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20 great things to do
Festivals, culture, cuisine… discover all the capital has to offer!
Monuments, museums and parks are among the top Madrid attractions you've got to see
Madrid with kids
Parque de Atracciones
With over 30 attractions for both children and adults, the city's amusement park is one of the most popular weekend destinations for both locals and tourists. It's divided into different areas including tranquillity, nature and mechanization. In the children's area you can enjoy a leisurely boat ride through a truly 'living' jungle, get child-size thrills on a mini roller coaster, and even take a trip around the fun fair aboard a zeppelin. Thrill-seeking adults can try the famous vacuum drop on the Lanzadera shuttle, take your chances on the exciting Tornado ride, and have a go on the dizzying Máquina. In summer there are often long queues, especially for the water attractions.
The zoo and aquarium are located just a few metres from the amusement park in the Casa de Campo. You’ll see very few bars or wires here; instead the tigers, bears, lions and other wild animals are separated from the public by moats with or without water. It currently houses about 6,000 animals of 500 different species, some unique in Spain like the koala, the anteater and the panda, which is one of the stars of the zoo. Its aquarium is spectacular, and kids will have fun with the shows starring sea lions and dolphins.
This theme park on the outskirts of Madrid is where you can find all the Looney Tunes characters romping around posing for photos and signing autographs. Built with the aim of competing with other major leisure facilities including Port Aventura and Disneyland Paris, it has six dizzying roller coasters, dozens of children's attractions and some water rides, as well as numerous restaurants and shops. You’ll also find shows in its theatres, workshops and, above all, lots of fun.
In this large natural area, animals, including peacocks, run around loose over most of its 14 acres. With 4 ecosystems and 13 thematic areas adapted to each species, the zoo can be visited in four or five hours, if you stop to enjoy its carefully preserved natural surroundings, lakes and ponds and exhibits, like the flight of birds of prey. The penguin enclosure is one of the most popular exhibits and is great fun for children. Another crowd-pleasing attraction is the latest animals to arrive, the Komodo dragons. The best thing about Faunia is that visitors can interact with the animals. So children can stroke sea lions and feed goats and donkeys.
Westin Palace Hotel
In the middle of the Art Triangle, formed by the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofía museums, is where you'll find the Westin Palace, a landmark since King Alfonso XIII commissioned its construction to have a place to receive members of high society who visited Madrid in the early 20th century. Throughout its history, the hotel, famous for its glass dome and the events hosted there, has been a haven for international celebrities such as Picasso, Dalí, Einstein and Madame Curie.
Hotel Ritz by Belmond
Located just a stone’s throw away from the Retiro, in the neighbourhood of the same name, this exclusive luxury hotel was built in 1910 on the orders of King Alfonso XIII. The facilities of the hotel, which is decorated in classical style, include a luxury spa, parking and free Wi-Fi. Its location makes it a handy base for visiting the Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums.
Hotel Puerta América
The Puerta América will not be to all tastes, least of all, probably, those of the business travellers attracted by its proximity to the airport, but is a wonderland for design buffs. Each of its 12 floors and public spaces is designed by an all-star cast of architects, taking in Norman Foster, Richard Gluckman, Marc Jewson and Ron Arad. Guests can select the floor of their choice on arrival, but most popular tend to be Zaha Hadid's rooms (which appear to be sculpted from snowdrifts) or Arata Isozaki's studies in Japanese minimalism. The building itself (along with the pool and gym) was designed by Jean Nouvel.
Relais & Châteaux Orfila
This small mansion in a tranquil residential area has been transformed into a quietly elegant five-star hotel. Built in the 1880s as a private home for an artistic family, the Orfila also housed a theatre and a literary salon during the 1920s. Thankfully, the hotel has held on to its 19th-century decor, not to mention its façade, carriage entrance and dramatic main stairway. The bedrooms are wonderfully quiet – once installed it's hard to believe you're in the middle of a bustling city – and one of the four suites is intimately tucked away in the attic. The elegant restaurant looks on to the lovely garden patio, and guests take tea in the lobby in the afternoon.
Hotel Miguel Ángel
Near Paseo de la Castellana, bordering the Salamanca district, stands the Miguel Ángel hotel, with a total of 267 fully equipped guest rooms and a variety of five-star amenities. Its elegant facilities, spa service and fitness centre, along with world-class dining and attentive staff offer guests a more than comfortable stay.
More than half a century after it opened, the Wellington is still extremely graceful, with chandeliers, marble and murals, and groups of guests in formal eveningwear milling around the lobby. Polite staff are on hand to cater to guests' every need. The hotel is just a stone's throw from the city's most expensive shopping area, Salamanca, and has a summer pool with terrace – ideal for relaxing on after all that retail therapy. Rooms vary in size and are decorated in a conservative but classic style, and the hotel's main restaurant, Goizeko, serves Basque dishes in elegant surroundings.