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Barcelona with Kids: 6 Family-friendly activities

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Barcelona Zoo
A happy face at the Barcelona Zoo. Photo: Carlos Octavio

At first glance, Barcelona may not seem particularly family-friendly. However, if you know where to go, the city offers plenty to entertain adults and kiddies alike. Here are a few choice places to visit in the city with children in tow:

Glass Tunnels and Sharks: The Aquarium

Right on Barcelona’s central Port Vell, a visit to the aquarium makes for an interesting afternoon activity. As you walk towards the aquarium, take in the enormous cruisers, wooden sailboats and million-euro yachts bobbing in the port.

The aquarium is located in the Maremagnum complex, an area with a shopping mall (the only one in the city opened on Sundays), many restaurants, a movie theater, and an iMax theater which shows 3D movies. (Movies here could also be a good family option for rainy days, though films are sure to be in Spanish.)

To tell the truth, I have been to some killer aquariums, and this one did not knock my socks off when I visited. However, the glass tunnel leading through a watery world filled with sharks was impressive (and a bit scary!).

Website
Admission: €16.50, free under 4 years
Metro: Barceloneta: L4; Drassanes: L3

Hands-On Science: CosmoCaixa

CosmoCaixa Barcelona

CosmoCaixa. Photo: Mataparda

The CosmoCaixa science museum, the city’s best science museum, is not in the center, so getting there takes some planning. Take the old trolly (that, incidentally, is said to have run over the architect Guadi) up Avinguda del Tibidabo and then walk ten minutes to the museum. Or take the bus 196 right to the front door. (Or, of course, you could take a cab.)

However, the journey up Avinguda del Tibidabo is half the fun (the street is full of once-exquisite mansions) and the museum, with its many family-centered exhibitions, is worth the effort it takes to get there. Kids will enjoy “Toca Toca!”, a tactile exhibit where visitors are encouraged to touch the displays.

Website
Admission: €3, free for 3 years and under
Bus: 17, 22, 58, 196

Surfs Up: the Beach

Some people try to surf along Barcelona’s Mediterranean shores, but unless there is a storm brewing, there are few waves. This makes for the perfect sea for small swimmers. Most of the city’s beaches are sandy and shallow, and there are lifeguards stationed throughout the summer. A day at the beach is a great way to spend an afternoon from June to September. Beach umbrellas and beach chairs can be rented for the day once at there.

(Note: I recommend Marbella Beach – though it is a nude beach – and do not especially recommend Barceloneta Beach for swimming. Keep an eye on your possessions while at the beach, there are many pickpockets who will run off with your bag while you take a dip!)

Metro: Barceloneta: L4; Ciutadella-Vila Olímpica L4

Lions, Tigers and Bears: the Zoo

Situated right in the center of the city off Parc de la Ciutadella, visiting Barcelona’s zoo is a cinch. See dolphins, penguins and Iberian wolves. The zoo often has activities for families during the week.

Website
Admission: €15.40, €9.30 3-12 years, free under 3 years
Metro: Barceloneta: L4; Ciutadella-Vila Olímpica L4

Cycle Tours: Bike Barcelona (with older kids)

See the city by bike! Rent your own bikes and ride by the seaside (there are bike lanes), or sign up for a bike tour of the city.

Barcelona By Bike offers Modernista architecture and Tapa bike tours in many languages. Born Bike also rents out quality cycles. Note that there are no helmet laws in Barcelona and hardly anyone uses them. All bike shops should provide helmets and other gear if asked for.

Futbol! the Barca Stadium

Camp Nou, FC Barcelona’s stadium, is a must-dvisit for young (and old) soccer fans (or “futbol” fans, as it is called here). Take the guided tour to check out the President’s Box, the players’ tunnel, dugouts, locker rooms and more. There is also a museum at Camp Nou where 100 years of FC Barcelona history is on display.

Website
Admission: €8.50; guided tour is €13
Metro: Collblanc: L5; Maria Cristina L3 Avinguda Aristides

About the author

Regina W Bryan

About the author: Regina W.Bryan is a Barcelona-based freelance writer and photographer. When not eating tapas and exploring Europe, she is tending her balcony veggie garden and practicing Catalan. For more of her thoughts on Spain, check: www.regwb.com and www.thespainscoop.com.

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One Response to “Barcelona with Kids: 6 Family-friendly activities”

Ant Stone says:

Great post, I think Barcelona is a great place for kids, even without all the attractions there’s a lot of things to keep children amused.

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