When we told our friends we had planned three days in Barcelona with kids, they looked at us as if we had lost our minds. In our pre-children years, we had all associated Barcelona with whimsical art and late-nigh tapas and beer, so I guess it was difficult to suddenly look at the place as a family destination.
But we were sure Barcelona had more to offer than the studenty atmospheres we had loved and indeed, the company of our two toddlers made us discover a Barcelona that is as enjoyable and more distinctive than we thought possible. These are our top tips for a family break in Barcelona with kids.
Top tips for visiting Barcelona with kids
Best places to visit in Barcelona with kids
1. Barceloneta and the Teleferic
Barcelona sits on the beautiful Mediterranean coast and it has a beautiful seafront and urban beach: Barceloneta. Walking from El Born, the Port Vell and Barceloneta announce themselves with the spectacular view of the teleferic (you can find official info and prices on the cable car website): striking for its sheer height, the cable car stands out against the blue, bright sky and if you are brave enough to ride it, you will find the view from it spectacular: a golden strip of sand, the Mediterranean waters sparkling in the sun, and the whole of Barcelona city are all under you!
A busy urban beach, Barceloneta is full of restaurants, cafes, and ice cream parlours, where students, parents, business people on lunch breaks and passers-by stop for a pause in the sun.
A long, paved road follows the beach, between you and the sand only a line of beach bars with wooden benches and sandy floors, flaunting juicers and straws suggesting a refreshing and healthy stop.
We dared the traffic of roller skaters zooming along the promenade and conquered a seat in one of the beach huts. Conscious about having two toddlers in bar mostly full of 20 somethings with floppy hair and what looked like a perennial sun-tan, we were surprised and delighted to see how child-friendly everyone turned out to be: they even had high chairs!
Our kids loved the beach and their favourite spot was the playground near the W hotel. I also loved that spot as there is a massive Desigual shop I could browse. Kids paradise, mum’s paradise!
Top tips for visiting Barceloneta with kids: albeit busy, Barceloneta is exceptionally family friendly. The large pavement running along the beach is stroller friendly and all establishments on the seafront are happy to welcome children (most even have high chairs!)
2. Learning about animals in Barcelona zoo and aquarium
I have mixed feelings about zoos and recently I have learnt upsetting truths about dolphinariums that made me wish we didn’t include this stop in our itinerary (this is topic dear to my heart, you can read about my feeling and some hard facts on my post ‘the dolphin show I wish I didn’t see), but among the many things we did in Barcelona, we included a trip to the zoo and one to the aquarium.
These are two majour attractions in Barcelona and without a doubt an easy day out with the kids. Both structures are made for families, with shows, restaurants, shops and you can easily spend the full day out there. The aquarium was a hit with the kids: the sharks feeding time piqued their interest and the underwater tunnel that surrounds you with fish from all sides is something even us adults were conquered by!
3. Parc de la Ciutadella
I always say that a successful city break with kids is made of frequent stops at the park Barcelona had plenty to choose from. One we loved in parc del la Ciutadella: pleasant for a stroll, it has a nice playground just beside a coffee shop serving cold drinks and ice-cream (yes, you can sit at the cafe while supervising the kids!) . This is our itinerary – map courtesy of wonderful travelabulous
4. Tibidabo, Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell
Since we had kids we have been practising the art of having a break without stopping and we discovered that for this specific art, there is no better ally than an open top bus tour!
We choose one of the many available bus tours provided (hop on, hop off) and having secured pleasant seats on the open deck we zoomed through the city, breeze in our hair and the delighted scream of the kids in our ears. From the comfort of out seats we admired many of Barcelona’s beauties, including the Tibidabo, la Sagrada Familia and the facades of some of Gaudi’s houses: we only got off to the must see parc Guell.
Parc Guell is probably an obvious choice and a must see place for anyone going to Barcelona, whether with kids or on their own. Perched on a hill overlooking the city, we reached it following a steep road that is probably better if negotiated without a buggy… The narrow street broke our legs but rewarded us with ice cream along the way and, of course, with the stunning sight of the park and the city below.
We had been to parc Guell before, but the whimsical architecture and its lurid colours, with blue broken tiles shimmering in the sun, is always incredible. The marzipan looking gates to the park and the wide terrace overlooking the city were a hit even with the smaller ones, but the real star of the trip for them was the playground, hidden away behind tall trees.
Indeed, the playground was a great idea: shaded, enclosed and with seats for the adults, it even had a small fountain with clean drinking water.
5. Barcelona city centre
We couldn’t leave Barcelona without a stop in its wonderful barri gothic. Therefore, before heading home and pack for the return to Ireland, we stopped for tapas in placa del Pi and dropped into la Seu for a peek at its marvellous cloister.
The geese there made the place interesting for the kids and we loved to be able to include a moment of sheer architectural beauty in our day. Satisfied, we were ready to go back to the apartment and, early in the morning, to catch our plane back to Dublin after one last scrumptious breakfast.
The best place to stay in Barcelona with kids?
I have been to Barcelona many times, alone, with my husband and with friends, and all these trips had one thing is common: while the city and the food have always been top notch, the accommodation I had was always dreadful. I am not fussy, when it comes to hotel rooms, but my experience in town was really negative and this really worried me while looking for accommodation for us and the kids at a reasonable price. Was it inevitable to break the bank to find a good bed? Thankfully, this time, my luck (or my ability to look for deals) changed and we identified an apartment that we believe is the best place to stay in Barcelona with kids: Apartamento Decimononico
Apartamento Decimononico is tucked away in a small, silent street near El Paseo del Born and is managed by lovely and super welcoming people. Our flat was on the second floor (with lift) and it was perfect: beautiful, modern, comfortable and with a lot of character from the exposes brick walls, it stroke the perfect balance between hip and family friendly, and is now our go-to place in the city. We chose a 1 bedroom apartment, with living area and kitchen, but you can choose between several apartment sizes. Baby equipment is available, just ask at the time of booking (the staff speaks perfect English).
You can see professional photos and latest prices for this apartment here.
So, is Barcelona for kids?
So is Barcelona fun for kids? Absolutely! As we had thought, Barcelona truly welcomed us as a family and city breaks feature heavily on our family bucket list!
Have you been to Barcelona with kids? What was your favourite part?
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