Quirky, colorful and doused with Mediterranean sunlight, the spirit of Barcelona is distinctive. With a beachside location, fanciful architecture and plenty of options for hands-on fun, Spain’s second-largest city is a perfect place to introduce your family to Europe. There are so many things to do in Barcelona with kids!
While I may not have children of my own, I’m a teacher of first and second grade, and, on my recent visit to the city with my mom, I couldn’t help but note the array of sites that would make great field trip locations.
Here’s a few of my family-friendly favorites that you can’t miss on a visit to Barcelona.
Things to do in Barcelona with Kids
There’s something different about many of the grand buildings in Barcelona’s city center that makes them unique from anywhere else in Europe. That something comes from Antoni Gaudí, a Spanish architect who spearheaded an architectural movement in the late 1800’s called Catalan Modernism that is marked by curved lines, asymmetry and influences from the natural world.
His most famous work is the unfinished cathedral Sagrada Família. From marble floors covered in rainbows by bright stained glass to the ceiling seemingly covered in lily pads to the sweeping views from the rooftop, the details here will appear to a wide range of ages.
Casa Batlló, a former family home redesigned by the architect will also appeal to adults and children alike with its “bone” encrusted façade and rooftop dragon.
Another wonder by Gaudi, Park Güell sits in the hills of upper Barcelona, providing a scenic escape to nature steps from the cosmopolitan setting.
There’s plenty of room for children to run and the cave-like stone archways are great for hide and seek.
In the monument section, long, serpent shaped mosaic benches overlook several buildings that look like, as my mom said, a Dr. Suess book come to life. Who doesn’t want to explore a real life gingerbread house? Be sure to say hell to el drac, a multicolored mosaic salamander, on the way out.
Beaches are a universal pleasure, and Barcelona is full of plenty with its prime location on the Mediterranean coast. Wander through the quaint, Spanish streets of Barceloneta, the old fishing district. The long strip of sand here is home to three beaches. Waters are generally calm and good for swimming in this area.
The city’s aquarium is just a short walk away as is this really cool lobster guy.
Mercat de la Boqueria is one of the best-known outdoor markets in Europe, and it’s a great place to walk through and sample foods. There is a huge selection of produce, meat and seafood, tapas and candies that fill the space with an array of colors and smells.
This market is a great place for kids to get up close to and learn about different types of food and traditional Spanish dishes.
My favorite part of the market is the fresh fruit juices. Several stands offer fun flavors such as Piña colada, strawberry coconut and pomegranate for just one euro a glass.
Apparently Disneyland and Las Vegas aren’t the only locations with water and light shows.
As darkness takes hold, PLAÇA DE CARLES BUÏGAS, a plaza near the Palau Nacional museum, is the setting for a free light and water and light show. Built for the World Fair in 1929, this fountain still fills the sky with thousands of gallons of water and lights to show tunes and pop hits.
The Magic Fountain operates nightly from 9-11:30 p.m. in summer months and 7-9 p.m. the rest of the year.
About the Author
Lauren Salisbury is a travel enthusiast who is currently exploring Europe while based in Spain teaching English in Madrid. She also writes for Something In Her Ramblings, a travel blog aimed at female and solo travelers.