Pair Madrid's historic and royal city with Spain's sunny southern coastline for the perfect family-friendly combination. Kids love all the sites in Madrid's Old Town (and all its delicious snacks, like churros and chocolate), and nothing beats a little time on the coast, with a playful beach day and fun day trips to historic villages, exciting sea cliffs, and incredible caves.

Highlights

  • Row boats on the lake in Madrid's famous Retiro Park
  • Learn how to make delicious marzipan in Toledo
  • Enjoy a day at the beach along Málaga's incredible coastline
  • Explore the impressive caves in Nerja

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Madrid, Explore the City Madrid
Day 2 Old Madrid Tour, Free Afternoon Madrid
Day 3 Family Day Trip to Toledo Madrid
Day 4 Train to Málaga, Private Guided Tour of Málaga Málaga
Day 5 Enjoy the Beaches of Málaga Málaga
Day 6 Family Day Trip to White Villages & Caves Málaga
Day 7 Depart Spain  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Madrid, Explore the City

Enjoy a kids' tour and scavenger hunt at the El Prado museum

Welcome to Spain! Upon arrival in Madrid, check into your downtown hotel and enjoy the rest of the day exploring the city at your own pace. Tomorrow will be the grand tour of this historic metropolis, so you might prefer more leisurely or personalized activities this afternoon and evening. 

Consider taking in a show! Gran Vía is Madrid's answer to Broadway, and on it, you'll find plenty of theaters showcasing plays and musical productions, many of which suit family outings. Past kid-friendly options have been "El Rey León" (The Lion King) and "Aladdin: The Musical." The options for culture in this city are vast, and you could also visit museums, art galleries, and live music venues if the mood strikes. For example, Madrid's most important museum, El Prado, provides an excellent kids' tour with a scavenger hunt. 

When night falls, indulge in Madrid's world-class culinary scene. If you want to dine amid history, head to the city center and Botín, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest restaurant in the world—it first opened its doors in 1725. Kids are always excited to eat here, and adults will love it, too. 

Day 2: Old Madrid Tour, Free Afternoon

Paddle a boat in Madrid's Retiro Park

After breakfast, you'll join a local guide on a historical walking tour through Madrid's oldest barrio (neighborhood), the Austrias district, to get a sense of what life was like in Old Madrid. As you journey through medieval streets, you'll learn about the Iberian Caliphate's reign in the 8th century and how Madrid became the capital of Spain in 1561. Adults will discover many interesting facts and anecdotes about the capital's unique history while kids stay engaged with exciting and unforgettable stories.

After the tour, you'll have a free afternoon to explore Madrid on your own. One idea is to explore Retiro Park. Rent a rowboat and paddle around the park's lake, visit the tiny house known as Casita del Pescador, and check out the Crystal Palace, a structure made almost entirely of glass with free art exhibitions. When hungry, head to San Miguel Market, where you can buy various kid-adored-and-approved tapas from the many stalls. 

Alternatively, you could ride on Madrid's cable car, El Teleférico, to the heart of Casa de Campo, one of the city's green lungs and the perfect place to run around and burn off any jetlag. If you're using a stroller, you can easily bring it onboard with you. 

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Day 3: Family Day Trip to Toledo

Family poses in Toledo
A family uses Toledo as a backdrop

A half-hour train ride south of Madrid lies Toledo, a historic city once Spain's capital in the 16th century. It enjoys a scenic location atop a gorge overlooking the Río Tajo, an impressive sight for even the youngest travelers.

In the Middle Ages, Toledo was the "city of the three cultures," a place where—legend has it—Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities peacefully coexisted. You can see remnants of this in the old Arab, Muslim, and Christian monuments that still stand. These include the 15th-century Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, the former Roman palace Alcázar de Toledo, and the Moorish Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca, which dates to the 12th century.

Enjoy visiting these historic landmarks and more in this incredible city that many describe as an open-air museum—perfect for curious kids—and listening to exciting stories and tales of Toledo's history. Then, take part in two kid-friendly activities. You'll first explore the world of Toledo steel and visit a foundry where ancient blacksmiths forged unique swords. Lastly, visit a cigarral, a manor estate, to learn how to make the city's famed (and perfectly sweet) marzipan.

Day 4: Train to Málaga, Private Tour of Málaga

View of the Port of Málaga
Explore Málaga with an exciting kid-friendly walking tour

After a leisurely breakfast, say goodbye to your hotel in Madrid and head to the train station with your pre-booked tickets. You'll enjoy an exciting train journey to the country's southern region and the beautiful coastal city of Málaga. Upon arrival, make your way to your hotel and settle in before embarking on your first adventure.

On a private half-day tour, you'll discover all there is to know and love about Málaga. Located at the top of the Costa del Sol, this ancient metropolis has more culture and history than many other cities in Spain, as it dates back 3,000 years to Phoenecian times. Plus, it just so happens to be the city that produced Picasso! Your energetic local guide will show you the most important monuments of Málaga, such as the Roman Theater, the Alcazaba, and the majestic Cathedral of Málaga, all with a kid-friendly twist.

At the end of your tour, you'll uncover Málaga's hidden corner, which requires an adventure in itself! The Chinitas Passage holds a secret only you and your kids can discover on your visit.

Day 5: Enjoy the Beaches of Málaga

Malaga beach
Swim, play, and relax on one of the beaches in or near Málaga

Kids love playing at the beach, so a family trip to southern Spain should include at least a day of swimming, lounging, snorkeling, and splashing around on the shore! In Málaga, you have plenty of options. For an easy beach day, opt to stay in the city and enjoy the golden La Malagueta Beach, located in the neighborhood of the same name in the city center. If you prefer to explore the coast a bit and get away from the city, head about an hour east of Málaga by car to the fishing village of Nerja. Known for its coastal cliffs and beautiful beaches, it's an excellent option for a day on the coast.

Whichever beach you choose, save time in the afternoon or evening for a meal on the coast! Southern Spain is known for its fun and lively chiringuitos, casual and family-friendly beach bars serving some of the region's freshest seafood. You can find these on any beach in the area. If you prefer to return to Málaga, the tapas culture in the city is just as strong as anywhere else in Andalusia. You'll be spoiled for options of atmospheric spots serving these tasty, casual bites.

Day 6: Family Day Trip to White Villages & Caves

Inside Nerja Cave
Navigate the impressive caves of Nerja

Today is a day for a family adventure! A private driver will pick you up and take you about one hour east of Málaga to the beautiful white villages of Frigiliana and Nerja. During the Roman times, these villages painted some of the buildings white, a practical solution to stave off the region's hot weather, as white reflects light and heat. Today, you and your kids can enjoy exploring their ancient streets.

Some highlights in Frigiliana include visiting the Molasses Factory housed in a 16th-century manor, the very last sugarcane factory still in operation in Europe, and walking up to the remains of a historic Arab Castle, where you'll enjoy truly incredible views. In Nerja, hang out in Plaza Balcón de Europa, a beautiful and buzzy square that eventually leads to the famed Balcón de Europa observation deck that sticks out over the water. Find a good place for lunch along the famously narrow and charming Calle de la Gloria

Your excursion wouldn't be complete without a visit to the magnificent Caves of Nerja, a series of caverns that stretch 5 miles (3 km), complete with hanging stalactites and columns, magical cave paintings, and a unique theater that holds regular concerts. You could also stop at the 19th-century El Acueducto del Águila or the Cliffs of Maro-Cerro Gordo, a nature preserve and stretch of coastline with hiking trails leading to caves, beaches, coves, and incredible viewpoints. 

Day 7: Depart Spain

Balcón de Europa, Nerja
Nerja's Balcón de Europa

Your family adventure in Spain has come to an end! You'll make your way back to Madrid via the 3.5-hour train service, then head to the airport to catch your flight home. Safe travels! Adiós

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Map

Map of Spain Family Trip: Madrid to Málaga - 7 Days
Map of Spain Family Trip: Madrid to Málaga - 7 Days