7 reasons to visit Madrid in December

Finally, we have direct flights from my home town of Poznan to Madrid and what’s more, they are cheap, which is what prompted me to write this post. You can fall in love with Madrid all year round, but here are a few reasons why visiting in December is a good idea (of course, some of them apply all year round).

1. Decorations

As of the beginning of December, Madrid dons its Christmas decorations and, as becomes a Royal city, they are very extravagant. The city is truly beautiful, with a wonderful ambiance. There are lots of things to see, so if you get tired of walking Madrid’s streets during the day, you can get on a special bus after the sun goes down to see the lights. Last year, a ticket cost €2 (has to be bought online).

P.S. The decorations disappear from the streets on the 7th of January, right after the much celebrated feast of the Three Kings.

2. Ambiance

Madrid changes in December, and it’s not just because of the decorations. The crowded streets of the city draw in visitors even more. They are all happy, celebrating, doing their Christmas shopping – all while dressed in funny, festive hats. The evenings are a time for celebration, whilst the day is for shopping. The 6th and 8th of December are public holidays and it’s then that Gran Via and the neighboring streets are quite literally filled to the point of overflowing. In order to deal with the sheer volume of people, parts of the main street of Madrid (Gran Via) are closed to traffic – there are so many people that they just do not fit on to the pavements.

Plaza Mayor plays host to a Christmas market, selling decorations and figurines to be used for nativity scenes, which the more traditional Spaniards build in their homes. Queues of people line up to see the Royal version of the nativity scene in front of the Royal Palace. Retro merry-go-rounds crop up around the city, as do stalls selling freshly fried churros, potato chips and roasted chestnuts.

Yes, Spaniards love Christmas, but so do we, right?

3. Food

This universal argument proves itself all year round. Spaniards love food and they serve the best of it. If you have a love of seafood, fish and meat – Madrid will be a culinary paradise. I’ll just add one word: wine. Spanish, and so “local” wine is sold at extremely good prices. Do I really need to say more? You can spend a relaxed weekend just in the bars and restaurants of Madrid. The only meal of the day which is modest, by comparison, is breakfast – at least by Polish and English standards. Once you’re done with breakfast, that’s when the fun begins. From tapas in the various markets dotted around the city, to exquisite restaurants serving dinner and drinks on terraces looking over the city. As long as you’re not a vegetarian (like me), then Madrid’s food will delight you.

4. Museums

Madrid is built on art. You have certainly heard of the Prado Museum, but this is only one of three of the most famous museums in Madrid. If you are interested in art, then you’ll spend at least half a day, if not more, visiting galleries in the city. The leading art museums, in addition to Prado, are the Museo Reina Sofia and the Thyssen Bornemisza. But why just focus on art? There are also many more, albeit slightly less well known places of interest, such as the Archeological Museum or the Metro Museum. And then there’s also the Royal Palace, which is worth a visit. As you can see, there are lots of things to do indoors (besides eating, that is) if you’re unlucky enough to have a rainy day.

6. Chocolate

Come winter time, chocolate just tastes that much better, especially hot chocolate accompanied by freshly made churros. Madrid’s oldest Chocolateria San Gines invites guests 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Need I say more?

6. Terraces

You can always enjoy hot chocolate, as well as other drinks outside. It doesn’t matter that it’s winter, or that the weather can be a bit disappointing. Here, restaurants have tables set out on the streets and squares the whole year round. With the delicate help of the sun on a fair day, as well as heaters in the evening, coffee in the fresh air is even possible in the heart of winter. The streets are alive regardless of the time of year.

7. Trips

In and around Madrid, there is really lots to see. Toledo, Segovia, Chinchon, Alcala de Henares, Aranjuez, Patones de Arriba – these are just some of the places you can visit on day trips from Madrid. I’s really difficult to be bored here.

I can’t promise you super weather and sunshine, and it’ll probably just feel marginally warmer than in Poland or England, but in Madrid, life goes on differently, and December is just something else. Grab those cheap flights and see it for yourself. I personally like winter in Madrid and definitely recommend a winter break more than a visit in the middle of the scorching hot summer.

And if you’ve already bought tickets, let me know, and maybe we’ll go for a coffee.

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