Most international schools offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities, including sports, music, and drama. Some public schools offer extra-curricular activities as well, and there are many centers throughout the city where students can partake in after-school activities. But Spain still is not a country in which after school programs have taken root. To this day, children in Spain are taken care of after school either by a family member or a nanny/baby-sitter.
Both indoor and outdoor sports facilities are plentiful in Madrid. “Polideportivos” are municipal sports centers that offer a wide range of activities and classes and can be found in each district of Madrid. Most are well equipped and include facilities for several team and individual sports. European football (soccer), is the craze in Spain, and there are many opportunities for your child to join a local team or take soccer lessons. Many public parks also provide outdoor facilities for various sports and activities. There are also several horseback riding clubs and facilities around Madrid and many accept children at the age of 3. Swim lessons are available year round in a number of polideportivos, gyms and other centers that contain swimming facilities. For more information on where to find sports clubs and municipal sports facilities, visit the “Sport” section of this guide.
Although English-speaking children’s clubs are not prevalent in Madrid, there are many groups and classes for children, such as Boys and Girls Scouts and theater groups, in which children can interact with both Spanish and international children.
You will be pleasantly surprised to find that Madrid is home to several spacious parks that provide a haven for children to run free and enjoy the fresh air. Retiro Park, Madrid’s principal public park, is located in the heart of the city center. With a boating lake full of paddle boats for rent, children’s playgrounds, the magnificent Rose Garde, and acres upon acres of grass, Retiro has something for children of all ages.
Located on the West side of Madrid, Casa de Campo stretches over 700 acres and has been coined the “lung’ of Madrid. Though not as popular as Retiro, Casa de Campo houses the city’s zoo and amusement park and also includes an artificial lake for which boats may be rented. Other large parks include Parque Juan Carlos I, which provides many activities for children, and Parque del Oeste, an ideal play area for children. All parks are easily accessible by metro and are open during daylight hours. However, they are not a particularly safe place for children after dark.
For an extensive list of sports facilities and classes visit the sports section of this guide.
The following are links to the sites of some of the popular, child friendly activities and places discussed above:
Madrid Zoo and Aquarium
The Warner Theme Park in Madrid
The Madrid Division of the Scouts