Visiting Barcelona with Kids
So you've decided to pay a visit to the enchanting capital of Catalonia... perhaps you fancied a nice romantic weekend away, full of fines wines, highbrow culture and zen-like tranquility? We can only imagine your horror when the children insisted on coming too! But fear not, even if you weren't able to dissuade your little darlings from joining you (let alone convince Granny to look after the mischievous munchkins for a few days) visiting Barcelona with kids needn't be a chore. In fact, with so many ways to entertain them, a family holiday can be even more invigorating than discovering the city with adults.
Naturally, being a big city, there will be a few challenges for those families with little ones in tow, particularly for those with very young children or toddlers. The metro is invariably crowded, as is the famous La Rambla thoroughfare, whilst the city beaches, especially Barceloneta, can be action-packed and chaotic - and naturally the sea and the scorching sun mean sensible precautions must be applied at all times! However if you opt for a hotel or apartment in a quieter area of town (for example Poblenou or Gracia), you can make keeping the kids at heel a bit easier, and on the plus side, there are literally scores of attractions that will hold the interest of even the hardest-to-please, from the surreal creations of Gaudi to full-access tours of Camp Nou (perfect for young football fans!), and not forgetting of course a fantastic zoo and iconic attractions like the Magic Fountain (more on that below!).
Above: Taking the kids for a stroll underneath the Arc De Triomf
There are also plenty of great day trips from Barcelona suitable for families. Kids will love the wider, quieter beaches of Sitges, Tossa de Mar or Ocata, whilst Figueres up the road boasts the Dali Museum - whose twisted imagination makes him a favourite with youngsters. Hire a set of wheels and go for it. Meanwhile, overlooking the city itself is the Collserola mountain ridge, on top of which is Tibidabo amusement park... so a perfect combination of natural and man-made attractions!
Read on for our top suggestions of children's activities here in the Catalan capital, and if you haven't booked your accommodation yet then we suggest you check out our article on choosing apartments for some family-friendly flats, or our hotels directory for an A-Z list of beds in BCN.
Things to do in Barcelona with Kids
Here are some of our recommendations to put on your itinerary. Click on the links to find out more:
Experience The Magic Fountain
One of Barcelona's most iconic sights, you can catch La Font Magica in action every Thursday to Sunday evening from May to September (and every Friday and Saturday for the rest of the year... click the link above for precise timetable). The fountain is capable of producing 7 billion light and water combinations and watching the plumes of water lit up in kaleidoscopic colours is well worth the metro ride out to Placa Espanya. The soundtrack varies but includes cinematic classics as well as some crowd-pleasing pop songs.
Race Around a Go-Karting Track
Are you hoping to qualify for parent of the year award? If so then one thing that will definitely ensure you get your kids' vote is an afternoon go-karting at the city's best indoor track. They have special karts for children over 1.3m tall which are less powerful than the adult machines, and means they can race safety and securely. Who knows maybe your little one is the next Lewis Hamilton?
Visit The Zoo
From toddlers to teens, nothing gets kids exciting like the chance to see the creatures of the Discovery Channel in the flesh, fur, feather or scales. Barcelona's Zoological Gardens are some of the best in Spain with big cats, gorillas, elephants and even a pod of acrobatic dolphins to that are sure to spark an interest in the natural world. Check out their website for more.
Solve A Treasure Hunt
Every child fancies themselves as a young Sherlock Holmes, so what better way to put the whole family's wits to the test than a race against the clock? In this interactive experience you'll have to solve a series of clues - and move fast - to win the prize. Great for teenagers.
Go Ice Cream Tasting
If the little ones have done a sterling job of behaving themselves throughout your whirlwind tour of the city's museums, then perhaps you'd like to reward them - and yourself - with some sweet treats. Barcelona has some lipsmackingly creative ice cream parlours with every flavour you could imagine for sale, from chocolate chip to lemon sorbet - and quite a few you couldn't, like curry flavour! Click on the link above for options.
Enjoy Some Park Life
You've no doubt heard of Gaudi's amazing Park Guell, and we wouldn't want you to miss that. But there are many more great green spaces to discover in the city, such as Parc de la Ciutadella, which is the most central and home of the zoo (see above), a boating lake and a giant mammoth statue. For more peace and quiet and a local feel try some of the less central parks. Parc del Laberint has a cool little maze that kids will love, whilst Parc Diagonal is a modern ecological space near the beach with small play area.
Try The Mammoth Museum
How many times a day do you find yourself telling your children "Don't touch that!", "Put that down!", "Get away from there!". Well for once you can relax a little. At the Mammoth Museum in the central El Borne district guests are actually allowed to handle ancient treasures like the genuine teeth and tusks of woolly mammoths, found recently in Siberia. The friendly staff have plenty of fascinating tales about the Ice Age as well.
Catch a Gypsy Concert
Give your progeny a taste of true Spanish tradition by taking them to see a flamenco song and dance. Loud, brash and colourful ages of 11 up are likely to enjoy this experience. Choose between an an hour-long show in a 1920s theatre with dinner, or a half hour show combined with tapas tasting.
Take on an Escape Room
Kids love a challenge, especially one that proves how smart they are! The escape rooms trend has taken the city by storm in recent years and there are some great games to choose from, most of which are suitable for teenagers and above as they require sharp minds rather than bags of knowledge. There's a great thrill to working in a team and getting out of the room before your 60 minutes are up, making this a highly memorable option. Check out our full article (in the link above) for some recommended venues. If you're travelling with younger kids then we suggest trying Lock-Clock's Aztec Treasure, which has been specifically designed for ages 8 and over, whilst 60' Escape's The Infiltrators game is suitable for ages 10 and over, when accompanied by an adult.
We'll update this page soon with some more ideas soon. Meanwhile if you have any suggestions for what to do with the kids on vacation then please comment below... we'd love to hear from you.