Family Friendly Barcelona

Family Friendly Barcelona photo

Barcelona is a great place to take your kids. There's no shortage of things to do with children, and many of them are free.

Though you'll need to watch your kids closely among the crowds strolling along La Rambla, Barcelona's tree-shaded promenade, your kids will be amused by the human statues who spring to life for a coin or two and the kiosks selling all types of squawking birds.

Considered the largest of its kind in Europe and offering an impressive range of marine life, the Barcelona Aquarium is a large and well-designed facility that lets you get up close and personal with sharks, eels, and other aquatic creatures that appear to be swimming above and around you. The Aquarium also offers workshops for kids, included with admission, that run throughout the day.

La Ciutadella, the city's largest park has plenty of green space for kids to unwind, plus a large pond with rowboats, a massive Gaudi designed fountain, and a cool old greenhouse. But it's the zoo that kids love the most. Among its 4,000 animals are gorillas, llamas, lions, bears, hippos, and a large primate community — most of whom are in enclosures surrounded by a moat. Kids also enjoy the dolphin shows and the petting zoo. And on Saturday monrings, the zoo offers special workshops organized for kids ages 4–11, called "Mornings at the Zoo," where they can learn about the lives of zoo animals, how dolphins are trained and also meet the zoo vet. Families can also take part in a special visit during which you'll get to know the sea lions and dolphins and find out what goes on behind the scenes.

Kids love Antoni Gaudi's imaginative park, Parc Güell, where stone columns look like trees, gate houses look transported from Hansel and Gretel, and the gurgling, mosaic-covered lizard fountain simply looks adorable. It's a great place for hide-and-seek. And if it's a clear day, the views of Barcelona all the way to the beach are fantastic.

Museu de la Ciencia, also known as CosmoCaixa, is a high-tech and hands-on science museum with nearly 40,000 square feet of exhibition space. "The Flooded Forest," an exhibit of a living Amazonian rain forest inside the museum with over 100 species of animal and plant life, encourages kids to pick up and touch rats, frogs, spiders, and other fauna. The 3D planetarium and cool Geological Wall are also big draws.

PortAventura, a theme park an hour outside the city, has the biggest roller coaster in Europe. The park features five geographical themes — The Mediterranean, The Wild West, China, Mexico, and Polynesia. It's best to purchase PortAventura tickets in advance.

Activ Natura Adventure Park features a Forest Adventure course that takes you and your kids by ropes, nets, and bridges through the woodland. The minimum height for the children's course is 110cm. Your family can also go quad and mountain biking, rope climbing, and horseback riding.

The Font Màgica or Magic Fountains of Barcelona, a musical show featuring water fountains and colored lights, makes a wonderful after-dark treat for children. Created in 1929 for the World Exhibition, they're situated between Plaza Espanya and the Palau Nacional.

The backdrop to Barcelona's skyline, the hill of Tibidabo is the location of one of the city's main attractions, the Parc d'Atraccions, a 1950s style amusement park with a pirate area, a castle, and a variety of old-fashioned and modern rides.

If any of your children play soccer, they'll love touring the Barcelona Football Club with the Camp Nou Experience. The New Camp stadium can hold over 98,000 spectators. The Camp Nou Experience takes you around all the main areas of the stadium, including the president's box and the changing rooms. It evens gives your kids the opportunity to take an adrenalin-charged walk through the player's tunnel and onto the pitch. Your tour also includes a visit to the multimedia center and museum displaying memorabilia from 100 years of FC Barcelona Club history.

Finally, the Catalunya en Miniatura is the biggest miniature complex in the world with all the famous Catalan and Gaudi monuments scaled down. Ideal for a day trip with your kids, it also features a huge picnic zone, shop, restaurant, and model train rides.