Madrid de Los Austrias offers a plethora of things to do in Madrid. This fun, yet laid-back walking tour takes you through the history-rich, oldest and arguably most picturesque part of the city. Wind your way through the old town and these wonderful Madrid attractions for families. Walk along and hang out at Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor. Continue to the San Miguel Market to buy some savory treats. Next, continue the journey through Madrid by buying secret cookies from nuns. Afterward, pair those cookies with some some coffee and chocolate at San Gines Chocolateria, plus more! Madrid for kids (and parents) offers many memorable sights, tastes and attractions.
Puerta del Sol is Madrid's most famous and most central square. It once featured one of the old city's gates, which faced the east and was adorned with an image of the sun, hence the square's name. This square is where Spaniards gather to welcome the New Year, but it can be quite chaotic throughout the year with street vendors and quirky performers. In fact, the whole area is filled with bars, restaurants and shops with several streets leading off the square. Here you will find big stores like El Corte Inglés, Zara and H&M as well as many old and historic shops selling traditional goods. Kids will enjoy the "Oso y el Madroño" bronze statue, which is the official symbol of the city (despite its unclear origin).
DIRECTIONS The easiest way to get there is by metro. The stop is called Vodafone/Puerta del Sol and many lines go through this stop.
TIP Check out La Mallorquina, the quintessential pastry shop.
This iconic square was designed when Philip II's court moved to Madrid, on the site where the town's main market was located toward the end of the 15th century. It's since hosted many events, including bullfights and whatnot. Today, it hosts the city's main tourist office, a Christmas market in December and plenty of traditional shops and restaurants under its porticoes.
In the center of the square, Giambologna's bronze statue of Philip III dates to 1616, but it was not placed in the center of the square until 1848.
DIRECTIONS Walk west along Calle Mayor, take the first left and then take Calle Postas to the square.
This touristy, yet tasty location is worth the visit. Don't miss the olives, cured meats and seafood delicacies.
DIRECTIONS Take the west side exit of Plaza Mayor. The market is right across the street.
TIP The market is often packed, which makes it virtually impossible with a stroller. If traveling with a little one, beat the rush and get there by 11-11:30 a.m.
Cookies from Cloistered Nuns
2 Calle de Puñonrostro, Madrid
Between Plaza de la Villa and San Miguel Market there’s a small square called Plazuela del Conde de Miranda. On that square you will find the Corpus Christi Convent, which is a closed order. The Carbonera nuns from the convent make and sell cookies and pastries. Find the old wooden door with a “VENTA DE DULCES” sign, where you’ll have to ring the bell and tell them what you want before they will open the door for you. They sell cookies from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. A kids’ favorite and certainly very memorable.
This pretty and well-preserved square dates back to medieval times. In addition to its long history as an important hub for social, cultural and economic activity in the city, the Casa de la Villa used to be the home of the local government of Madrid (the Ayuntamiento) until 2008. The other two buildings are Casa y Torre de los Lujanes, a 15th-century building notable for its blend of Gothic and Mudéjar styles, and Casa de Cisneros that dates back to the year 1537. The Casa de Cisneros is an example of what is known as ‘Plateresque’ architecture, a unique blend of Gothic, Mudéjar and Renaissance styles exclusive to Spain.
DIRECTIONS After buying the cookies from the nuns walk along the aptly named "Elbow Street" (Calle del Codo) and it will take you right to Plaza de la Villa.
No visit to Madrid is complete without a taste of the country’s beloved churros. These deep-fried, fresh-from-the-fryer pastries are best accompanied by—and dipped in—a cup of thick, dark and strong hot chocolate. Take note though: churros are found everywhere, but they are not created equally. That’s why you’ll want to make a stop at the classic churros purveyor, San Ginés, which opened in 1894 and serves up the famous sweets around the clock.
Finish your walk at Plaza de Oriente where you can visit the Royal Palace and the Almudena Cathedral. If visiting the palace, skip the tour and just explore. Kids will love the red velvet thrones, massive dining room and the suits of armor worn by kings and princes (and their horses and dogs!) The Plaza also has plenty of cafés and a playground for the kids.