Family days out near Madrid

  • Alrededores de Madrid con niños
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  • Alrededores de Madrid con niños
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Madrid is packed with museums and attractions for the little ones, but if it’s an outing you’re in the mood for then check out all the great family day trips you can go on while you’re staying in the Spanish capital. From tourist trains and donkey sanctuaries to theme parks and hiking trails, you really are spoilt for choice.

The great outdoors

Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, you can enjoy the wonderful fresh air as you discover some of this region's natural beauty spots. One of the best places to go with the whole family is the Parque Nacional de Guadarrama park, where you can follow the easy "Senda de las Formas" trail in La Pedriza and try to spot rocks in the shapes of animals, including a seal and a tortoise. Head to Rascafría, just 80km from Madrid, for lunch and a stroll in a charming village, a picnic and a swim in Las Presillas natural pools, a visit to the Monastery of El Paular, or a walk in the Finnish Forest

The Sierra del Rincón biosphere reserve, less than 100km from the urban sprawl of Madrid, is home to magical forests like the Hayedo de Montejo, Recently declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, the forest famed for its beech trees is particularly stunning in autumn, although visits are strictly limited and must always be booked in advance.

Spend a day at the Pantano de San Juan reservoir –Madrid’s blue flag “beach” -, the dam at Pontón de la Oliva or the Campillo Lakeside Recreation Area in Rivas-Vaciamadrid.

You can find information (in Spanish) about programmed activities to enjoy nature at any of the Region's Environment Centres.

Looking for thrills

If you want to see a child’s face light up, just say the magic words "theme park". In addition to the various parks found in the city itself (including Parque de Atracciones, the Zoo and Faunia), the outskirts of Madrid offer a host of theme parks for all ages.

In the nearby town of San Martin de la Vega, you’ll find the famous Parque Warner, with great rides and live shows featuring Looney Tunes characters and superheroes like Batman and Superman, and even Police Academy.

Head north to San Sebastián de los Reyes to spend a day in Micropolix, a city that’s just for children where they can work as firefighters or journalists, learn to drive or go to the supermarket to do their weekly shop.

To the east of Madrid, in Torrejón de Ardoz stands Parque Europa, a large park with free admission filled with replicas of Europe’s most famous landmarks, including the Berlin Wall and the Eiffel Tower.

For an afternoon in a unique botanical garden, visit the Bosque Encantado in San Martín de Valdeiglesias which has over 300 incredible green sculptures.

Something a little different

What kid doesn’t love a train? Madrid not only has a fantastic Railway Museum, it also runs a number of tourist trains that go to nearby fairytale towns. Hop on the Strawberry Train to Aranjuez with a crew dressed in period costume who serve mouth-watering strawberries. Once in Aranjuez you can also take a tourist boat or go on a guided canoe tour. Other great alternatives are The Cervantes Train that takes you to the playwright's hometown of Alcalá de Henares in the company of actors who perform fragments from his most famous works; the Arganda Steam Train; and the Phillip II Train to El Escorial in which you’ll travel back in time to the 16th century.

In quaint nearby towns like Manzanares el Real, El Álamo, Navalcarnero, Buitrago de Lozoya you’ll often find medieval markets with stalls selling traditional arts and crafts, puppet theatres and street performances.

If you are and your family are looking for an adrenalin-rush head to one of Madrid’s tree-top adventure parks: Aventura Amazonia in Cercedilla or De Pino a Pino in Navacerrada.

Get active!

A great way to enjoy some family bonding time is to go on a short hike or hop on a bike for a little ride. In the Community of Madrid, you’ll find four Vías Verdes (literally Green Trails), which are disused railway lines that make great walking and cycle routes. In addition, the Madrid region boasts a network of bike paths, called CiclaMadrid, that allow you to cycle around Madrid's main municipalities and visit some of its most picturesque spots. You can even download an app which contains all the information you need.

If you and your family are water babies then you'll be spoilt for choice. You can spend a day at one of the region’s reservoirs: Pantano de San Juan, Embalse de Pinilla and Embalse del Atazar (Madrid’s largest) where you can have a picnic, go for a little swim or even do a little bit of canoeing. The region is also home to natural pools such as Las Presillas (Rascafría), Los Villares (Estremera), the San Juan Reservoir, Playa del Alberche (Aldea del Fresno) and Las Berceas Recreation Park (Cercedilla). A great option for the more active families is the Aquapolis de Villanueva de la Cañada, a huge water park filled with thrilling rides and a wave pool.

Go-karting fans are in luck as Madrid boasts four tracks: AsuparkCarlos Sainz Center (there is one in the city and another in Las Rozas), and Fórmula Cero Outdoor Karting.

Come winter, Madrileños like to head to nearby mountains and hit the slopes in one of the two popular ski resorts: Puerto de Navacerrada and Valdesquí. If you don´t fancy waiting till it gets cold, though, you can visit the indoor ski slope Madrid SnowZone, which is open all year round.

Seeing animals up close

Another highly recommendable place is Safari Madrid (in Aldea del Fresno), where you can drive through an animal reserve and feed the animals as they enjoy semi-freedom, as well as see exhibitions of birds and reptiles.

Other options? Burrolandia in Tres Cantos, where children can see and touch gentle donkeys; Insect Park in San Lorenzo de El Escorial where they can learn about colourful butterflies, spectacular beetles and enigmatic spiders, or the Cañada Real Nature Centre also in El Escorial, to find out more about the flora and fauna of Iberia.

 

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