Many people relocate to Spain as expats for the weather, and we most certainly do enjoy a glorious summer here. However, when we moved to Madrid from the UK, we did not expect that it would get quite so cold in winter!
Madrid actually has a high altitude, standing at 666 metres. In fact, the highest point can be found at the statue of the fallen angel in Retiro park. This statue is a depiction of Lucifer, making it somewhat coincidental that Madrid is at 666m above sea level!
Being away from the coast and high in altitude, when winter descends on Madrid it's time to dig out your thermals. Expect lows of 4° in December and its not unheard of for the lake at Retiro park to freeze over.
So that brings us on to 'what to do in winter in Madrid' to keep warm and enjoy the city.
Visit the numerous Museums
Madrid has an extensive collection of museums for you to escape the cold. The most popular 3, the Prado Museum, Reina Sofia and Thyssen Museum make up what is known as 'the golden triangle of art'. Within this triangle is the highest concentration of art in Europe. The Prado Museum alone has over 7000 pieces of art, of which it displays 1000 pieces at any one time.
Whether you are interested in art or not, you are bound to recognise names such as Picasso, Salvador Dali, Goya and Velazquez. You can see work from all of these artists within these three museums.
Watch a Flamenco Show
While Flamenco does not originate here in Madrid, there are many places to enjoy a show.
The most authentic place to watch a show is Villa Rosa, which can be found near Plaza Santa Ana. You can pay for a three course meal including a drink and the show from €65 per person. This is a little pricier than other places but you will have a better experience.
Enjoy an evening of Tapas
Madrid has one of the highest concentrations of restuarants in Europe. There are so many choices when it comes to eating out it can be a little bit overwhelming. In winter, make sure you get indoors and enjoy one of the many welcoming bars and restaurants serving tapas.
We reccomend checking out Refra, Arbonaida, Toma Jamon, Ramales and Los Angeles. These are all very local places with a lot of character. Make sure you have some basic Spanish phrases ready to use!
Enjoy the Christmas Markets
Now you will have to wrap up, but winter in Madrid would not be the same without checking out the Christmas markets.
These start setting up in late November and are scattered across the city. The main and busiest Christmas market can be found at Plaza Mayor, the main Plaza in Madrid.
You can expect to find crafts, gifts and an abundance of food and drinks to enjoy!
Ride the Navibus
For this activity you are going to have to get organised because it will book up very quickly!
From December to 6 January the Navibus (Christmas bus) comes to Madrid and takes you on a tour around the city so you can see all the Christmas displays and lights that dress the city for the festive period.
You will need to make a reservation online. The bus leaves from the Salamanca neighbourhood.
Having spent our first summer in Madrid in the blistering heat, we have welcomed some cooler weather and love the fact that the city of Madrid still has so much to offer when winter comes. We will definately be enjoying a mulled wine at the Christmas markets and taking a tour on the Navibus!
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