Barcelona is an incredible city to visit with kids. With its beautiful weather, walkability, family-first culture, and crowd-pleasing cuisine (croquettes, anyone?), it’s a destination that’s as fun for adults as it is for little ones. You already know the obvious attractions: Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, and Museu Picasso, just to name a few. Buy your tickets ahead of time and the long lines won't dampen your enjoyment of these tourist hotspots. Instead, let’s look at a few of our favorite family-friendly places in Barcelona that aren’t on every traveler’s hit list.
But first, here are a few places we’d recommend avoiding:
- Las Ramblas — Whether you’re traveling with or without kids, Barcelona’s most famous thoroughfare is a chaotic place to visit. Jam-packed with tourists (and pickpockets!), the street is littered with trash and tacky souvenir shops. And don’t even think about eating here.
- L’Aquarium Barcelona — It’s not that this is a bad aquarium—but compared to the offerings in most other major cities, it’s a disappointment with limited exhibits. Better save your time and money for other attractions.
- Port Cable Car — In theory, this ride from the port to Montjuic seems like a grand idea. But factor in the insanely long lines, the extremely close quarters of the cable cars, and the high price tag, and you’ve got a recipe for a meltdown (by kids or parents).
With that out of the way, let’s look at a few of our favorite places in Barcelona to visit with kids.
- Parc de Montjuic — In a city that’s sorely lacking in green space, Montjuic provides a literal breath of fresh air. Stroll (or more accurately, hike) around this expansive park to find stunning views of the city and sea, a castle steeped in history, the Magic Fountain, the Olympic Ring, and so much more. My kid’s favorite: two massive slides hidden away among the trees.
Mercado de Santa Caterina — Skip the over-crowded Boqueria and instead opt for this locally beloved market sitting on the edge of El Born. Your kids will be mesmerized by the undulating rainbow-hued roof and fresh-from-the-sea fish, and you’ll love shopping for local cheese, wine, produce, jamon, and more. There are a few excellent tapas restaurants fringing the market, or you can get everything you need for a picnic and head to the next place on our list:
Parc de la Ciutadella — A fun place to bike or simply roam around, this park has plenty of quiet corners to explore—it’s no wonder it’s known as Barcelona’s “green lung”. Take a picture in front of La Cascada, watch as street performers make giant bubbles under the Arc de Triomf, and let the kids run amok at the playgrounds.
El Born CCM — Trick your kids into an educational afternoon with a visit to this incredible (and free!) space housed in a historic market. Get a close look at an archaeological site discovered beneath the subsoil revealing fascinating details of the city’s history. You’ll see Barcelona completely differently after visiting this spot. Afterward, don’t miss wandering the streets of the surrounding neighborhood of El Born, some of the most characteristic in the city.
- Granja la Pallaresa — Cap off a visit to the Barri Gotic with a stop in this sweet spot known for its churros. Churning them out since the 1940s, the restaurant has a charming, old-fashioned feel and a nice menu of affordable, indulgent desserts.
- El Corte Ingles, Placa de Catalunya — Why are we telling you to go to a massive chain department store? Well, there’s the incredible gourmet foods market on the ground floor, and a massive grocery store where you can pick up diapers and milk and even some American specialties that your kids can’t live without. It’s fun to browse everything from tools and housewares to toys and clothes, but the main attraction is on the top floor, where you’ll find a huge, high-end cafeteria offering panoramic views of the city.
- Xiringuitos — Situated right on the sand of Barceloneta, these laid-back beach bars are ideal for parents who want to enjoy a mojito while their kids play around on the beach. Walk toward the impossible-to-miss W Hotel to find some of the best bars on the beach.