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 La Font Magica (Magic Fountain).
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 blue links to find out more:
Take A Sailing Port Tour
What child can resist the lure of the ocean? It's a different world out there so let your would-be mariners see it on this boat trip that sails across from the modern Port Olimpic to the historical Port Vell, skirting the city's dynamic coastline en route. The tour is just 2.5 hours long, so little chance of boredom or seasickness setting in... rather the great views, chance to hoist the odd rope and even go swimming, are all sure to appeal. Click on the link for more info, or head to our article for more sailing tours.
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.
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.
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.