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!
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.
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.
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)!
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.
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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.