Fun for the little ones at the Parque de Atracciones — Photo courtesy of Jeremy Thompson
Though Madrid is well known for its museums and its nightlife, the Spanish capital is actually a great place to bring the kids and enjoy a family-friendly vacation.
In fact, no visit to Madrid is complete without a visit to Retiro Park. The historic park is both pretty and fun, and attracts locals and visitors of all ages. People come to row in the boating lake, feed the ducks and turtles in the pond situated in front of the Crystal Palace exhibition hall, stroll along the paths, examine the statues, smell the roses (literally) and play on all the different kids’ playgrounds.
Sunday is a particularly popular day to turn up at Retiro Park. For that reason, on Sundays you’ll see lots of performers with kid-appropriate entertainment, such as short comedy shows designed with the young ones in mind or else cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse making balloon animals.
To get a fantastic local experience, you should take your kids to Madrid Rio. This huge park along the Manzanares River is the stage for any number of recreational activities: walking, running, biking, rollerblading, skateboarding, soccer, rock climbing, tennis, padel, lawn bowling, etc. You can bring your own equipment or rent some there.
A glimpse of Madrid Rio — Photo courtesy of Enrique Blasco
Madrid Rio also has the best playgrounds around. The varied equipment is modern, creative and even fun for adults. Sometimes you’ll see adults whiz down the ziplines right along with the kids or try their hands at the slides. As a result, even if you don’t speak Spanish, you and your kids might make some new friends. For a well-deserved break, there are a number of cafeterias inside the park.
If your children are seeking a little more adrenaline though, Madrid’s amusement park, Parque de Atracciones in the Casa de Campo recreational area, has lots of rides for the little kids as well as the big kids. The Warner amusement park outside Madrid may be a bit flashier, but locals have a soft spot in their heart for Madrid’s original amusement park, and with good reason.
Otherwise, a gentler, more educational Madrid experience lies at the nature park Faunia, a cross between a zoo and a biology-themed amusement park. (Madrid does have a more traditional zoo too, in the Casa de Campo.) Faunia is divided into different ecosystems where there are a number of animals to see like manatees, Australian wallabies, swans and scorpions, as well as educational shows and exhibits. You might see a chicken hatching from an egg.
Whatever you choose though, there are definitely lots of things families can enjoy together in Madrid.