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Even though I have visited Madrid on several occasions without Monkey – on a recent weekend trip to the Spanish capital, I realised just how child-friendly the city is  – and how it would be lovely us to return together as a family. I may have given the impression that Madrid is all about the architecture, food and wine and, while it is this in spades, there is also a welcoming atmosphere and plenty of children roaming about with their parents late at night eating tapas in their pushchairs and playing in the several play areas dotted about the plazas.

As with most European countries children are pretty much welcome anywhere and with so much to see and do, there are plenty of kid-friendly attractions and activities to keep little ones occupied including theme parks, zoos and wide-open spaces. Meanwhile, there are 20 public outdoor swimming pools across the city – perfect to cool off in the searing heat during the summer months.

Here are our top picks for where to take the kids in Madrid.

Top Six Things To Do In Madrid With Kids

Top Six Things To Do With Kids in Madrid

El Retiro

The calm of El Retiro Park is a big draw for families because let’s face it, having fun outdoors is a winner for kids and their parents. Retiro Park’s large expanse is perfect for kids to run wild in while hiring boats on the lakes and exploring the gardens adds to the fun. At the weekends there’s also a puppet theatre which is popular with the young audience.

El Retiro Park  Plaza de la Independencia, 7, 28001 Madrid, Spain; Nearest Metro: Retiro

Top Six Things To Do With Kids in Madrid

Parque de Atracciones

Parque de Atracciones de Madrid is one of the largest urban parks in Europe. Enjoy roller coasters like Abismo or Tarantula. And there’s plenty for younger kids in Nickelodeonland, the new family area where they can visit the House of SpongeBob, learn to drive with the Ninja Turtles or enjoy an adventure with Dora the Explorer. And for the older, and brave amongst you – there’s also The Walking Dead Experience…

Parque de Atracciones Casa de Campo s/n, 28011 Madrid, Spain Tickets: From €29.90 (discounts available with online booking; Nearest Metro: Casa de Campo

Top Six Things To Do With Kids in Madrid

Zoo Aquarium

You’ll see very few bars or wires here – instead, the tigers, bears, lions and other wild animals are separated from the public by moats with or without water. It currently houses about 6,000 animals of 500 different species, some unique in Spain like the koala, the anteater and the panda, which is one of the stars of the zoo. Its aquarium is spectacular, and kids will have fun with the shows starring sea lions and dolphins.

Zoo Aquarium Casa de Campo s/n 28011 Madrid Tickets from €22.90; Nearest Metro: Casa de Campo

Top Six Things To Do With Kids in Madrid

Parque Warner

This theme park on the outskirts of Madrid is where you can find all the Looney Tunes characters wandering around posing for photos and signing autographs. Not only does it have six hair-raising roller coasters but there are dozens of children’s attractions and some water rides, as well as numerous restaurants and shops. You’ll also find shows in its theatres and workshops. It’s definitely a fun day out for the whole family.

Parque Warner San Martín de Valdeiglesias 28330 Tickets: From €19.50-€39.90; How to get there: Pinto (Cercanías train: C-3), bus line 413 ‘La Veloz’

Top Six Things To Do With Kids in Madrid

Faunia

In this large natural area, animals run around loose over most of its 14 acres. With four ecosystems and 13 thematic areas adapted to each species, the zoo can be visited in four or five hours, if you stop to enjoy its carefully preserved natural surroundings, lakes and ponds and exhibits, like the flight of birds of prey. The penguin enclosure is one of the most popular exhibits and is great fun for children. Another crowd-pleasing attraction is the latest animals to arrive, the Komodo dragons. The best thing about Faunia is that visitors can interact with the animals. So children can stroke sea lions and feed goats and donkeys.

Faunia Avda de las Comunidades, 28 Madrid 28032; Tickets: Adults: €25.95; Kids: €19.95; Under 3s Free; Nearest Metro: Valdebernardo

Top Six Things To Do With Kids in Madrid

Natural Science Museum

Marvel at stuffed African elephants, dinosaur fossils and specimens of extinct animals in this popular museum. It’s currently divided into three zones, one on natural history, another on the Mediterranean Sea and the third a reproduction of the old Royal Cabinet of Natural History. Kids will have fun with activities such as a laboratory to experiment and play with while learning, a digital gymkhana that includes an interactive tour of the museum, and a variety of educational workshops.

Natural Science Museum José Gutiérrez Abascal 2 Madrid 28006; Tickets: €6; Unders 4s Free; Nearest Metro: Gregorio Marañón, Nuevos Ministerios and Ríos Rosas