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Your (free) guide to the top travel destinations for families with babies, teens and everyone in between.
Traveling Spain with kids is a rich and rewarding experience your family will remember for a lifetime. Barcelona represents one of the nation’s crowning jewels. Located along the glimmering Mediterranean, a visit to the city comes with stunning views and something for every age. After all, Spanish cuisine is the pinnacle when it comes to fresh, simple, and decadent eats and treats. And Barcelona’s medieval Gothic Quarter contains an incredible mixture of historical buildings and architectural styles.
Children are prized in Spanish culture, making for easy travel experiences filled with warmth and hospitality. Because the city is jam-packed with cultural experiences and kid-friendly activities, it can feel overwhelming to know where to start. After all, there’s no end to family-friendly activities. But we’ve got you covered.
Here’s what you need to know about building the perfect itinerary for Barcelona with kids.
Towering above the Gothic Quarter, the Cathedral of Barcelona is not to be missed. Its prominent mark on the landscape also makes it easy to find. As you approach the cathedral, spend some time looking up. The building is renowned for having 250 gargoyle sculptures created during the Middle Ages to deter evil spirits from going near the sacred spot.
Ask your kids to count all the gargoyles they can see for a fun game sure to open their eyes to the overall majesty of the structure. And don’t forget to scope out the waterspouts on the backside of the cathedral. You’ll also want to point out the claw-like marks visible on the exterior of the cathedral. Have your kids guess what they might be before explaining the fun history. People created the grooves in the Middle Ages while using the cathedral to sharpen their knives.
Entering the cathedral allows you to check out the 16th-century organ that still functions today. And you’ll be happy to see an elevator cutting out endless stairs to gain an aerial view from the cathedral’s heights. We can help you find the ideal kid-friendly guided tour of the Cathedral of Barcelona so that your family enjoys full access to the incredible history surrounding the building. And there’s no better way to end your visit than by stopping by the cloister, where you’ll find 13 fenced-in white geese.
The Gothic Quarter is one of the city’s oldest and most distinctive districts. It contains a picturesque labyrinth of narrow streets full of quaint restaurants, shops, bars, and neighborhoods. As a component of the larger old city, it stretches from the iconic Rambla to the Via Laietana, located smack dab in the heart of Barcelona.
At the Museum of Urban History, explore the city’s ancient foundations. As you descend, you’ll be transported to the Roman period, surveying impressive excavations of the city’s original Roman streets. The museum has done an incredible job of preserving these streets, which let you retrace the footsteps of inhabitants who made a life at the site nearly 2,000 years ago. Along the way, you’ll see ancient chapels, laundries, and shops as you learn about daily life in the 3rd century A.D.
At the Els Quatre Gats (Catalan for “The Four Cats”), enjoy coffee and kid-friendly snacks while taking in the ambiance of Picasso’s favorite haunt. Inspired by Paris’s Le Chat Noir bar, the café boasts a colorful past. Not only did Picasso enjoy this Spanish hotspot, but it also attracted many other architects, musicians, and artists, including Antoni Gaudi. The café even hosted Picasso’s first and second individual exhibitions.
Barcelona’s political life remains centered around the Plaça de Sant Jauma (a.k.a. Plaça de la Generalitat). The square contains the palace of the Catalan government and City Hall. Besides politicians, the square draws a delightful array of performers, from castellers building human pyramids to groups dancing the Sardana. And you won’t want to miss out on vintage shopping at Calle Avinyó. Nostalgic boutiques selling everything from vintage clothing to books line the street, and you’ll find many delicious restaurants selling tapas and wines when you’re ready for an afternoon snack and some people-watching.
Barcelona, and more specifically the Gothic Quarter, is also a stunning spot for a family photoshoot with a professional through flytographer. Find out more about hiring a flytographer for your Spain family vacation.
Visiting the largest food market, La Boqueria, in Barcelona is an experience that involves all five senses. It contains 44 open-air markets and represents more than a place to get groceries. The market is an integral part of the city’s social fabric. Thomasina Miers, a London-based chef, explains, “At the Boqueria, people eat, shop, and gossip together, doing what the Spanish excel at: living well and enjoying a sense of community.”
Although many residents of Barcelona lack time to shop at the market daily, they make at least one weekly trip where they visit their favorite stalls, socializing with and making purchases from owners and employees. As a result, you can learn a lot about Spanish culture simply by people-watching. But don’t limit yourself to observing others.
La Boqueria contains both groceries and freshly prepared cuisine. Tapas bars abound, intermixed with hotspots to buy spices, wild mushrooms, cheese, candy, and wines, collecting the many flavors of Spain in one exuberant location.
Two mountains flank Barcelona, Tibidabo and Montjuic, and both are celebrated by city dwellers as treasured green spaces where locals and visitors alike go to get back to nature and relax. Montjuic, in particular, contains the ideal combination of culture, history, and entertainment. It has enjoyed three periods of use, as a military fortress, the center of the 1929 International Exposition, and a central part of the 1992 Olympics. Artifacts of each of these stages exist today, making for a wonderful spot to explore Barcelona’s larger history.
Montjuic Mountain houses the original Montjuic Castle, located on the summit and serving as a watchtower. The military fortifications around the castle were constructed in the 17th century to thwart the advance of Philip IV. Eventually, the castle and its fortifications fell into the hands of the Bourbons, one of Europe’s most significant ruling dynasties who left their mark in France, Spain, Parma, and Sicily. The Bourbons adapted the site to its present form.
Other attractions worth seeing include the Laribel Gardens, the Montjuic Fountains, the Joan Miro Foundation, Caixa Forum, the National Palace of Montjuic, and more. Since 2007, the cable car at Montjuic has climbed the slopes of the mountain, offering incredible panoramic views of the city. Find out more about Poble Espanyol and its incredible sights.
Soccer fans won’t want to miss out on the Barça Stadium, which offers a variety of different tours depending on your family’s interests and ages. Best of all the stadium offers three family-friendly tours sure to spark interest in your mini soccer players. Learn more about why a trip to Barça Stadium is a must for athletic families.
One of Spain’s most famous architects remains Antoni Gaudi, whose fanciful creations have a whimsical Dr. Seuss-style appeal. At Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, gain new insights into the work of Gaudi.
Sagrada Familia represents a veritable temple to Gaudi’s genius and is a breathtaking sight that your family will not soon forget. Conceived by the diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar, creative differences led to the hiring of a new architect to finish it. Gaudi stepped in, transforming the project into an ambitious statement about the church of the future.
Park Güell is one of the largest parks in Barcelona, and it contains indelible marks left by Gaudi through his commissioned design efforts between 1900 and 1914. It is one of the most photographed and renowned locations in Barcelona and contains countless 3D mosaics containing the brilliant colors of the sea, air, and landscapes surrounding the city.
Among his other most liberated and unabashed structures is Casa Batllo, where he transforms every practical aspect of architecture into a stunning and unique structure. The inspiration for the design came from the legend of Saint George, who slew a dragon to save a princess. He remains the patron saint of Catalonia even today.
On a visit, your family will enjoy an interactive video guide. This guide brings the structure and its creation to life, showcasing the natural elements Gaudi incorporated into his work. These elements can be seen in everything from the mushroom-shaped fireplace to swimming sea turtle décor. The museum stays open until 8 pm, making it an excellent destination to burn off dinner with a gentle stroll.
Besides the Museum of History of Barcelona and the Giant Museum, your family won’t want to miss out on some of the city’s other favorite museums. Fortunately, they sit in close proximity, making visits convenient. At the Mammoth Museum, learn about the furry behemoths that roamed Europe during the Ice Age. The collection even includes touchable artifacts. So, your kids can get a firsthand feel for these massive beasts.
Nearby, you’ll find the Picasso Museum and the Chocolate Museum. The Picasso Museum contains some of the Spanish artist’s most famous and celebrated works and many lesser-known pieces from his pre-Cubist career. Check out the museum’s digital collection for more details.
At the educational and delectable Chocolate Museum, learn about the history of one of the most delightful treats on the planet. Located in a former monastery, you’ll also learn about the process involved in creating chocolate, from bean to bar, truffle, or chocolate chip.
L’Aquarium Barcelona is the largest oceanographic museum and aquarium in Europe. Located in Barcelona’s Port Vell, the facility was initially constructed in 1992 in the inner harbor as a part of the 1992 Olympic Games. It contains 11,000 fish in 35 different water basins, which will keep your whole family excited and engaged. But one of the most exciting highlights is a trip through the 262-foot shark tunnel, which gets you up close and personal with the toothy predators.
Top this off with a visit to the Explora! Children’s Center, containing more than 50 interactive games designed to teach kids about marine life and ecosystems. Games are organized around three geographic themes: Costa Brava’s secluded beaches, Ebro Delta’s marshes, and Medes Islands’ underwater caves.
Barcelona contains three miles of seaside piers and boardwalks, inviting families for a leisurely stroll or bike ride tour. Along the way, you’ll enjoy spectacular beach and water views. There are also many wonderful places to stop for lunch, an afternoon snack, or ice cream.
Don’t forget to bring your bathing suits because the water is warm and inviting. If you choose to check out the boardwalks via bicycle, finding a rental is easy. Be sure to go with a company that offers bikes with locks to discourage theft during stops.
There’s no better way to punctuate a wonderful family vacation to Barcelona than with chocolate and churros. This decadent combo is one of Spain’s top treats. You won’t soon forget long rings of freshly fried dough dipped in fondue-style dark chocolate for breakfast or a snack.
Churros and chocolate are best savored at a restaurant or café that receives them hot off the grill from a local churro maker throughout the day. Some of our favorite cafes sit on the diminutive side street, Carrer Petritxol, near the Santa Maria del Pi Church.
Vacationing in Barcelona with kids involves attractions steeped in the nation’s vibrant cultural heritage. Activities abound for every age and interest, whether you’re after delicious cuisine, stunning museums and aquariums, or a tour of the Gothic Quarter steeped in rich history. Other incredible ways to soak up Barcelona at its best include a bike ride along the coast, a taste of churros and chocolate at a local café, and people-watching at one of the city’s historic squares.
And this is just the beginning. There are plenty of activities just outside Barcelona that make for a perfect family-friendly itinerary.
Are you ready to start planning the perfect Barcelona family vacation itinerary? We can help. We’ve got the travel expertise, local connections, and experience with family travel to ensure you enjoy the best kid-friendly vacation possible.