Activities

14 things to do in Barcelona with kids

Whether you’re headed there to catch a cruise or plan to make it your Spanish home base, Barcelona is perfect for a family adventure

By Barry Choi

14 things to do in Barcelona with kids

Photo: Courtesy of Barry Choi

With its incredible architecture, ever-growing culinary scene and world-class attractions, Barcelona has everything you need to keep the entire family entertained.

Things to do in Barcelona with kids

Stroll down Las Ramblas

Admittedly, Las Ramblas is overcrowded and touristy, but it’s the perfect introduction to Barcelona. This tree-lined pedestrian mall stretches just over a kilometre and is full of street performers in elaborate setups (look for the biceletos and golden angel) that will happily pose for a picture with you—for a tip! Las Ramblas also has plenty of cafés, restaurants, and bars, perfect for taking a break. If you’re looking for a meal where the locals eat, head east to the Gothic Quarter or west to El Raval.

people walking down the shaded street Las RamblasPhoto: Courtesy of Barry Choi

Admire Antoni Gaudi’s architecture

It’s impossible to visit Barcelona without stopping to see some of Antoni Gaudi’s works. Start with Casa Batlló, which despite it’s skeletal exterior has a way of blending into the landscape organically. Pay close attention to the details of the arched roof which makes it appear like a dragon. Just up the street is Casa Milà, which looks like a rock quarry and was loathed by locals when it was built. These days, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site (and arguably one of of Gaudi’s most interesting works). The Sagrada FamiliaGaudi’s masterpiece is the most visited attraction in Spain. The structure combines Gothic and Art Nouveau forms, which can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Kids will especially like the twists and turns and in the structure and the stained glass windows which look like they’ve been pulled from the pages of a fairytale.

View of Casa Mila from the streetPhoto: Courtesy of Barry Choi

Hop-on hop-off bus

Hop-on, Hop-off buses can be touristy, but they’re also a great way to explore the city if you’re short on time or don’t want to drag little ones long distances. Barcelona has three routes with over 40 stops. Each route takes about two hours, and includes an audio guide to give you a good feel for the city. And since this is a bus, you won’t have to worry about transportation!

A double-decker Hop-on Hop-off tour bus driving through the streetsPhoto: Courtesy of Barry Choi

Head for Port Vell

At the foot of Las Ramblas, you’ll find Port Vell, a stunning pedestrian-only footbridge that jets out over the water and leads you to the Maremàgnum, a small mall with shops, restaurants, bars, and a theatre where you can take a break from the heat. Next to the mall is the Barcelona Aquarium, which features multiple tanks and more than 11,000 sea creatures. Don’t miss the shark tank or the children’s area, with 50+ interactive activities.

Kids looking into a big tank at the Barcelona AquariumPhoto: Courtesy of Barry Choi

Say sí to tapas

If you’ve got kids who are picky eaters, tapas are your new best friend. These small appetizer-like portions are a popular part of Spanish cuisine and allow you to sample a bit of everything. You really can’t go wrong with anything seafood-based (always order the octopus), but staples such as ham croquettes, fried potatoes, cheese with chorizo, and Spanish meatballs are sure to be a hit with kids. We recommend El Nacional for parents with babies or toddlers, which has ample stroller parking.

The dining room of El Nacional restaurantPhoto: Courtesy of Barry Choi

Stroll through Park Guell

In Antoni Gaudi’s Park Guell, you’ll notice stone columns that, at first glace, appear more like giant plants but are actually the base for balconies. Within the park are gathering spots where you’ll find musicians performing and you can even tour Gaudi’s home. Don’t miss The Nature Square, where you’ll find Gaudi’s famous mosaic benches, salamander sculpture, and an excellent view of the city. Note that a timed ticket is required for the square, but the rest of the park is free. You can purchase your tickets online, in advance to save time.

People walking up the steps at Park Guell in BarcelonaPhoto: The Travel Corporation

Take a beach day

Exploring Barcelona is tiring, which is why you should set aside some time to relax at the beach. The city has more than four kilometres of sandy shores giving you plenty of space to stretch out and enjoy the weather. The two most popular spots are Port Olimpic and Barceloneta Beach since there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and facilities a short walk away. You’ll even find a good-sized children’s play area nearby for when the kids get tired of the water.

A view of the crowds at Barceloneta BeachPhoto: Courtesy of Barry Choi

Ride the cable cars

The Port Cable Car (known locally as the Transbordador cable car) takes you from the beaches of Barceloneta up to Montjuïc in seven minutes. Along the way can spot top attractions like the Sagrada Familia, Torre Agbar, and the Arc de Triomf. Once you reach the top, you have the option to take the Teleferico de Montjuïc, another cable car (additional ticket required), that will take you all the way up to Montjuïc Castle.

the Port Cable cars that take you to the top of MontjuïcPhoto: Courtesy of Barry Choi

Reach for the sky

The Iberostar Paseo de Gracia has become the talk of the town ever since they opened their doors earlier this year. Their rooftop terrace caters to locals and tourists with panoramic views of the city, a cute cocktail bar, and a pool—perfect for wetting your toes. If you plan on staying the night, the rooms feature a Bluetooth connection for your music, modern furniture, hand-painted murals by local artists, and a rain shower head.

The roof top pool and lounge chairs at the Iberostar Paseo de Gracia hotelPhoto: Courtesy of Barry Choi

Roam the alleys of the Gothic Quarter

Barcelona's origin story can be found in the Gothic Quarter. The Cathedral of Barcelona is the most famous of the ruins, but just around the corner and underground is the Barcelona City History Museum, which dates back to the Romans. Most of the alleys in the Gothic Quarter are lined with boutiques and cafes, so take the time to window shop or grab something to eat. Don’t forget to look up while walking as many of the buildings have unique detailing, which you might not notice at street level.

People walking through Barcelona's Gothic Quarter

Visit the markets

A trip to Barcelona wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the markets. La Boqueria is the most famous and features dozens of merchants. Enter from Las Ramblas for a sampling of Iberian ham (a local delicacy) and fresh fruit cups or juice. Resist the urge to fill up so you'll have room for the tapas bars, fish counters, candy stores located deep within the market. Want to skip the crowds? Opt for a more local market like Santa Caterina Market in the Gothic Quarter.

A family looking at the stands at La Boqueria marketsPhoto: Courtesy of Barry Choi

Have a picnic at Ciutadella Park

Located just east of the Gothic Quarter, Ciutadella Park is the perfect escape from the crowds. Sit down to a picnic then check out the Cascada, an arch sculpture, waterfall, and fountain built in 1888 for the Universal exhibition. The area has lots of shade and free outdoor concerts organized by the city create a peaceful atmosphere. There's also a zoo and paddle boats within the park if you're looking for an activity.

The fountains and gardens at Ciutadella ParkPhoto: Courtesy of Barry Choi

Climb up Montjuïc

Take the cable car, metro, or a Hop-on, Hop-off bus to get up to Montjuïc to visit The National Palace, which houses the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC). Here you’ll find Gothic, Roman and Baroque art. If you’re coming at night, try to time it so you catch the Magic Fountain performance. This show combines, light, music, and motion for a fun fountain show.

The National Palace on top of MontjuïcPhoto: Courtesy of Barry Choi

Get your fix at the Chocolate Museum

It’s worth making a trip to the Chocolate Museum—yes, this is a real thing. The museum is small, but you’ll learn about the origins of chocolate and how it arrived in Europe. Your kids will love checking out the chocolate sculptures of characters like BB8 from Star Wars and Belle from Beauty and the Beast. You can also paint with chocolate and learn how to make chocolate. Don’t forget to pick up some chocolate samples from the café before you head back home!

A gallery in Barcelona' chocolate museumPhoto: Courtesy of Barry Choi

Read more: 11 family-friendly Airbnbs in Rome How to do off-resort Cuba with the kids 9 things we learned travelling around the world with kids

Some of the writer’s costs were covered by Iberostar.
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