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Palacio Real

Cool Things to Do in Madrid, Spain with Kids

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Visiting Madrid is an exciting family vacation.  I shared some fun things to do in Madrid, Spain with children in my recent article highlighting some of our favorite spots. This article adds a few more must-see places in Madrid and provides an important tip that I wish I had known before arriving.

Palacio Real de Madrid

Palacio Real is the official residence for the royal family but is now used only for state ceremonies.  We arrived at Palacio Real later in the day than we had planned and had a little less than three hours to complete the tour.  It was not long enough to experience the palace like I may have wanted, but we were able to complete the tour of the palace and the additional tour of the armory.  We rented the self-tour wands for the girls, and we listened to the tour along with them.  Tip: You can rent a locker for coats and cameras since photos are not allowed inside the buildings.

Palacio Real is architecturally beautiful and historically fascinating.  I could have spent days wandering through the halls looking at the history on display.  Without a doubt, the highlight of the tour for me was seeing the world’s only matched Stradivarius string quintet.

Other rooms on display included the grand staircase, the Throne Room, art by the most notable Spanish artists, dining rooms, private living areas, bed rooms, dressing areas, and the Royal Chemist room.  Seeing the room and kitchen where the royal physicians made concoctions for centuries was interesting.  The girls enjoyed seeing the flasks and containers that still contained remnants and ingredients from hundreds of years ago.

Outside Palacio Real is a small neighborhood park where locals tend to congregate.  The park is geared to younger children, but it was a great place to rest and burn off some extra energy after spending a few hours in museums.  With swings, slides, climbing toys, and benches for the parents, it’s an ideal place to spend a lovely afternoon.

Palacio Real, Madrid Spain

Once the official home of the royal family, the Palacio Real is now only used for state ceremonies and is open for visitors.

Restaurante Botín

Restaurante Botín was one of our wishlist places to visit with hopes that we could get in during our short stay.  Botín, founded in 1725, is the oldest restaurant in the world.  Thanks to the concierge at Hilton Madrid Airport, we were able to get a table in the oldest part of the restaurant.

Cooked over the original wood burning stove, one of their specialties is roasted suckling pig. Though there weren’t many children in the restaurant, our children were welcomed and comfortable.  We ordered the roasted suckling pig, steak, and roasted chicken, so we had the opportunity to taste a variety of delicious dishes.  Botín continues to be one of my children’s favorite spots!

Restaurante Botin Madrid Spain

Restaurante Botin is the oldest restaurant in the world and still cooks on its original wood burning stove.

Chocolatería San Gines

San Gines is a small chocolatería, a restaurant that sells churros and chocolate, located near the Plaza del Sol.  Churros are long sticks of fried dough.  Chocolate is served in a cup and looks like a cup of dark cocoa, but the consistency of the dish is much thicker.  The intention is to dip your churros into the chocolate to eat them.  San Gines is small and quaint, and their food is absolutely delicious!  Built in 1894, it has been frequented by both late night city visitors and famous faces for over a century.  It is the place to go for chocolate in Madrid.

Chocolate and Churros at Chocolatería San Gines, Madrid Spain

Classic Spanish breakfast (or anytime snack!) at Chocolatería San Gines.

And Now the Huge, Very Important Tip

We prepare for our vacations with lots of research, planning, and seeking out people who have visited before.  In planning our trip to Madrid, I purchased two travel books (which I highly recommend doing).  One of the features that I always examine prior to choosing which books to purchase is the map provided.  I’m a very directional person and (almost always) know where I am, which direction is north, and can easily find my way on a map.

One of the books I chose had a fold-out map section and the other had a large map in a plastic pocket that could be removed, like a traditional city map. I began by using the book with the fold out map sections.  Things didn’t go well.  I was very perturbed.  I moved to the full sized city map.  Things improved — suddenly, more streets appeared on the map — but I was still lost.

On our second day, I finally realized that the maps provided with the books didn’t include all of the streets in Madrid.  This realization truly changed our vacation.  The compass on my phone and I became very good friends in conjunction with the map.  We successfully navigated the city and enjoyed our time there.  I even began to get a sense of the city and anticipate the navigation.

If we were to make the trip again, I would seriously consider adding an international GPS package to my cell phone for the duration of our trip.

With so many cool things to do in Madrid, it is a perfect place to introduce your children to Spain or visit again and again!

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Heather and her family were born and raised in east Texas, where she is an assistant principal. Her husband teaches high school chemistry and her daughters are…

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