In recent years, Barcelona has established itself as one of Europe´s most popular tourist destinations, and it is not difficult to understand why. With its balmy all-year climate, its avant-garde architecture, its burgeoning gastronomy, its fabulous beaches, proximity to the Costa Brava & ski-slopes as well as its eclectic mix of shops, Catalunya´s capital can be justly proud of what it has to offer visitors. Transformed by the 1992 Olympics, the city has attracted millions of curious independent travellers and, in the last few years, it has become increasingly popular as a family destination. The website mumabroad.com, a local site written by parents living in Barcelona with recommendations from local mums, shows you why the city has so much to offer kids, from its child-friendly accommodation and restaurants to its numerous outdoor activities and day-trips.
Arriving in Barcelona with the kids
Nowadays there are many airlines who operate in and out of Barcelona and not surprisingly most visitors arrive by air. Below we have listed a few options on how to reach the city centre. The most popular option is the Airport Bus due to its frequency and ease of access from the airport. Taxis can be expensive and most won´t have car seats although Spanish law requires that all children under three years of age must use a child seat. Failure to do so will result in a fine of 90 euros.
Just outside the arrivals hall you will find the Barcelona Airport taxi rank. Fares to Barcelona cost approximately 25 Euros and the journey time is around 30 minutes.
Barcelona Airport Bus
The Barcelona Airport Bus stops in front of Terminals A, B (Arrivals) and C and takes passengers to the centre of Barcelona (Plaza Catalunya). Departures from Mondays to Saturdays from the airport are from 6am to 1am; and from Plaza de Catalunya from 5:30am to 12:15am. Buses run every 7 to 15 minutes. Single Fare: 3.90 euros
Barcelona Airport Train
The Barcelona Airport train station is located opposite the arrivals and departure halls. The Line C10 goes to Barcelona Sants and takes around 30 minutes and costs 2.50 euros. The first train from the airport is at 6am and the trains run at 30 minute intervals until 11.44pm. From Barcelona Sants it is likely you will need to take the metro or a taxi as it is not in the centre of town.
Getting Around Barcelona with the kids
Barcelona By Metro
The Barcelona Metro is not such a popular choice for young families visiting the city, due to the fact that there are a limited amount of lifts for buggies, which means accessing the trains can be a real chore. Travel is cheap however and you can purchase a book of 10 tickets for around 7 euros. The ticket is valid for any journey on the metro although if you need a new ticket for journeys on the same day. For many, taxis are the transport of choice (see below). However if you are visiting Barcelona with older kids or if you decide to brave the system anyway, the timetable is below:
Mondays -Thursdays, Sundays & Holidays: 5am to 12am.
Fridays: 5am to 2am
Saturdays: Non-stop service
Barcelona By Taxi
For many families, taxis are the transport of choice as they are relatively cheap and even ones without car seats will accept young babies and toddlers for short journeys. You can flag them down (green light means they are empty) or many hotels will also call a taxi on your behalf. Be warned though English is not widely spoken amongst taxi drivers in Barcelona so it is a good idea to write down your destination on a piece of paper.
Barcelona By Tourist Bus
The open top double-decker Barcelona Bus Turístic is a fantastic way to get around Barcelona with little ones (children under 4 travel for free). You can hop off or hop on at any of the 44 stops. You will receive an information guide about each of the enroute attractions as well as a discount voucher booklet. The buses go between every 5-25 minutes and the timetable is at each of the 44 stops. First buses call at most stops between 9am and 9.30am A one day ticket for adults costs 20 euros and for children (4-12) 12 euros. You can buy tickets on the bus or at any of the tourist offices in Barcleona. The service operates daily apart from 25th December and 1st January.
Family Attractions in Barcelona
Nou Camp Tour
An absolute must for all football-mad kids. The guided tour of the third biggest football stadium in the world includes visiting the stadium,tunnel & pitch area. Admission: 11,50 euros adults 9,20 euros for children under 13 years.
Av. Aristides Maillo 12-18 Metro Collblanc, Les Corts, Badal or Maria Christina
Zoos aren´t everyone´s cup of tea, but Barcelona Zoo has a lot to offer children. As well as big cats, penguins, gorillas, hippos, bears etc there is a twice daily dolphin show at and a children´s farm with pigs, horses, rabbits & guinea pigs.The play area in the centre of the zoo is excellent, including a mini absail area and climbing frames. On the downside drinks & snacks are quite expensive and it gets very crowded at weekends. Open from 10am until 7pm in summer and until 6pm in the winter.
Parc Zoologic de Barcelona S.A, Parc de la Ciutadela s/n, 08003 Barcelona Metro Arc de Trionfo or Barceloneta (+34) 932256780 www.zoobarcelona.com
This is the largest aquarium in Europe and includes an interactive space called Explora. Admission: Adults 13 euros. Children 4-12 years 9 euros. Under 4s free. Worth it just for walking in the vast transparent shark tunnel! There is a really good interactive children´s area. You are also among the shops and restaurants of the Maremagnum – a good place for lunch. Open 9.30am – 9pm.
Moll d’Espanya, Port Vell. Metro Drassanes (+34) 932217474
Tours of Barcelona
If you come to Barcelona with your children, fear not! Organised tours take place in the old town which can be enjoyed by parents and children alike. The idea is to include visits, games and stories to keep the attention of the younger ones (and the odd easily-distracted adults). These might include an artisanal sweet shop where they can see how the candies are made, an original toy workshop, an old-fashioned milk bar where they can indulge in a creamy traditional milkshake, guessing games in the food market, and more.With the little ones occupied, there is time to explain to the grown-ups of the group the anecdotes on the history, culture, cuisine and associated tales of the city.
This is a mini-disneyland with every Spanish region in cameo and it provides great day out for children. Entry is 8 euros for adults and 5 euros for kids. Family ticket 16 euros (with children between 7 and 12 years). Opening times Monday 9am – 8pm Tuesday to Thursday 9am – 2am Friday 9am – 4am Saturday 9am – 5am Sunday 9am -midnight
Metro Espanya. Buses 55, 13. Tourist Bus Stop:Poble Espanyol (+34) 935086300 www.poble-espanyol.com
Tibidabo Amusement Park
Mix of fun rides and state-of-the-art attractions including a multimedia experience which allows children become part of a cartoon. There is also a mechanical Puppet museum dating back to 1899. Entrance fee: adults 15 euros, children under 110cm height 4 euros. Unlimited use of rides and attractions. Open every day from 11am apart from Christmas Day and Boxing Day
3-4 Plaza del Tibidabo By Train: Get FGC from Plaza Catalunya to Avenida Tibidabo then follow signposts to the Tramvia Blau at the end of Balmes in Placa John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Take the Tramvia to the Mirablau and then the Funicular to the top of the Mountain. By Bus: Take the Tibibus from Plaza Catalunya
Port Aventura Theme Park
Hugely popular theme park around an hour outside Barcelona. You can be flung around eight inverted loops on Dragon Khan (supposedly the largest roller-coaster in Europe) or get soaked on Tutuki Splash. There are also shows with bubbles, birds of paradise, Mexican and Chinese themes.
Located near Salou/La Pineda, off A7. Buses go from from Passeig de Sant Joan and for trains from Passeig de Gracia. Look for trains on the Salou line and you need to get off at Port Aventura. The park also has areas designated for small children such as play areas, small rides, children´s swimming pools and the hotels offer special services for children such as menus, entertainment and monitor led activities. There are many baby changing facilities at the park and you are also able to rent prams.
Located in an ancient convent in Calle Comerc (number 36) in el Borne, children can learn everything about chocolate including its medicinal, nutritional and aphrodisiac qualities. There are also some fantastic chocolate sculputures and workshops to teach you how to make chocolate. Best of all you can sample the goods! Admission 3,6 euros
Double decker pleasureboats take you from the harbour to the breakwater. Good fun, good value with some great views of the city. Every half hour leaving from the bottom of Las Ramblas until 7pm. Adults 5 euros children up to 12 years 2,50 euros
Half the fun is getting there. The cog railway up the mountain is a must for children and railway enthusiasts alike .Once there, children will be awestruck by the wacky shaped rocks and for the more active there are numerous walking tracks, caves. Montserrat is of course famous for being the home of Our Lady of Montserrat and a Benedictine monastery.
Trains (R5) go from Placa d’Espanya metro.You can either get a train and cable car ride or just the train (and rack railway). Journey is approx one hour and they leave at a quarter to the hour. Get out at Montserrat Aeri Station if you have chosen the cable car or in Monistrol de Montserrat station to change to the Rack railway.
Magic Fountains of Montjuic (Font Magica)
This is a great stop for some evening entertainment for the children. The Font Magica is a colourful water and classical music extravaganza held each night. Thurs-Sun 9pm, 9.30pm, 10pm, 10.30pm, 11pm. From October to April just Fridays and Saturdays 7pm, 7.30pm, 8pm and 8.30pm
La plaza de Carles Buïgas, just above the Avenida de Maria Cristina. Metro Espanya .Walk towards the MNAC between the two large towers at Placa Espanya
Beaches, Parks and Play Areas for Kids in Barcelona
Probably the world´s most enchanting public park created by Barcelona´s most famous son, Antón Gaudí. Loosely based on Hampstead Heath in London, the park boasts sparkling mosaic stairways, multicoloured buildings and fairytale fountains. It is pure fantasty and kids will love it.
How to get there: Bus 24 from Plaza Catalunya stops right outside the main entrance. Metro Vallcarca (walk out the metro down Avenida Militar for 4 blocks, turn left at Baixada de La Gloria and take the outdoor escalators to the Park entrance. It is signposted).
Ciutadella Park & Play area
The Ciutudella Park is Barcelona´s most centrally located green space, sandwiched between the districts of Poble Nou, Barceloneta and San Pere. For families, there are a huge amount of facilities and activities including the Zoo, the Geology Museum, the Hivernacle (currenlty being renovated) and the boating lake. You can also rent out bikes at the main entrance (www.bicing.com). Located at the top end of the lake, twice daily toddlers can enjoy free toys and games in addition to the permanent swings and slides.There is even a sprinkler in the summer which the kids love! 11am-2pm every day and 4.30pm-6.30/7pm from mid september to mid June. 5.30pm-8.30pm from mid June to mid September
Mar Bella & Base Nautica
Mar Bella beach is about a 20 minute walk north of the Port Olimpic (left facing the water) and probably the most child-friendly of all of Barcelona´s beaches. It is clean and quiet and you can find a children´s play-area, lifeguards, sunbed hire, showers and a beach restaurant (chiringuito). The Base Nautica is can also based here, where you can hire small sailing boats, canoes and kayaks.
Parc de Collserola
Often overlooked but this Natural Park is literally a breath of fresh air and so close to the centre of town. The park is huge (22 times the size of New York´s Central Park) – the largest city park in the world. The information centre provides numerous walking guides and hikes to Tibidabo, the Torre de Collserola or the town of Vallvidrera.
Take train to Baixador de Vallvidrera from Plaza Catalunya and you arrive right in it.
Barceloneta beach is popular with families due to its proximity with a huge choice of restaurants and the pedestrian walkway along Passeig Maritim, where you can also cycle. The beach gets very crowded in summer but is regularly cleaned. Likewise the water – for a city beach – is suprisingly clean. We suggest you don´t plonk yourself on the nearest available space but walk a little further on towards the Olympic Port where it gets much less crowded.
Metro Barceloneta or any Passeig Maritim bus route. For daily information on the city´s beaches call (+34) 934810053
Parc del Laberint d’Horta
This 17 acre park really warrants a short trip from town. It is a fairytale park with its pretty walkways, canal, romantic gardens, cascade and of course, the maze which kids will love. Entrance fee 1,90 euros
Pg Castanyers 1. Directly behind the Velodrome. Metro Mundet.