Wondering what to do in Madrid on Christmas Day when seemingly everything is closed? What about New Year’s? Never fear—you’ve come to the right place!
Just before the holidays, Madrid is a flurry of hustle and bustle as crowds make their way to the stores to finish their shopping beneath the twinkle of Christmas lights.
Then, on Christmas Eve, seemingly all goes quiet. Families gather for a special meal at home complete with sweet treats like turrón, and the city essentially shuts down until December 26. A week later, the cycle repeats on New Year’s Eve and January 1.
However, if you’re wondering what to do in Madrid on Christmas Day, there are still plenty of ways to make the most of the winter holidays. These tips will ensure an unforgettable stay in one of Europe’s most magical cities at the most wonderful time of year!
1. Explore Mercado de San Miguel
If you’re not sure what to do in Madrid on Christmas Day, head to the market for a tapas crawl. It is open on a special holiday schedule on December 25 and January 1.
2. Take a Walk in the Park
Madrid’s sunny yet cool winter days make for the perfect opportunity to get out and about. Grab your comfiest coat and get some fresh air by heading to one of the city’s many beautiful parks.
Even popular green spaces like Retiro tend to be much quieter during the holidays. Local families come to enjoy the fresh air and walk off the excessive amounts of holiday food they’ve just enjoyed. It’s one of the most relaxing options for what to do on Christmas Day in Madrid!
3. Indulge in Churros and Chocolate
There’s no bad time of year to enjoy churros and chocolate, but the sweet indulgence tastes even better as a way to warm up after a brisk walk in the cool winter air. It’s one of our favorite cold-weather treats!
Head to Chocolatería San Ginés to indulge in a Madrid classic: thick, piping hot churros and rich, soul-warming hot chocolate. For more than 120 years, San Ginés has been the reference point for churros in Madrid, and the ever-present line stretching out the door proves that. (We promise it’s worth the wait!)
The best part: San Gines is open 365 days a year. Join locals and visitors alike as you tuck into one of the most delicious treats the city has to offer.
Want to learn the secrets of ordering churros con chocolate like a local? Check out the video below to step inside San Ginés with Devour Madrid expert guide Joy!
4. Head Out to Eat
Because Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve respectively are the more important celebrations in much of Spain, many family-run restaurants will close on those days. The next day, many spots across Madrid open and welcome guests who want to celebrate the holiday with a meal out.
Local tip: As the holidays can be a busy time of year, we highly recommend making a reservation at your eatery of choice.
5. Explore the City
Christmas and New Year’s Day tend to be pretty quiet as most (if not all) stores and tourist attractions are closed. There’s no better time to explore Madrid and its diverse barrios with practically nobody else in the way!
Check out colorful, international Lavapiés or picturesque, charming Alonso Martínez if you want to get off the beaten path. Take advantage of the peaceful atmosphere to discover hidden plazas and gorgeous architecture (and get those once-in-a-lifetime pictures of Madrid’s most famous landmarks with fewer crowds!).
6. Go to the Movies
Going to the movies on Christmas or New Year’s Day is a popular tradition no matter where you are in the world. Grab your palomitas (popcorn) and head to one of our favorite movie theaters in Madrid to catch the biggest Hollywood blockbusters of the moment—in English! It’s the perfect way to relax and chill out in between exploring the city and devouring an evening meal.
Insider’s tip: Spanish cinemas often have numbered seating for movies, so be sure to think ahead about where you’d like to sit.
What to Do in Madrid on Christmas Day: FAQs
If you’re visiting Madrid during the Christmas season, you’re in luck. You can explore the Christmas markets, marvel at the colorful holiday lights, and dig into some of the best seasonal Spanish dishes!
Christmas is an absolutely magical time of year in Madrid. It’s a bit more crowded than the rest of the winter low season, and temperatures can be chilly, but it’s well worth it for the beautiful holiday lights and soul-warming comfort food.
Update Notice: This post was originally published on December 23, 2015 and was updated with new text and photos on November 9, 2021.