The Most Fun Things to Do in Madrid with Kids
Not sure how to make your holiday child-friendly? Discover our guide to the best things to do in Madrid with kids
Fussy eaters? Instagram-obsessed teens? We know it’s not always smooth sailing when travelling with younger members of the family, so in order to help you, we’ve compiled a list of essential things to do in Madrid with kids - from the tiniest of tots to the most intrepid of explorers. And here at Plum Guide, we leave nothing to chance, so this guide is guaranteed to give you the trip of a lifetime (you're very welcome).
Take the kids to a museum
We’re well aware that taking your child to a museum might feel a bit like encouraging a (tiny, sticky-fingered, hyperactive) bull to run rampant in a china shop. It’s worth pushing past that thought though; Madrid is home to some incredible galleries and cultural spaces that are just too good to miss. While the Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza are some of the city’s most well-known museums, consider that curious children might be more enthralled by the dinosaurs and fossils at the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (National Museum of Natural History). Post-visit, you can download anything from learning resources to colouring sheets from their website, so they can continue the fun (and you can revel in quiet time with a generous glass of wine) back at your Plum Guide residence...while it lasts.
Another kid-friendly place is the quirkier Casa-Museo de Ratón Pérez, which simply had to make our list of things to do in Madrid with kids. Spain’s very own answer to the Tooth Fairy, el Ratoncito Pérez is actually a ‘Tooth-Rodent’ with royal origins; author Luis Colomo Roldán first wrote him into Spanish folklore as a character in a story for young King Alfonso XIII. At this little house, you can learn about the valiant mouse and his quest to enter the bedroom of every child in the nation. If your kids start getting suspicious as to why there are two magical creatures running the tooth-trade, there’s a feasible explanation; they operate in shifts to distribute workload. If only every business ran their operations that efficiently...
Eat at local restaurants and cafés
Picky eaters… we’re all too familiar with them. Lucky for you, however, you’ll find it easy to avoid potential food-related meltdowns in Madrid; the city is full of places to keep even the fussiest child entertained throughout the meal. Cups & Kids, located in the barrio (neighbourhood) of Las Delicias, sports a whimsical interior boasting everything from playhouses to reading corners which your kids can explore at their leisure after lunch. Meanwhile, La Latina’s Polineko lets you interact with adorable (and adoptable) cats while you sip your coffee or hot chocolate. If you're after a hearty lunch, take our advice and head to Kilómetros de Pizza. True to its name, the restaurant serves up endless strips of pizza (quite literally) for the whole family to tuck in to simultaneously. There’s no way your teen-turned-aspiring blogger won’t (grudgingly) admit a picture of that is good enough to grace their Instagram feed.
Let them loose in the park
Our Home Critics have assured us that each Plum Guide place is optimal for cushion fort construction - but if you’re starting to find your home away from home is dangerously close to becoming more war-zone than sanctuary, it might be time to hit the parks in search of more high-energy things to do in Madrid with kids. The most obvious choice is to head to Parque del Retiro’s artificial lake and get out onto the water in a row-boat; if your child is old enough to successfully manoeuvre the oars, you can probably get away with sitting back and avoiding the hard work (just keep an eye on their trajectory if it looks like they’re intending to recreate a scene from Speed 2: Cruise Control). For those children who prefer to keep their feet firmly on the ground, the park boasts endless green lawns for them to frolic in while you enjoy a pick-me-up (read: cerveza) at one of the many terraces.
Casa de Campo, a 17,000-hectare forest in the middle of the city, was once used as the royal hunting grounds. Now home to both a zoo and an amusement park (keep this a secret from the kids), it’s also a perfect place to explore with teens or older children who are up for more of a challenge. You’ll find it’s all too easy to spend the entire day exploring the woodland via the labyrinth of bike trails (or hiking, if that’s more your thing), so make sure the family is sorted for drinks and snacks before heading out. Catch the teleférico (cable car) to Parque del Oeste on your way home in order to enjoy prime views of Madrid at golden hour.
Wander around markets and shops
Toward the end of your getaway, the kids will likely clamour to be taken to the nearest souvenir shop for a last-minute spending spree after remembering they need to bring back presents for their friends. Avoid the tourist traps lining Gran Vía and opt for a family wander through some of Madrid’s local markets instead; Mercado de San Miguel for any (non-perishable) food items, el Rastro if they’re looking for quirkier vintage finds (just make sure to haggle for them so they don’t get swindled out of their pocket money).
If you don’t have time to see the markets, the Malasaña district is known for its boutique stores - you can’t go wrong at Curiosité, where you can get your hands on an array of creative (and useful) souvenirs. Alternatively, if your child wants to stock up on sweets, La Violeta, right next to Puerta del Sol, sells an assortment of violet-flavoured treats that are reminiscent of a different era. The only thing you’ll have to worry about is someone succumbing to a sugar high - don’t say we didn’t warn you.