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Crystal Palace in Retiro Park|©ahau1969/Shutterstock
Crystal Palace in Retiro Park|©ahau1969/Shutterstock
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Why Madrid is Europe’s Most Gorgeous City in Winter

Picture of Jessica Jones
Updated: 21 September 2017
From fairytale Christmas decorations to picturesque parks and hearty cold-weather dishes, Madrid has a lot to offer people who choose to visit during the winter months. So wrap up warm and read on to discover why Madrid is the most gorgeous European city to visit in winter.

Weather

In Madrid, Europe’s highest capital city, days are crisp but bright and sunny, which means Madrileños continue to sit out at street terraces throughout the winter months and the skies are, more often than not, a bright blue colour.

Clothes

Take advantage of Spain’s most famous fashion brands and stock up on some cosy winter knits, boots and coats while you’re visiting Madrid. Shopping fans should not miss the January sales.

Cosy winter clothes
Cosy winter clothes | ©Free-Photos/Pixabay

Parks

Retiro Park is beautiful in winter and the ideal place for a romantic, wrapped up walk or an active day with the family renting a rowing boat on the lake, renting bikes or braving a segway…

Rowing in Retiro Park
Rowing in Retiro Park | ©Harry Popoff/Flickr

Food

Winter is the best time to sample one of Madrid’s specialties – Cocido Madrileño, a hearty stew of meat and vegetables that is the ideal lunch on a chilly December day. And heavy dishes like roast suckling pig, the speciality of Sobrino de Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world, are best enjoyed on a winter’s day.

Cocido Madrileño is a winter favourite
Cocido Madrileño is a winter favourite | © Archeophoto/Shutterstock

Christmas

Madrid transforms into a twinkling vision during December, when beautiful lights are strung across the streets and huge Christmas trees dominate city plazas. Wander around the city’s Christmas markets in search of that perfect bauble then take a ride on the Christmas bus to enjoy the festive lights from the top deck.

Christmas in Madrid
Christmas in Madrid | ©Míriam Pérez/Flickr

Day trips

Summertime in Madrid is unbearably hot, making day trips something that often slips off the agenda for most visitors, who are more concerned with getting the ice-cold drinks in and finding some air conditioning than wandering around nearby cities. So winter is the ideal time to check out the likes of Toledo, Segovia or Ávila, three cities that are within easy each of Madrid by train and make an excellent day trip.

Great deals

Low season means excellent hotel deals – you could snap up a weekend away in Madrid for a fraction of the price you would have paid in the summer. And even better, you’ll beat the crowds that clog the city during spring, summer and autumn.

Tapas bars

The tradition of standing in crowded buzzing tapas bars is much more enjoyable during the winter, when the temperatures aren’t soaring, making any crowded space a place to avoid. Head to Cava Baja, Madrid’s ‘tapas street’, where you can sample some of the best tapas in the city.

Winter is a great time for a tapas bar crawl
Winter is a great time for a tapas bar crawl | ©Life-Of-Pix/Pixabay

Cave bars

Many of the restaurants and bars in Madrid’s old centre have basement-caves that make the perfect cosy place to enjoy a meal or a late-night drink during the winter months. Check out the labyrinthine rooms of Plaza Menor or the downstairs cave complete with ping pong table of La Musa Latina.

Chocolate and churros

There is no better time than winter to enjoy the rich, comforting taste of freshly made churros dipped in a cup of thick, glossy hot chocolate. There are churros shops all over the city, but the most famous is Chocolatería San Ginés, which is open 24 hours a day to satisfy every late night churros fix.

My family just made churros that were quite underwhelming so here's some #churrosmadrileños #canIgobackyet

A post shared by Sarah Miller (@smillsz) on

Winter sports

You can easily reach the ski resorts of the Sierra de Guadarrama, north of Madrid, for a day trip skiing or snowboarding, or just for a play in the snow if that’s more your thing. Take the Cercanías (commuter train) to Cercadila, from where you can take a smaller train up to Puerto de Navacerrada, the closest ski resort to Madrid.

You can go skiing close to Madrid
You can go skiing close to Madrid | © Ditty_about_summer/Shutterstock