Updated July, 2013
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Top 10 Things To Do With Kids in Barcelona
The Author: David Brydon blogs at Barcelona, Spain. News, insights and tips.
The Catalan Capital of Barcelona is a popular destination for families and the city has plenty to offer the kids. Restaurants are open long into the night and it’s common to see Spanish children out later than other European cities. Here are my top ten attractions for children, but in no particular order.
Barcelona has 9 UNESCO World heritage sites so there’s no shortage of great culture. Gaudi’s fantastic creation is something out of a fairytale, with Hansel and Gretel houses, ornamental dragons, and leafy plazas to take a rest. It is still one of the best things to do in the city for free, and my tip is to take the metro to Vallcarca and then the escalators up to the back of the park – then you’ll see it all downhill at a stroll (it’s on a pretty steep incline).
No visit to the city is complete without a stroll down this famous and wonderful boulevard. Starting at Plaça Catalunya and stretching down to the port, children and adults alike are treated to flower sellers, animal stalls, painters, artists, human statues and street performers. A must for everyone.
Perhaps an obvious one, but Barcelona has a fairly long stretch of coastline, and for city beaches, they’re pretty darn good and certainly worth an excursion. The Olympic Village beaches are a little more child-friendly, with a spider’s web climbing structure and a playground. Barceloneta is the old fisherman’s quarters and has a great beach too.
The city is flanked by two mountains, and Montjüic is the one looking over the sea. There are two cable car rides from Montjüic – one which crosses the sea over to Barceloneta and the beach, and the second which transports you up to the old castle. Both offer great views of the city sprawling below and are a sure-fire hit with the kids.
This is a fantastic aquarium. Boasting Europe’s largest sea tunnel – like a perspex walkway where the sharks, rays, and moonfish swim above and around you – and a day’s worth of tanks, special exhibitions, marine history, and some really funny penguins!
This park is a bit of a trek, but for older kids wanting a bit of fun, there is an amusement park at the summit. Many of the attractions are very tame, but there’s a relatively new rollercoaster which darts through the surrounding countryside.
Another great place to escape the hustle and bustle with youngsters. The “Garden of Barcelona” not only houses the city zoo, but also has row boats, fountains, and plazas. Numerous play areas and a great life-size replica of a Mammoth are great for kids (children love to sit on the trunk) and there’s always plenty of space for a relaxing picnic.
This is a great spectacle and should be on everyone’s must-do list. Located at Plaça Espanya, the nightly show features a water fountain that dances to lights and music. It’s much better later in the summer, when it’s completely dark, and I’m aware that might be tough for readers with younger kids, but I had to include it!
Adjacent to the Aquarium, and with the increasing popularity of 3D movies, you won’t disappoint if you suggest taking the kids here. The shows are mostly combination tickets, with one imax screening and a 3D film included (for example). Choose the shows wisely, as any audio will likely be in Catalan.
This final suggestion is not purely for the kids, but rather an inclusion of something that makes life easier visiting the city with kids, and that’s the tourist bus (or Bus Turistic). This is a fun and easy way to see the city on the hop-on hop-off bus. Staff can help families on and off with pushchairs and strollers. The routes are color coded (Red and Blue are the best, don’t bother with the green). The buses stop at all the major attractions. Barcelona’s metro is fantastic, but little legs can rest on the bus while still enjoying the sights of the city.
The Best Hotels for Families in Barcelona
This isn’t a budget hotel but the Casa Camper gets fantastic reviews from families. The location (near La Catalunya station and Las Ramblas), the staff, and the breakfast are among its many attractions. Kids will love the tasty fruits and snacks that are help-yourself all day in the lobby. Print out a map to help your taxi driver, as it’s somewhat hard to find down a quiet street.
The Montecarlo is a stunner. Parents are wowed by the hotel’s easy efficiency, fantastic service and simple but elegant layout. Located right on Las Ramblas it’s walking distance from Plaça de Catalunya, The Gothic Quarter and the cruise terminals. The only complaint: no swimming pool.
Let’s see: Great service, beautiful rooftop pool, excellent location, close to the subway, simple but adequate breakfast. Stay above the 7th floor to avoid any rumble from the nearby train. The breakfast is probably not worth the 15 Euros.
A central location, spacious rooms and friendly staff put Hotel Regina among the family favorites in Barcelona. Starbucks (if you must) next door and Bus Turistic just around the corner. Good size rooms will be appealing to both parents and children.
The Europark earns high marks for its location (central but in a quiet area), proximity to 2 metro stops (Girona and Passeig de Gracia), and rooftop swimming pool. It’s a great deal for traveling families (but with so many great eateries nearby don’t bother with the hotel restaurant).
This one is recommended if you’re arriving by train (the Barcelo-Sants train station is right across the street) or car (you can avoid the traffic of central Barcelona). It’s slightly removed from the main attractions of Barcelona (e.g. Las Ramblas) but close to 2 subway stops that can whisk you anywhere quickly. The higher rooms and rooftop terrace offer majestic views of Barcelona. Families can grab a voucher from the front desk to use the swimming pool at the neighboring Expo hotel.
Hotels In Barcelona With Swimming Pools
- Fira Palace Hotel (outdoor pool)
- Hotel 1898 (indoor pool and heated rooftop outdoor pool)
- Rey Juan Carlos I Hotel (indoor heated pool with fee – free for kids – and seasonal outdoor pool that has no fee)
- Grand Hotel Central (amazing rooftop pool)
- Claris Hotel Barcelona (rooftop pool and sauna)
- Condes de Barcelona (small rooftop pool)
- Catalonia Barcelona Plaza Hotel (no shallow end can make it difficult for kids and non-swimmers)
- Hotel Majestic (small rooftop pool)
- Casa Fuster Hotel (small rooftop pool)
- Eurostars Grand Marina Hotel (small rooftop pool)
- Expo Hotel Barcelona (rooftop pool)
- Hotel HCC Regente (small rooftop pool)
- Barcelona Universal Hotel
- America Hotel Barcelona (beautiful rooftop pool and jacuzzi)
- AC Hotel Diplomatic by Marriott (small outdoor pool)
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