Last year I spent Christmas in Madrid. It was a beautiful new experience that I want to share with you all. I’ll give you some suggestions on what to see, what to do and tips to enjoy the holidays.
Madrid is a city that I like very much and it was enriching to have spent Christmas here. There is a great atmosphere, many places to shop and very good food.
We arrived in Madrid a few days before Christmas. Needless to say, there were quite a lot of people in the Spanish capital. The subway was full and the Sol station, one of the most central, was closed for renovations.
We rented an Airbnb very close to the center. And we got it by miracle because honestly was not very easy to get accommodation, much less in the center.
The bus to Madrid from Zaragoza was also completely full, so take it into account if you are going to travel to Madrid by public transport.
In this post know about the pros and cons of spending the christmas in Europe.
Top places to see for Christmas in Madrid
Fortunately we stayed right where the action was, on a pedestrian street with many fashion stores. We could also easily get anywhere by foot and we had some metro stops nearby.
These are some places to see to experience Christmas in Madrid:
Puerta del Sol
The nerve center of Madrid and which is particularly important at Christmas is the Puerta del Sol or Sun Gate (a square actually). When we were here it was almost impossible to walk without being dragged by the crowd. The surrounding streets get very busy as well.
Here, Madrid families and tourists alike gather to celebrate the holidays. It is also frequent to see shows of all kinds: singers, musicians, costumed characters, etc.
It’s a must to walk the Gran Vía street if you spend Christmas in Madrid. Its already beautiful buildings stand out even more with the christmas lighting and decorations.
Also on this avenue you will find all the department and fashion stores, as well as fast food restaurants. Be sure to see the iconic Callao, Plaza de la Prensa and Capitol cinemas that were of particular importantce in the first half of the 20th century.
In the Plaza Mayor there is also Christmas vibes. They set a Christmas market and other attractions for the little ones. We could see a very artistic and curious serie of models recreating the nativity.
On the stalls they offer various Christmas products such as figurines for nativity scenes or Belen as they are called in Spain. There were also woven clothes for the cold and toys for the children.
Fun activities to do for Christmas in Madrid
Visit Christmas markets
An activity you can do for Christmas in Madrid is to visit the Christmas markets.
As I mentioned in Plaza Mayor there is a Christmas market that will hardly go unnoticed. Plaza Mayor is a must see tourist spot in Madrid.
Something that I didn’t like so much about this market is that there were many stalls with carnival style items. Goods such as costumes, wigs and joke toys. I believe they are for the day of the Holy Innocents on December 28th, a celebration similar to April’s fools.
If you want to find handmade and interesting products check out the handicrafts fair market located a few steps from the Cibeles Square. This market is set every year the whole month of december at a schedule of 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
There were many variety of products such as jewelry, hats, bags, pots, lamps, etc., all very original and handmade. Do not miss it if you are in Madrid for the Christmas season.
Enjoy the lighting
Another activity you can do for Christmas in Madrid is to enjoy and admire Christmas lighting.
For this you can take the Christmas bus called Naviluz, which has a tour of all the illuminated areas of Madrid.
Madrid is a city that I like very much for shopping because there are a variety of brands and fashion stores. Besides, almost the entire commercial area is concentrated in the center, Gran Vía avenue and the surrounding streets.
Shopping or at least browsing stores at Christmas in Madrid is a fun and pleasant activity.
Sometimes there are stores that take advantage of the season to attract more customers with promotions and offers. Of course, the stores are packed and if you can’t stand the crowds you might get stressed.
To Buy Christmas lotto
In Spain the Christmas lottery is a tradition. If you want to live an authentic Spanish Christmas experience you can buy a ticket (foreigners can also). You may be lucky and return from your trip with a cash prize.
Throughout Madrid you will find kiosks and shops where to buy a ticket. You have to be patient because there are often long lines.
Pay a visit to the supermarket
As we rented an Airbnb we made our own Christmas dinner and for that we had to visit the supermarkets. Besides being cheaper, we also enjoyed the experience of seeing what people consume for the celebrations.
We went to a DIA supermarket near the Puerta del Sol (well, not so near). It was well stocked and we bought there a couple of times during our stay. On December 24, it was somewhat chaotic as expected.
Some of the most popular products are shrimp or prawns, hams, aged and goat cheeses, nougat, panettone and of course, sparkling wines.
Do a day trip to see the snow
It is also possible to do some day trips to the mountain areas near Madrid to enjoy winter activities.
Some of the most popular sites that can be reached by public transport are the port of Navacerrada and Valdesquí. Right there you can rent ski equipment if you need.
Tips to spend Christmas in Madrid
Some tips to spend Christmas in Madrid without setbacks.
- Book accommodation well in advance. This is a season that attracts both local and foreign visitors so to get good accommodation you have to do it soon.
- Book accommodation near the center. In the center is where there are more activities and Christmas feel. That way you will be close to everything and you’ll have a more enjoyable staying.
- Buy transportation tickets in advance or as early as possible. There are many travelers this season, so it is better to guarantee our place if we are going to travel.
- Arrive early when you visit tourist attractions, there is usually a lot of visitors and museums close an hour earlier.
- Plan your activities taking into account the winter schedules of shops and museums. On Christmas day everything is close, and on Christmas eve they migth open only some hours.
These are some of the activities you can do and enjoy if you decide to spend Christmas in Madrid. For me it was a beautiful experience even though there were a lot of people everywhere. But I think it is precisely what makes it special to see so many people enjoying the holidays.
Where did you spend or will you spend Christmas? What do you like most about these celebrations? Have you been to Madrid for these dates? What else would you recommend to do? Share your experiences in the comments section.
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Bon voyage and happy holidays!