Family days out near Madrid

  • Alrededores de Madrid con niños
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  • Alrededores de Madrid con niños
    alrededores_de_madrid_con_ninos_1.jpg

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; the Phillip II Train to El Escorial in which you’ll travel back in time to the 16th century; and the Medieval Train to Sigüenza that departs from Madrid Chamartín to Sigüenza, is a fun way of discovering the most picturesque medieval characters.   

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.

It is worth mentioning Puy du Fou España, a new generation of theme parks that represents History through wonderful and moving shows. Since August 2019, it has opened its doors in Toledo to take us on a spectacular journey through the History of Spain.

 

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 your family are water babies then you'll be spoilt for choice in the Madrid region. You can spend a day at one of its reservoirs, Pantano de San Juan, Embalse de Pinilla and Embalse del Atazar (Madrid’s largest), where you can have a picnic or do a bit of canoeing. The region is also home to natural pools such as Las Presillas (Rascafría), Los Villares (Estremera), the Pantano de San Juan (San Martín de Valdeiglesias) and the Playa del Alberche (Aldea del Fresno), as well as artificial pools in wonderful settings like Las Berceas Recreation Park (Cercedilla) and Riosequillo (Buitrago del Lozoya).

As the thermometers rise, your kids are bound to thank you for taking them to a  water park like Aquapolis de Villanueva de la Cañada, with wave pools and numerous slides Warner Beach Park set in 1950s California, which has diverse water attractions for kids and adults alike.

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.

Surrounded by animals

In Madrid’s family-friendly Safari (located in Aldea del Fresno) you can drive through a vast landscape filled with wild animals like lions, tigers, antelopes and zebras. The park also hosts exhibitions of birds and reptiles.

Other great places for animal lovers are Burrolandia, a donkey sanctuary in Tres Cantos where children can feed the animals; Insect Park in San Lorenzo de El Escorial where they learn about colourful butterflies, spectacular beetles and enigmatic spiders; and the Cañada Real Nature Centre (also in El Escorial), where you can find out more about the flora and fauna of Iberia.

 

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