15 family friendly attractions within a short drive of Barcelona

It is a well-known fact that Barcelona is home to many family friendly attractions however, I’ll let you into a secret I discovered during my four days exploring the region surrounding the city…. Within a one hour radius of Barcelona there are many, equally fabulous, places to visit with kids!  If you are looking for gently sloping beaches away from the city beach crowds, world-class water sports centers and child friendly guided forest hikes you should consider Costa Barcelona for your next family holiday!  Here are 15 family attractions near Barcelona which will keep kids of all ages entertained…

1. Sea, sun & free family activities at Calella Beach

Calella beach has been awarded with the Family Holiday Destination certification.  One of the many reasons for this are the free daily family activities and beach nurseries offered in the summer months.

family attractions near Barcelona Calella Beach

Thrill seeking families who need more than buckets and spades to keep them entertained will love the water sports on offer…

2. Try out a new watersport at the Calella Water Sports Centre

The well equipped water sports center offers a range of watersports including jet skiing, parasailing, dinghy sailing and banana boating, which is the water sport my group opted to try!  Even young children are catered for, with kids as young as five able to take a ride on a banana boat.  (The speed of the ride is reduced accordingly of course!)

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a child onboard and so the boat crew were absolutely determined to capsize our raft!  We held on tight for a good run but then all landed in the ocean after a particularly sharp turn.

Destination guide Costa Barcelona with kids water sports

3. Take a stroll along the cobbled streets & enjoy the many family facilities in Calella town

If you fancy a break from the beach take a stroll through the old town of Calella. Kids will love checking out the playgrounds and Spanish civil war air shelter in the Parc Dalmau which offers shaded seating areas, perfect for avoiding the Spanish midday sun.

Family attractions near Barcelona Calella Town

Alternatively, pop into the library to take part in regular kids activities and storytelling sessions, visitors to Calella can even lend books to enjoy whilst sunbathing!  One building in particular that is worth keeping a look out for is the cactus house.  A privately owned building by a gentleman who enjoys growing all variations of the prickly plants!

Family attractions near Barcelona Calella Town cactus house

4. Make your holiday in Costa Barcelona extra memorable by visiting during a special event

Our visit coincided with Festa Major.  A celebration which honours the patron saint with a procession of the giants, or ‘Capgrossos’ as they are known locally.  The celebration created an incredible atmosphere.  Our group stopped for a while to watch local children meet and greet the giants and jesters.  Of course we could not resist but have a few photos taken ourselves!

family attractions near Barcelona Festa Major Calella

Don’t worry if you cannot visit Calella in mid September, the town has many events taking place throughout the year including festivals, fairs and an Ironman competition.  For more information visit the Calella event page. 

5. View Calella from above by taking a walk up to the lighthouse

History buffs and photography enthusiasts will not want to miss the truly spectacular views from Calella’s lighthouse, built-in 1856.  During a quick tour we learnt how the lighthouse was first lit by oil, which was then substituted for paraffin and petrol and finally substituted for electricity in 1927.

Tips – Ensure your kids get the chance to ring the lighthouse bells!  If visiting in the summer check the website for special events which take place to entertain the whole family.  

attractions-near-barcelona-calella-lighthouse

6. Visit a vineyard which welcomes children with open arms!

I can thoroughly recommend a visit to Alta Alella, the closest vineyard to Barcelona. A family run vineyard which provides organic wines to some of the best restaurants of the world.  During our visit we experienced wine tasting, a fascinating tour of the vineyard and a dessert making demonstration.

Our child-free group also had great fun trying out many of the games young visitors play during the kids workshops including pretending to be a grape, making chocolate truffles stuffed with a grape and tasting different grape juices!

Tip – If families book as a group the vineyard can arrange bespoke workshops for kids in English.   Alternatively, they are offered in Catalan during school holidays. Contact the vineyard for more information.  

Destination guide Costa Barcelona with kids Alta Alella

Destination guide Costa Barcelona with kids Alta Alella

7. Day at the beach and playground in Malgrat de Mar 

Malgrat de Mar is popular for its sandy beaches and laid back charm.  A fabulous place for kids that is not so well-known to tourists is a hidden gem called Parc Francesc Macia.   Located just a short walk and two elevator rides down from the beach, (which is reasonable for even little legs!)

This huge free park consists of sports courts, various play grounds, skateboarding park, an amphitheatre where regular concerts take place and lots of picnic areas.  I loved the wide variety of play equipment and my group just could not help but have a play on this….

 

8. Relax in 10,000 year old water at a thermal spa in Caldes de Montbui 

If you fancy relaxing after a day sightseeing the thermal hot springs at Caldes de Montbui are the perfect place to do so!  In the newly renovated El Safareig Baths visitors from the age of 5+ can bath in the mineral water.

Even if you don’t fancy getting wet the best preserved Roman baths in Spain are worth a visit. Ensure you check out where for centuries locals washed their clothes and bathed in hot water in an attempt to cure diseases.

Tips –  You will need a swim hat and flip flops if you wish to bathe.  Make sure you check out the spa water fountain in the square but watch you don’t burn your hands as the water temperature can reach 180C!  

Family attractions near Barcelona Caldes de Montbui

9. Have fun on land and in the water at Canal Olimpic

The Canal Olimpic was built to host the canoeing competitions for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.  It has since been turned into a 43-hectare water and land sports facility open to the public.  Families are spoilt for choice by the sports on offer here including windsurfing, sailing, surfing, a huge inflatable water course, paddle boarding and cable kneeboarding/skiing. The variety of land based activities is equally as impressive with sports courts, field archery and a pitch & put course.

During our visit we tried out the cable kneeboarding which was really good fun!  (You can watch a video here on my facebook page). We found it amusing that kids as young as 6 put our group to shame by flying around the water course looking like pro’s.  We all managed to stay on for part of the course but flew off at various corners when the tug from the cable ski was too much!  Here is our group before getting wet…

Family attractions near BarcelonaFamily attractions near Barcelona water sports centre

attractions-near-barcelona-olimpic-de-catalunya

attractions-near-barcelona-canal-olimpic-de-catalunya-water-sports

10. Walk along the beach and promenade in Castelldefels

Castelldefels offers a picturesque 5km long beach located a short distance from Barcelona.  Perfect for families with kids of all ages as the sea is calm and there is a gentle slope into the water (unlike the beaches in the city).  There are also many facilities including beach bars, games rooms, water and beach sports facilities plus all the amentities you need when spending the day on the beach with kids – showers, wooden pathways to the sand, kids playgrounds (and did I mention the beach bars?!)

family attractions near Barcelona Calella Beach

11. Hang out with celebs at Casanova Beach Club

Families with older kids (14+) can treat themselves to an incredible lunch with stunning views at Casanova Beach Club.  Diners can choose to eat inside the stylish restaurant or snack around the private beachside pool oh là là!  

Destination guide Costa Barcelona with kids Casanova Beach Club

Destination guide Costa Barcelona with kids Casanova Beach Club

12. Go in search of dragons and pirates at Castelldefels Castle

Wannabe knights and princesses will love exploring the 16th century Castelldefels Castle which offers incredible birds eye views from the highest point around.  The castle was used for centuries to control the territory and as defense against Arabian invasions. Between the 16th and 17th centuries, it defended against the Barbary pirates – a fact which is guarantee to thrill every young visitor!

attractions-near-barcelona-castelldefels-castle

attractions-near-castelldefels-castle-2

13. Hike, explore and search for badger poo at Montseny Natural Park!

Our guided hike and scavenger trail through El Montseny Natural Park, one of only 22 biosphere reserves in Spain, was one of the highlights of our trip.  Our guide Helena was incredible, she truly brought the park to life.  She had our group river dipping; making our own perfume using flowers and herbs we found in the forest and creating art using only twigs, leaves and petals.

We were all also given items to find for a scavenger hunt.  I was tasked with finding wild boar tracks and badger poo.  I took the task on very seriously and was delighted to find both!  (When I told my boys all about my trip this was the activity that most grabbed my eldest sons attention.  This didn’t surprise me in the slightest, I’m sure all young kids would love to be a badger poo detective!)

attractions-near-barcelona-montseny

We ended our hike with Helena telling us a local legend about a water maiden who married a local man on the condition that he never bring up her origins.  I wont tell you the ending because it will spoil it but it is fair to say it was a lovely way to end our walk through the natural park.

Tip – Although El Montseny is a magical place to explore both independently and with a guide I can throughly recommend booking a guided tour through Ademc.  This company offers several different walks which are targeted at children as well as the option to tailor routes and activities to meet the needs of the group.

family-attractions-near-barcelona-montseny

To watch a short video of Montseny pop over to my facebook page. If you would like more information about a guided tour in Montseny check out my fellow bloggers guides – One Tiny Leap: Family guided walks in Montseny and Mummy Travels:  A walk in the woods at Montseny

14. Enjoy a stroll and yummy pastries in Montseny

I cannot mention Montseny without recommending that you stop by the local village bakery to try a few of the homemade pastries!  They are absolutely delicious and taste even better if you walk around soaking in these mountain views…

Family attractions near Barcelona Montseny village

15.  Enjoy thrills and spills at the PortAventura Park

If your kids prefer rollercoasters to nature hikes they will love a trip to one of Europe’s most popular theme parks, PortAventura.  The park is located in Costa Dorada one hour 20 minutes from Barcelona or just one hour along the coast from Castelldefels.


So there you have it, 15 family attractions near Barcelona.  The area offers many more but these are the ones I can personally recommend.  If you are looking for more inspiration for your family holiday check out my comprehensive destination guide to Costa Barcelona .

If you would like to check out tips from other family travel bloggers Susanna over on A Modern Mother has 12 reasons for families to visit Costa Barcelona and Mark from Wyld Family Travel has 11 awesome things to do in Barcelona with kids.

Have you visited any family attractions near Barcelona?  Please share your recommendations below.

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Family attractions near Barcelona

 

Disclosure – My press trip to Costa Barcelona with BritMums was funded by the tourist board.  As always, all words and opinions are my own. 

Copyright – All images are copyright Travel Loving Family.

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61 Comments

  1. 24th March 2017 / 4:27 pm

    These all look beautiful! We didn’t leave the city when we went to Barcelona with our son, but next time we’ll try some of your suggested day trips 🙂 (And we loved it so much that there will definitely be a next time!)
    The Family Voyage recently posted…Ireland with Kids, Part 6: On the Ring of KerryMy Profile

  2. 28th November 2016 / 9:41 pm

    We love Barcelona and the surrounding areas. We’ve been to Calella and love wandering round the cobbled streets. We would definitely like to try a vineyard on our next visit though.

  3. 22nd November 2016 / 2:43 pm

    We used to visit this area a lot when I was growing up but we hadn’t done any of the things on your list!! Those hot springs look amazing, a great excuse for heading back to take a trip down memory lane.

  4. 19th November 2016 / 2:38 am

    Ah… My kids are too young for Casanova Beach Club.. The food there looks fab! But I think they would be intrigued by Castelldefels Castle!

  5. 16th November 2016 / 8:51 pm

    I have visited the area once, but didn’t have time to see it all. Such an amazing region, with so much to do for all tastes! #MondayEscapes
    Lauren The Helpful Hiker recently posted…Fermyn Woods Country ParkMy Profile

  6. 16th November 2016 / 8:13 pm

    I’m not trying to be funny, but we also like to go out looking for badger poo;) We’re lucky enough to have a few setts close to our home, with the tell-tale snuffle holes all around. The kids love trying to find the hole that the badget has decided to poo in. A real nature treasure hunt! ;o)

    Interesting post, thanks! #MondayEscapes
    Jonny (Daisy the bus) recently posted…The volcanoes of the AuvergneMy Profile

  7. 16th November 2016 / 1:51 pm

    This is amazing – I would never have thought there were so many different attractions so close to Barcelona, and so family-friendly too. It means you can turn a city break into a much more relaxing holiday. I’m definitely pinning this one for later! #MondayEscapes

  8. 15th November 2016 / 9:30 pm

    Wow what a great list of things to do. There are a number of options that my boys would love. Montseny looks beautiful to explore! #MondayEscapes

  9. 15th November 2016 / 5:02 pm

    What a great round up. Costa Barcelona seems to have such a lot to offer. I’d definitely consider it for a family holiday.

  10. 15th November 2016 / 9:20 am

    Absolutely fabulous list. Having been on the trip, I would absolutely recommend each and every one of these outings to family travellers. I think Castelldefels would be a great place to use as a base! x
    Jennifer Howze recently posted…Hampshire: The Peat Spade Inn, StockbridgeMy Profile

  11. 15th November 2016 / 2:05 am

    So many things to do! I cannot pick a favorite. I want to experience everything on this list. I didn’t know anything about Costa Barcelona before reading this post (and other). It is a treat to learn more about Spain (one of my favorite countries).
    Ruth recently posted…Szentendre: Day Trip from BudapestMy Profile

  12. 15th November 2016 / 12:20 am

    I was in Barcelona years ago – who knew there was so many other things to do so close by! I would have loved those pastries and that castle!

  13. 14th November 2016 / 10:38 pm

    Wow, this looks fab! My boys are desperate to visit Barcelona, more for the football stadium than anything else but if I could squeeze in a cheeky family vineyard trip then that would be amazing!!
    #Mondayescapes

  14. 14th November 2016 / 10:27 pm

    There’s such a lot to do not far from the city and the wonderful summer weather just seem to roll on forever in the Costa Barcelona. Great recommendations Lisa and it looks like you had a lot of fun! #MondayEscapes
    Claire at Tin Box Traveller recently posted…Monday Escapes 47My Profile

  15. 14th November 2016 / 8:58 pm

    We never stray far from Barcelona as we love it so much and can always find something new to do. But wow Calella look gorgeous and the boys would love the Olympic Canal it is right up their street x
    Sarah Christie recently posted…Monday Escapes 14/11My Profile

  16. 14th November 2016 / 8:16 pm

    Casteldefels looks just like the sort of place we’d love to visit. As you said, I’d never really considered the area around Barcelona as a family destination, but I can see it has tons to offer. Child-friendly wine tasting is a massive plus! #MondayEscapes
    Nell (the Pigeon Pair and Me) recently posted…Harrogate Turkish baths and health spaMy Profile

  17. 14th November 2016 / 6:08 pm

    I really like the outdoor attractions you have listed here, especially the lighthouse and castle! We visited Portaventura earlier this year and the park has really great theming – I would also recommend it. #MondayEscapes

  18. 14th November 2016 / 4:24 pm

    Such a comprehensive list of things to do! I particularly like the idea of that thermal spa! #mondayescapes

  19. 14th November 2016 / 3:46 pm

    Get me to that Beach Club with a cocktail right now! Another year has gone where he haven’t gone abroad…we need to change that for next year.

  20. 14th November 2016 / 2:55 pm

    There so much to do! You’d need a few weeks to do everything on your list. I think I’d start with Calella and check out the air raid shelter then the national park hike and finish with the wine tour! Great part of the world #mondayescapes
    Wander Mum recently posted…Win Tickets To The Very Hungry Caterpillar ShowMy Profile

  21. 14th November 2016 / 1:39 pm

    I spent very little time really sightseeing last time I was in Barcelona, so I’m keen to go back and see all that it has to offer. It’s great to know there’s so much to do just outside the city. The Castelldefels Castle particularly caught my eye as a castle lover but Calella looks nice too. Thanks for hosting!

  22. 14th November 2016 / 1:07 pm

    Dream trip. Love that you got to see a local festival! And I can only imagine how beautiful the city/beach must look from the top of the lighthouse! 🙂 #MondayEscapes

  23. 14th November 2016 / 12:55 pm

    Barcelona is one of my favourite cities. And with all this stuff nearby I am sure my boys would enjoy it too!

  24. 14th November 2016 / 11:57 am

    I didn’t realise there were so many family friendly things to do in Barcelona, it’s definitely somewhere I want to visit! Love the views from the lighthouse 🙂 #mondayescapes

  25. 14th November 2016 / 10:36 am

    It looks like a brilliant place to go and I’d love to take both my boys one day. I’d never think to take them to a vineyard but they’d absolutely love it, all those grapes and all that space! 🙂
    Notmyyearoff recently posted…A day at Ferrari world (and some tips!)My Profile

  26. 14th November 2016 / 9:33 am

    My husband and I visited Barcelona a couple of years without the children and had a fabulous time and have always thought about returning with them for a long weekend, however, we need inspiration for activities that are not so art gallery and museum focused for the teenagers and these look perfect. #MondayEscapes

  27. 14th November 2016 / 9:14 am

    Can’t lie -the pastries were the first thing that caught my eye 😉

    Looks like there are loads of great things to do with the family outwith the city itself-good to know as Barcelona is somewhere that we keep saying we will go to but somehow don’t get round too! As the children get older it is always great to have a variety of activities to choose from – great read!
    Coral-Way too much luggage recently posted…Have you found your happy place ?My Profile

  28. 14th November 2016 / 7:55 am

    Wow there’s so much to see and do not far from Barcelona!! I was there in 2012 and would love to go back and explore more! I’ll definitely be saving many of these suggestions! #MondayEscapes

  29. 14th November 2016 / 7:47 am

    Calella looks charming and I would have loved to see Festa Major. Wine is always good and the beach seems perfect. Thanks for sharing for #MondayEscapes. Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

  30. 5th November 2016 / 8:54 pm

    I love the look of all the water activities – my lot would love all those. I would love to take the family to explore Bareclona and the surrounding areas
    Kara Guppy recently posted…A Day out in Great YarmouthMy Profile

    • 6th November 2016 / 9:07 am

      The water sports were great fun Kara! I felt like a teenager again:)

    • 6th November 2016 / 9:06 am

      Glad you found it useful Zena!

    • 6th November 2016 / 9:05 am

      Calella is a great base Joanne. Lots to do in the actual town itself, family events taking place throughout the year and just a quick train ride into Barcelona if you should wish to go into the city.

  31. 5th November 2016 / 1:55 pm

    Woweeee! We never knew there was so much to do a short drive from Barcelona! This destination is on our wish list as a family, so we’re making notes! 😉

    • 5th November 2016 / 3:37 pm

      Glad the article is helpful Isabella!

  32. 4th November 2016 / 10:55 pm

    I’d never considered Barcelona as a family holiday location, but I’ve actually pinned this post to my ‘wanderlust board’ for when we plan our family European road trip!

    • 5th November 2016 / 3:38 pm

      Pleased it will come in handy for planning your family trip Emma!

  33. 4th November 2016 / 7:04 pm

    A great round-up – it’s incredible how much there was to do, and how many very different things to try, all within about an hour of the city. I loved Montseny but would also be very tempted to make Calella or Castelldefels a holiday base and visit Barcelona that way too. Thanks for including my links!
    Cathy (MummyTravels) recently posted…Five things to do in Bandung with kidsMy Profile

    • 4th November 2016 / 7:40 pm

      I think thats what I loved about the region the most Cathy, the variety. I am so looking forward to introducing my boys to Costa Barcelona in the spring! I know they are going to particularly love the beaches, water sports and hunting for badger poo in Montseny!

  34. 4th November 2016 / 6:54 pm

    Wow pics are so beautiful and amazing. Sounds good and thanks for sharing these wonderful attractions near Barcelona. We are planning for vacations and i will share this with my husband. Hope I will see them shortly 🙂

    • 4th November 2016 / 7:41 pm

      Thanks Shirley. I took 100’s of my photos in my four days out there. There were so many gorgeous shots to capture! I hope this post convinces your husband that you need to visit:)

  35. 4th November 2016 / 4:55 pm

    It all looks amazing, especially those pastries. I would love to visit the Costa Barcelona region one day

    • 4th November 2016 / 7:43 pm

      Oh the pastries were so good Cathy! Montseny is such a quirky mountain village to explore and trying these pastries were just the icing on the cake!

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