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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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….
Avui un grup de blocaires angleses han vingut a fer una visita a #MalgratdeMar, després que contactéssim amb elles al workshop Brits and Mums que es va celebrar el passat mes de juny a Londres! Mireu que bé s’ho han passat al Parc Francesc Macià! #malgratdemar #malgratfan #malgrat #parcfrancescmacia #london #workshop #britsandmums #bmlbcnmoltmes #bmlcostabcn
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!
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…
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?!)
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!
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!
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!)
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.
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…
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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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.