The seasons are changing and that opens up a whole new world of city break opportunities. Here we take a look at some of the exciting reasons why Madrid is a great option for a winter getaway.
Words by Lauren John | Extract taken from November's 2022 Il-Bizzilla Magazine | Read more here
Mouth-watering winter dishes
No city break would be complete without sampling some of the local specialities, and Madrid has some delicious sweet and savoury options to suit all taste buds.
Tapas culture is something to be celebrated all year round, and Madrid’s famous ‘Calle de la Cava Baja’ or ‘Tapas Street is a great place to stop. With around 50 tavernas or modern café bars, it’s the perfect place to pause and grab pinchos (small snacks), a share plate of tapas, or even a larger meal. Dishes could include meatballs, fish in Thai curry sauce, Spanish omelettes (tortillas), and tostas. These ‘things on bread’ range from cured duck and orange to squid.
Cocido Madrileño is famous in Madrid, and ideal if you want a real winter warmer. This chickpea, meat and vegetable stew is a more familiar local favourite, but if you’re feeling more adventurous then Callos Madrileños, a dish featuring tripe may be the one for you.
For all those with a sweet tooth, there are two stand-out treats. Head to the historic Chocolatería San Ginés for some of the best churros with chocolate, or if you are visiting on the 6th of January, be sure to sample the mouth-watering Roscón de Reyes or Kings Cake. Baked to celebrate Three Kings Day, this brioche-style cake is shaped like a doughnut and topped with crystallised fruit and sugar. Delicious, and just one of the ways you can celebrate the Christmas season in Madrid.
Celebrate The Magic Of Christmas
There are many magical ways to celebrate in Madrid, from skating on one of the city’s ice rinks to taking a bus tour to see the city lights. Don’t miss the Plaza Mayor Christmas Market running through November and December. With over 100 stalls it’s the perfect place to pick up a traditional nativity scene, decorations or toys and gifts.
Alongside traditional Christmas markets, Madrid has annual nativity displays in venues such as museums and cathedrals across the city. It’s a big tradition, with the city council even producing details of all the locations so you can follow a ‘nativity trail’.
Shops also join in the festive celebrations, with the El Corte Inglés Preclados department store presenting ‘Cortylandia’ a music show with animated figures entertaining with songs and carols.
A festive day trip
Just 30 to 35 minutes from Madrid, and easily accessible by train, is the winter wonderland that is ‘El Parque de la Navidad de España. Located in Torrejón de Ardoz, it’s open from 18th November 2022 to 6th January 2023, with attractions and special events for all the family. On-site visitors will find a Ferris wheel, video mapping and light projections, sound and light shows, the chance to go into a magical Christmas house and more. In addition to the regular displays and attractions, look out for special events such as stand-up comedy, and for the first time an ice sculpture festival.
Spend A Day On The Slopes
Madrid’s elevation means a day trip to the mountains is possible, with two ski areas around an hour or less from the city. Valdesqui ski resort has 29 runs over 22km of slopes offering skiing and snowboarding for children and adults. Lessons are available from age 6 upwards, with mini snowmobiles available for ski pass holders between 5 and 12. With 2 cafes, equipment hire, and day or afternoon ski passes, along with a snowshoe tour, there’s plenty to keep occupied on a day trip to the slopes.
For a change of scenery, and a mix of high and low-altitude runs, some in a beautiful forest setting, head to the Puerto de Navacerrada ski area. Youth and adult ski passes, and a ski school are available during ski season, with hiking trails accessible during the summer.
Around halfway between Madrid and these ski resorts is the charming small town of Rascafría. Easily accessible by road or the 691 bus line from Moncloa station, this is the place to be if you want to taste some delicious food, soak up centuries of history, and take urban nature walks along the Riverside or in the Finnish Forest. Don’t miss seeing the Santa Maria del Paular monastery, an impressive building dating back to the 14th century.
Madrid and the surrounding area are for all seasons, but we invite you to wrap up warm and experience the best culture, history, and winter-themed experiences this city has to offer.