CHILDREN’S ATTRACTIONS

TopTen

1. Zoo-Aquarium

prac_info Road A-5, exit (salida) 5 Casa de Campo • Metro Casa de Campo • Opening times vary, consult website: www.zoomadrid.com • Adm (under 3s free)

Google Map

Madrid’s zoo is considered to be one of the best in Europe – within its confines there are more than 6,000 animals from 500 species, including the endangered white tiger. Young children, in particular, will enjoy the koalas. Free-flying birds of prey are the main attraction of the aviary, while sharks and other creatures of the deep lurk in the Aquarium.

TopTen

Giraffe at the Zoo

2. Parque de Atracciones

prac_info Casa de Campo • Road A-5, exit (salida) Parque de Atracciones • Metro Batán • Opening times vary, consult website • Adm • www.parquedeatracciones.es/horarios (free for children under 100 cm/39 inches in height)

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This amusement park has more than 40 stomach-churning rides as well as a host of other diversions such as puppet and magic shows, and a virtual reality zone. The rides include Los Rápidos (a chance to try white-water rafting) and Top Spin, which needs no explanation. For the very young, and the more faint-hearted, there are merry-go-rounds and train and boat rides.

3. Faunia

prac_info Avenida de las Comunidades 28 • Road A-3, exit (salida) 6 Valdebernardo • Metro Valdebernardo • Opening times vary, consult website: www.faunia.es/horarios • Adm (under 3s free)

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All 13 pavilions in this science park have been designed to recreate a different ecosystem with authentic sights, sounds and smells. Visitors can “experience” a tropical storm, journey to the polar regions and observe nocturnal creatures in their natural habitat.

4. Parque Warner

prac_info Camino de la Warner, San Martin de la Vega • Road A-4, exit (salida) 22 • Train C-3A from Estación del Arte • Opening times vary, consult website: www.parquewarner.com • Adm (free for children under 100 cm/ 39 inches in height)

Google Map

This amusement park is divided into themed areas: Superheroes is devoted to the fantasy worlds of Gotham City and Metrópolis, and The Wild West recalls Hollywood westerns of the John Wayne era. You can also tour the replicated film sets of the Warner Brothers Studio.

5. Dreams Palacio de Hielo

prac_info Calle Silvano 77 • 91 716 0400 • Metro Canillas • Opening times vary, consult website • Shops: 10am–10pm Mon–Sat, noon–8pm Sun & public hols • Shops closed 6 Jan, 1 May, 25 Dec • Adm • www.palaciodehielo.com

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Located in the heart of Madrid, Dreams Palacio de Hielo is a retail, leisure and entertainment complex with an Olympic-sized (1,800-sq m/ 2,150-sq yd) ice rink. Skates are available for hire and classes can be taken. It has 12 restaurants and cafés, a children’s playground, a bowling alley, a 15-screen cinema and a gym.

6. Centro Comercial Xanadú

prac_info Road A-5, exit (salida) 22 and 23 from Madrid; 24 and 25 from Extremadura • Bus 528, 534, 539, 541, 545, 546, 547 & 548 from Príncipe Pío • Shops: open 10am–10pm daily, closed 1 & 6 Jan, 25 Dec; Cinema and Snow Park: open 9am–1am daily (to 2am Fri & Sat) • www.madridxanadu.com

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A shopping mall and entertainment centre that has an indoor ski slope and ski school. Other amenities include cinemas, restaurants, bowling and go-karting.

TopTen

Food court at Centro Comercial Xanadú

7. Aquópolis

prac_info Carretera Nacional II (15.5km) San Fernando de Henares • Open daily (times vary, check in advance) • Adm• www.san-fernando.aquopolis.es

Google Map

A range of giant water slides, toboggans, cascades and spirals is on offer at Madrid’s vast water park. There’s also a lake, wave pool and toddlers’ paddling pool, as well as cafés and restaurants.

8. Tren de la Fresa

prac_info Leaves from Príncipe Pío, at Cuesta San Vicente • Departures: mid-Apr–Oct: 9:50am Sat & Sun; Return: 7:48pm • Adm (free for children under 100 cm/ 39 inches in height)

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Great fun for the kids and a nostalgic journey into the past for the grown-ups, the “Strawberry Train” is pulled by an old steam locomotive. It follows the original route from Madrid to Aranjuez, which first opened in 1850. Hostesses in period costume serve Aranjuez’s famous strawberries. There are various ticket options, ranging from a round trip ticket to a complete tour ticket, which includes entry to the palace.

9. Teleférico

prac_info Paseo del Pintor Rosales • Opening times vary, consult website: www.teleferico.es • Adm (under 4s free)

Google Map

The cable car ride between Parque del Oeste and Casa de Campo is enjoyable for both kids and parents. There are fabulous views of the city skyline – the leaflet inside the cable car will help you locate landmarks such as the Telefónica building, the Cuatro Torres and the Palacio Real.

TopTen

The Teleférico across Casa de Campo

10. Parque del Retiro

Google Map

The Retiro’s central location makes it an obvious place to visit if the children are in the mood to run wild. At weekends (times vary), take them to the puppet show in the open-air theatre near the lake. They won’t need to know any Spanish as the sense of fun is infectious.

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