Visit Madrid with kids: Tips for traveling families!
Top Sights to see in Madrid.
I’m a BIG believer in taking kids to see things that you want to see instead of planning vacations around Mcdonald’s and water parks. Those things are wonderful, but they have their place. Parents want to explore, too!
You CAN take the kids with you on your dream vacation, you just have to plan correctly. The kids need to be interested in what you are seeing. Give them some background and a reason to be curious about this sight and you’ll be off and running! Children are naturally curious and love new things.
Visit Madrid with kids: The Prado
A visit to Madrid must include seeing this world class museum. It is #6 on the list of Best Museums in the whole world!
The Prado is home to some of the world’s most famous art including a second Mona Lisa. Yes, there are two and the other is in the Louvre in Paris. According to painting specialists, Mona in the Prado was painted by a student of Leonardo and most likely at the very same time as Leonardo’s Mona. Imagine those painters, side by side, painting the world’s most famous smile.
Aside from the amazing famous art pieces, you’ll see interesting and unexpected things, too. We had a lot of fun discussing the possible reasons for a stuffed cow in this famous museum.
If you take the kids, you’ll love my downloadable ebook. It gives kids information on art, artists and gives them a reason for their visit. Keeping them engaged and learning will make the visit more fun for everyone! Just print and take along.
Visit Madrid with kids: Royal Palace
What is not to love about a real palace? The Spanish royals do not live here anymore, but the palace is used for state events. Imagine living in such a place!
A real throne room! Isn’t it grand! Imagine being a king or queen and having people come to visit you here in this room!
Look at the incredible details in this room! It is easy to remember who designed it – Antoni Gaudi. The urban legends say that his name is where we get the word “gaudy” which….given the room’s very busy and detailed designs is certainly easy to believe. LOL! But, the word gaudy is actually much, much older than Antoni Gaudi’s work.
Knights in shining armor! So many examples! Kids are amazed in this room. Even the horses have armor! Notice the size of the armor – some look child sized. Discuss this…Were people smaller then? Were kids wearing armor?
Check out these shoes! How did they even walk? The truth is…sometimes they didn’t actually walk in armor. They put some of the armor on, then climbed on their horse and had the rest attached to them by a helper.
How to get there: Take the metro and exit Opera. The palace is just a few minutes walk from there. Get there early for the shortest line to get in. Get information on price and hours for the Royal Palace in English here.
Visit Madrid with Kids: Reina Sofia
This museum holds mainly Spanish art of the 20th century including work from two of the greatest painters of all time – Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.
Picasso is often thought of as a french painter. Perhaps that is due to his beret and love of France. But, he was in fact, born in Spain. This lovely museum is home to his most famous piece of art – the Guernica. This piece was a political statement; painted in response to the bombing of the town by the same name during the Spanish Civil War.
Salvador Dali is another interesting Spanish painter whose work is on display here. His work is best described as surreal.
According to Merriam -Webster, surreal is “very strange or unusual’ which, in my humble opinion, describes Dali’s work perfectly. Show the kids and let them tell you what they think. No one will ever forget the definition of the word ‘surreal’ after seeing Dali’s art.
How to get there: Take the metro to the Atocha-RENFE station and walk from there. Get information on hours and prices here.
Visit Madrid with Kids: Day trip to San Lorenzo Monastery in El Escorial
An easy day trip from Madrid, the San Lorenzo Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a wonderful experience for the whole family. It is super easy to take the bus to and from Madrid.
How to get there: We took the bus from Madrid which leaves from the Moncloa bus station. You are dropped off in downtown San Lorenzo de El Escorial. The walk to the palace takes about 10 minutes.
This immense palace was built as a final resting place for Charles V and later came to be the burial spot for all Spanish kings and the mother’s of Spanish kings. The wood carving in the crypt is really incredible. Admire this crypt noting that Queens are on one side and Kings on the other. Want to creep the kids out? Mention before bodies are laid here to rest they must first spend 20 -30 years decaying in a special decaying chamber called a pudridero. (Talk about learn something new every day!)
The lovely gardens of the San Lorenzo Monastery were designed by King Phillip II who loved flowers. The flowers were chosen and flower beds designed to look like ‘fine rugs from Damascus’.
The reliquary (a place to keep relics, which are pieces of a holy person’s body) here is the largest in all of Catholicism. The relics were a collection from King Phillip II who donated them to the monastery here.
King Phillip loved his relics so much and amassed quite a collection – at the time it was the largest in the world. When he was dying, his daughter used his love of the relics to try to keep him awake and fighting his disease. Whenever she thought he was losing hope or giving up she would say loudly, “Don’t touch the relics!” which made him think someone was in the room. He awaken to make sure his precious relics were safe.
Visit Madrid with kids: Day trip to Segovia
See the Alcazar:
What a beautiful castle! This alcazar was one inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella’s castle. Talk to the kids and discuss the similarities and differences!
Kids enjoy hearing how hot sand was poured out of these openings in the castle wall. Boiling oil is really a myth. Oil was much too expensive to waste by pouring it on your enemies!
Peer out from where the arrows were shot. Have the kids imagine how they would feel watching your enemy come so close to your castle.
Look how tiny the beds are! Those heavy drapes were for privacy and warmth. Castles were cold and drafty before electric blankets and central heat!
It is as ornate as you would expect in a castle!
Take the tiny staircase and make the steep climb to the top. It isn’t easy but the view is so worth it!
See the Aquaduct:
View this amazing Aquaduct. Such an amazing feat of engineering for such a long, long time ago!
The engineering is really amazing. This aqueduct carried water 11 miles from the Rio Frio into the city. Along the way, the sand settled out. The construction time is hard to pin down, but it is thought construction began between 81-96 AD. Imagine that….this structure, which has no mortar at all between those stones, carried water to the town from between 81-96 AD until the middle of the 19th century.
Wear good shoes!! There are a LOT of stairs in Segovia and you’ll be glad you have happy feet! Get tips on traveling shoes here.
Enjoy lunch in the center of town. Give kids a chance to try out their manners without nerves from an indoor stuffy restaurant. This outdoor area is pretty and peaceful. Waiters are friendly and helpful.
I think it is a rule you have to try flan when you visit Spain!
Visit Madrid: See Plaza del Sol
This open air square is even more special in the evening when street performers come out. Enjoy the stroll and the sights!
Window shop and get some sweet snacks. We especially loved the treats at La Mallorquina. See the Trip Advisor review here.
Don’t miss out on churros and chocolate! A fantastic place to check these out is Chocolateria San Gines. Read the Trip Advisor review here.
Ham is so important here it is practically a religion! Get some small sample sized treats to check it out for yourself.
Spain is warm and welcoming to visitors. Enjoy this colorful country!
Get more information on traveling to Spain:
Visit a department store – different than ones in the US.
Be sure to take your ebook with you! Kids will enjoy fun information to help them understand what they are seeing during your vacation. Interested and engaged kids enjoy the trip even MORE!
Happy Spanish Travels,
Natalie, The Educational Tourist