What to do in Barcelona with Kids
So you’re coming to Barcelona with kids this summer, how wonderful! You and everyone else. Ha, ha, ha…
Barcelona is a fantastic city. There is so much to do and see, but it’s hard to know what to do in Barcelona with kids that will keep them engaged and having fun too.
Now, I do not know your travel style, budget or the age of your children, but most of this list is for kids around the ages of 6-14. At the bottom, I will list a few other spots that are great for any toddlers in tow. My kids are currently 10 and 12, but I have been to Barcelona with them when they were also 1 and 3 (for a month). We returned again the year before we moved here, when they were 8 and 10. So, I have actually repeated a few of these things with them at different ages. I will also tell you a few of my favorite areas and my honest opinions about a few popular attractions as well.
So let’s get started on the real deal of Barcelona with kids.
What to do in Barcelona with Kids Ages 6-14
1. Gaudí Escape Room
This is super fun! Not sure if you’ve ever done an escape room with your kids, but my kids absolutely love these attractions. We always try to do them in different cities when we travel. The Escape Hunt in Barcelona has a Antoni Gaudí themed room that will teach the kids a little bit about the history of Barcelona and the famous architect, Antoni Gaudí. We did this last Summer when some friends were visiting, and we were broken up into two rooms. This made it a fun and friendly competition, we all had a blast!
2. La Sagrada Família / Casa Batlló
You are in the city of Antoni Gaudí after all. Both of these are the two ‘must sees’ (in my opinion), and at least see them from the outside. I do highly recommend going inside, and you will need to buy your tickets for both of these in advance. For the Sagrada Família, you can purchase an additional ticket to climb up one of the towers. My friends did this with their kids and they really liked it. Casa Batlló is stunning from the outside and pretty funky inside too. You can go up on the roof, and they give you interactive iPad-like devices that guide you through. The devices are are sort of 3D-ish. The kids like these, obviously.
3. Park Güell
I love Park Güell. It’s absolutely gorgeous and has great views of the city too! This may not blow your kids away, but this is where the iconic Gaudí dragon is located. There are 86 columns that hold up the park above with the mosaic benches, and of course buildings that look like gingerbread houses. They only allow so many people in at a time, so you do need to buy tickets. They will give you a specific time to enter the park. Sometimes you can show up and get right in, or in the next time slot that same day. However, in the summer I would buy your tickets and plan the time you want to go in advance. There is a small kids park/playground tucked away to the right of where you buy tickets, if you have to wait a bit you can let smaller kids play here. The grounds surrounding the park are actually free, and really beautiful so be sure to wander a bit.
4. Rent Bikes
Head down to Barcelonetta and rent bikes. The beach is fantastic for cruising, stopping for lunch, having drinks etc. It gets less crowded if you ride further away from Barcelonetta towards Mar Bella Beach. The bottom of the W Hotel has some nice restaurants for sitting out and having lunch, sangria and watching the view. Warning: Barcelona’s beaches are nude beaches. Not everyone is walking around naked, but there will be a few topless ladies here and there and I have seen a man in his birthday suit (but that was early in the morning). Your kids may see some things, you’ve been warned!
5. Go on a Segway Tour
My kids love Segway Tours! We did these in Granada and Seville and it was our kids’ favorite thing. Barcelona has a age limit of 11 or 12, so only my daughter could do it here when Grandma was in town (yes even Grandma did it!). If you cannot do the Segway Tour, then maybe consider a bike tour, or the hop on hop off bus. Both are great options to see a lot of the city.
6. Make Paella / Cooking Class / Food Tours
If your kids are little foodies and enjoy getting in the kitchen, and you want to learn a bit more about Catalan cuisine and the food culture, then I recommend learning to make Paella. While I have not done this yet, it’s on my list when friends visit this summer. I have had so many friends tell me what a great experience this is. My friend Lisa highly recommends this company, Cook & Taste. My friend Kat highly recommends the family Runner Bean Free Walking Tours.
We have done one of the Devour Barcelona tours which was great. Perhaps one of the daytime food tours might interest your family.
Tibidabo is a park high up on a mountain top with a beautiful church that looks a bit more like a castle. You can see it from the city center of Barcelona. While the temple/church will probably not excite your kids, the amusement park might. The rides are tame and may not blow your older kids away compared to the theme parks in the States, but it’s a fun place to go. There is also an awesome ferris wheel that is fun to ride, with incredible views of the city.
8. Arc de Triomf / Park de la Ciutadella
It is a beautiful arch and so much better than the Arch of Triumph in Paris. This one is built with beautiful red bricks and has a gorgeous pedestrian area for bikes, scooters, skateboards, and dogs. This is a great spot to rest and relax a bit. Pick up a baguette, some drinks and snacks and just chill. Your kids will enjoy the bubble man. Heck, I love the bubble man! There are some cool street performers on occasion, and for the little ones the balloon ladies are usually there too. If you continue on from the arch you will run right into Park de la Ciutadella. This a nice park and you can even rent row boats. From there you will find the entrance to the Barcelona Zoo.
9. Picasso Museum or Street Art Bike Tour
If your kids are into art and can handle a museum, the Picasso Museum is a great and it’s in a very cool area. I chaperoned my son’s 5th grade class here, and everyone survived. And hello – it’s Picasso! Older kids might enjoy a street art bike tour. I am a big fan of street art and my kids think it’s pretty cool too.
10. Palau de la Musica and Cosmo Caixa Science Museum
I have not been inside Palau de la Musica yet, but I am dying to get in there. I hear it’s fantastic. Again, not sure it’s exciting for younger kids, but you are on vacation – try something new! Sometimes they pair a tour with a short concert, which could be worth doing if the show or music sounds interesting to you. There is also Barcelona’s science center Cosmo Caixa, if you want to escape the heat and head indoors for some hands on learning. The building itself is impressive. My kids liked all the exhibits here, and if you like science museums be sure to check it out. (Side Note: I should have just sent my husband here with the kids, I am not a science museum mom, I’d rather be at the beach. Science – I support it and believe in it but it’s wasted on me. – ha!)
11. Magic Fountain and Poble d’Espanyol
The Magic Fountain is fun for any age, because who doesn’t like a colorful water music show? It is technically called the Montjuic Magic Fountain but is not actually up on Monjuic – it’s down across from Plaza De España. If traveling by cab, just say “Fountain Magica” or “Plaza de España.” (If you say Montjuic he’ll think you want go there up to Monjuic park and castle.) Shows happen nightly on the hour every hour. Poble Espanyol (I have not been here in 10 years) is the cultural center meant to be like a Spanish village or old town filled with historic architecture, history, shopping, art, and handcrafted items from local artisans. This is where they host special events all year long, so check if something interesting is happening while you are visiting.
What to do in Barcelona with Toddlers
The Barcelona Zoo – I love this zoo because the size is manageable and perfect for young kids. It has one of the best dolphin shows I’ve seen, mostly because it is a small intimate space so you are very close to all the action.
Turo Park – (AKA: Expat Central) Beautiful small park and great for young kids. There is a nice cafe in the park, Pinhan Cafe where you can get some great food and a glass of wine too.
L’Aquarium Barcelona – We went here years ago when the kids were tiny and we really enjoyed it. I am sure some things may have changed since then, but it’s down by the water in a beautiful location. It’s a great place to escape the summer heat for the little ones.
Barcelona Family Travel Tips
My favorite street is Passeig San Joan – this is not too touristy and isn’t packed with retail stores or souvenier shops. This is a beautiful wide street with green spaces, park benches and little playgrounds for kids that leads you right down to the Arc de Trimof, Park Citudella and the Barcelona Zoo. This street is very near La Sagrada Familia and Escape Hunt. So if you do those then you can walk along this street and find somewhere to eat or grab a coffee. This is also in the E’ixample neighborhood (where we live) very centrally located and close to everything, and where you’ll see some of the most spectacular modernista architecture!
El Born – The area that sits adjacent to the Arc de Trimof and Park Ciutadella. This is my favorite area for wandering! Of course the word is out on El Born, so it can get a bit touristy now. But it’s not as crowded as the Gothic area. Both are excellent for getting lost in the small narrow streets that Barcelona is known for.
Pro Tip: When you walk through the Gothic and El Born areas, all the souvenir shops sell Penny Skateboards – buy them. Let the kids skate in the open areas, alleys, at the arc, parks and wide pedestrian streets. This saved us! They will fit in a large suitcase to take home, and if you have more cities to go to they might come in handy. (Note: I am not responsible for any injuries or accidents.)
Gracía Neighborhood – A cool bohemian neighborhood with small narrow streets that you can wander and find lots of boutiques and restaurants. One of the hottest areas to live in Barcelona as it’s away from all the tourists. If you are here in August you MUST see the Gracía Festival (August 15th – 21st 2017). This is the biggest and best neighborhood street festival in Barcelona, where each street has a theme and creates the most elaborate decorations. Its a week long party in the streets!
The famous Boqueria Market is a bit overrated, in my opinion. It’s very crowded and touristy. Sure, there are some Instagram-worthy fruit and candy stands, but kids will be bored and hate the fish smell. Unless you plan on cooking some amazing meals, I’d skip it. Also, getting a seat at the few good restaurants inside will be very difficult, and if your kids are picky eaters, good luck!
Las Ramblas makes me want to stab my eyeballs out. If you must go to the Boqueria then you will probably encounter this hot mess. *Not to be confused with Rambla Catalunya – that is a very nice Rambla and I shop there a lot, but I will probably avoid it this summer.
Montjuic is not that exciting (for kids) I have to say. Sure you can ride the funicular and get a view of the city and the castle grounds are a good place to let the toddler run free but again, not too exciting. If you happen to be a runner and want to get up early and head up here, it’s a great workout with beautiful views. (Note: Montjuic Magic Fountain is not up here – it is the one I mentioned above and is actually down below at Plaza de España.)
BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS!
Wear a cross body bag and do not take it off while you are eating outside. But also be careful in restaurants too. If you place a bag on the booth or floor next to you, keep the strap around your leg. Do not put your phone in your back pocket or out on the table while you are eating. They will swipe your phone from your pocket and the table. They are like magicians here. It is no joke. Be wary of people that stop you on the street to talk and ask directions, they could be distracting you while their friend grabs your wallet or phone from your open bag. Keep your bags zipped. Sorry to end on such a sour note – but the pickpocketing in Barcelona is crazy, especially in the summer.
I hope this article helped in planning a fun and fabulous time in Barcelona with kids. If you have any questions, drop me a comment below!