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Spring Break in Madrid with Kids (8 and 12 yo) - Need Advise!

Spring Break in Madrid with Kids (8 and 12 yo) - Need Advise!

Jan 21st, 2018, 04:04 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 16
Spring Break in Madrid with Kids (8 and 12 yo) - Need Advise!

We are planning to take our 2 kids (boys, 8 and 12 yo) to Madrid for spring break this year (March 29th through April 5th). My mom who is in her mid-60s will be coming with us, too.
Our kids are very well traveled, and accustomed to visiting cultural heritage sights, art museums, etc. The older one is also an adventurous eater... The younger one attends Spanish immersion school so by now, is quite fluent in Spanish (albeit, a bit shy).
My husband and I have been to Madrid before, so this trip is all about showing it to the kids and my mom! We are also all looking forward to visit Toledo, Segovia and perhaps, 1-2 other towns as day trips. Here is our rough itinerary so far:
1. 03/29 - Fly into Madrid in the morning, check in; Afternoon - explore 1-2 sights in central Madrid, early dinner...
2. 03/30 - Explore Madrid - suggestions on any good kid-friendly tours?
3. 03/31 - Day trip to Toledo
4. 04/01 - Day trip to Segovia (should we combine with Avila?) - I don't like cramming too many things into one day but if it makes sense logistically, perhaps, we should?
5. 04/02 - Day in Madrid (visit a museum, a park, etc)
6. 04/03 - Day Trip to Salamanca
7. 04/04 - Day in Madrid or another day trip (where to?)
8. 04/05 - Leave for NYC

In Madrid, we are planning to visit the Royal Palace, the Prado Museum, spend some time at the Mercado San Miguel (we are all foodies, except for the younger boy who is a "simple man" when it comes to food), spend a few hours in the Retiro Park, visit the soccer stadium (unfortunately, there are no matches that I could find during our stay there), and maybe catch a Flamenco show. We also like to visit various restaurants for lunch and dinner, to sample local cuisine.
1. We loved London Walks tours when we were there last summer. Is there a similar company in Madrid? Looking for tours in English as only our younger son speaks Spanish...

2. Any special/interactive tours geared towards older children that anyone could recommend?

3. Since there are 5 of us, does it make sense renting a car versus taking trains to all the day trips, or will it still be more expensive and more hassle with parking it?

4. Anything we should be aware of, since we will be there for Easter? For example, should we expect many restaurants/sights closed that day? Is it better to stay in Madrid that day or visit one of the towns on our list? Any special events/proceedings that we can watch (we are not Catholic, so will be just observing, not partaking)...

5. We would like to give our younger son (and our older, too) some opportunity to practice their Spanish... Does anyone have any suggestions on how to do it? Perhaps, a cooking class for kids? Or any interactive kids museums that might be of interest to them?

Thank you very much in advance!
anuta77 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2018, 06:10 PM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,318
That is a lot for a week. Mercado San Miguel leaves me cold. It is over priced and too trendy. I always think the best way to try Spanish food is to go from tapas bar (tasca) to another and eat their specialty. Do not eat tapas as an American meal but as sampling.

That week there will some processions, nothing like Sevilla, but some.
Semana Santa in Madrid - Holy Processions during Easter week

The best to use your Spanish, is to speak Spanish to whomever you meet. The Spanish are very generous about mispronunciations and missed grammar.
IMDonehere is online now  
Jan 21st, 2018, 06:17 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,419
Go rowing in Retiro Park
Sassafrass is online now  
Jan 22nd, 2018, 10:53 AM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 71
We were there several years ago and found that my kids could use their beginner spanish as often as they liked, but most often by speaking with waiters, asking people for directions, helping translate for us at a store, talking to cab drivers. It was actually very helpful for my husband and I since we don't know much spanish at all! Cabs were inexpensive and easy to find.

We spent 4 nights in Madrid and 3 in Seville and we didn't take any day trips so I can't comment on those. We found there was plenty to do in Madrid for 4 days, since we prefer not to rush around on vacation and spend quite a bit of time just strolling around different neighborhoods. The highlight, by far, for our kids (who were 15 and 12 at the time) was a segway tour. I was worried about them being able to navigate but it was fine. There may be an age or weight restriction but they were easy to maneuver. They also loved Mercado San Miguel; in fact we all did, and ate there several times. It's very kid-friendly and everyone can have what they want, but be prepared to wait for a table to open up if you go at peak times.

We also went to the Prado, Retiro Park, Royal Palace, Madrid Rio (park along the river; the segway tour took us there).

If your kids like to cook a cooking class sounds like it would be a lot of fun. Otherwise, don't miss San Gines and La Mallorquina.

I've read good reviews about Sandemans tours but don't have any personal experience.

We were in Seville during Lent and the processions were amazing...had no idea what they were. I'm not sure what happens in Madrid or smaller towns on Easter or Good Friday but would expect very, very large crowds around any processions. Worth seeing if you happen upon one.

Good luck!
cmm6797 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 03:23 PM
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Thank you, everyone! cmm6797, did you rent an apartment in Madrid by any chance or stay in a hotel?
anuta77 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2018, 03:30 AM
Join Date: Oct 2013
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@anuta77, we rented an apartment through Spain Select near plaza Santa Ana (Lope de Vega was the street). Not sure the same apartment is available anymore but I would highly recommend the company. They were professional, responsive, and the apartment was modern and had everything we needed.
cmm6797 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2018, 01:43 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
Careful with Salamanca. It's a great town, but you need to catch the right train (or have a car) to make it a day trip. The regular trains will take about 2.5 hours. Only certain trains make it worthwhile by running to and from in 96-100 minutes. Five hours travel time makes it more TRIP than DAY.
BigRuss is offline  
Jan 24th, 2018, 02:41 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Yes Salamanca is a long day trip but a heck of a nice town - university town. Anyway your trains are mainly regional trains where you do not need to pre-book but can and Toledo trains can be full but buses run there too. Renfe for schedules and booking own trains. www.seat61.com has lots on that - general info trains BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com. I did Avila and Segovia as a day trip but I move around fast. Segovia and its dreamy castle will appeal more to kids perhaps.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 25th, 2018, 08:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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With kids that age 4-5 hours on train to Salamanca and back could be a little long and nothing especial there to interest them any more than any city closer in.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 25th, 2018, 12:22 PM
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Thank you , everyone. Will think some more about Salamanca. Perhaps, will just spend more time in Madrid, maybe do a family cooking class.
How far in advance should I pre-book trains to Toledo and Segovia? Would like to avoid traveling by bus as it takes longer.

Another question is, does anyone have recommendations for city tours in Madrid or Toledo? Would consider all options, including private or small group but regular group tours would be fine, too, as long as they are engaging as opposed to the generic ones, run by Viator and similar companies... Especially in Toledo, we would love to tour it with someone who can tell us a lot about its history.
I have one child who is very interested in History (as am I and my husband), and the other one who is pretty fluent in Spanish (he is uno in our family, in that regard). Trying to find something interesting for them both.

Thank you again!
anuta77 is offline  
Jan 25th, 2018, 12:33 PM
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Spanish buses are quite comfortable and reliable, they are not like the US intercity buses.
IMDonehere is online now  
Jan 26th, 2018, 07:28 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,339
Spanish buses it seems from past posts do not always have WCs or make pit stops on shorter routes but still a few hours on bus - I would only take a bus if faster than train as trains are infinitely more comfy - being able to easily get up and walk around, etc.
PalenQ is offline  
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