Madrid at Christmas: What to See, Do, Buy and Eat

This blog post was originally posted on December 5, 2014 and was updated on October 11, 2018.

The halls have been decked and the bells are jingling. Christmas has arrived in Madrid!

Madrid at Christmas is a true winter wonderland. You’ve got all the fairytale magic of winter in Europe, but with a unique Spanish twist to keep things interesting. Plus, while it does get a bit chilly, the weather feels much milder compared to other destinations further north (and here in the city, you won’t have to worry about snow!).

We’re so happy you’ve decided to come spend the holidays here in Spain’s gorgeous capital. Here’s how to make the most of Madrid at Christmas!

Madrid at Christmas is full of beautiful holiday magic. Here are some of our favorite things to do, including shopping, food and more! #Madrid #Spain #Christmas #Europe #holidays #winter

Photo Credit: Jose A., Text Overlay: Devour Madrid Food Tours

Shop til you drop (then drink hot chocolate!)

From the sleek, glitzy international brands in Salamanca to funky indie boutiques in Chueca, shopping in Madrid holds a world of wonders just waiting to be discovered. The city’s eclectic shopping scene takes on new life at Christmas, when locals and visitors alike take over the shops in their quest to find the perfect gifts and best deals. We personally love the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping in Madrid at Christmas, but if you’d prefer to avoid the crowds, try heading out during the week (most people leave their shopping for the weekend). There are so many incredible options for great Christmas gifts from Madrid (we came up with 30 of them), and if you really want to impress your loved ones, consider bringing them a delicious foodie gift.

Shopping is enough to wear you out, so treat yourself once you’re done. Head to a local pastry shop (we’re big fans of El Riojano on Calle Mayor) to enjoy delicious homemade treats and rich, soul-warming Spanish-style hot chocolate.

Madrid at Christmas was made for ducking into warm cafes and enjoying a pastry and hot chocolate.
We can’t get enough of the delicious sweet treats at El Riojano. It’s the perfect stop after a long day of shopping! Photo credit: styleraiders.com

Go see the Christmas lights (then eat some churros!)

To truly experience the magic of Madrid at Christmas, there’s nothing better than taking an evening stroll to marvel at the lights. Starting in mid-late November, the holiday lights twinkle throughout the city, giving a tangible sense of Christmas magic. Warm up after your walk by popping into San Ginés (Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5), the most iconic churrería in the city, for our favorite cold-weather treat: churros con chocolate! Want to indulge, but not sure how to go about ordering? Check out the video below, where Devour Madrid expert guide Joy shows you how to enjoy this delicious tradition like a born-and-bred madrileño.

Check out the Christmas markets

Winter in Europe means charming Christmas markets, and Madrid is no different. You’ll feel as if you’re walking through a scene from a storybook as you browse the plethora of goodies available at the handful of Christmas markets scattered throughout the capital. One of the most classic and traditional markets graces the center of Plaza Mayor. Here, you’ll be able to find everything from handcrafted decorations to funky hats and wigs.

One of the best traditions in Madrid at Christmas is visiting the colorful markets.
Step out amongst the locals at one of the markets in Madrid at Christmas! Photo credit: Rafa Luque

Hop a train and take a day trip

We love Madrid as much as anyone, especially around the holidays. However, don’t forget about the dozens of nearby towns and villages dotted around the region. Each of them brings their own special holiday charm to the table and will help you create unforgettable memories of visiting Madrid at Christmas. We’re especially partial to places with a great food scene (if that wasn’t obvious)!

Visiting Madrid at Christmas is the perfect opportunity to take a day trip to a quaint nearby town, like Toledo.
Toledo is always a good idea. Don’t forget the marzipan! Photo credit: Mussi Katz

Eat like a king (or a queen!)

Any time of year is perfect for devouring Madrid! However, local cuisine really gets taken to the next level when the holidays roll around. From unique seasonal treats at pastry shops to special holiday menus at restaurants, there’s nothing better than eating in Madrid at Christmas! And the foodie fun doesn’t stop on December 25, either. Many places offer excellent special menus on New Year’s Eve, and if you’re sticking around until January 6, you definitely have to try the famous traditional roscón de Reyes.

Madrid at Christmas is the time to try all kinds of delicious holiday sweets, like roscón de reyes.
Roscón de Reyes is a must-try holiday treat!

While you’re enjoying the holidays in Madrid, you’ll definitely want to learn how to eat like a local here in Spain’s capital. That’s exactly what you’ll do on our Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour! The fun-filled morning will start off with a sweet treat for breakfast and take you straight through some of the city’s best bars and restaurants as you devour the best bites along the way. We hope you’re hungry!

Lauren grew up in an Italian-American family where 3-hour meals were the norm. After 10 years in the restaurant industry, she moved to Spain where she launched her popular Spanish food blog, Spanish Sabores, and soon after led groups on the first Devour Madrid food tours.

2 Comment

  1. Vidy says
    September 22, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    Hi … I’m planning to visit Barcelona n Madrid in December … so I would like to know if the malls and outlet malls are open during the Christmas(21st to 28th)? N when Ian the last day for the Christmas .. markets ?kindly get bak to me … thanku

    Reply
    1. Katie Stearns says
      September 24, 2018 at 1:19 pm

      Hi Vidy!

      Malls and shops are open during most of the holidays, but most will close on the major holidays (December 24, December 25 (and the 26th in Barcelona!), as well as December 31, January 1, and January 6. Christmas markets generally close during the first week of January. Happy shopping!

      Reply

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