5 years, 6 months ago
Already popular with solo travellers and couples who crave an inexpensive city break, Barcelona also has much to offer parents looking for some springtime sun and a rich variety of things to do for children of all ages. Here’s ten of my top picks for things to do in Barcelona a la família, in no particular order.
Telefèric de Montjuïc
credit: Heidi de Vries
Introduce your family to the city from above, with a ride on Montjuïc Cable Car. Gliding along from Barcelona Marina up to Montjuïc Castle. The views are impressive enough to keep the kids engrossed, quietly, while you get the lay of the land. If the historic military fortress of Castell de Montjuïc isn’t going to interest them much get off at Mirador on the way back down, and make the short walk down the hill where you’ll find yourselves just a few streets away from La Rambla, the city’s busiest street and gateway to the El Gòtic area – home to Barcelona’s oldest buildings and monuments.
The Joan Antoni Samaranch Olympic and Sports Museum
If you choose to make a day of it on top of Montjuïc Hill, head north to the old Olympic Stadium. Here you’ll find a very family-friendly museum about the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 which transformed the city. Not only does this offer a journey down memory lane for those who can remember the event, but the little ones who didn’t hear the absolute wonder that was Freddy Mercury crooning alongside Montserrat Caballé will enjoy seeing several rooms full of sports memorabilia and games to play.
Parc Montjuïc’s Magic Fountain
Not far from the Olympic Stadium on the edge of Parc Montjuïc in front of the Palau Nacional is the ‘Magic Fountain’, one of Barcelona’s most-loved family attractions. After 9 at night on spring and summer evenings, this huge fountain comes to life with water displays arranged to music and changing lights. A must-see if your kids are old enough to stay up for it.
Back at sea level and closer to the water’s edge at the end of the winding Avenida Diagonal, you’ll find the Bosc Urbà. Meaning urban jungle in Catalan, this outdoor adventure playground set within a large urban structure lives up to its name with a wild combination of climbing, crawling, balancing and zip-lining activities for the whole family. Ticket price and access are according to ability, but even if you’re not feeling adventurous enough it’s worth a visit just to watch people climbing around with the beach and sea in the background.
L’Aquàrium de Barcelona
Also close to Barcelona’s waterfront – of course – is L’Aquàrium de Barcelona, home to over 11,000 marine animals in over 35 individual aquariums. The highlight for children and adults is most certainly the 80 metre long aquarium tunnel that lets you surround yourself with marine life. Enjoy a few hours in Explora, an area designed just for children to learn about local marine species and characteristics through over 50 different interactive activities.
Parc d’Atraccions Tibidabo
If the Bosc Urbà wasn’t thrill enough for your family, head out of the city to spend a day at Parc d’Attraccions Tibidabo, sitting pretty next to the beautiful Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus within Serra de Collserola, a small mountain range that overlooks the sprawl of Barcelona. One of the oldest theme parks in the world, there are the usual theme park suspects including rollercoasters and log flumes. There’s also the Tibidabo Sky Walk if your kids prefer a more natural buzz. If they’re into robots or machinery you should make time for the the curious Museu dels Autòmats, a museum dedicated to the history of automated machines.
credit: Wojtek Gurak
Not far from Tibidabo is another museum, but one that kids will definitely enjoy. Some years ago CosmoCaixa changed its name from Science Museum of Barcelona to emphasise its focus on interactive learning rather than 2D displays. Housed in a beautiful modernist building, CosmoCaixa has a planetarium and a wide range of hands-on exhibits for children all aimed at enhancing and embracing science and the environment.
Museu de la Xocolata
Use your kids as an excuse to find out about one of Catalonia’s least celebrated but sweetest histories: chocolate. The Museu de la Xocolata, on Carrer Comerç, gives visitors the opportunity to learn about the history of chocolate and how the port of Barcelona was used to welcome it to Europe’s shores way back in the 15th century. With various group activities just for kids – like the brilliantly messy sounding ‘Painting with Chocolate’ – adults can also take part in organised group activities or just overindulge in treats from the museum shop while they wait for their kids to get sticky beyond all reason.
Museu del Mammot
Another museum that not enough people know about when they visit Barcelona is the Museum of the Mammoth. Hugely popular with kids (grown up ones too) who love the Ice Age films, this museum fills in some of the knowledge gaps and is the result of a number of paleontological excavations that helped us understand more about the mammoth and other animals that roamed the world at the time of the neanderthal. Unlike other history museums, visitors of all ages are encouraged to touch and hold mammoth tusks and teeth.
Jardins de la Torre de Les Aigües
Once Barcelona’s long hot summer kicks in, you’ll find that all you can think about is cooling down. If that’s the case, Jardins de la Torre de Les Aigües in the Eixample district is where you need to go. This oversized paddling pool can be found at the foot of an old 19th century water tower and now serves as an urban oasis where visitors cool off in shallow water or enjoy a picnic in the surrounding parkland, all for just a couple of euros.
If you’re still stuck for things to do, you can also check out my recommendations for Barcelona’s best beaches and some of the city’s secret sights. I also had a chat with one of HouseTrip’s Hosts in Barcelona and she gave some great tips to exploring the city like a local.