Planning a trip to Barcelona with your kids? You need look no further for some great information of what to do while you are in town to keep all your campers happy!
First thing you should know if you are traveling here between April and November is that Barcelona boasts 3 miles of glorious Mediterranean beach (and what child doesn’t love to play on la playa?). It also has dozens of exciting activities for youngsters that include visiting top sites in the city - whatever their age and interests. Here’s our handy insider’s list of things to do and see with kids up to 10 or 11 years of age!
Traveling with Babies & Toddlers in Barcelona
If you don’t want to travel with loads of gear or have forgotten that one carrier that could have made your life easier, look no further than Backpack Baby. This wonderful company, started by local mother, Laura Iglesias, rents baby equipment for days or weeks. Amongst her services are babysitting services; useful if you are looking to incorporate a date night into your travels!
Day Time Ideas:
Making Waves: Barcelona's Aquarium
Barcelona Aquarium is one of the largest in Europe, with over 11,000 marine animals from 450 different exotic species - wow! Kids of all ages will love the marine leisure and education centre, with their many family-friendly exhibitions and attractions. Their hands-on Explora! zone is filled with over 50 interactive exercises and games, which means the little ones will be entertained for hours and mom and dad can have a well deserved break. If your kids are still a bundle of energy and ready for more water action, head over to the ‘Planeta Aqua’. This awesome area of cool and colourful creatures will have jaws dropping and the whole family in awe, as you try and spot Nemo swimming with his friends. If you happen to be visiting at 11.30am or 4.30pm, make sure to check out Pingu and his greedy mates enjoying feeding time. Otherwise on Tuesdays and Fridays between 12 and 1pm, get close and personal with toothy shark grins for feeding time in Europe’s only Oceanarium tank. Walk through the incredible 80 metre-long shark tunnel - at your own risk!
When to go: If you have the odd rainy day, then this is a good bet with restaurants close by!
If you are visiting during the summer months, you’ll need to keep in mind that the hottest part of the day in Spain is from 1pm to 4pm. If you are a typical Spaniard, you’ll be having your three-course lunch and siesta at this time, but if you are traveling with young kids, it is likely they will be bursting with energy and so a cool aquarium is a great refuge.
Insider Tip: The gift shop is wonderful, but if you want to avoid dropping some hefty change as your children clammer for the stuffed octopus, you’ll want to steer clear of this area (on your right as you exit the display areas).
Website: Their website is chock full of great information, including family fun games, feeding times and tickets online. l’Aquarium de Barcelona.
Family Friendly Tours in Barcelona
Experienced and enthusiastic guides combined with family fun scavenger hunts (age appropriate) make our family tours unique. We ensure that each story about Barcelona’s history, architecture, myths, legends and traditions is a combination of education and enjoyment, that gets everyone involved and having fun!
Family bonding at its finest, not only do our hunts let you explore the city’s nooks and crannies, but they provide the opportunity for the kids to burn off some steam and work up an appetite for a traditional Spanish snack of churros and chocolate. These sugar coated fried dough stick are dipped in chocolate fondue, making a treat that no one can resist, and end in chocolatey smiles all around!
Insider Tip: Reserve before your trip to ensure entrance tickets, which are likely to sell out in peak times and the best guides. Our Barcelona Highlights Family Tour is a half day tour that gives you a good overview of the city and incorporates two scavenger hunts and a churros stop!
Exploring Parks (& Picnics!) in Barcelona - Parc de la Ciutadella
Any park is a good option when traveling with younger children, especially one with a central location, an abundance of shady trees, playgrounds and the possibility of a delivered picnic awaits you!
With its rowing boats and bubbles (you’ll see what we mean when you get there), Parc de la Ciutadella is always a popular choice. Make your way to the center of the park with its glorious pond, and jump aboard a rowing boat for some unmissable floating fun. As if that doesn’t provide enough family photo opportunities, head over to their enormous fountain - the perfect spot to create memories that will last a lifetime. With its clear waters and gold finish, it takes centre stage in this beautiful park. Well, that and the giant (and climbable) woolly mammoth just nearby of course!
Picnics in Barcelona
To round things off, find a hidden spot under a tree to enjoy a traditional gourmet family picnic. Think cured ham, olives, fresh fruit, delicious cheeses, nice local wine for the adults and more familiar sandwiches for the kids. Sofia, of Picnic! Picnic! is happy to customize your picnic, just give her some choices of what you know your kids will eat!
Insider Tip: Start your park trip at Arc d’Triomf and pick up a hand-delivered, customized picnic lunch from Picnic! Picnic! Arc d’Tiromf is easily reached by Metro (yellow and red lines) or by taxi and the four block long promenade that was the gateway to the 1888 Universal Expo is now home to street performers, rollerbladers, breakdancers, big bubble makers and is a hotspot for local families!
When to go: Keep in mind the hottest parts of the day here in Spain - 1pm to 4pm, this makes for a great morning for an earlish lunch or evening for a dinner.
The Magic Fountain (Font Magic)
The Magic Fountains are a water, light and music show that put Bellagio to shame. Located by Plaça d’Espanya, which was the official gateway to the 1929 World’s Fair, the fountains were originally meant to last for just the duration of the fair. However, they were so popular, with visitors and locals alike, that they have been maintained (and updated) since then.
There are four to eight shows in the evenings, depending on the time of year, with each show starting on the half hour from sundown until 11pm. We recommend you checking with your hotel or tourist information to double check opening days, as this changes during the year according to the season. Each show has a different theme, however, one constant is there is always a show with childrens’ music, oftentimes sampled from soundtracks of popular movies (most notably Disney). There are three large circular pools with fountains dancing away in time to the music with the lights changing color to help mark the beat. Truly magical for the little ones and I dare say for older ones alike!
Insider Tip: Taking place around dinner time, a trip to the Magic Fountains can be combined with a delicious tapas dinner at Lolita Taperia. This local taperia is family friendly (a MUST order for families is the fried chicken tenders - Rabas de Pollo) and opens at 7pm, making it possible to eat before the show.
When to go: The schedule varies throughout the year depending on when the sun sets. Make sure you check online before heading that way: The Magic Fountains.
Join us next week for: Things to Do in Barcelona with Tweens & Teenagers
Authors: Nancy Daum Dailey & Charlie Bush
Getting around a new city can be a challenge; you don’t really know the lay of the land when you first arrive and if you are traveling with children or have mobility issues, the challenges only increase. So, to get you started, we have developed a handy mobility guide.
Barcelona is a picturesque city, boasting stunning views, medieval pedestrianized streets, breathtaking architecture and creative street art. In an effort to make Barcelona a more livable and user-friendly city, much of the most historic districts are also largely pedestrianized - most notably the Gothic Quarter and Born neighborhood - inviting you to take a pleasurable stroll through their charming streets.
There is so much you can miss without a guide to show you the history-filled nooks and crannies through these areas on our walking tour. But, to ensure you make the most of your vacation time and are able to see all the fabulous things the city has to offer, without suffering from sore feet, you will no doubt need some additional transportation. So, we offer a variety of tours with different types of transportation to make your time in Barcelona as enjoyable as possible!
Barcelona on Foot
With only 39 square miles of livable space, Barcelona is on the small side for a major European city, so walking is always a viable option. The labyrinthine Gothic Quarter is a captivating place to wander at leisure, however, without a guide it is easy to pass many of its wonders unnoticed. How many neighborhoods can claim Roman ruins, a cathedral, a Jewish quarter, civil war battlegrounds, a royal palace and medieval architecture?
In order to appreciate the rich history, a knowledgeable guide is highly recommended to reveal its treasures and share with you its many stories. Travelers can choose from a variety of walking tours, which include the Gothic Quarter or focus solely on this history-rich district. For families, we offer this tour with family friendly, age appropriate scavenger hunts that get everyone involved, having fun and learning!
Thankfully, walking isn’t the only way to visit the landmarks and marvels of Barcelona’s pedestrianized areas though. Using sleek chauffeured pedicabs, these large pedestrianized areas open themselves to travelers of all ages, including those not so fond of walking! Individual earbuds enable travelers on pedicab tours to hear their guide perfectly as they share with you the stories and histories of Barcelona’s most culture-rich districts.
Our Gothic Quarter by Rickshaw takes place at 9am and 5pm, when the streets aren’t quite so busy, and stops are made along the way for photo opportunities and close-up looks at all the important places.
Rickshaws are a great way to get around the city, even when you are not on tour! There are plenty to be found - you just need to flag them down. A wonderful treat when your feet just cannot take any more walking!
Biking is big in Barcelona, a bit like the Amsterdam of southern Europe if you will, and is a great way to cover more ground in a short amount of time. Using electric bikes, with their gentle propulsion aid, allows you to easily navigate Barcelona outside of the tangle of streets in the Gothic Quarter. In a casual half-hour, your whole family can easily traverse the main beach front and inner harbor of Barceloneta, where your guide can demonstrate the tremendous changes which came with the 1992 Olympic games and the massive urban renewal the city implemented. Also easily seen by bike tour are the Arc de Triomf, Parc de la Ciutadella (both home to the 1888 Universal Expo), the Olympic Village and the Mercat del Born - all of which are best witnessed from the saddle.
For school aged kids, we recommend that families enjoy this tour from the comfort of a chauffeured rickshaw and leave the driving to a professional. Though a very bikeable city, Barcelona can also be a hectic urban hubbub of activity and we’ve found that some travelers find it more relaxing to sit back and let someone else take the saddle!
Barcelona Taxis & Chauffeured Vans
When setting off to explore the Gaudi sights, taxis and chauffeured vans are your best bet, allowing you to see as much as possible. The extension district, known locally as l’Eixample, covers a broad area of Barcelona, but few tourists have the chance to familiarise themselves with this carefully planned, turn of the century area of town, loaded with architectural gems (Gaudi & Company).
Chauffeured vans are ideal for groups with more than four travelers or for those arriving in town on cruise ships. They allow you to see all the highlights from the comfort of an air conditioned, modern van, equipped with big windows. Stops are made at every landmark and key location to guarantee an up-close and personal experience (we leave drive-by visits to the hop on/off buses).
For travelers on a tighter budget or for groups of up to four travelers, taxis are a great option for tours. Working with a fleet of brand new, well maintained taxis and friendly drivers, the taxis are organized in advance for tours. For travel outside of tours, we highly recommend downloading My Taxi App. It functions just like Uber, which is not readily available in Spain, and takes the headache or uncertainty out of taxi travel.
Author: Charlie Bush
The Sagrada Família is the most visited monument in Spain, the largest unfinished Roman Catholic church on Earth, and the crowning glory of architectural visionary Antoni Gaudí. Do you need any more reasons to visit? In the 136 years (and counting) in which the Basilica has been under construction, an extraordinary level of detail has gone into the mammoth design, so much in fact that a guided tour is mandatory to fully appreciate it. Family-friendly, entertaining and insightful, Enchanting Barcelona’s tour is the ultimate way to experience Spain’s longest-running building project, without overloading you with unnecessary info.
Despite the decades of planning and over a century of work, somehow Gaudí forgot to factor in the perfect angle to photograph the church. Fortunately, the architect behind the Sagrada Tour, Nancy, has found the best elevated view for the perfect family selfie. This little known spot is unfrequented by even locals, even has a bar/cafe, so you can escape the crowds for a refreshing beverage and a spectacular view - heavenly!
A downside of the Sagrada Família’s popularity is the eternal presence of hordes of fellow sightseers, but Nancy has solved this problem too. Once within the site’s boundaries, your tour will be conducted via audio guide, allowing you to wander through the building’s many marvels at your own leisure and pace. The information you will receive covers only the most fascinating insights about the church and its history, leaving you feeling knowledgeable, but not overwhelmed, unlike many other tours. Learn how Gaudí’s twin dedications to nature and God influenced his work and helped create the iconic basilica we see today.
Once you’ve been brought up to speed with the most important aspects of the immense monument, and been given a chance to wander through it’s interior ‘forest’ of columns, rejoin your tour guide for the next stage. Now is your chance to ascend one of the Basilica’s lofty towers, and see just how high Gaudí’s dreams soared, as you witness the incredible intricacies and work behind the spires and mosaic-decorated roof. A full appreciation of the enormous scale of the project, and the artistic talent that has gone into every inch of the building, is impossible to comprehend without seeing this side of the Basilica. What’s more, a breathtaking view of the entire city is waiting to reward those who scale the tower, a sight usually reserved for birds and the Sagrada Família’s construction crew themselves.
Finally, with your feet firmly back on the ground, Nancy will offer to show you one last treasure housed in this religious masterpiece. This is the old schoolhouse that the philanthropic Gaudí insisted be built to educate the worker’s children. For many visitors, the unassuming building might be passed by unnoticed, but Enchanting Barcelona ensures that you see everything worth visiting within the nonpareil Sagrada Família site.
Sara Siddeeq: Born and raised in Buckinghamshire (England), Sara is a recent graduate from the University of Leeds. She primarily works in digital marketing and PR, however she is also a journalist in Barcelona, contributing to over half a dozen websites in the city alone.