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Christmas is a very special time of the year and Madrid likes to celebrate it in grand style. I’ve prepared a Madrid Christmas lights walk so that you can see for yourself how gorgeous the city looks like.
Traditionally, the major of the city inaugurates the Christmas lights on the last Friday of November. At the end of the ceremony, the major activates an electric switch and the magic invades the streets. Thanks to an effective costs saving policy, the City Council manages to provide more illuminated areas each year.
Additionally, Madrid decided a few years ago to turn to its creative culture artists to make every year’s displays unforgettable. Once a year Spain’s best-known architects, artists, along with fashion and graphic designers propose a very particular vision to adorn the city in breathtaking style.
As aforementioned, Madrid Christmas lights start on the last Friday of November and end on January 6th. In order to plan your walk here is the Christmas lights schedule:
Duration: 1h30 approximately
When: The walk makes sense only in Christmas time.
Highlights: Puerta de Alcalá, Plaza de Cibeles, Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor.
START. The walk starts at any Metro station in Madrid.
1. Take the metro to travel to the first highlight of the walk, calle Serrano. Descend at Serrano Metro station (line 4, brown) as you exit the Metro you will be at the corner of calle Goya and calle Serrano. Turn left and start walking along calle Goya and towards calle Velázquez.
2. Walk two blocks and turn right on calle Velázquez. The relatively long avenue is full of boutiques and towards its end has some impressive 1900s buildings.
3. Walk until the end of the block and turn left on calle Jorge Juan, an elegant and cozy street. As you pass across lovely decorated windows and tempting restaurants, you can also notice of the entrances of the neighborhood’s local market -Mercado de la Paz.
4. Walk down to reach calle Serrano and the Plaza de Colón. You will easily recognize the square thanks to huge Spain flag located in the center. Calle Serrano, a busy and fashionable street, is one of the main arteries of the Barrio de Salamanca and is full of luxury shops. Apart from the window shopping have a look at the beautiful lights on the street.
5. As you get to the end of calle Serrano, you will notice the Puerta de Alcalá. Walk around the square towards El Retiro Park and admire the Puerta de Alcalá’s spectacular decoration. It’s one of the walk’s highlights.
6. Cross the street at the light and walk towards El Retiro Park. Walk along the puerta de Alcalá and keep descending calle Alcalá to get to the most important square of the city. Plaza de Cibeles is another special landmark in Madrid and along with the City Hall (the old Post Office building), the Banco de España and the Casa de America offer a jaw dropping lightning.
7. As you did with the Puerta de Alcalá, walk along the Cibeles fountain and across the Banco de España. Calle Alcalá becomes a bit steeper but the Christmas lights and the buildings’ illumination are so thrilling you won’t even notice.
8. Continue on to calle Alcalá (don’t cross to the other side of the street or you’ll end up in calle Gran Vía). This is also a very beautiful area with several impressive buildings such as the Círculo de Bellas Artes or the ones located at the corner of calle Sevilla, both belonging to financial institutions.
9. A couple of minutes later you are in Puerta de Sol, the very heart of Madrid and Spain. In fact, it’s the center of the Spanish road network. This busy and lively square is all always full of people and even more during Christmas time. Have a look around; there is always a huge metallic Christmas tree.
10. Walk towards the famous clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the 12 grapes and the beginning of a new year. If you want to indulge yourself and the lines aren’t endless, enter La Mallorquina and try some if its delicious sweets.
11. Continue until you exit the square taking calle Mayor. Calle Mayor marks the entrance to the Madrid de los Austrias, the oldest part of the city. Always busy, you will find it packed. Walk along the left boardwalk and take calle Postas.
12. Unfortunately calle Postas has become nowadays a tourist-oriented street, abandoning its once upon a time charm. However, it’s still the best street to enter the end point of the walk.
END. The Madrid Christmas walk ends at Plaza Mayor. The square hosts Madrid’s most famous Christmas market with more than 100 stalls occupying it every year. Dating back to 1860 it is a very popular attraction among Madrileños who go there looking for miniatures to compose the Belén (Nativity scene).
From here you can have several alternatives, depending on how tired you are.
View Madrid Christmas Lights Walk in a larger map