Barcelona With Kids

April 27, 2012

Barcelona is truly one of the best European cities to visit with kids. The vibrant colors echo the lively pulse of the city, while the eclectic mix of old and modern, sweet and salty, natural and man-made beckon everyone to stop, savor and soak it all up with childlike wonder. It is a perfect family destination. Here are just a few of the highlights from our recent trip:

Barcelona Harbor Walk

Hop On/ Hop Off Bus
We have never done a hop on/hop off bus tour before, but it actually turned out to be the perfect introduction to the Barcelona. The kids loved the novelty of climbing to the top of the bus and riding outside, the recorded narrative was actually interesting and informative, and we got to see quite a few sites in just a few hours. Barcelona is fairly spread out so this is a good way to get oriented and I am glad we spent our first day seeing the city this way. The other benefit of doing this tour early in our visit is that we received coupon books which we used the rest of the week for discounted admission fees at major sites.

El Born District

El Born District
A great place to wander and explore all of the twisty streets, cute shops, tapas bars, and tasty bakeries. 7 Portes for paella, Pim Pam for delicious burgers, Udon for a quick and tasty meal, Hofmann and Bubo for pastries, and many, many very glad we rented an apartment in this district.

It's hard not to fall under the colorful spell of Gaudi while visiting his hometown. Parc Guell is fabulous, but we weren't thrilled to be sharing it with such a large crowd on a sunny Sunday (there's probably less of a crowd during the weekdays). La Sagrada Familia was also intriguing but the long line to get tickets wasn't quite so appealing so we opted to spend the time across the street at the little playground. Casa Batillo turned out to be a surprising success with the kids. What an enticing space with all of the nooks and crannies, mushroom shaped fireplace, snail shell ceiling, and a dragon spine's like stepping into a child's fantasy house. I also have to say that the kids enjoyed the autonomy of the audio guides (they come with the entrance fee).Building on Nature is the perfect book to read with kids when visiting Barcelona.

Casa Batillo

Big, bright, and abstract. The Joan Miro Museum appeals to kids and adults. Be sure to visit the roof top sculpture garden for a great view of the city. Also, we highly recommend wandering through the park next door for some tree climbing and a pleasant lunch in the courtyard of La Font del Gat.

Joan Miro Museum

Barca soccer game
Noah and Adam were able to score tickets for a Barca soccer game. A huge stadium packed with adoring fans, mesmerizing Messi, and four goals for Barcelona = a very memorable experience.

Barcelona Zoo
This really is a nice zoo. In addition to all of the formal displays, there are an overwhelming number of birds which have chosen to make the zoo their home/rookery...more free ranging peacocks than I have ever seen anywhere else, little wild green parrots roosting in the palm trees, and hundreds of nesting storks and egrets. Be sure to see the dolphin show and leave plenty of time for enjoying the playground.

Barcelona Zoo

Cosmo Caixo
We loved this science museum so much that we visited it twice during our time in Barcelona.  Lots of hands on experiments, cool rain forest environment, and a good outdoor space. It is one of the best science museums we have visited in Europe and by far the least expensive (only 2-3 euro!). Probably best for school age and older. Additional bonus, the displays have explanations in English.

Cosmo Caixo

Sardana Folk Dancing
I LOVED this and although I was actually the only person in our family who joined the circle and started dancing, this is a unique and fun cultural activity that is perfect for all ages. Every Sunday starting at noon in front of the Cathedral. Free and for all ages.

We were pleasantly surprised by Barcelona's beach area. A nice, big sandy beach bordered by an active bike/walking path,interesting art and architecture, great seafood,local artisans, and lots of space for running and jumping. 


 El Rei de Magia
This seriously cool little magic shop  has been serving professional and amateur magicians since 1881. The woman running the shop actually invited the kids into the back room where she instructed them on how to do specific tricks (some of which I still can't figure out)...needless to say there have been lots of magic shows since visiting Barcelona.

El Rei de Magia

Papa Bubble
Like a kid in a candy shop....a candy shop where they make the candy right in front of your eyes...what's not to love about that? Papa Bubble started in Barcelona and has now spread to other parts of the world. 

Papa Bubble

Barcelona has so many wonderful offerings, but one of the best highlights was that we were able to share the experience with my mom. Barcelona is a fabulous city for family adventures and we can't wait to return.

Noah, Duchess, and Camille
ChemgalHWS said...

When you return buy your tickets for Sagrada Familia online and then you do not have to worry about the line. It is truly a beautiful place to explore. Loved the pictures and gave me more reasons why I want to return as well.

Dana said...

I love when you do posts like these! They are so incredibly helpful to me. Now I won't have to do a bit of research when we go. Grazie mille!!!

katy said...

So makes me wish we would have visited Barcelona! Bryce and I went after college and had a great time. I specifically remember the Gaudi park with the mosaics - Amazing! BTW, Camille is looking so grown-up.

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish said...

ChemgalHWS, thanks for the suggestion about buying tickets online...I love that you can do that for so many places these days. Really does make traveling, especially with kids, so much easier. I am confident we will return to Barcelona again and seeing the inside of Sagrada Familia will be on the top of my list for that trip.

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish said...

Dana, thank you! I do these posts as a way of documenting our favorite spots (since I am not good about keeping travel journals or scrapbooks), but also because I am so grateful when I stumble upon similar posts while preparing for trips. Always good to see/hear what "real" families like to see and do when traveling. Many of the guidebooks are so heavily weighted towards adult travel that it takes a bit of work to dig up the kid stuff...Barcelona, though, is a kid and adult playground.

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish said...

Yes, you need to take your girls to Barcelona. I know they would love it and I know you would love sharing it with them.

And yes, you aren't the only one who has been noticing a change in Camille...I have been sorting through clothing and can't believe how quickly she is growing :)

Mom said...

I almost feel like I was there with you. Wonderful post.

Bob Valden said...

For more tips for a family holiday in Barcelona, please have a look at the following link:

Bob Valden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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