Barcelona is the perfect tourist city. It has just about everything you could want. There are world-class museums, historic (and iconic) Cathedrals, and gorgeous architecture. There are some of Europe’s most beautiful beaches for lounging in the sun and swimming in the warm Mediterranean waters. There is an amazing culinary tradition that churns out world-famous dishes like paella and croquetas. Barcelona has it all, especially when it comes to family-friendly activities. There are zoos, science museums, theme parks (like the Tibidabo Amusement Park), amazing hikes, family tours, the aforementioned beaches, and a variety of fun (and active) attractions for kids of every age. Here are a few of our favorite activities that the whole family will enjoy.
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Unlike most zoos, Barcelona’s is centrally located, making it a realistic (and highly recommended) destination for families visiting Barcelona with kids. The Barcelona Zoo is also very close to the Port of Barcelona, as well as the La Barceloneta neighborhood and accompanying beaches. This makes this destination a must-visit for families and wildlife-loving travelers.
The zoo’s layout makes it simple to walk between enclosures, making it an efficient outing. Despite the convenience and navigability, the Barcelona Zoo packs a lot of wildlife into a relatively small space. There is an elephant training show, so kids can learn how zookeepers teach elephants how to interact and thrive in their homes. There are also dolphins, tigers, and a full host of African animals. There is free entry with the Barcelona Family Card, but the entrance fee is very reasonable regardless.
FC Barcelona Match and Camp Nou Stadium
Barcelona’s soccer team is one of the most famous sports brands in the entire world. Legendary athletes like Lionel Messi have turned the Catalan capital into a recognizable institution throughout the entire world. Their home stadium, the 100,000 seat Camp Nou, is one of the sport’s most iconic venues, and visiting the stadium and grounds is one of the most fun things to do in Barcelona with kids. While FC Barcelona plays home games throughout the year, there are plenty of attractions during the week and off-season. The Barca Museum is a mecca for the sport’s history. Even during the off-season, a tour of Camp Nou is an incredibly fun experience. You can see the stadium from the pitch, which given the size, is an incredible sight. If you happen to be in Barcelona on game day, seeing the home team play in person is an unforgettable experience for younger kids and older kids alike. The atmosphere is top-notch, and this club team is one of the world’s elite. Because of the majestic stadium and incredible atmosphere, the whole family will enjoy an afternoon at Camp Nou.
Located near the Port of Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter, and the La Barceloneta neighborhood, the Aquarium is an easy stop if you’re exploring the waterfront and other attractive areas. Hundreds and hundreds of aquatic species are kept in the Aquarium, with sharks and penguins being the most popular. There are interactive spaces for younger kids, where they can climb through forts and slides, press buttons to learn information, and other ways for them to expend energy. The Oceanarium’s automatic walkway allows you to stare through the glass walls at sharks and other exotic fish. There is an ultra-popular shark feeding show that happens on Tuesdays and Fridays. The Aquarium is a wonderful alternative to the beach if the weather isn’t cooperating. Either way, this is a fun and informative activity for younger kids and curious teenagers.
Museu Blau (Natural History Museum)
With its triangular corners and pitch-black interior, the Natural History Museum’s architecture is part of the appeal as much as any of its amazing exhibits. Fossils, skeletons, taxidermy, and other intriguing items are spread throughout the museum. There is a strong educational focus here, with programming about the evolution of the earth and the creatures that inhabit it. There are special rooms for toddlers where there are sensory-specific activities, like touching the fur of various animals and learning about exotic plants. On the first Sunday of every month, there is free entry after 3 pm, so if your timing is right, you can make this a very affordable afternoon.
Located on the same grounds as the Barcelona Zoo, Ciutadella Park is the city’s go-to green space. There are numerous ornate fountains, museums, a lake (with rowboats), and dozens of walkways to enjoy the lush greenery. Originally built in 1888 as the premises for the Universal Exhibition, this resplendent park is one of Barcelona’s centerpieces. The location is perfect. If you are doing anything right during your stay in town, you will find yourself near this park. From there, it’s a relaxing afternoon where you can choose from a nice variety of activities.
One of the park’s oddities is a life-size reconstruction of a woolly mammoth. It’s perfect for a photo opportunity, and the kids will love climbing on it. There are greenhouses throughout the park and indoor spaces at the zoo if the weather calls for it. For sporty families, there is table tennis set up for anyone who brings their own (or borrows) paddles. All in all, this is a great place to spend an afternoon.
CosmoCaixa (Science Museum)
This museum is basically five floors that have been jam-packed with some of the most interesting and entertaining scientific attractions in the city. This imposing modernist building is located a little further out from the city center, but any science buffs and curious kids will be thrilled with the decision to make the trek out to CosmoCaixa
The museum’s (very faithful) recreation of an Amazon rain forest is one of its main attractions. There are fish, turtles, birds, and dozens of individual plant species that populate the exhibit. You can peer through the glass to get a closer look at the animals, or you can take in the view from observation decks. The refreshing humidity of the rainforest habitat is an exhilarating sensation.
The geology section will showcase the science of volcanoes and different forms of rock. There are interactive exhibits where the younger children will be able to perform their own scientific “research” in the form of buttons, levers, and other fun contraptions.
Because CosmoCaixa’s programming is rotating, you won’t know which one-off exhibits will be available until closer to your visit. But looking through their calendar, you’ll find a variety of fascinating programs that focus on specific subjects like wildlife, the cosmos, and geology. The quality of these exhibits is world-class, so there’s not much to worry about. This may not be as centrally located as some of the other museums, but this is a worthwhile destination and one of the most educational and fun things to do in Barcelona with kids.
Take a Boat Trip
Being a maritime city, Barcelona is famously beautiful to take in from the water. Near the harbor, on La Rambla Street, there are a number of boats and charters where you can take a cruise around the city and surrounding areas. There are a few different boat trip lengths, but a 40-minute boat ride will take you around the harbor, and you’ll be able to see many of the best buildings, beaches, and the port of Barcelona. A 90-minute excursion will allow you to stretch your sea legs, as the boats will head deeper out into the Mediterranean. There, you can enjoy the entirety of the Barcelona skyline. There are good food options on all of these charters, so packing snacks won’t be necessary. This is a nice option before or after the Aquarium, as it’s outdoors, and will give you a chance to catch your breath and sit and relax. Every Barcelona family holiday should involve as much time on the water as possible!
This is one of Barcelona’s best museums, and it’s certainly the local’s favorite spot because it highlights a specific and proud part of Catalan heritage. The building itself is suitably gorgeous, being held in a Medieval building. The museum features ancient boats, maps, and other educational exhibits. The recreation of a 16th century Spanish Armada ship will wow the kids, and there are dozens of other models that will show you what life at sea was like centuries ago. The Maritime Museum is located near the harbor, Gothic Quarter, Aquarium, and Columbus Monument, so there are plenty of other family-friendly activities nearby.
La Boqueria Market
Known officially as the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, this huge public market is located in the Ciutat Vella district next to the famous Gothic Quarter. It’s one of the city’s best landmarks, and its entrance on La Rambla is unmistakable. A trip to Barcelona with kids won't be complete without visiting this historic market. You’ll find a massive variety of street food, clothing, fresh produce, souvenirs, and other local goods. It’s centrally located, so it’s easy to pop in and out of. And it’s a fun activity regardless of whether or not you are looking to buy anything. The bustling energy and colorful array of goods make for amazing photo opportunities.
Montjuïc mountain looms large over the city of Barcelona. It’s an imposing and majestic range that can be seen from just about anywhere in the city. On top of this mountain are gardens, parks, monuments, and other fun things to do around the grounds. One of the best attractions in the area is Montjuïc Castle. This 17th-century fortress will capture the kids’ attention, and nerdy teenagers will be able to daydream about what it was like to man the ramparts. There are guided tours detailing the castle’s fascinating history, but the real attraction here is the view. There is a near-panoramic view of the area, and you can see the city and the sea. This vantage point perfectly encapsulates the beauty of the entire city and is a must-visit when you're visiting Barcelona with kids. This is the perfect outdoor activity for the whole family, and certainly better than an amusement park.
For families who aren’t afraid of heights, there is a network of cable cars that can be ridden by the public. Outstanding views of the city and surrounding hills can be had. There are two options, and both of these can be found on Montjuic Mountain, which is easily accessible from downtown Barcelona and the port. The Port Cable car (Telefèric del Port) leaves from the port and transports you to Mirador del Mar. It’s extremely high up in the air and has amazing views of the port through a 10-minute ride. The Montjuïc Cable Car (Telefèric de Montjuïc) will bring you the entire way up the mountain, and so the destination’s views are basically the best in Barcelona. These cable cars are big enough for the whole family to fit on, and the relaxing trip up and down will give mom and dad a breather.
The Best Free Things To Do In Barcelona With Kids
Barcelona is one of the rare European cities in that you can enjoy the same quality of beaches as cities like Miami or Rio. Kids will love taking a dip in the ocean and relaxing in the sand under an umbrella is a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona’s city centre. The Platja de Barceloneta is the most famous beach, and there is a very lively scene on weekends. There are small outdoor bars called xiringuitos that serve beer and cocktails to keep parents occupied while the kids swim and play in the sand. These beaches can get pretty crowded (can you really blame the crowds?) but there are quieter beaches like Icaria Nova and Bogatell that provide a relaxing atmosphere as well as the sea breeze. If you're visiting Barcelona with kids, a beach getaway is the perfect afternoon family activity.
Labyrinth Park (Parc del Laberint d'Horta)
Known locally as Parc del Laberint d'Horta, this sprawling park is located in the hills outside of the city center. The neoclassical maze of cypress trees and other lush greenery offers the ultimate location for a game of hide and seek. Mythical and historical statues dot the grounds and make for fantastic pictures and even better storytelling. Outside of the labyrinth, there are gardens and wooded areas that are perfect for relaxing walks away from the hustle and bustle of the city. There is also a canal complete with a gorgeous flock of swans. On Wednesdays and Sundays, admission is free!
This park was designed by world-renowned architect Antoni Gaudi, who transformed green space into an almost gingerbread-like village of mosaic-covered buildings and houses. Upon entering the park (located just outside of downtown in the Gràcia neighborhood), the kids will be transported to another world.
There are two sections. The Monumental Zone is where all of the otherworldly mosaic houses are located, and there are some of the best views of the city from this area. The Forest Zone has a number of incredible views as well. Because shade is at a premium, the Forest Zone is a welcome respite from the sun during the summer months. Because it’s located up in the hills, there are amazing views of the Barcelona city center and surrounding areas. It’s advisable to book ahead of time, as tickets are required and the park is quite popular during the high season. Visiting Park Guell is one of the most unique free things to do in Barcelona with kids.
Montjuïc Magic Fountain
Located in the seemingly endless wonders of the El Poble-Sec district, the Magic Fountain is one of the most fun things to do in Barcelona with kids. This stunning fountain show runs every 15 minutes and consists of dancing water set to music and lights. If you are in the area at night, the accompanying light show is a sight to behold, and well worth braving the crowds that Magic Fountain draws during the beautiful summer evenings. The Metro, train, and bus systems connect the park to the city center. The gorgeous array of tourist attractions is well worth the short trek from downtown, and any trip to Barcelona with kids isn't complete without seeing this marvel.
Barcelona has something for everybody. The shopping, the food, the gorgeous natural beauty, the ornate architecture of the Gothic Quarter, and 0f course the beaches are all amazing popular attractions, but when it comes to activities for a family holiday, Barcelona truly shines. Because Barcelona is a large, sprawling city, it’s best to know what your itinerary will be so you can plan accordingly. Let Bounce take care of the luggage so you can maximize your time in one of the world’s greatest cities.