hotel was quite far away from where I thought I booked it… so Metro will be included in the trip.
Now Saturday 2:23 in the morning. I’m finishing this post after arriving this morning 11:30 in the morning, naps and our first walk in the city (see walk below).
Friday Evening Tour
We did a walk in the neighbourhood and it was wonderful. Small parks and local cafes were the best thing we could of done on a relaxed walk. We sat down and enjoyed some different breads from the bakery and walked around to get the vibe of the city. But since we were in the outskirts of the center, we had to move by metro next day.
Saturday All Day
We went to metro Sol and walked to Plaza Mayor which did not impress that much (I have seen Brussels central square which did a better job). After that we walked to Mercado San Miguel that is just one block away and get had a really nice vibe. We could not enjoy it that long since right at that moment kids got impatient.
We moved walking to the cathedral and that was pretty impressive and next was the Royal Palace that is next door. That is not an easy location with the stroller but anyway. dad got his workout carrying the stroller up and down on stairs.
Next was the Jardines de Sabatini that took us down to the river. We wanted to end up in Rio Madrid and we did. After lunch we found that the dessert heat was too much for this park without tall trees. So after an hour playing in the playground we had to make our way to the shade and went to Metro and Mall Príncipe Pío where we watched the movie Pixel (that was to relax the legs and kill time till we could make it back to the hotel at 21:00 hours since we are still working on preventing our jetlag).
- Get a 10 ride metro pass, it works out to be 1,20 Euro per ride per person
- Spend time on Mercado San Miguel around lunch-time. Wow lovely food.
- Avoid Madrid Rio in afternoon but go in morning or evening. Since sun goes down here 21:30h so you have plenty of time to enjoy it.
- Do visit the Armory at the Royal Palace. It’s impressive to see the horses and human metal outfits.
- Avoid all big chain stores, local tapas bars that look clean and modern usually have awesome food.
- Just watch 20 year old employees take full control of a business as if it was their own (impressive to realise what attitude and eduction can do).
Sunday All Day
Again a wonderful sunny day with new places to explore. We went by subway to Atocha early in the afternoon (yeah the jetlag still made us wake us up at mid-day). From there we went and visited Reina Sofia’s Museum of Art and that was a lovely mix of old and new. From there we went to a cafe in front of it to have a drink and small snack.
On our walk to the Retiro park we found and stopped at the following places:
- Botanical gardens (but skipped these since there is no exit to the Retiro park on the east side)
- In Retiro park there is an area with cats that my daughter wanted to see.
- I took a 10min nap near a fountain while Ana hold watch over the kids 🙂
- The big pond was full of little boats but we entertained ourselves with an ice cream and a clown.
- Visited several musicians next to the pond. Donating 1-2 Euros each.
At 20:10 we made our way to the puppet theater that is in the north-west of the Retiro park and the show was great. A full hour two shows and the kids both loved it and the vibe was a lot of fun between kids and parents.
After the show that stopped at 21:30 we went to Magasand restaurant right outside the park. This restaurant has a basement that was just right for us. Our youngest son could walk there and touch everything without making us nervous and the oldest could entertain herself with the children’s books they had. Food was awesome and we stayed her another hour after which we made our way home from the Retiro metro station.
This Sunday was way more relaxed than Saturday and we learned that with two kids one museum is the max. a day and we also are able to enjoy the city more by just relaxing in an old and well maintained park and get the vibe of the city just as well.
Madrid’s’ Activity Menu
I made a list on Friday and you will see that below, that is how I came to make my daily walks (post is edited after the day to update our findings.
Price: Adult 16-25 Euro – Child 16-20 Euro (depending if you buy online or at location) – Site
Waterparks cannot be missed in blazing hot summers and I just went to one two weeks ago in Monterrey with my daughter so I had enough but maybe she feels like another one and Madrid most famous water park Aquópolis has two locations in the capital, one in Villanueva de la Cañada and another in San Fernando de Henares. Both have areas for big and small children’s and parents with a young heart and patience for long lines. Seems a great place to go by car, but for two days, I think we will be skipping it.
Cafés with Kids (child-friendly)
TimeOut spoke of Cups & Kids (next to the botanical garden) and Baby Deli on their suggestions-page for Madrid and I’m sure coffee a good sofa and ways to entertain the kids during a relaxed afternoon sounds almost a dream. So I hope we can have some time to visit either cafe. In the Barrio de las Letras, we should be able to find Cups & Kids: a café, a toy shop, a bookshop and a space for workshops for children of all ages. “Baby Deli, an organic food store, where, in addition to giving advice about food and natural, fair-trade cleaning products, they organize workshops for parents and children and have a café, a courtyard and an area full of educational toys.” according to the TimeOut article, lets explore them one by one.
The location is between to the train museum and the Planetarium and seems a bit out of range for a two days trip where we want to mix the central cultural spots and kids activities.
Photos by Mamaproof.org
Right North of the Retiro park this spot might be good to visit when going to Retiro. See location below on map.
Not open, also on vacation till Sept. 2015
Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
Price: 8 Euro Adult/Child but Sundays 13:30 – 19:00 entrance is free – Site.
Seems this is a museum with artwork from Savador Dali, Miro, and other modern artists. Several websites share that the big glass elevators on its exterior making might hold the attention enough for kids to consider this museum this weekend. They are open 10-21h and are close to Retiro Park.
My eight year old loved theather and we can see if the little one holds for an entire show in Madrid’s theatres where we should be able to find Sanish musicals and plays for kids this weekend in the morning. .We should be chacking theatres like Cuarta Pared (no shows this weekend), La Escalera de Jacob, Teatro Sanpol (no shows this weekend) and Teatro del Arte where we should be able to find a mix of funny stories, magic, puppet shows, and songs.
Five shows are available this weekend:
- La Escalera de Jacob: Magia Pirata (>6 years) Saturday 18:30 for 10 Euro adults and 8 for children.
- La Escalera de Jacob: La Escalera Magica (>6 years) Saturday 17:00 for 10 Euro adults and 8 for children.
- La Escalera de Jacob: La isla de las luciérnagas (>3 years) Sunday 17:00 for 10 Euro adults and 8 for children.
- Teatro del Arte: De luces y colores (0-3 years) Saturday 12:00 entrance 5 euro
- Teatro del Arte: Animalia (0-3 years) Sunday 12:00 entrance 5 euro.
Kids Concerts ‘The Rockids’
Seems their several theaters that focus more on music. Teatro Lara sometimes has ‘TheRockids’, a collection of the best Spanish and international rock of the ’80s and ’90s concert that might be on this weekend. My daughter drums do that might be cool butunfortunatly the concert is not happening this weekend. Cantajuegos is another band that sometimes comes but will not be here this weekend.
La Casa de Campo
Price: No cover – Site.
A big park with a large pond with a boat-ride and a popular cable car is what is presented in La Case del Campo (the fieldhouse). Unlike the Retiro it is a a natural area rather than a formal garden and it’s seems a large place where you can walk or bike and has a forrest and green grass everyhere. There fish and ducks in the pond and play areas with swings and restaurants and bars. It seems a nice excape from the city for locals but not sure how tourists would enjoy it.
La Caixa Forum
Price: Adult – Child – Site.
This museum has rotating exhibits, films and programing, this weekend they have art from Peru. There is usually special programming for children and this weekend they have an art class but that might be fun for the older one, but the youngest would be unable to do anything.
Seems an old M-30 highway next to the Manzanares river was removed and now turned into around 3km of parks with 17 play areas swings and slides. Green areas mixed with (vapor and jet) fountains and restaurants and terrasses sound like a good alternative for El Retiro or Case del Campo. This seems to have some more activitites like zip-line, urban beach, hill slide and tree trunk jungle. Although nice I think its a bit to far to mix with the other ideas.
Mercado San Miguel
A different countries market can be fun. Mexico has some of these but my kids hardly go. I love the buzy buzz of a local market and seems upscale market: Mercado San Miguel near the Plaza Mayor might be interesting to visit when we are close-by.
Others are more working markets like the Anton Martín market on Atochaor.
“Maravillas market near Cuatro Caminos is another popular one. The fish monger’s alone is enough to both attract and repel many children for a good long time.” I also noticed it’s pretty far from the center to drop by so that one is not on the list.
Price: Adult 14,20 euro – Child 4-14 years 18,50 euro – Site.
In Mexico we have Kidszania and seems Microplix is the Spanish version of that but than less capitalistic of nature. San Sebastian de los Reyes, at the edge of Madrid this theme park with the aim to entertain and educate 3-13 year olds have around 30 activities related ot 100 professions. Eurix is the currency that goes there where kids can spend it to get eduction, a drivers license or make money working. I’m sure my oldest would love this since she loves Kidszania in Monterrey but wonder if it’s fun for my one year old son as well.
Turns out they were way outside the center and close till September.
Museo de America
Museo de America is an indoor backup plan for Madrid on a rainy day. This museum offers activities for children and includes many models and exhibits that might hold their attention. I hope we don’t have to take this option since rain is the last thing I expect in mid-summer and since it’s not downtown I skipped additional research.
Museo Ferrocarril (train museum)
Price: Adult 6 Euro – Child 4 Euro – Site
The old trains in Spain can be fasinating to kids and this is Madrids’ locomotive museum. You can explore trains, model trains and see how the Spanish railroads have evolved over the years.
Museo de Prado
Price: Adult 14 Euro – Child Free – Site
This probably will not make it on our itenerary this weekend since both my children don’t have the patience yet to appreciate works of art like I do but the Prado museum houses some of the world’s greatest works of art. The Spanish collection includes works by Velázquez and Francisco de Goya.
Entrance is free Saturday 17:00 – 19:00 and Sunday 18:00 – 20:00
Natural Science Museum
Not sure how I feel about stuffed African elephants and specimens of extinct animals for the weekend as eductional material. But maybe when we focus on the dinosaur fossils I might be able to interest my daughter. The laboratry experiments seems to be fun and there will be workshops it seems but it’s far from the center so maybe not possible for us to visit.
Palace of the Royal Family
Price: Adult 10 euro – Child 5 euro (below 5 free) – Site
In my experience kids get borred quick at palaces and churches so not sure if this one will make it on kids weekend Madrid but this if the formal royal families home. Plaza de Oriente, filled with beautiful gardens, hedges, statues and fountains and of course getting a taste of one of the world most powerful royal families during centeries.
There some free times you can visit read this. Bring Iberoamerica or EU passports.
Palacio de Hielo Ice Skating
Ana loves skating but I’ve never seen her on ice. 1,800-square-metre ring and a shopping centre with restaurants, shops and cinemas, located right next to this Palacio de Hielo might be fun but I’m not really into freezing my feet off this weekend. But I’ll leave it on the list to see if anyone feels like going this holiday on ice.
Parque de Atracciones
This is the city’s most popular amusement park: popular for locals during the weekends and all week round for tourists. With over 30 attractions for young and old. Seems they have childrens activities as nature, a living jungle, a mini-rolar coaster and zeppelin. The summer (now) seems this place is packed and can have long queues especially for the water atractions. There seems to be fun for adults as well with some exciting fun-fair machines that drop you from high altitude and a tornado ride.
Park El Retiro
I thought we got a hotel close to Parque El Retiro (I was wrong) since this seems to be close to the city center (as far as I understood). The weekends they seem to have a puppet theatre and we can do a boat ride there. Locals seem to bring bikes, rollerblades and footballs to have fun. There seem to be gardens and I hope we will find some playground and maybe we can have a picknick there.
Price: around 30 Euro – Site.
On the outskirts of Madrid there is a Warner Bros theme park with the theme of the Looney Tunes. I don’t think my kids have the connection with the characters but the park seems to have the aim of competing with Disneyland Paris with dozens of children’s attractions, six roller coasters and for the hottest days of Madrid (this month) we would be able to find some water rides and to finish it off there are tons of shops, theaters and workshops if we decide for this one.
Play Centres Ludoteca VeoVeo or Grey Elephant
Price Ludoteca VeoVeo: Child 8 euros an hour – Site
Price Grey Elephant: Adult Free – Child first 10 euro an hour and next child 5 euro an hour – Site
We know many childrens indoor playgrounds in Mexico and seems Madrid has plenty of these. Although by the descriptions on the Googled sites it seems to bring educational elements in the play as well. The play centres are called ludotecas in Madrid and one (Spanish oriented) seems Ludoteca VeoVeo, where children learn through play. It might be a good combo for the eight and one year old since their workshops for my daughter as well as infant massages for the one year old. Street dance and other workshops like English for kids over five that are supervised by teachers and childhood experts (so the articles say) and since in Mexico these activities are usually monitored by a bored 15 year old this would be an interesting change. Grey Elephant, in the district of La Latina seems to have a more English focus and we can expect to find also workshops, toy and more.
Maybe passing by here on the way back from somewhere but the Plaza Mayor seems to have spectacular architecture. I read we need to stop at the Casa de la Panadería (bakery) for some fine baked treats and just enjoy the people walking by.
Real Jardín Botanico de Madrid
Price: Adult 3 Euro – Child (Free under 10) – Site
A botanic garden right next to the Prado Museum full of flowers, trees, fountains and benches. Now I don’t think it will be super interesting for the kids but there is a Misterio en el Botánico/Mystery in the Botanic Garden which is part scavenger hunt and part detective game where CSI meets the game of Clue. This might be fun thing for my oldest one while Ana and our baby boy enjoy the grass and nice walk.
Real Madrid’s Soccer Stadium (Santiago Bernabeu)
I’m not into soccer, but we went to take a look Friday afternoon after waking up from a nap. The Santiago Bernabeu stadium on “La Castellana” and the home of top soccer club Real Madrid offers several tours of the stadiums and its installations.