5 Reasons Why Spain is Great for Kids!
Updated: May 26
If you are considering a trip to Europe with your kids, Spain might be a great first choice. Spanish people love kids. We have been to a few places in Europe and always feel welcome with our kids. In Spain, it was different though. Not only did we feel welcomed, we felt like people went out of their way to be accommodating. We were told before we left that the Spanish people loved kids. When we arrived we saw it first hand.
1. Spanish people consider kids to be a part of the family and place an emphasis on involving them. We booked a food tasting tour thru withlocals.com and were very pleased with our guide, Ines. She went out of her way to tell us the historical significance of Barcelona and interacted fabulously with our boys, Maddox and Henry. She even had a conversation with our son, Henry, about his Lego figure he named Skillet.
Ines was kind, considerate and willing to listen to Henry's crazy tales of his made-up Lego figure. She explained to us that the Spanish people see kids a natural part of life (as they certainly are) and they are to be included. This is not a society where kids are told that they are to be seen and not heard. She explained it to me this way, "kids go to dinner with the family, if the family goes out. They are part of the family just like grandma is. You don't leave the kids and grandma at home. They are part of the family". Often, when we go to dinner or other events with our children, we are made to feel like we are arriving with an unwanted burden. In Spain, we never felt like we were in the way or a problem to those around us.
Madrid Hotels- We stayed in two Petit Palace hotels and thought they provided a great value for families
2. Spain is filled with playgrounds. As we walked thru both Madrid and Barcelona, we saw small playgrounds tucked all over the city. One of our favorite playgrounds was in the Plaza de Santa Ana in Madrid. We found this small playground on our last night when we wanted to give our boys a place to run around. I looked up playgrounds on yelp and it happened to be the closest one. I could not have been more pleased when we found it. It was perfect! The playground is installed in a large square surrounded by restaurants which all have tables with umbrellas looking on. It was perfect for the kids and parents!
We were able to sit at a nearby table and have a drink while our boys played. There families everywhere doing the same. Some Spanish kids were having a water balloon fight and our boys found some American children they could communicate with as well. I can't help but feel jealous of the beautiful square replete with umbrella-covered seats, drinks, and a playground for kids to enjoy all in one place. We need that here. We also found a very well placed playground in the Madrid Airport. It happened to be right next to our terminal. It is the perfect spot for kids to burn some energy before a long flight and our kids enjoyed it immensely. I have to say, I am jealous of this playground as well. They should be in airports everywhere!
3. Taxi Drivers are accommodating in Spain. The taxi drivers were also far more considerate in Spain. We found that several of the taxi drivers had booster seats in their trunks. They readily pulled them out and installed them when they saw our kids. Some of the other taxis were vans with seats that converted to booster seats. I have not encountered child seats so readily available (in some not all taxis) as we did in Spain; it made a very positive impression. In addition to offering child seats, another cab driver also gave our boys each a lollipop. We were so grateful for all of these kindnesses and accommodations.
4. Spain has a very relaxed atmosphere and pace of life. We are talking about a country with scheduled nap time, after all. None of the staff or other patrons in restaurants, for example, ever gave the impression that we were putting them out by showing up with a stroller and two kids. We were more often than not were received by friendly and welcoming people who gave our kids fist bumps and high fives. They engaged with all of us and made us feel welcome. They even stopped to listen to our boys, Maddox and Henry, explain details about their Lego figures and their weapons and armor. Other staff members helped stow away our stroller in restaurants and one even carried it up a flight of stairs for us. We have certainly entered restaurants in other cities around the world and felt the glares from people who did not think we should be there. We never felt anything like that in Spain. We all felt welcome.
5. Spain has great desserts! Like most European countries, desserts are plentiful in Spain. Travelers can easily find a wide range of deserts from pastries, ice cream, and gelato and of course, churros served with a cup of thick hot chocolate for dipping. We found two places in Madrid that we highly recommend for this delicious dessert.
1. Chocolateria San Gines- This delicious chocolate shop has been serving this much sought after desert in Mardid since 1894. It is located close to the Puerta del Sol which is in the heart of Madrid.
Many visitors and Spaniards enjoy this treat for breakfast on weekends or for special occasions. We visited at night and though it was busy, we were quickly served and did not have to deal with any long lines. Be aware of touristy spots selling churros around the city to make sure you are getting a quality product. We heard a few warnings that the chocolate at some spots is powered and not melted chocolate bars.
2. El Riojano- We loved El Riojano as well, which was established even earlier in 1855. It is also located close to the Puerta del Sol. We thought the chocolate here was better than at San Gines. It was richer and had a deeper chocolate flavor. Instead of a churro, El Riojano serves its chocolate with a ladyfinger biscuit-like cookie. We liked the cookie but would have preferred a churro for the crunch.
If you are in Madrid, I encourage you to try both shops and see which you prefer. I for one cannot pick a favorite. In the perfect world, I would have the chocolate from El Riojano with a churro from San Gines.
It was not that long ago that I thought I could not go to Europe with my kids until they were close to 10 years old or even older. I am glad we took a leap and tried well before then. The flights are long from the states, but also manageable. Once you reach Europe or your other faraway destination, you and your kids will have the opportunity to soak up another culture and learn about the differences that make each place unique. If you are looking for a great kid-friendly place to start, I highly recommend Spain. It's full of great culture, wonderful people, delicious foods and fun for the entire family.
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