A city break with young children isn’t the first holiday that springs to mind – but Barcelona is a bit different, thanks to its miles of golden sands. And that’s just the beginning.
If your kids want to build sandcastles and paddle on the seashore, the beach is on the doorstep (while you can relax with a book) whether you’re planning to chill out in the sun all day or just for a few days. But when everyone gets bored, the city has plenty of family-friendly attractions as well.
Even the trip up mount Tibidabo is fun, including a tram and a funicular train to reach the top.
At the summit, the Tibidabo Amusement Park is among the oldest in the world at over 100 years old. Thankfully the 25 rides aren’t quite that antique, and the views down to Barcelona from the Tibidabo Sky Walk are fantastic.
Along the Sky Walk, you’ll also find the curious Automaton Museum with everything from coin-operated figures to vintage mechanical games and toys, some of which date back to the nineteenth century. One of the finest collections of its kind, the unusual exhibits are in pristine condition. With all this, it’s easy to spend a whole day up the mountain. Just make sure you don’t miss the last train downhill!
Some of the city’s other, less quirky, attractions are also ideal for kids. The aquarium at Port Vell, about 20 minutes’ transfer ride from Barcelona airport, is good in its own right but also offers occasional events called ‘Sleeping with Sharks’ which are brilliant for older kids. With a whole string of educational and fun activities, the events let kids spend the night at the aquarium – and you get a night off to spend in Barcelona child-free!
If your kids are into science and nature, then a trip to the Cosmocaixa Science Museum is unmissable. It features the Flooded Forest, a breathtaking recreation of 1,000 square metres of Amazonian rainforest ecosystem, inhabited by piranhas, crocodiles, as well as other animal and plant species. Then take a journey through the evolution of life on our planet in the Room of Matter.
Or head up to the observation deck of the iconic Mirador-Collserola Tower, 560m above sea level. It’s a little way out of the centre, so it’s worth booking a taxi to get there. It’s a good idea to ask your airport transfer driver on arrival in Barcelona how much his firm charges.
Back at ground level, take an evening trip to the Montjuic Magic Fountain, with its moving water jets in a shifting rainbow of colour, synchronised to music as 2,600 litres of water are pumped through every second. If you’re particularly lucky, you may be there for one of the accompanying firework displays.
There’s also Gaudi’s fantastical architecture including Casa Batllo, which looks like a large gingerbread house and houses a museum. Part of the Manzana de la Discordia, or block of Discord, it’s one of a series of buildings in Passeig de Gracia and probably the most famous.
Plus there’s the Museu de Xocolata (Chocolate Museum) to enjoy as well. With special children’s activities, including making a chocolate sculpture and drawing with melted chocolate, as well as tours aimed at three to six-year-olds, it’s huge fun before you’ve even thought about tasting the finished product.
After all that, you’ll probably need a few hours relaxing on Barcelona’s beach once again.
Compiled in association with Holiday Taxis*