This is us – Manuel, Julia and little Mrs T. We live in beautiful Vienna, Austria and love to travel. We recently went to Madrid with our toddler to visit my sister-in-law, who was teaching at a Spanish school at that time, and my husband was running the EDP Rock ‘n’ Roll Madrid Half-Marathon.
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Madrid is a wonderful city to visit. There are so many things to do in Madrid that you will probably have to come back a second time.
To get the most out of your visit to Madrid with a toddler, here are our best tips:
How to Get to Madrid
From Vienna to Madrid it is only a 3-hour flight so we decided to book our flights with Wizzair and RyanAir. For our 5-day-trip we checked in only one piece of luggage and the rest we carried in our backpacks. We decided to bring our travel stroller which was free for both airlines and we could even take it all the way to the gate.
Get all our best tips on flying with a toddler.
How to Get From the Airport to the City Centre in Madrid
Thankfully, it is very easy to get from the airport to the city centre in Madrid.
The Airport Express Bus operates 24 hours a day which is very convenient even if you arrive very early or late. It runs every 15 minutes during the day and definitely is one of the cheapest and most convenient transport systems in Europe, since it can get you from and to the airport in just 40 minutes and for just 5 EUR.
A taxi costs approximately 30 EUR is a very convenient door-to-door service, but then you have to worry about traveling with a car seat.
But after 3 hours on the plane and sitting, we decided to take the Metro to our accommodation because we were sure that our toddler would not want to sit still in a taxi or on the bus. Madrid’s Barajas Airport has 2 Metro stations (Terminal T1-2-3 and Terminal T4), both on line L8.
Trains leave every 5 minutes from 6 am to 2 am. Line 8 goes straight to the Nuevos Ministerios Metro station in the centre of Madrid (approx. 15 minutes).
The price of a single journey to or from the airport is 5 EUR, which already includes a supplementary airport charge.
(If you’d prefer a car to the metro, Welcome Pickups is an airport transfer service which will meet you at the gate and provides free child seats.)
We planned on walking a lot around the city but since it was pouring, and the weather was not supposed to be much better for the next 2 days, we decided to get a Tourist ticket. The Tourist ticket allowed us unlimited trips within a chosen timeframe (including the 3 EUR airport supplement, blue city buses, Renfe trains zone and A and Metro Ligero light rail train).
If you already possess a valid Metro ticket, you can simply purchase the airport supplementary ticket which is 2 EUR cheaper.
Where to Stay in Madrid with a Toddler
We decided to stay at an Airbnb apartment in the city centre – close to the train station and bus/metro stations. It is much easier to have an apartment with a separate bed and living room since you never know when your little one needs to go to bed and you do not have to be super quiet like in a hotel room (or go to bed super early).
In Spain breakfast is super cheap (coffee, fresh orange juice and tostada for only a few Euros) so we did not miss having a hotel breakfast.
You can browse a selection of top family-friendly Madrid hotels on Booking.com.
How to Get Around Madrid With a Toddler
The very best way to get around Madrid is definitely on foot. There is so much to see and you would not want to miss out on all the beautiful corners Madrid has to offer.
It’s also very easy to get around by bus or metro – just in case you are tired from all the walking.
Stroller or Baby Carrier for Madrid
Even though our little one was already 2.5 years old, we knew she would need a nap after lunch. We brought our MacLaren stroller (see this great lightweight and cheaper alternate umbrella stroller) so she could either rest and enjoy beautiful Madrid or take a nap (which she did every day).
Also, last minute I decided to borrow a friends’ Onbuhimo back carrier for toddlers (we recommend the LILLEBaby CarryOn toddler carrier).
The weather forecast said that it would be raining for the first couple of days, so I was so glad to have brought it. The first day it was pouring! She was not super happy in the baby carrier since she has never really liked them but she was glad not to get soaking wet like we did.
Find all the best baby and toddler carriers for travel here.
Best Things to do in Madrid With Toddlers
Little Mrs T loves princesses and since I’ve never been to the Palace before and the weather was still not that great we decided to visit the Royal Palace. We loved the extensive rooms and there is a lot to see (even tough little Mrs T didn’t find the real princess she was looking for).
It is fine to take the stroller around the grounds of the Royal Palace.
Price: 12 euros BUT FREE admission from Monday to Thursday, from 4 pm to 6 pm (October to March) and from 6 pm to 8 pm (April to September), free entry for citizens of the European Union (and kids under 5).
Temple of Debod & Plaza de España
After visiting the Royal Palace we decided it was time for us to have some coffee and let our toddler run around. We headed to the nearby Plaza Espana with the monument of Miguel Cervantes, who wrote the famous Don Quijote, and the Temple of Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple gifted to Spain by the Egyptian government (it was dismantled, moved to Madrid and reconstructed brick by brick).
The area around the temple is a nice park where kids can play and you can relax and have a quiet cup of coffee.
San Miguel Food Market
We decided to visit the San Miguel Food Market on our first day in Madrid. It was pouring all day but the Market is covered, the perfect place to escape the rain. It has many different stalls and you can get everything from croquetas to sweets, wine and beer.
We went there in the afternoon so it was not too busy but in the evenings or during (Spanish) lunchtime it can get pretty crowded (not very easy to get through with a stroller). Also, seating is very limited, but if you are into food it is a must.
Plaza Mayor is the central and most popular plaza in Madrid. It has a statue of King Philip III in the middle of the square. Many street artists/living statues, restaurants and shops are located there. I would not recommend eating at one of the restaurants/bars since they are very expensive. It is a real tourist trap but I have to admit the architecture and street artists are amazing. If you are hungry, get some tapas on one of the nearby streets instead.
We bought a cup of coffee to go (yes, I like to drink a lot of coffee), sat down next to the statue and little Mrs T was happy to watch the artists and run around.
El Parque de Retiro
After my husband’s half-marathon, we decided to spend the rest of the day at the Retiro Park.
This park is HUGE. There are several playgrounds for kids to enjoy, making it such a great place to go in Madrid with kids.
There are several entrances to the park – we used the one near Puerta Alcala and strolled around the park, had a cup of coffee at one of the small coffee shops and watched people passing by. There were also various entertainers on the sidewalks of the main walkway at the park as well as vendors selling food and drinks.
For the longest time I wanted to rent a boat and “tour” the artificial Lake Retiro. The line was very long but we decided I would wait in line while my husband entertained little Mrs T nearby. After about 30 minutes we were able to rent a boat for 8 EUR (6 EUR Mon – Fri). We really enjoyed it and recommend it as one of the things to do in Madrid with a toddler.
Where to Eat in Madrid
Spanish people in general are very kid-friendly and you can eat almost everywhere with a toddler. There are restaurants and tapas bars around every corner.
Everyone loves tapas. Tapas are simple and inexpensive small plates.
If many people in a group want the same thing, they may opt to order a media ración (half portion, good for about two or three people) or a ración (full portion, good for four or five) rather than everyone ordering the same tapa.
We do not have a very picky eater and tapas and raciones are great for eating in Madrid with kids. This style of eating allows for plenty of variety.
Unfortunately many tapas bars are very small and usually have very small tables so this was a bit challenging with a toddler and a stroller but we managed (bring a foldable stroller so you can put it in a corner of the restaurant/bar).
We loved Madrid. There are so many playgrounds and squares where the kids can just run around and play. We tried to balance the sightseeing and fun time for Little Mrs T. It made for a great toddler friendly vacation and I think she really enjoyed it.
What to Bring for Visiting Madrid With a Toddler
- For getting around here are our best baby carriers for travel and the best lightweight strollers for travel
- Your toddler might not be ready for a regular bed but will sleep soundly in one of these toddler travel beds
- Don’t forget these top toddler travel essentials or our favorite must-haves for traveling with a baby
- Enjoy meal time with your baby or toddler with one of our recommended portable travel high chairs
This guest post was written by Julia S.
Julia and her husband Manuel met 12 years ago and have been married for 2. At the age of 16, she was an Exchange Student in the USA and during her studies she worked and studied in Spain and Belgium. In the past 12 years together they’ve travelled all over Europe and the States and in the last 2 years with their little daughter! Having a child does not mean you have to stop traveling- it’s just different and you have to adopt to each other! Follow Julia on Instagram at @julia.baby.und.die.welt