Fun, sun, and lots of places to play, Madrid offers tonnes of things to do for families. We should know – we’re a family of five who love to travel. One of our biggest challenges, however, is how to see the city sights while holding the tiny attention of our children for more than five minutes.
Through trial and error (lots of trial and lots of error) we came up with a way to bring a bit of education, adventure, and lots of fun into our city travels. The following is our tried and tested Mission to Madrid tour. Give it a go by visiting the locations, and enjoy. An easy itinerary for you, lots of fun for them.
You will need: A metro pass, some good walking shoes and a smartphone or camera.
The mission is based on a story about one of Madrid’s most iconic landmarks, The Bear and the Strawberry Tree. For the purpose of the adventure, you need to pretend the bear has run away from Madrid. It seems he prefers the countryside, where he can eat all the strawberries he wants. Your job is to convince the bear to come back home.
Here’s how you’ll do it: Locate the bear’s five best friends in Madrid. Take a picture of each to remind the bear of how much he’ll be missed. Once complete, you can convince the bear to return.
In the city centre you’ll find Plaza de Cibeles. There stands the monument of Cibeles Fountain, representing the Greek goddess of nature and fertility. This statue is surrounded by many of Madrid’s coolest buildings including Banco de España (the bank where Spain keeps all of its money) and City Hall (where the Mayor of Madrid lives). Mrs. Cibeles used to let the bear ride in her chariot when he was a cub.
Good to know: The fountain is popular with Real Madrid soccer fans. If you’re in Madrid when Real Madrid wins a big game like La Liga, La Copa Del Rey or the Champions’ League, there’ll be huge celebrations here.
How to get there: The square is located at the intersection of Paseo del Prado, Paseo de Recoletos, and Calle de Alcalá. Metro stop: Banco de Espana
Next we are on our way to visit the famous explorer and adventurer, Christopher Columbus. Columbus discovered the Americas in 1492 and you can find him standing tall in the square that was named after him: Plaza Colon. Take your picture and see if you can include the giant Spanish flag in the background. The bear loves his country of Spain and all the stories Mr. Columbus tells him about his adventures.
Good to know: The wax museum is very close. Take a short break to see some of your favorite characters here. (Paseo de Recoletos, 41)
How to get there: Colón is located next to the streets of Serrano, Goya and Jorge Juan. Metro stop: Colon or Serrano
Madrid is filled with statues of everyday people but our mission is to find Julia. Julia was a student just like most of us and lived a long time ago. Back then she had to dress up like a boy to go to school. Take a picture with Julia and get ready for our next mission!
Good to know: You are now in the Malasaña area, which is a fun place with lots of little shops and cafes. If you’re feeling a bit hungry, check out the homemade popsicles nearby at Lolo Polos (C/ Espíritu Santo, 16),
How to get there: Take a bus, metro or taxi to the street of Pez 42. Metro stop: Novociado
This will be your trickiest mission yet. Head over to one of the largest and most popular parks of Madrid, Retiro Park, located in the center of the city. Follow the tree-lined paths to a large artificial lake. On the other side you will find a monument to King Alfonso XII. The King really liked himself and had this statue built in his honor. Take one of the small boats for rent on the lake so you can get the best angle for your picture. The Bear loves the park and plays here every weekend. He will surely miss it.
Good to know: Retiro Park is filled with tonnes of playgrounds for kids, street performers and even ducks to feed. Hang out for a while and enjoy. But afterwards get ready for our fifth and final location.
How to get there: Although there are many entrances to the park, the main gates are located near Puerta de Alcalá. Metro stop: Retiro
There’s nothing that says Welcome Home (Bienvendios a Casa) like churros y chocolate. Everyday the bear would visit Queen Isabel’s house at the Royal Palace for teatime. Queen Isabel always served the best churros.
Good to know: Just up the road from the Royal Palace is one of the most famous spots for churros and chocolate. Try out the yummy snack for breakfast at Chocolatería San Ginés (Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5)
How to get there: The Palace gates are located on Bailén Street, 6. Metro stop: Opera
Let the kids know you’ve sent the bear all five pictures. Tell them that although he enjoyed his strawberries in the countryside, he really missed Mrs. Cibeles’ chariot rides, Mr. Columbus’ stories, playtime with Julia, boat rides in Retiro park and churros with Queen Isabel. The bear has returned back to his Strawberry Tree in Plaza del Sol. Go and check him out.
Good to know: Plaza del Sol is one of the busiest places in Madrid and where all the Spanish roads begin (Km 0). Take your last picture and head over to nearby Plaza Mayor to celebrate!
How to get there: The closest metro stop to Plaza del Sol is Sol
Accepting this Madrid Mission? Tag your photos with #Ryanairstories for the chance to appear on our Instagram feed