Visiting Barcelona with kids? Any parent (including myself) must plan a holiday very differently to those kids and care-free visitors. On a city visit, you want to balance culture, museums and highlights with a good peppering of fun and interest for your kids. Nothing could be worse than spending all that money and having your little ones moaning about how boring everything is!
As an experienced family guide and parent living in Barcelona, I am here to make your life a little easier. I have made a comprehensive list of things to do with kids on your visit here. One big word of advice: don’t try to cram too much in as your off spring will get grumpy, tired and rebel. Balance a museum morning with a fun afternoon activity like beach and ice-cream (great bribes for good morning behaviour).
Scroll down, see what activities might suit your family’s interest and have a great holiday.
This post was published in January 2020
- Top 15 Things to do with Kids in Barcelona
- 1- Learn as a family in a museum
- 2- Do the children’s classics
- 3- Take a fun family walking tour
- 4- Go crazy at the adventure parks
- 5- Discover the special 100+ year old establishments
- 6- Enjoy the rides at a fun fair
- 7- Live the outdoors at a public park
- 8- Head to the water for a swim or a boat ride
- 9- Climb up for panoramic views
- 10- Marvel at Gaudí’s masterpieces
- 11- Stay after dark for the night activities
- 12- Refresh the family at a fun special bar
- 13- Get into the boots of Messi and soccer
- 14- Try an escape-room game
- 15- Travel to Costa Brava for kayaking fun
Top 15 Things to do with Kids in Barcelona
1- Learn as a family in a museum
Science Museum (Cosmocaixa)
I always love visiting science museums and you just can’t go wrong with kids in tow in this one. The building itself is vast with many floors closed off or not exhibiting. From experience, my advice is to go down 5 floors via the beautiful spiral ramp (kids love it), and you will find to the main exhibits. Here there are lots of fun things to engage all.
You can explore the Amazon rain forest, well a fraction of it any way. Start by looking through the glass windows at the fish, turtles and waterlogged underneath of the forest. Go through the dark educational tunnel underneath the trees (kids love this part, it is a little scary) and come up into the humid habitat itself. There are even some native birds flying around for that touch of authenticity.
Then there is the typical “touch the buttons and learn” section. Scientific experiments showing you the theory behind everyday patterns of the world. From wave simulations to sandstorm dune makers, it is an interactive way for kids to learn. A section on geology helps them understand volcanoes and different types of rock. There is even a reconstructed research hut shown from the Spanish base of Juan Carlos I in Antarctica. That area is fleshed out with photos, explanations of the fragile eco-system and cute model penguins which my son loves!
Check out what temporary shows are there, I have never been let down by one yet. There are also workshops, activities and a planetarium. These all cost extra but are worth researching to see which might appeal to your family.
OUR TIP: Although not one of the most expensive museums in Barcelona you can enter for free on Sunday afternoons after 3pm. If you are going to buy The Barcelona Card you can also enter free of charge to this attraction.
If your family has a sweet tooth you might be interested in this visit. This is a nice little filler in museum that provides insight into the world of chocolate. It is not too big and 45 minutes to an hour is ample time to go through the building. In that time, you will see cool chocolate sculptures (some a little old!) and learn the origin of chocolate and how Europe received and modified this new taste from the Americas.
You can round of the visit with trying some hot chocolate which is super yummy in their cafe. There is also a gift shop so some tasty souvenirs for the folks back home is also an option. Check out their workshops and family activities on their page and for an extra charge your family could be elbow deep in chocolate making!
OUR TIP: The museum visit is not an expensive venture, but you can do it for free if have are purchased The Barcelona Card.
Natural History Museum (Museu Blau)
Firstly, the building that holds this Natural History Museum is just cool, with its triangular corners and pitch-black interior walls (eerily lit up). Inside, there are many intriguing animations projected on the walls and floors helping to illustrate the evolution of Earth. There are fossils, stones, skeletons, photos, texture grids on display in glass cases but the most captivating for the young ones would be the real stuffed animals.
This old collection was re-housed here a few years back and also includes a wide array of exotic creepy crawlies for an added element of fun. The museum descriptions can be a little dry so, as a parent, you may have to spice that up a little for your offspring.
For the toddlers there is a special room where they can touch and examine all objects on show from pine cones to animal fur to test tubes to rocks. My son had the best time ever here (tantrums leaving, of course) but please be aware it is only a 30-minute time allowance inside. You need to check out the timetable for this space as it is not accessible all the time.
This museum is not an expensive one but, if you don’t mind the local family crowds (kids might even make new friends), Sunday after 3pm is free entrance as well as all day on the first Sunday of the month.
OUR TIP: There are a few excellent playgrounds behind the museum for the kids to let off steam after their visit. The first one to the side is for older kids, across from that is quite a high climbing frame with an impressive slide to get down. A 30-second extra walk brings you to the playground for toddlers.
This is a favourite for Catalan families and makes for a great museum visit. The building itself is an old medieval ship building yard (14th century) and its just beautiful and huge. There are cool scale models of ships throughout the centuries, ancient maps that show a peculiar versions of land masses, morbid descriptions of life at sea and an interactive area with screens to help keep those little fingers occupied while learning.
The crowning glory is a life size reconstruction of an 16th century Spanish Armada flagship that is located at the heart of the museum. Children love it and you are even allowed to go up and wander around its deck.
Because of its vast size it also hosts travelling exhibitions of international fame. It could appeal to your young ones or not. Be aware that it is a separate entrance fee in.
OUR TIP: This is one of those museums that are free in on Sunday afternoon (that’s when I visit) or the whole day on the first Sunday of the month. They have a coffee shop there too with a big outdoor patio where the kids vent off a little steam.
Museum of illusions
Located in the heart of El Raval, this museum will be a sure hit with the kids. On a visit with my sister and her little ones we could not stop laughing and even my one-year old son got involved in posing. How does it work? Well, scenes are painted realistically on floors and walls and you simply insert yourself into the mural and get a member of your crew to take a photo with their camera.
Some of the paintings relate to Barcelona (we helped build Sagrada Familia in one composition) and others are just a good laugh. We got about 45-50 minutes of fun out of the visit as it is quite a small space and it might feel a bit squashy if there are a lot of visitors.
OUR TIP: There always seems to be discounts online for this attraction (some up to 50%). I would check online and pre-purchase your tickets before entering as it will for sure be cheaper than at the door.
Big Fun Museum
Think that the Museum of Illusions is a great option for your family? Why not combine it with the Big Fun museum off Las Ramblas. They are run by the same company and they offer good combo deals for the family.
It is more of the fun illusions but, in this museum, they use more 3-D props rather than 2-D paintings. There is an upside-down house, giants home, world of sweets and so on. It is definitely a place to hang out with the kids and just horse around having fun!
OUR TIP: Make sure when booking the ticket that it is for all the attractions of the museum. Some cheaper entrance tickets only allow you into one room of the museum and is quite bad value for the price they charge.
Let me first state that this would be an exhibit for older children and the brave of heart. I say this because a highlight for some are the horror and fantasy section located on the lower levels. This museum has some mainstream figures from modern day culture, but don’t expect Madame Tussaud of London.
What it does offer is a fun way to learn about famous historical Spanish people. They also have special night visits which seem to focus on the fright element, so again, an option for the older kids.
OUR TIP: I would definitely recommend renting an audio guide as a lot of the models are Spanish and might be unknown to people visiting from abroad.
Giants Museum (La Casa dels Entremesos)
This local cultural centre is a big hit for adults and kids alike on our family tours. In Barcelona we have the tradition of parading giants during festivals… and what an amazing sight it is. Walking mannequins stretching up to 5-metres high with eye catching costumes and each with an individual dance to perform.
Some of these mammoth figurines live in this building alongside models of beasts and giant heads (on our tours we even allow the little ones to try them on). Videos run continually from screens on the walls illustrating all these figures in action during the festivals and makes a fun wander around for young and old.
Partly funded by donations, please don’t forget to leave a little something in the wooden coin box at reception as there is no charge in.
OUR TIP: At Christmas, there is a wonderful exhibition of hand-made mini scenes, some showing the birth and others illustrating stories from Jesus’s childhood. It is an enchanting show but often missed by visitors as you have to head up the easily missed stairs to the second floor to catch it.
2- Do the children’s classics
We all know that fish reside in aquariums and this is no different in Barcelona’s one. As well as exotic fish, turtles, frogs and fossils on display there is also penguins, sharks and sting rays with timed feedings so visitors can catch all the action.
I went here for my son’s birthday and was impressed by how much there was for kids to see and do. There were lots of interactive exhibits where children could press buttons, climb through tubes, go down slides and let off steam in an educational way. There is also a playground outside on the second floor where you can sip your coffee and eat your sandwich while keeping an eye on your hyperactive little charges.
One of the highlights is the Oceanarium with its automatic walkway through a large glass tube 80 metres long. As you look through the glass it truly feels like you are in the deep depths viewing all the fish action. This includes being eyed up by a few impressive looking sharks.
OUR TIP: Sharks are only fed by divers on Tuesdays and Fridays so this is a good day to visit and catch a lot of the feedings for the various residents. Arrive inside before 11.30 as this is the first meal of the day starting with the penguins.
The zoo was opened in 1892 with wildlife conservation at its core. Located in the expansive Parc de la Ciutadella, it covers a vast 32-acres and houses a great variety of reptiles, birds, mammals and amphibians. The layout of the zoo provides a pleasant walk around the enclosures. The explanations of each animal are nicely worded for the kids and also highlight important issues such as extinction risk level and conservational works.
As well as the enclosures, children love the more interactive spaces such as the farm, pony rides, elephant training area and large playgrounds. There are daily dolphin and sea lion shows and kids can delight in watching the adorable penguins being fed too.
If you’re feeling a little lazy on those hot summer afternoons or have a couple of lagging little ones, then you can take the small electric train that covers most of the grounds for a few euros. Alternatively, do it in your own time by hiring your own electric buggy for an hour or two.
The zoo is most famous for its beloved white albino gorilla, Snowflake, who sadly died in 2003. In 2016 Barcelona’s City Council got to work on changing the image of the zoo. They created a team made up of 40 different members including pro-animal rights associations, scientists and zoology experts. This new team meant all groups were being represented and had a say in the mental and physical health of these precious creatures.
OUR TIP: Barcelona weather is almost always perfect so take a picnic. There are plenty of lovely green spots to set a blanket down on and enjoy some good food (we wouldn’t really recommend what’s on offer there). They also offer a host of educational activities so have a look at what’s on before you go.
Hop on Hop off bus
I sometimes feel there is a little “bus snobbery” when it comes down to taking the tourist bus in a new city. Some people admit to this being the first thing they do on every new adventure but a number uncomfortably sidestep the suggestion with an “I don’t think we’ll have time this visit” in response. So, I ask what is there not to like? It involves basking in the Mediterranean sun whilst having a new city slowly and gently unveiled for you. It gives you an idea of the urban layout and lets you know what you want to go back and see. Equally, it helps you strike off the “to do” list things that look less than expected.
Barcelona has two companies: Barcelona Bus Turístic and Barcelona City Tour that provide the same concept and, more or less, the same routes. The buses are clean and frequent, and the staff friendly. You can buy discounted family tickets and for a few euros can extend the daily ticket to last 2 days. There are combination tickets available that include major sites of Barcelona so compare all the offers against your plans before buying anything. There is even an app to help organise the day, something kids will love to get involved with!
OUR TIP: In the hot summer months try to start early in the morning and take a lovely long lunch in the shade. You can then return to the sightseeing in the later afternoon and evening when things cool down.
- BUY TICKETS for Barcelona Bus Turístic
3- Take a fun family walking tour
Kids & Family Gothic Quarter
This was a tour I created a few years back and it is geared towards the whole family with the focus on children. In this 2.5-hour fun filled walk you visit a candy shop, be told Catalan stories, meet the giants, sing songs, do role play and laugh a lot. I have personally trained a handful of child-friendly guides that come carrying props and give out little workbooks with crayons for the children to complete during the walk.
My idea is an educational tour where children learn about Catalan history and traditions through play. The walk is through the heart of the medieval city and takes in the Gothic Quarter highlights such as the King’s Square, government buildings, Roman ruins and Barcelona’s Cathedral. So, parents, the pressure is off you to entertain the younger ones. Follow the guides and learn alongside your engaged children.
The scheduled tour is offered at 10 am every Saturday from April to October. In the Summer months there is an extra tour on Wednesdays. If there is no tour scheduled during your time in the city, or if you prefer a more personalised experience, it is also offered as a private tour all year around.
OUR TIP: This tour is a great introduction to Barcelona and families usually regret doing it at the end of their visit. If you can time this action-packed activity for the beginning of you stay all the better.
4- Go crazy at the adventure parks
Barcelona Bosc Urbà
Get rid of all that pent-up energy and let the kids loose to climb to their hearts content in an urban forest adventure course. Located close to the natural history museum, it could be a nice balance between a museum visit and physical activity. Made out of concrete, metal and wire ropes, from the outside it looks like an unfinished petrol station. Who would guess it is an assault course with different levels to suit kids and adults from the age of 3 and up?
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While not strictly a cultural activity the advantage is that all children and teenagers will enjoy it. Expect to be equipped up with hard helmets, harnesses and don’t think about how far down the ground is on the higher levels. The staff will be on hand to help you out.
OUR TIP: It usually closes for periods during winter for renovations so check their website closely to make sure it will be open. Arrive early to allow the time it will take to get around the circuits.
This is a micro mini adventure park and is located in the centre of the port area. The architecture is low impact and can be assembled and dissembled easily. It is a nice little break for the kids and is close to a lot of attractions.
There are bubble pods where the kids are placed in clear spheres where they literally walk on water! Bungee domes for those jumpers in the family, cyclists will enjoy the low trikes and specially built tracks. For the little members, aqua boats will be a sure hit. Attractions last between 5-10 minutes so don’t plan it as a half day activity but as an in-between filler in.
OUR TIP: This is an outdoor activity so bring sunscreen and hats for the kids and remember to check their website for timetables as high season and low season vary drastically.
5- Discover the special 100+ year old establishments
El Rei de la Màgia
Imagine rich red velvet curtains against black painted walls, old wooden glass counters and a shop keeper with a sense of the dramatic. All these you will find in El Rei de la Màgia and more.
Boasting to be the oldest magician’s shop in Europe, your children will not be disappointed. When I visited with my niece and sister, we explained our budget and the age of my little charge and the owner did the rest. She performed a variety of suitable tricks which was highly entertaining. Our little budding magician picked her favourite and was quickly whisked behind the curtain and shown the mechanics of the magic item. It was a lovely experience with a small family company and definitely worth a visit while here in Barcelona
OUR TIP: If you haven’t had time to catch a glance of the Giants in the city, this establishment has its own sitting in the shop, which they bring out for the parades. They also have a display of Giant heads for sale which, if you ask nicely, I am sure they will let you have a try.
Chocolate with churros
A classic in Spain and I have never met a child who did not enjoy this calorie ridden treat. Classic churros are sweet fried dough topped with sugar and served with a thick dipping chocolate sauce. If you find thick custard or caramel or chocolate filled churros, these are called porras.
If you want to step back through time with the kids go to Granja Viader, the classic of Barcelona. Located a turn away from La Rambla, inside you will be greeted by waiters with dicky bows, café style marble tables and a little deli counter if you feel the need to buy ham or cheese. It has remained in the same family since it opened in 1910. If your kids prefer something lighter they can try Cacaolat, a chocolate milkshake-like drink that was created here and now you can find in all bars and supermarkets in the country.
OUR TIP: If planning a churros and chocolate stop with the kids, be aware that it is not a lunch time custom. Most of these establishments will close for lunch. It is a morning or evening treat for the locals.
6- Enjoy the rides at a fun fair
Tibidabo Amusement Park
This is the classic family funfair of Barcelona with the oldest ride dating back to 1928. Perched on top of Tibidabo Hill, the views of Barcelona alone are spectacular. The Art Nouveau church beside the funfair is worth a peak before entering the main attraction. While it is no Disneyland, the park is a fun day out for all and only 30-minute bus ride from the centre.
Your entrance ticket allows free access to all the rides which are colour coded for age appropriate. As the park is built on a slope there are quite a few levels to go up and down but lifts are available for those who still have kids in buggies.
As well as stomach turning rides, there are 3-D movies, a magic mirror maze and the beautiful Automat Museum (not to be missed). There are basic eateries there (a little overpriced) or you can bring, as most locals do, a packed lunch.
OUR TIP: The park is quite exposed and can be extremely hot in the middle of the day in the summer months. Bring lots of water, sun tan lotion and sun hats for the family. The queue for the 1928 aeroplane ride moves very slow and is not very spectacular. I found it was not worth the wait with a bored child, but it’s a classic with locals so they will do it, more for traditions sake.
Summer temperatures can get quite high in Barcelona making children quite sluggish and grumpy. One way to cool down is heading to Barcelona’s biggest water park. Boasting over 22 water slides, toboggans, wave machines, swimming pools and more, it makes for a fun day trip for the kids.
It is outside the city centre and connected by train, not metro (you can still use transport pass in this zone). There is a free shuttle bus that collects you from the station to the park so you need to spend at least half a day here to make the trip worthwhile.
OUR TIP: July and August get super busy with local families, so, if you are visiting then, be aware there will be queues for the more popular attractions. Try to go on a weekday as weekends will always be busier.
7- Live the outdoors at a public park
I absolutely love this park and have spent many a happy picnic here with my family. It was built to house the Universal Exhibition of 1888 and still retains that spectacular splendour of the 19th century. Centre piece is the amazing fountain topped by a gold Aurora in her chariot announcing the suns arrival and, underneath in stone, the Birth of Venus. You can climb to the top of the fountain (kids love this) and get great views of down below. I always bring a few seeds along for my son to feed the ducks and geese that reside in the artificial lake at the front.
A stone’s throw away from the fountain is a life size woolly mammoth sculpture which children adore climbing on his trunk to get a Kodak moment. There were supposed to be more life size pre-historic animal figurines around the park but this is the only one constructed from this failed project. Be gentle with him as he is over 100 years old!
You can rent boats to paddle around another artificial lake in the centre although it is not a terribly big or deep lake! Rickshaw-like bikes can be hired where a family of four can have fun pedaling around the park. There always seems to be someone earning an extra buck by making gigantic bubbles out of 2 sticks, string and soapy water. Apart from all this there is just a great vibe in the park with plenty of shaded green areas to picnic or play games.
It also houses the Catalan parliament, various botanic greenhouses (not open to the public) and, more exciting for kids, the zoo of Barcelona.
OUR TIP: If you are fans of ping-pong, bring some rackets with balls and take advantage of the free playing tables.
- Address: Parc de la Ciutadella
Step back in time to the 18th century and visit the very splendid landscaped garden of a marquis. A bit of the beaten track but definitely an escape from the crowds, it is a great place to get in that tranquil family time. Donated to the city council by the Davalls, it has been open to the public since 1971 for a nominal entrance fee.
The highlights for kids is a nearly 2-metre-high maze where many a fun game of hide and seek can be played. There are small temples and pavilions and statues of roman gods and mythological figures dotted throughout the park. And what is a magnificent garden without swans? You will find them paddling along the private canal linking water sources to pools and a waterfall. The romantic sprawling gardens that include a lot of trees give you the sense of walking through a romantic forest.
OUR TIP: Sundays and Wednesdays are free entry so it might save you a little to visit then. Don’t plan this as a picnic destination as they do not allow you to bring food inside.
8- Head to the water for a swim or a boat ride
What kid doesn’t like the beach? One advantage of Barcelona as a family destination is that it is located bang on the Mediterranean coastline. It’s the perfect bribe for a morning of good behaviour from your little ones.
In high season you can rent loungers with umbrellas and don’t be surprised to find a lot of touts selling cold beverages as well as ladies offering messages. There are xiringuitos (outdoor bars located on the sand) where you can sit in comfort sipping a cold beverage while your children play. Be aware that prices are high here! You can bring ping-pong gear or volley balls and take advantage of the free playing facilities. Renting bikes to cycle from one end to the other can also be a nice thing to do.
Barcelona city beaches can get pretty crowded in the summer with tourists and locals alike. Skip the weekend to avoid crowds. The two quieter city beaches I recommend are Icaria Nova and Bogatell. Beaches near the Barceloneta neighbourhood just get too crazy busy. If this sounds too much hustle and bustle for your taste, you can find quieter more picturesque beaches outside Barcelona.
OUR TIP: Don’t bring to many valuables with you and always keep an eye on your belongings. The beaches are a favourite hangout for the pickpockets of the city.
Las Golondrinas boat trip
Seeing Barcelona from the water is a lovely experience. After a stroll down Las Ramblas toward the harbour, you can buy tickets and set off on a short 40-minute boat trip through Barcelona’s commercial dock and amidst moored luxury cruise ships. Barcelona is the 4th largest port in the world for tourism so these are pretty impressive in size for the little ones to gaze up at. As are the oversized rusting cargo boats and distinctive yellow cranes lining the side of the dock.
You’ll also see some of the iconic features of the port of Barcelona, including the impressive Puerta de Europa Bridge which kids love watching as it sweeps open to allow masted boats in and out.
Another option is to take the longer 1.5-hour excursion and include a trip out to sea as well. Here you’ll also enjoy 9 miles of Barcelona’s skyline and beautiful beaches. If you are really lucky you might even see dolphins! The crews always super friendly and this is very much something the locals do as well. There is a small bar on board most boats selling drinks, ice creams and snacks.
There are discounts available for large groups and some combination offers available too, such as the 1.5-hour trip + Aquarium ticket, so have a look before booking if you are planning on doing a few things whilst in Barcelona.
OUR TIP: Taking a morning trip is always lovely but the early evening light on the water is particularly special.
9- Climb up for panoramic views
If high vantage points thrill you and small spaces don’t bother you or the kids, then the Columbus Monument is a must. It was constructed for the Universal Exhibition of 1888 and took 6 years to build.
There is much discussion as to which way Columbus is pointing. Some say the New World, others his home city of Genoa. Interestingly, he is actually pointing North, in the direction of Algeria. This probably has little significance as, simply from an aesthetic point of view, he needed to be pointing out to sea.
The monument stands within a curious little roundabout surrounded by many lanes of traffic. At the base you’ll find a gift shop and some information. The real treat however is in the form of the lift that will take you to the top of the monument. It is 63 meters up and the lift opens its doors onto a small observational platform that only fits a handful of people at a time. Here the views are incredible and kids will adore this experience.
OUR TIP: Unless you enjoy thrilling experiences, do not go up when it’s windy!
Montjuïc Cable cars
Kids usually love heights and what better activity for the whole family to enjoy than a nice cable car ride to view the city from above. Here in Barcelona we have 2 different cable car experiences, both located on Montjuïc mountain.
Port Cable car (Telefèric del Port)
This is an 8-minute trip one way that leaves from the port to bring you to Mirador del Mar, a viewpoint located halfway up the mountain of Montjuïc. It is a spectacularly high ride (70-90 metres) with great views over the port. The cable towers date from the 1930’s and gives that sense of early 20th century sightseeing. The drawback is long queues and cramped cable cars (standing only) so you might not get a window view. You can grab a cold drink at the spectacular terrace of the restaurant where the cable car ends. Views are great but food is average so I would just stick to beverages here.
Montjuïc Cable Car (Telefèric de Montjuïc)
More modern and cheaper is the Telèferic de Montjuïc. Its cable towers are not as high but it brings you to the fort at the top of the mountain so views are just as spectacular. There are 4 seats inside so you get to sit and enjoy the experience while not feeling crammed in. Lines move quickly so you will not be waiting long, although the trip is a little shorter (around 5 minutes one way). You can catch the funicular from Paral·lel metro station that will take you to the start of the ride. Finish off with a wander around the defensive castle at the top, again, affording great vistas of Barcelona.
OUR TIP: Check out buying tickets online as at various times they offer 10% discount for purchases over the web.
Hill of Montjuïc & Castle
Montjuïc mountain looms over the city of Barcelona providing a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of city life. It has many parks and Botanical Gardens, our 1992 Olympic stadium, Art galleries and, at the very top, a defensive castle. What a great way to fire up any child’s imagination.
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Its roots are a 17th century fort but has been expanded over the years which means lots of nooks and crannies for the kids to explore. It has great panoramic views of the city and kids can’t get enough of peering down from the defensive walls. The visitors centre gives great insight to its interesting past and temporary exhibitions come and go. Fees are reasonable and guided tours don’t cost that much (offered twice a day in English).
OUR TIP: After the visit, walk towards the cable cars and follow the steps down. Within five minutes you’ll arrive to some really high slides that provide great thrills for the kids. It is free too!
10- Marvel at Gaudí’s masterpieces
Designed by Antoni Gaudí, the architect really let his imagination run away with him on this one. It has gingerbread-like houses at the main entrance, colourful broken tile mosaics decorating walls and seats, playful curvy lines and cool walkways to go under and over. Its high location makes for great views looking down into Barcelona.
This park is a great way to fit in cultural visit which will not bore the kids. They can run skip jump around this architectural marvel. The park nowadays is divided into 2 zones. The highlights are in the paying monumental area which I strongly advise booking your tickets at least a few days in advance. The rest of the park is free and is a lovely to wonder around but lacks the spectacular kick of the monumental zone.
OUR TIP: It is super-hot in the summer and I always advise families to go first thing in the morning before the heat builds up. If you are early risers go a little before the first entry ticket times and you will be allowed into the monumental zone for free with no set time to leave. Great opportunity if you are a big family!
- Address: Alfons X Metro Station (shuttle buses to Park Güell leave from here)
- BUY TICKETS for Park Güell
Who doesn’t like that great legend of Saint George and the dragon? If it appeals to your bunch, then definitely visit that magical building: Casa Batlló. It is an apartment block designed by Gaudí and I have never met one kid who didn’t want to set up home here! Colourful tiles, curved walls, a mushroom fireplace, turtle inspired windows, a rib cage attic spiral staircase… the list goes on. Again, like above, an architecturally important highlight that kids and adults alike can enjoy.
They set you up with a pretty cool interactive screen where animations appear and old photos show you how the rooms used to look. You will wonder up to the attic and roof to meet guardian chimneys and a dragon roof! For an extra charge you can cram into the top balcony for a unique family portrait. The visit ends, of course, in the souvenir shop of the building.
OUR TIP: This house can get very cramped during the busy periods so light permitting I recommend going early evening as the crowds drop drastically. Buy tickets online as, not only you will skip the lines, but they are a lot cheaper than at the door.
Gaudí Experiència 4D
Haven’t had time to prep the kids about Gaudí before leaving home? This place might be a fun solution for everyone! A stone’s throw away from Park Güell, it is an easy site to combine with the park visit. It is not a place you will spend a long time in, so kids won’t be dragging their heels.
The exhibition space has interactive touch screens, models and, of course, a 4D film experience. These are all interesting ways to get into the mindset and inspirations of this great man.
OUR TIP: It is a handy attraction to combine with Park Güell. However, they open later than the park and close earlier so check timetables carefully.
This is a really fun way to learn the trencadís mosaic method that Gaudí used in his architecture. The whole experience is set on a small workshop that run classes plus you get to bring the pieces you made home. It is a nice down time for the kids and a great bonding time for the whole family.
I always recommend combining this on the same day as a Gaudí site so you can experience firsthand the skill and scale of the craft work used in his buildings. Located in the heart of the city you will not be plodding to the outskirts for this Art class.
OUR TIP: If you are interested in this class, then definitely bring the kids to see the outside of Casa Batlló or Park Güell. These are the finest examples of mosaic being optimised in Gaudí’s work.
11- Stay after dark for the night activities
Montjuïc Magic Fountain
Seriously, a big must while here for the whole clan! It’s got dancing water, lights, amazing setting and is mesmerising for any age group. The show runs every 15 minutes and in between you can climb stairs to get great view of the city at night.
It is well connected by metro, train and bus and is a great free activity for the family. The only downside is the large crowds and the late hour for sleep starved kids. Be sure to check out the timetable as it varies a lot throughout the year and sometimes it is closed for maintenance.
OUR TIP: If you don’t mind the later schedule, make sure you arrive when there is no daylight left as you will not get the full colour impact from the fountain.
- Address: Plaça de Carles Buïgas, 1
Here we love holidays, and local neighbourhoods always have a few festivities a year. These festivals are great fun time for local families and, as a visitor, you should take advantage of all the fun free activities available. It is a fantastic way to experience Catalan culture and traditions.
Local giant dolls will be paraded, sardanes danced, human castles built, concerts, parades… the list goes on. Barcelona’s main festival is La Mercè, on September 24th, where you will find the most spectacular events. However, these neighbourhood parties can be found throughout the summer with a little research.
OUR TIP: Not sure where to find info on local festivals? Our blog posts of what to do in various months of the year include festivals that are around in that month.
12- Refresh the family at a fun special bar
El Bosc de les Fades
If any of you read the Enchanted Wood series as a child, then this is definitely the place for you. Head off Las Ramblas in the direction of the Wax Museum and you’ll discover the Forest of the Fairies.
Now, this is actually a cafe and bar, a fun family friendly bar with a difference. The moment you walk in you realise you are no longer in the city but rather in a forest complete with gnarled trees, mischievous gnomes, stars and rivers. The kids will love exploring the space form corner to corner and be so surprised when suddenly all the lights flash and it starts to rain! This is definitely a treat for the young and the young at heart.
OUR TIP: Go in the late afternoon as you’ll have a better chance of getting a table. It can get very busy.
If the heat is getting to the whole family, a cooling drink in Barcelona’s ice bar might be a fun idea. The temperatures are at a cool 12 degrees and warm coats are provided for everyone as part of the entrance fee. You will also be given a free drink in an ice glass while you view the cool 80’s sculptures on show within the bar.
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It is located in Port Olympic so swimming and beach can go hand in hand with this site. The downside is that it works out quite pricey just for 1 drink and the bar is not actually that big.
OUR TIP: While the bar provides coats, it does not provide shoes. Make sure you bring more than summer flip flops if you don’t want frost bite on little toes.
13- Get into the boots of Messi and soccer
Camp Nou Stadium & Barça Museum
A must for those football crazy kids. The World-famous stadium was constructed in the 1950’s and today seats nearly 100,000 spectators. Barça’s football team is one of the best in the world and seeing a match here is always an experience. Alas, sometimes schedule, availability of tickets and price might not be feasible. Don’t despair, you can still visit the grounds and museum all year round.
They offer many different tours and packages and they are not cheap. Basic ticket is entrance to the stadium and exhibition space. You can get more expensive packets that give you more access to the private areas like the changing rooms etc.
OUR TIP: Always check their website for timings as it is a functioning stadium so they close their doors for different events such as a match!
If you are a soccer fan, watching the likes of Messi and Suárez doing their thing live on a football field is a once in a lifetime experience. If your children follow football, this will definitely be the highlight of their trip. Camp Nou holds 100,000 people so, as you can imagine, the type of seats (and prices) vary enormously.
If you are planning to see a big game (against Real Madrid or a Champions match, for example), try to buy the tickets as soon as you can. Even that could prove quite difficult. You can always try to get some with illegal re-sellers around the stadium but I strongly advise against this. Not only the price will be astronomical but you might end up with a fake ticket.
OUR TIP: Barcelona not only has one football team. Try to catch an R.C.D. Espanyol match. Don’t think that this is a third division unknown team though. It plays on the National league together with the big teams like F.C. Barcelona or Athletic of Bilbao. Tickets will be cheaper and the atmosphere great!
14- Try an escape-room game
Lock-Clock escape room
What a great invention for family fun! Escape rooms follow various themes (like being in prison or a jungle) and by solving different clues you must get out. Depending on the place, you could get costumes, actors could be participating… It all depends on the venue.
It has become the rage here in Barcelona with countless game rooms springing up everywhere. It is definitely worth researching which themes suit your family and which are child appropriate. The experience I like is Clock-Lock, as it was the only one I could find that had a Gaudí mystery, which is a great learning experience. They also have an adventure that is geared towards young children which not so easy to find in most game rooms.
OUR TIP: Try not to choose a very complicated escape room as the kids can lose interest in the game. Always check the age limit and ask at reception for advice.
15- Travel to Costa Brava for kayaking fun
Always a hit with the kids is the beach and swimming. Why not take it a step further and add a kayak or a snorkel combined with the breath-taking beauty of Costa Brava. This beautifully craggy coastline with clear blue water starts about a half an hour drive North of Barcelona and can provide a great break from city sightseeing.
You could do it yourself by renting a car and hiring kayaks at your chosen town along the coast. However, if it is just a day trip, lots of tour companies take the hassle out of planning. I personally recommend the local company Excursions Barcelona. Stevie, the owner, is very personable and cares a great deal about his client’s satisfaction. They are well established and been up and running for a few years now. Highly recommended.
OUR TIP: My advice is to plan it in the middle of your stay. It will give variety to the holiday so you don’t overload the kids with too much city in one go.
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Main photograph by Pere prlpz.