Together they are raising three children (aged 9, 6, and 2) and she says she couldn’t think of a better international city to live and raise them.
Parenting is hard enough. But the logistics of transporting, entertaining, and educating kids in Barcelona makes it feel easy and effortless. And, as a visitor, you can enjoy these benefits too!
Here are some of Justines’ top things to do in Barcelona plus places and tips for your family to enjoy Barcelona with minimum fuss.
Things to do in Barcelona
Barcelona always tops the lists of “must-see” travel destinations – and with good reason. Ever since I moved here in 2008, I’ve seen this Mediterranean city’s popularity grow wildly with tourists.
It’s hard to resist Barcelona’s modernist buildings, world-class Mediterranean gastronomy, and narrow, mysterious alleys of the Gothic Quarter.
And luckily, Barcelona’s unique neighborhoods and streets are fun to explore by foot or by using their excellent transportation system.
Must-see places in Barcelona
This colorful park near the neighborhood of Gràcia was designed by the most famous architect of Barcelona, Antoni Gaudí. Its slanted pillars, undulating walls, broken tilework (called trencadís), makes it a quirky, fun park to explore at every turn.
Kids will love to sit on the serpent-like bench and catch a view of the gingerbread house buildings below, making them feel like they’re in a real-life Candyland.
It’s divided into different levels. The Monumental Zone is where you have to pay to enter, and it’s the most colorful and interesting area. But if you don’t want to pay, there’s still plenty of the park to explore. Once you buy tickets, you have a time window to enter.
However once you go in, you can spend as much time inside as you wish. Be sure to buy your tickets online in advance to get a discount and ensure you have an entry.
There are no restaurants inside the park but you can enjoy a coffee and snack at the small outdoor bar. If you have a stroller / pushchair, be prepared to carry it up and down the steps throughout the park.
This is the largest, most central park of Barcelona, and is a green oasis amidst the city. Ciutadella Park is often used a venue for festivals and other municipal events, and it even has the Barcelona Zoo inside.
At over 300,000 square meters, it also has three playgrounds, a lake for rowing small boats, a giant mammoth sculpture, ping pong tables, and acres of rolling grass. Locals like to sit on the lawn, enjoy the vibrant ambiance, and watch the day go by.
Since Ciutadella Park is near the main attractions, it’s an ideal place for tourists to break up the day and unwind. If you’re on a budget holiday, you can save money by grabbing some food from the local market, roll out a picnic blanket, and spread out. Don’t forget to enjoy a siesta too.
La Boqueria Market
This infamous food market is truly a feast for the eyes. With its garish displays of colorful candy, rows of red meat, and bars filled with hungry visitors, La Boqueria market is a foodie’s dream.
Bring your kids here to see what the fuss is about, and buy them a fresh fruit smoothie and discount prices. Be warned: this food market gets packed like a can of sardines, which takes away from the free-flowing “market” feel.
If you don’t visit this market, other food markets (which are less tourist-ridden) are Sant Antoni Market and the Santa Caterina market, both which have incredible architectural structures.
Hidden Gems in Barcelona: Under-the-radar places
Casa dels Entremesos
This cultural center is a museum of giants, big-heads, and beasts! At the Casa dels Entremesos, your kids will delight in this exhibition of fascinating caricatures from local culture.
The Catalan people hold dear this ancient tradition of parading these figures during festivals and other events, starting from the Middle Ages. The large figures are called gegants, huge puppets twice the size of humans. It works like this: the gegant is a head and torso with sticks, but the giant’s clothing covers the rest of the body. A human rests the gegant puppet on his shoulders while holding the sticks and “dances” around during festivals. They can be peasants or figures of nobility.
Expect to spend about an hour at the Casa dels Entremesos.
Bonus tip: In the glass case, they sell small figures of gegants, which cost around 20 euros. It would be a fun cultural keepsake for your kids!
Parc del Laberinto d’Horta (Labyrinth Park of Horta)
The Parc del Laberinto is one of my favorite off-the-beaten-path parks for kids. It takes about 20 minutes by public transportation from the city center, but it’s worth it! The protagonist of this park is the storybook-like hedge labyrinth.
Kids will love entering the maze to find their way to the middle, where they’ll find a bust of Eros, the Greek god of love. Once they get there, they’ll have to find their way back out! Of course, the fun is getting lost.
Inside the park, you can also enjoy the romantic neoclassical gardens, Italian porticos, fountains, a waterfall, and an active playground. Parents, you can have a coffee at the outdoor bar nearby and watch your kids play while you relax. It’s a small fee to enter, but it’s free on Sundays.
Kid-friendly Spanish foods to try in Barcelona
Not sure what to feed your kids?
Here are a few Catalan and Spanish dishes that kids usually enjoy…
1.) Paella is a one-pot rice dish and is always a good choice for kids. Seafood paella, in my opinion, is the most delicious as it’s loaded with shrimp, fish, clams, and prawns.
2.) Fideua is a local Valencian dish and is eaten mostly in the eastern part of Spain. Think of it as paella, but made with vermicelli pasta noodles, and is usually made of seafood. It’s always a hit with my kids!
3.) Croquetas are fried wonders, often eaten as a tapa. Essentially, they’re fritters made of ham (or other ingredients) and bechamel sauce. Then they’re breaded and deep fried. When cooked, they’ve reached perfection when it has a warm, gooey middle, and a crispy outer crust. They are served all over Spain. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like them!
4.) Patatas bravas are also served as a tapa. They’re large chunks of fried potatoes, which is served with a creamy spicy sauce. Be sure to ask for the sauce on the side if your kids can’t take the heat!
More tips for visiting Barcelona with children
1.) It’s easy to get around Barcelona. Most of the attractions are in Ciutat Vella, which comprises of the neighborhoods Barceloneta, Born, the Gothic Quarter, and Raval. It’s a tight web of streets that’s accessible by foot. Outside of Ciutat Vella, the streets are wider and more spread out.
2.) The best way to get around is to buy a travel card. The most convenient and economical one one for tourists is the T-10 metro card, which gives you 10 trips.
3.) The locals eat lunch roughly around 2:30pm and dinner around 9:30pm. Popular restaurants can fill up just around that time. If you want to avoid the crowds, try to go early. Personally, my favorite time to arrive at a restaurant with kids is around 1pm. And bring a booster seat! Not all restaurants have high chairs or changing stations.
4.) Not all the metro stations have a lift, particularly the older metro lines. Be prepared to carry your stroller or pushchair up or down the stairs just in case. I’ve never had a problem getting help from a stranger either.
5.) Luckily, any crime in general is rare in Barcelona, but pickpocketing is rampant. Be sure to watch your wallets and purses. A crossbody purse with a zipper works best!
My City (with kids!)
Our favourite spot to visit as a family in our home town is…the neighborhood of Grácia. It has a lot of independent shops, locals-filled plazas, and outdoor terraces. The best part is when the Gràcia Festival is in full swing in August. It’s when streets are decorated with recycled materials for a competition!
My kids favourite outing in our home town is… Park Guell. We don’t go there often, but when we have to take guests, they love to visit the iconic dragon and run through the topsy-turvy tunnels and paths.
The most iconic place/ don’t miss tourist attraction in our home town to visit (that the kids will also love) is… Sagrada Familia, it’s an outrageous sight at first, but it’s unique design of using organic shapes is fascinating. There’s no building in the world that remotely resembles it. It’s amazing to see it still under construction – it won’t be ready until 2026!
Our favourite family-friendly good weather outing is… Mar Bella Beach. It’s less touristic than the Barceloneta Beach, and it also has a playground, seafood restaurants, and xiringuitos (bars on the sand).
Our favourite family-friendly BAD weather (indoor) outing is… The CosmoCaixa Science Museum, which is an interactive museum that has a planetarium and a beautiful public square outside. It’s housed in a beautiful modernist building too!
The best free outing in our home town is… Ciutadella Park. Aside from its playgrounds and interesting monuments, you can spend a day on the grass people-watching.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips. Send me a message at [email protected] for any questions, or find me on my blog!
Justine Ancheta is the founder of Latitude 41, a travel blog about Barcelona, Spain, written from the perspective of a US expat and mom of 3. She shares practical travel tips and inspiring photos about local places, food, and quirky culture. Latitude 41’s focus on families and kids has created boundless joy among thousands of families – those both visiting and living in Barcelona – and has prevented dozens of toddler meltdowns when they explore the city. She has two important tips for Barcelona visitors: watch your wallet, and enjoy a churros con chocolate. Find her elsewhere online here: Instagram: @justinelat41, Facebook: LatitudeFortyOne and Twitter: @justinelat41