Madrid in the winter is great in the way that they don’t really have winter. Mind you, this is coming from a Canadian. If you’re reading this as someone from say Australia or Florida, you may have a different opinion. While I don’t think it gets particularly cold, you do see some Spaniards wearing full-on parkas or those odd “Norway” coats in what I consider spring weather.
Maybe it’s a fashion statement, but I’m just not getting how giant puffy pullover jackets are flattering. Alas, so many of my students and people I see on the street are wearing them. #butwhy?
I don’t know about you, but I think this looks pretty good for January
The wind can be a little chilly and the nights downright cold, but overall, it’s not a place to avoid just because it’s winter. Here are some activities you can get up to when visiting Madrid in the winter.
Restaurants and Bars
Now is the time to let the inner foodie in you come out. Restaurants and bars in Madrid are often warm and cozy and ready to fill you with some great tapas, wine, and whatever else your taste buds desire.
Many places still have their patios open and are accompanied by outdoor heaters and blankets. Don’t write off rooftop bars either. They’re much less busy in the winter, blankets are provided and you’ll get an amazing view of the city. Check out Circulo Bellas Artes for a spectacular view of Madrid.
Explore the Mercados
While some are just for getting groceries, at many of the larger mercados you can enjoy tapas, craft beer, wine, and other eats. My favourite mercados include the San Fernando Mercado in Lavapies (mostly for La Buena Pinta), the San Miguel Mercado near Opera (for trying a variety of tapas), and the San Anton Mercado in Chueca (for its rooftop restaurant).
Warm up with some hot chocolate
…and churros. Here, often when you order a “hot chocolate” you’re given a thick dipping chocolate (that goes great with churros). After exploring the markets, nothing will warm you up quite like a hot cup of chocolate. A great spot is right by Plaza Mayor called Chocolateria San Gines, or Chocolateria Valor, with a few places throughout Madrid.
Head to a Museum
Madrid is full of museums to get your art and culture fix. Whether you’re wanting to learn something new or gaze and beautiful paintings, there’s no shortage of museums and galleries in Madrid. Many of them are quite large and offer amenities and services like a cafe, gift shop, coat check (because who wants to wear their giant parka indoors?), guided tours and more.
Home to Madrid’s most important collections of paintings. This was one of the world’s first public art museums and home to the royal art collection. It includes a lot of portraits, paintings of historical and religious significance, and some sculptures. The museum is huge and it is unlikely you’ll be able to complete it in a single visit. Thankfully, there are maps in English and suggested itineraries to see the highlights based on when your visit is and how long you’re available.
Address: Paseo del Prado, s/n
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10:00 – 20:00; Sundays and bank holidays, 10:00 – 19:00
Price: 15 euros for general entry; free entry daily during the last two hours before closing
This public institution aims to offer the public an interesting and critical interpretation of objects that belonged to various cultures within the Iberian Peninsula and Mediterranean region throughout various points in history. The works are mostly Hispanic prehistory to the Modern Age, but it also includes some pieces from Greek, Etruscan, Roman and various South American cultures.
Address: Calle Serrano 13
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 9:30 – 20:00; Sunday 9:30 – 15:00
Price: 3 euros for general entry; free entry Saturday from 14:00 and Sunday mornings
This transformed old slaughterhouse is now an ever-changing place of artistic creation and development. It hosts various projects and exhibitions as well as workshops and classes. They have artistic displays in various categories like theatre, visual arts, music and a variety of “special projects”.
Address: Paseo Chopera 14
Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 16:00 – 21:00; Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays, 11:00 – 21:00; closed Mondays.
Price: Free unless event indicates otherwise
Enjoy the Seasonal Festivities
With the holiday season in the winter, there are many festive events you can attend during your visit to Madrid in the winter. The Christmas market is on for over a month. You can take in a parade should you be here in early January for the Three Kings Parade. Enjoy the fireworks and parties on New Year’s Eve. Or simply strolling around the city enjoying the festive street lighting.
Whether you’re here over specific holidays or not, a good place to check the current events during your trip to Madrid in the winter is the Madrid Events Calendar.
If that’s not enough to convince you, just think, winter is the offseason. This means amazing prices on flights and hotels during your stay!