4 Must-See Christmas Markets in Madrid, Spain, in 2023

Melhores Mercados de Natal em Madrid, Espanha.
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The Christmas Markets in Madrid kicked off on November 23, 2023, and the Christmas lights were turned on at 7:30 pm on November 25. These and other events promise to bring joy and illuminate the streets of Madrid until the Night of the Kings, that is, until January 6, 2024.

I returned a few days ago from Madrid, and I must say I was enchanted by the magic of the Christmas markets.

It’s all so beautiful! And what do you do at the Christmas Markets in Madrid?

I strolled through the extensive rows of stalls in search of unique Christmas gifts, watched street performances by artists, tasted the typical foods of the markets, and, like the locals, warmed my body and soul with hot drinks.

And, not to forget, the Christmas lights in Madrid are one of the city’s major attractions!

As you can see, there’s a lot to see and do in Madrid at Christmas, so I’ve gathered detailed information in this article about the main Christmas Markets I visited in Madrid, when they start, their locations, and what you can find in each of these markets.

Additionally, I’ve included hotel suggestions and practical information that I believe address the main questions about the Christmas markets in Madrid.

And to ensure you don’t miss a thing, check out the video I made during my days in the city, which I think reflects well what Christmas is like in the capital of Spain.

The Best Christmas Markets in Madrid to Visit in 2023

Christmas Market in Plaza Mayor, in the center of Madrid

Mercado de Natal na Plaza Mayor, centro de Madrid.
Christmas Market in Plaza Mayor, Central Madrid

The Christmas Market in Plaza Mayor is the oldest and most visited of Madrid’s Christmas markets. It is also the most beautiful in Madrid, in my opinion, but some say it’s the most beautiful in Spain.

I can’t confirm that since I haven’t visited them all, but believe me, it’s well worth exploring.

In total, there are 104 stalls with crafts, souvenirs, and unique gifts that fill the historic square of the Spanish capital. The lights of the stalls and the square’s decorations, along with the hustle and bustle of the market, create a wonderfully cozy Christmas atmosphere. I loved it! But if you’re into trying Christmas foods, the more suitable Christmas market in Madrid for that is La Navideña!

The Christmas market in Plaza Mayor is no longer just a market selling products, as it was in the 17th century; it’s now a lively place where locals and tourists gather in preparation for the Christmas festivities.

Moreover, there are daily performances by musicians and activities throughout the market.

Don’t limit yourself to Plaza Mayor; in the neighboring Plaza de Santa Cruz, there’s a carousel for those who fancy a ride.

Dates: November 24 to December 31, 2023.

Opening hours:

Sunday to Thursday: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Fridays, Saturdays, and holiday eves: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM

Location: Pl.Mayor, Madrid, 28012, Spain.

Admission: Free.

La Navideña, the Christmas Market at Plaza de España, in Madrid

La Navideña, o Mercado de Natal na Praça de Espanha, em Madrid.
Mercado de Natal na Praça de Espanha, ou La Navidenã, em Madrid.

La Navideña, meaning the Christmas Market at Plaza de España in Madrid, is dedicated to the children’s tale ‘The Nutcracker.’

With 40 exhibition stalls, it is smaller than the market in Plaza Mayor, but believe me, it is equally beautiful!

You can enjoy a 450 m2 ice rink for skating fun, as well as many food stalls. What can you see and buy there?

Well, delicious cheese raclettes, burgers, churros, and hot dogs. In terms of drinks, the offerings range from beer, chocolate to the usual Christmas choice – mulled wine with spices.

In the center of the Christmas market, there is a ‘bier garden’ similar to the German ones, which was quite popular…

There are also fireworks, a giant Christmas tree, and other surprises that are well worth exploring.

Dates: November 23, 2023, until January 2024.

Location: Pl. de España, 1, 28008 Madrid, Spain.

Admission: Free, but you need a ticket to use the ice rink.

Cortylandia, the Christmas Market at El Corte Inglés in Madrid

Cortylandia em Madrid.
Christmas events in Madrid: Cortylandia.

Cortylandia has become a Christmas tradition for Madrid families. In fact, the most interesting part is not so much the Christmas market but the show that takes place every hour on the facade of El Corte Inglés.

The Christmas market stalls operate at the back of El Corte Inglés and are quite different from the others in Madrid. To decide whether it’s better or worse, you’ll have to go there and check it out for yourself.

Dates: November 23, 2023, until January 5, 2024.

Location: El Corte Inglés Shopping Center, C. del Maestro Victoria, 4, 28013 Madrid, Spain.

Admission: Free.

Mercadillo del Gato (Westin Palace and Gran Vía)

Gran Via, no coração de Madrid, Espanha.
Gran Via, no coração de Madrid, Espanha.

Mercadillo del Gato has a special edition of Christmas markets, taking place in two different but not very far from each other locations in Madrid.

It is an indoor market, meaning it is very convenient if it is raining in Madrid.

Dates and Location: Westin Palace: December 1 to 10; at Gran Vía No. 13: from December 15, 2023, to January 5, 2024.

Admission: Free.

Other Christmas Markets and Events in Madrid

Navibus, o autocarro de Navidad em Madrid.
Navibus, the Christmas Bus in Madrid.

In addition to the markets I mentioned earlier, there are other markets and Christmas-related activities happening in Madrid.

  • Navibus – Christmas Bus: it’s the Christmas bus in Madrid, very popular, especially for families. Board a double-decker bus and tour the city’s most iconic places to enjoy the Christmas lights. The journey takes about 50 minutes, costs €4, and is available from November 25 to January 6, 2024.
  • Nativity Scene (Belén) and Christmas Tree at Puerta del Sol: although there is no Christmas market at Puerta del Sol, there is a giant Christmas tree and a nativity scene that you can see at the post office building. In addition, Puerta del Sol is the main location for New Year’s celebrations.

Best Things to Do in Madrid at Christmas

See the Christmas Lights aboard a Tuk Tuk

Luzes de Natal em Madrid.
Christmas Lights in Madrid.

How about seeing the Christmas lights in Madrid in the comfort of an electric Tuk Tuk?

If you liked the idea, then know that this tour to see the lights of Madrid passes through the most emblematic places of the Spanish capital, such as Cibeles Square, Alcala Gate, and Colon Square.

Buy your ticket online in advance to secure your spot and cancel if you change your mind, as this tour tends to sell out.

Visit the Christmas Nativity Scenes in Monuments and Churches

Presépios de Natal em Madrid.
Nativity Scenes in Madrid.

The Christmas nativity scenes, or Belén, are a great tradition in Madrid, and, for that reason, there are many to see.

Thus, you can marvel at the Nativity Scene at the Royal Palace or the Nativity Scene at the Museum of Madrid’s History, or explore the nativity scene in Puerta del Sol, specifically at the Royal Post Office, Plaza Puerta del Sol, No. 7.

And when I mentioned that there are many nativity scenes in Madrid, I was serious! So, take a look at a list of some of the Madrilenian Christmas nativity scenes that I managed to find:

  • Nativity Scene at Cibeles Palace: November 25 to January 5, 2024;
  • Monumental Nativity Scene in Alcalá de Henares: December 4 to January 7, 2024;
  • Plaza de San Andrés: December 13 to January 15, 2024;
  • Francisco Fatou Cultural Center: December 7 to January 3, 2024;
  • Casa del Reloj Cultural Center: November 21 to January 7, 2024;
  • Plaza de la Constitución: November 17 to January 6, 2024.

Christmas Lottery

The Christmas Lottery draw is a significant event in Madrid, so if you’re there at that time, try your luck.

Remember that the draw takes place on December 22, before Christmas, and it becomes a topic of conversation for a long time.

São Silvestre de Vallecas Race

Biergarden no Mercado de Natal da Praça de Espanha, em Madrid.
Biergarden at the Christmas Market in Plaza de España, Madrid.

The São Silvestre de Vallecas Race is a traditional year-end running event that takes place in the Vallecas neighborhood in Madrid.

To burn off the calories you likely accumulated during the Christmas celebrations, the people of Madrid have the traditional São Silvestre race.

Thus, the São Silvestre race in Madrid takes place on December 31st and is divided into two parts. On the one hand, there is the race open to the general public, for which you need to be over 10 years old to participate, and the race for athletes.

Both races are a popular and lively way to close the year, providing participants with the opportunity to burn off some calories before entering the new year.

New Year’s Eve in Madrid

Natal na Porta do Sol.
Christmas at Puerta del Sol

The epicenter of New Year’s celebrations in Madrid is at Puerta del Sol.

That’s where the giant Christmas tree is located, and the twelve chimes of the clock at the Royal House of the Post Office will be heard throughout the square.

A fireworks show and confetti shower are also promised to liven up the party, so you just have to bring the raisins and champagne/sparkling wine.

As usual, the music-filled celebration is expected to continue until the morning.

Fun fact: Did you know that on New Year’s Eve, i.e., on December 30, they have a rehearsal at Puerta del Sol with music and lights? It’s a rehearsal for the big day, so if you’re around, check out the event

Parade of the Three Wise Men in Madrid

Barraquinhas de comida nos Mercados de Natal de Madrid.
Food Stalls at the Christmas Markets in Madrid.

Nothing better than ending the Christmas celebrations with the traditional Three Kings Parade, which takes place every year on January 5th.

I remind you that Three Kings Day is more important for the Spaniards than Christmas Day or Christmas Eve itself, and it is when children open their Christmas presents.

Hotels near Christmas Markets in Madrid

Hotels in Madrid tend to get fully booked during Christmas and New Year’s, as there are various events and activities happening throughout the city.

Therefore, the earlier you book your hotel in Madrid, the better chance you have of finding a well-located hotel at reasonable prices.

So, to stay in the center of Madrid and visit the Christmas markets, I suggest checking out the Hotel Life Gran Via Design (4 stars) or the Hotel Moderno Puerta del Sol (3 stars).

If you didn’t like any of these suggestions, explore the map with hotels and apartments in Madrid.

Hotels in Madrid

Where to see the Christmas lights in Madrid?

Árvore de Natal na Gran Vía.
Christmas Tree on Gran Vía.

What Madrid doesn’t lack are streets adorned with sparkling Christmas lights. Here are the streets and squares in Madrid with the most beautiful decorations, in my opinion:

  • Plaza Cibeles (Cibeles Square)
  • Alcalá Street and Puerta de Alcalá (Alcalá Street and Alcalá Gate)
  • Gran Vía (Grand Avenue)
  • Plaza de España (Spain Square)
  • Plaza de Colón (Colón Square)
  • Calle Serrano (Serrano Street)
  • Velázquez Street (Velázquez Street)
  • Plaza de la Independencia (Independence Square)
  • Calle de los Reyes (Kings Street)

What is the most popular Christmas Market in Madrid?

Melhores Mercados de Natal em Madrid, Espanha.
Christmas Market at Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain.

The most popular Christmas Market in Madrid is the one at Plaza Mayor, in the historic center of the city. It is also the oldest and the most well-known.

However, in recent years, Cortylandia at El Corte Inglés has been receiving more and more praise and visitors. So, check out these two markets and decide for yourself which one is more worthwhile.

What are the main Christmas events in Madrid?

Carrossel em Madrid.
Carousel in Madrid.

I’ve mentioned throughout the article the main Christmas events in Madrid, but in summary, here they are: street lighting inauguration, Christmas markets, nativity scene exhibitions, ice rinks, Navibus (Christmas bus), music concerts, Christmas lottery, San Silvestre race, New Year’s Eve in Puerta del Sol, and the Three Kings Parade.

When does the Christmas Market start in Madrid?

Barraquinha do mercado de Natal do El Corte Inglés, em Madrid.
El Corte Inglés Christmas Market Stall in Madrid.

The Christmas Markets in Madrid start and end on different days; however, the Christmas Market in Plaza Mayor begins on November 24th and runs until December 31st.

Check the detailed information on the start and end dates of each Christmas market in Madrid throughout this article.

Are the Christmas Markets in Madrid safe?

Pista de gelo em Madrid.
Ice Rink in Madrid.

The Christmas Markets in Madrid are safe, so as long as you observe the normal safety rules in a European city, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Keep your belongings in check and stay vigilant at all times, especially when there are many people around.

However, it’s important to have travel insurance, and I use and recommend IATI Travel Insurance for coverage.

I consider the prices so affordable that it’s not worth traveling without insurance. Don’t let a medical emergency or other unforeseen event spoil your trip to the Christmas Markets in Madrid.

Get your travel insurance here (European Countries | Rest of The World).

How is the weather in Madrid during Christmas?

Mercado de Natal Praça de Espanha, em Madrid.
Christmas Market in Plaza de España during the day in Madrid.

With average temperatures ranging from 10º to 3º, it’s almost certain that you’ll experience chilly days in Madrid.

Compared to winter in Northern Europe, as I had been a few days earlier in Copenhagen, the weather in Madrid proved to be very pleasant. In comparison with the weather in Northern Portugal, I found it to be more or less the same.

Therefore, more important than the temperature in Madrid is your concern for layering. Invest in a good thermal shirt and a coat that you can easily take off when entering indoor spaces.

Almost all cafes, restaurants, shops, and hotels have air conditioning running, and the temperature difference between indoor and outdoor spaces might pose a challenge.

I also recommend bringing a hat and gloves to use outdoors while enjoying the Christmas lights or visiting the Christmas Markets in Madrid.

Final Tips to Make the Most of Christmas Markets in Madrid

  • If you’re traveling by plane, when packing your suitcase (or backpack), reserve some space to bring souvenirs home. You’ll find unique gifts as well as Christmas sweets in the markets, so there’s a good chance you’ll want to take them home.
  • Bring a reusable shopping bag with you to maintain an eco-friendly attitude even while traveling.
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Other Articles about European Christmas Markets

Would you like to explore other Christmas markets? Then, we take the liberty to suggest that you check out the following posts:

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