How to Spend Winter in Madrid

Traveling all year long is a great pleasure and a way to spend some quality time, getting to know the world around and all the amazing and historic places we have heard all about. When it comes to traveling in Western Europe, most people choose to travel between April and October, waiting for the nice weather to be perfect condition for traveling. However, there is something magical about winter time, which makes traveling during winter pretty unique, especially during the time around Christmas and New Year.

Are you planning to explore Madrid this winter? If your answer is yes, here are all the things you can do to spend an exciting winter in Madrid.

Stay in an apartment Madrid

Staying in an apartment in Madrid provides many advantages over staying in a hotel. If you have never decided to rent an apartment before, this would be one more reason to try this type of accommodation. During winter, the number of tourists gets lower than during summer, only to peak again during winter holidays, but try booking apartment in Madrid online as a safe way to ensure you have accommodation in the city for your winter holiday.

Visit holiday markets

At the first hint of winter and upcoming Christmas, holiday markets open up around Madrid, and they usually stay open from late November until a few days into the New Year. During this period, there will be enough time for you to visit one of those markets and experience true meaning of the holiday atmosphere and cheerfulness, with Christmas songs heard on every corner, plenty of flashy lights and colorful decorations suggesting that holidays are upon us. You can buy all sorts of things on the holiday markets, but Christmas decorations and gift are the most commonly sold items, together with food stands selling typical Spanish dishes.

Here are two holiday markets we would suggest visiting:

  • Christmas market at the Plaza Mayor

Dates: 26 November – 31 December, 2016

Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 10 am until 9 pm; Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am until 10 pm.

  • Christmas market at the Plaza de España

Dates: 10 December – 5 January, 2017

Opening hours: Everyday from 11 am until 9 pm. The market closes at 3 pm on the 24th and 31 December, and it is closed on the 25th December and 1st of January.


Explore the Christmas lights

The Christmas lights are something that has become a sort of a tradition in Madrid, and it got to the point where there is a tour of all the Christmas lights in the city. The tour is called the Navibus tour (Navi is for Navidad, meaning Christmas in Spanish). The Christmas lights are turned daily from 6 pm until 10 pm. On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve the lights will be on until late into the night. Light decorations of all kinds of shapes and colors hand around the streets of Madrid, and together with beautifully decorated shop windows they create a magical surrounding.

A walk down the decorated streets of Madrid

A walk down the decorated streets of Madrid


Discover nativity scenes

Since Spain is a Catholic country, the nativity scene is an important part of traditional Christmas celebration, so during the month of December you will find a lot of nativity scenes around the city. The scenes are usually set up in the mid December and most of them will remain intact until the mid January, when most of the Christmas decoration is being taken off. Some of the popular nativity scenes are at the Royal Palace, the Almudena Cathedral and the Plaza Mayor. Therefore, if you are exploring the center of Madrid, you could visit these nativity scenes as well.

Have a hot chocolate

Tired of all the walking around the city? If yes, it is time for hot chocolate. Although moderate climate in Madrid does not allow harsh winter weather, it still can get a bit cold especially during the evenings. The best way to enjoy the Christmas lights is during the evenings, so try to grab a hot beverage to keep you warm as you walk around the streets and admire Christmas scenery all around you. Hot coffee or tea might be a nice option but there is something Christmassy about hot chocolate. You can have it with sweet marshmallows or with cream on top, or you can try traditional churros con chocolate.

Christmas shopping spree

Winter time is a great period to shop in Madrid. You will come across beautifully decorated shop windows, with plenty of Christmas decorations and creative ideas that will leave you speechless. The center of the city is perfect place to start your shopping spree, as this is where shop owners go overboard with Christmas decor. Besides shops, the entire central area will be decorated with winter lights and ornaments, so the Christmas cheer will be all around you.

Winter usually starts off with new collections and this would be an opportunity to refresh your winter wardrobe, especially if you are interested in Christmas inspired clothing, such as Christmassy jumpers or pajamas. As the holidays approach, the merchants offer better prices, so you will find a lot of sales as the winter time goes on. It is a general rule that the best deals are available after the holidays, in late January, because most stores will offer discounts for the winter items, trying to clear out the shelves and prepare for the spring collection.

Admire Cortylandia

Each year, El Corte Inglés, well-known Spanish department store, brings out a lovely decoration in front of its store at the Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, 10. It has become a sort of a tradition for people in Madrid, as decorations are brought out in the late November, and they signify the beginning of the holiday season. The theme of the set changes every year, but the main idea remains the same – it is all about the children. Usually, the theme revolves around children stories, tales, animals, cartoons, etc. The characters move and the songs are played as a part of a 15-minute show which is on a couple of times a day. Here is the schedule of the shows for this year:

Cortylandia 2016 Schedule:

  • Monday  – Friday

Morning: 12:00, 13:00 and 14:00. Afternoon: 18:30, 19:30 and 21 hours.

  • Saturday, Sunday and Holidays

Morning: 12:30, 13:30 and 14:30. Afternoon: 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 hours.


Special schedule

  • Friday 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 December

Morning: 12:00, 13:00 and 14:00 hours.

Afternoon: 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 hours.

  • Monday 05 and Wednesday 07 December

Morning: 12:30, 13:30 and 14:30 hours.

Afternoon: 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 hours.

  • December 24 and 31 December 31

Morning: 12, 13, 14 and 15 hours.

Afternoon: 18, 19 and 19:30 hours.

 Christmas decoration Cortylandia at the Puerta del Sol

Christmas decoration Cortylandia at the Puerta del Sol


If you happen to be visiting this winter, especially if you are visiting Madrid with kids, make sure you do not miss this traditional fairy-like setting. You are going to love it, and it sets you in that Christmas spirit, together with the rest of the decorations around the city central area. This tradition has become so popular and loved by the locals, that it has even been replicated in many other cities in Spain.

Go ice skating

One of the great symbols of winter season, as well as the holidays, is ice skating and many people love spending cold winter evenings on the skates twirling around. Madrid has a couple of indoor ice rinks, some of which are open during the entire year, but during winter in Madrid, you will find a couple of outdoor ice rinks, which is a great opportunity to spend an evening out in the city. Here are some of the outdoor ice rinks in the city:

  • Plaza de Oriente (Royal Palace)

Hours: every day including holidays from 10 am – 10 pm until January 20th.

Price: 5€ on weekdays and 7.50€ Saturday and Sunday including skate rental.

  • Plaza de la Luna

Hours: everyday from 10 am – 10 pm until January 10th

Price: 5€ on weekdays and 7.50€ Saturday and Sunday including skate rental.

  • CentroCentro Cibeles

Hours: everyday from 11 am – 9:30 pm

(On December 24th and 31st, 11 am-6 pm) until January 7th.

Price: 5€ on weekdays and 7.50€ Saturday and Sunday including skate rental.


When it comes to indoor ice rinks, they are open during the entire year, but they have a different schedule depending on the season, so if you would like to visit one of those ice rinks, it is best to check the schedule for the exact dates. Here are two ice rinks open during the entire year:

  • Palacio de Hielo

Calle Silvano 77 – Metro Canillas

  • La Nevera

Poligono El Caralero – Majadahonda

Celebrate New Year at the Puerta del Sol

Traditional New Year celebration takes place each 31st of December at the Puerta del Sol and it gathers thousands of people, locals as well as the tourists. The official countdown is announced from the clock on top of the Casa de Correos building in Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid, accompanied by a hundred-year old tradition to eat Twelve Grapes, one on each chime of the clock. Parties are organized in various places around the city, and they last late into the night.

This time of the year is very festive in Madrid, and the weather is still nice enough that you can enjoy outdoor. You can still visit famous Madrid landmarks, but make sure you enjoy some of these activities typical of winter period.




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