Barcelona is an easy city break with kids. You can be there in just a little over two hours from the UK so it even works for a long weekend. Tempted? Here are 10 amazing things to do as well as some gorgeous places to stay on any size of Barcelona holiday.
1/10 Barcelona Aquarium: walk through an 80m shark tunnel
Over 11,000 creatures from 450 different species are right at home in Barcelona Aquàrium. It’s the largest in the world dedicated to Mediterranean marine life and walking through a shark-infested glass tunnel stretching for 80 metres is reason enough to go.
For closest encounters, plan to visit at feeding time. Greedy penguins steal the show for most kids. But getting splashed by snack-seeking Manta Ray comes a very close second. If you’re trying to pack a lot into a short break, buy your Barcelona Aquarium tickets in advance and you won’t have to queue.
2/10 Tibidabo Amusement Park: for vintage views of Barcelona
Perched on top of Tibidabo Mountain, this is the amusement park where every ride comes with a stunning city views. It’s almost as much of a Barcelona icon as Mediterranean beaches and the Sagrada Familia, and local kids consider summer started when it opens the gates in March each year.
Rollercoasters soaring through forests, heart-in-the-mouth-high Ferris Wheels, and seriously terrifying white knucklers, keep the fear quotient satisfyingly high for teens. Younger kids have plenty of cuter rides to try, and the funicular up to Tibidabo makes it even more of an adventure.
3/10 Gothic Quarter: for the city’s best churros & chocolate
Apart from tapas, churros is Spain’s favourite snack. It’s a breakfast standard, after-school treat, and you can follow the sweet scent to any fairground in the country, all summer long.
Best Barcelona churros come from Xurreria dels Banys Nous, tucked away in the city’s Gothic Quarter. It’s not the easiest place to find, unless you’ve great sense of smell. But make the effort. Sugary, deep-fried dough beats tapas hands down for kids and you can choose to dip in chocolate, cream or dulce de leche here.
Of course, older kids might also like to get to know this ancient part of the city beyond its sugary snacks. The Gothic Quarter Ghosts and Legends Tour is led by locals, delves into the darkest secrets of the barrio and doesn’t hold back on horror stories, so pretty much perfect for most teens.
4/10 Montjuïc Cable Car: best start to Barcelona holidays
Barcelona is thrilling at ground level, and totally spectacular from the air. Probably why one of its most popular experiences is flying high above the city on the Montjuïc Cable Car.
You don’t miss a thing on this amazing ride, so it’s great way to get your bearings at the start of Barcelona holidays. Plus, Montjuic itself is a legend with good reason. It’s home to Poble Espanyol, and where you can see the Magic Fountain of Montjuic spectacle in the evening.
5/10 Parc Güell: Gaudi’s playful Modernist masterpiece
Parc Güell is the only Gaudi where kids can run free and get hands-on with the great Modernist’s designs. From quaint gingerbread houses to enormous mosaic lizards, it’s basically a beautifully crafted fairy tale from end-to-end, and the views are astounding.
You need to book tickets in advance because they come with a time slot. If that sounds a bit less playful than Güell’s personality, think about a Parc Güell guided tour and let someone else do the work. That way not only do kids learn all about the Parc, you don’t need to think about time slots and tickets.
6/10 Parc de la Ciutadella: the home of Barcelona Zoo
When locals aren’t sunning themselves on Barcelona’s beaches at lunchtime, they’re soaking up shade in Ciutadella Park. It’s just a few minutes walk east of Las Ramblas, and a top spot for escaping the city heat in summer.
It’s also home to Barcelona Zoo, and the Catalan Parliament building, as well as some beautiful formal gardens. Stroll up to the north east corner to see the monumental fountain that’s one of Gaudi’s earliest works.
7/10 Montserrat: a magical day out with kids
Montserrat is known as Catalonia’s spiritual heartland. According to legend, shepherds found a ‘black’ Madonna statue tucked into a grotto here in the 9th century, and it’s been a place of pilgrimage ever since.
Nowadays, as many visitors as pilgrims flock to this lovely spot, high in the mountains, north of Barcelona. The ancient Benedictine Monastery alone is worth the trip, but even that grandeur comes second to the rugged drama of the landscape. To make the most of your visit think about taking tour of the monastery and a guided hike in the natural park afterwards. It’s a great way to experience both. Plus, Montserrat is having a social media moment, so phones at the ready!
8/10 Museu Marítim de Barcelona
Set in medieval dockyards, just west of Las Ramblas Barcelona Maritime Museum is one of the most impressive in Europe. The collection covers every aspect of the city’s seafaring past, but clever curation mixes drama with detail, so even younger visitors are enthralled and educated at the same time, usually without noticing the learning bit.
But if you find yourself just staring in awe-struck silence at full-scale replicas like the 46 metre long, four-mast schooner, Santa Eulàlia, that’s fine too. You might not be thinking of sailing on a short break, but the city has a fantastic transport network and the Hola Barcelona Travel Card is great value for getting around with kids.
9/10 Montjuïc Mountain: for art galleries and running around
Barcelona’s most famous mountain isn’t a mere hill close to the city centre, this is a peak packed with activity. It’s home to El Poble Espanyol, a model town containing examples of every style of Spanish architecture throughout history. Fundació Joan Miró is also here and you can visit the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya and Montjuic Castle.
Of course, the views are incredible, and there’s plenty of wide open space for rambling around too. But if that isn’t enough fun for kids, the previously mentioned Montjuic Cable Car adds even more excitement into the mix.
10/10 Barceloneta: this way to the city’s best beaches
Whether your kids are at the Camp Nou Tour stage or happy to play in parks all day, everyone loves Barcelona’s beaches. The city has more than five kilometres of golden sand stretching along the Mediterranean and there’s a perfect spot just waiting for you.
Barceloneta is loved by local families at the weekend and only minutes from the historic city centre. If you want an active alternative, head east to the Fòrum Bathing Centre for a swim in the sea-pool. Lively Bogatell is the pick for beach games. If you’re up for sailing or surfing head to Mar Bella or Nova Mar Bella. And when you simply want a quiet afternoon with kids, choose peaceful Nova Icària close to Barcelona’s Port Olímpic.
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