Sun, Sand and Siestas: The Best of Family-Friendly Spain
Sun, Sand and Siestas: The Best of Family-Friendly Spain - Barcelona Bliss: Kid-Approved Highlights in Catalonia's Capital
Barcelona is a vibrant city that offers families a lively mix of culture, parks, beaches, and interactive museums. As Spain's cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia, Barcelona combines history and innovation in kid-friendly ways. From architectural wonders to pint-sized entertainment, the entire family will embrace Barcelona's energy and spirit.
At the top of any Barcelona family itinerary is Parc Güell. Designed by famous architect Antoni Gaudí, this UNESCO World Heritage Site delights children and adults with its colorful mosaics, fantastical structures, and imaginative sculptures. Let kids run through the colonnaded hallways, pose by the dancing lizard fountain, and take in panoramic city views. Nearby, step inside La Pedrera for an immersive look at Gaudí's bold, swirling designs. The Espai Gaudí in the attic entertains kids with hands-on exhibits and climbing areas.
After admiring Gaudí creations, spend time on the beach in Barceloneta. Stretching for nearly 2 miles along the coast, this barrio offers golden sand for building castles, gentle waves for swimming, and seaside promenades for strolling or biking. Refuel at an outdoor cafe before visiting the Barcelona Aquarium. With 11,000 underwater creatures, the aquarium's glass tunnels and interactive displays make it a hit with children.
At the Museu de la Xocolata, everything is made of chocolate! Kids can touch intricate sculptures, admire chocolate artworks, and watch sweet masterpieces being created. After touring the museum, indulge in hot chocolate and baked goods in the cafe. Nearby, Poble Espanyol recreates Spain's diverse regions through architecture, shops, and restaurants. Children enjoy exploring the picturesque plazas and sampling treats like churros.
Barcelona teems with imaginative playgrounds, from labyrinth-like structures to innovative climbing areas. Parc de la Ciutadella contains animal sculptures, rowboats for rent, and pony rides. At Parc del Laberint, kids enter an Alice in Wonderland-style labyrinth surrounded by mythological statues. Museu Blau's outdoor play area incorporates water, balance beams, tunnels, and more.
Vibrant street performances are around every corner in Barcelona. In Plaça Reial, children can dance along to jazz bands, watch mime artists, and see living statues. Near the cathedral, look for the Gegants or costumed giants representing historical and folkloric figures. On Las Ramblas, kids will delight at street musicians, artists, and human statues that line this famed pedestrian avenue.
Barcelona's museums also engage young minds through interactive exhibits and hands-on learning. At CosmoCaixa, budding scientists explore rainforests, touch meteorites, watch 3D movies, and conduct experiments. The Museu Marítim lets kids climb aboard historic ships, examine nautical artifacts, and learn about Barcelona's maritime past. Children can push buttons, solve puzzles, and watch educational shows at L'Aquàrium de Barcelona.
What else is in this post?
- Sun, Sand and Siestas: The Best of Family-Friendly Spain - Barcelona Bliss: Kid-Approved Highlights in Catalonia's Capital
- Sun, Sand and Siestas: The Best of Family-Friendly Spain - Costa Brava's Calm Coves and Family Resorts
- Sun, Sand and Siestas: The Best of Family-Friendly Spain - Madrid Fun: Interactive Museums and Parks for All Ages
- Sun, Sand and Siestas: The Best of Family-Friendly Spain - Seville Sights: Horse Carriages, Flamenco Shows and More
- Sun, Sand and Siestas: The Best of Family-Friendly Spain - Granada Adventures: Alhambra Tour and Hiking in Sierra Nevada
- Sun, Sand and Siestas: The Best of Family-Friendly Spain - Valencia Thrills: City of Arts and Sciences Attractions
- Sun, Sand and Siestas: The Best of Family-Friendly Spain - Mallorca Magic: Caves, Beaches and Watersports
- Sun, Sand and Siestas: The Best of Family-Friendly Spain - San Sebastian's Pintxo Crawl and Beachfront Play
Sun, Sand and Siestas: The Best of Family-Friendly Spain - Costa Brava's Calm Coves and Family Resorts
Nestled between the Pyrenees Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, Costa Brava offers families a captivating combination of scenic coves, child-friendly resorts, and Catalan culture. With mild weather year-round, Costa Brava provides the ideal sunny escape for families seeking laidback beach days and active adventures.
Dotting the coastline, Costa Brava's postcard-perfect coves offer protected swimming and snorkeling in emerald waters. At Cala Sa Boadella, little ones will love paddling in the shallow inlet surrounded by pine trees. After building sandcastles, take a picnic lunch break under the shady cliffs. Further up the coast near Begur, splash around in the gentle waves of Aiguablava Beach, go scuba diving, or rent a paddleboard.
Many family-owned resorts cater to kids along the Costa Brava. At Aparthotel Stella & Spa in picturesque Cadaqués, children will enjoy the outdoor pool, playgrounds, and organized activities. Parents can relax at the spa or dine at one of the hotel's restaurants boasting local seafood and regional wines. In Llafranc, the beachfront Hotel Terramar features spacious family rooms, baby equipment rental, monitored kids' clubs, and special children's menus.
The vibrant village of Calella de Palafrugell offers a lively seaside escape for families. Stroll the beautiful beaches during the day, then enjoy free evening entertainment in the main plaza. Kids will have a blast at the summer carnival, filled with rides, games, and sugary churros. Take a glass-bottomed boat tour to admire the coves' crystalline waters and marine life. Cap off the day with a decadent crema Catalana custard.
Inland from the bustling beach towns, families can embrace Costa Brava's slower pace and rich traditions. At Can Genís Eco Farm in Palau-sator, kids learn about harvesting honey and collecting eggs from the chickens and ducks. Afterward, savor homemade jams, cheese, and organic juices from the farm. The scenic medieval village of Peratallada transports visitors back in time with cobblestone streets and well-preserved architecture. Let children race through the central plaza, then stop for a snack at one of the cafés surrounding it.
Sun, Sand and Siestas: The Best of Family-Friendly Spain - Madrid Fun: Interactive Museums and Parks for All Ages
While Madrid dazzles visitors with its grand plazas, renowned art museums, and elegant architecture, Spain's capital also excels at keeping kids entertained. From hands-on science exhibits to amusement parks, Madrid offers many family-friendly activities guaranteed to delight children of all ages.
At the top of any Madrid family itinerary should be Faunia. This interactive nature theme park brings wildlife encounters to the city. Children go nose-to-nose with curious lemurs in the Madagascar area and walk through tropical bird aviaries. At Antarctica, penguins swim just inches away behind large glass walls. Favorite exhibits include the Nocturnal Area displaying creatures of the night like bats and owls and the Farmyard where kids can pet pygmy goats. Outdoor attractions like the suspension bridge and giant slides add thrills.
Nearby, Parque Warner Madrid provides rollercoaster action for adrenaline-junkie kids. With hair-raising loops, sharp drops, and speeds up to 112 km/h, rides like Superman and The Joker will satisfy big kids. Younger children can enjoy tamer options like Tom & Jerry's Crazy Course and Scooby-Doo's Mystery Machine. When not braving the thrilling rides, families can watch live shows, get soaked on water slides, or refuel at the park's themed restaurants.
At CosmoCaixa Madrid, budding scientists of all ages can conduct hands-on experiments and explore interactive exhibits. In the Amazing Cube, kids investigate giant ice blocks and use pulleys to move heavy loads. The Planetarium transports visitors through the universe using immersive technology. Favorite exhibits include recreated rainforests, an area examining genomes and DNA, and a simulated flash flood. Families especially enjoy the Geological Wall showcasing rock samples from around the world that can be touched.
For art lovers, the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía captivates kids through participatory installations. The hands-on Education Room allows children to examine artwork materials like brushes, canvases, and paints. Creative workshops encourage kids to experiment with different artistic techniques. In the permanent collection, engaging audio guides and activity cards turn viewing modern masterpieces into an interactive experience.
At Parque del Retiro, Madrid's iconic city park, families bask in green space and free entertainment. Known for its boating lake, magnificent fountains, and striking monuments, the park also offers pony rides, puppet shows, and street performers. Kids expend energy at the large playground next to the O'Donnell Observatory. Nearby, dance to jazz at the Temple of Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple with panoramic city views on its rooftop terrace.
Sun, Sand and Siestas: The Best of Family-Friendly Spain - Seville Sights: Horse Carriages, Flamenco Shows and More
From its grand Moorish palace to lively flamenco dancing, Seville captivates families with its history, culture, and charm. By day, explore the city’s elaborate monuments and serene gardens. After dark, take in an authentic flamenco performance full of passion and pride. With vibrant street life and family-friendly hotels, Seville makes an unforgettable destination for those traveling with kids.
At the top of any Seville family itinerary is the Alcázar, an ornate palace and fortress reflecting the city’s Moorish influences. With elaborately decorated halls, tranquil courtyards, and sprawling gardens, it sparks children’s imaginations. Take an audio or guided tour to hear tales of ancient kings and queens who once walked these regal halls. Let kids run through the hedge maze and smell the flowers in the terraced gardens. The Alcázar’s beauty, intrigue and interactivity make it a family favorite.
Nearby, Seville Cathedral awes visitors with its sheer size as the world’s largest Gothic church. While little ones may get restless inside, they’ll adore the La Giralda bell tower. Kids can climb ramps up the 34-story tower for staggering city views. The tower’s exterior delights with Baroque styling and colorful ceramic tiles depicting sailing motifs. Back on the ground, make sure to check out the cathedral’s ornate facade and grand entryway.
For many families, a highlight is seeing the talented horses of the Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre. At this prestigious equestrian school, kids watch a dazzling equine performance with music and riders in period costumes. Displays of the gorgeous Andalusian horses seeing them trot, canter and gallop gracefully. This glimpse into Spain’s equestrian culture makes for an unforgettable experience.
Seville’s parks and plazas provide plenty of room for children to run and play. At Parque de María Luisa, visit the Plaza de España featuring a magnificent semicircular building with tiled alcoves representing each Spanish province. Kids especially love rowing the boats on the central canal. Nearby, the Archeological Museum contains fascinating artifacts like mosaics and Roman sculptures to spark young imaginations.
For families, an afternoon spent at Isla Mágica is hard to beat. This immersive theme park brings Seville’s history and culture to life through rides, shows, and interactive areas. Kids love the adrenaline rush of riding Titanide, one of only two wooden rollercoasters in Spain. Catch an acrobatic performance at the Teatro del Rio San Juan. The park’s zones based on the Age of Discoveries, the New World, and more infuse education into the entertainment.
Sun, Sand and Siestas: The Best of Family-Friendly Spain - Granada Adventures: Alhambra Tour and Hiking in Sierra Nevada
Rising from the Andalusian countryside outside lively Granada, the stunning Alhambra fortress and palace complex ignites kids’ imaginations. As the last stronghold of the Nasrid Dynasty in Spain, its elaborate Moorish architecture and intriguing history captivate visitors of all ages. Families especially appreciate the Alhambra’s kid-focused audio guides, interactive exhibits and sprawling gardens.
Inside the palaces, displays visualize daily life through Arab furnishings, intricate tilework, and carved ceilings. Thoughtful placards explain architectural details at kids’ eye level. In the baths, mirrors reflect distorted images to delight young ones. Climbing the watchtowers rewards with panoramic vistas of Granada and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Let children run through the hanging gardens and courtyards in between guided tours. At night, the atmospheric grounds come alive during kid-friendly sound and light shows.
Nearby Generalife Gardens immerse families in tranquil landscaped grounds accented by water features. Kids adore peeking into the tiny Workshop Courtyard showcasing traditional techniques like weaving. At the outdoor Theatre Courtyard, children can dance and clap along to live flamenco music and dance performances. Wander through flowering pathways to the Long Pond with spurting fountains.
After exploring Granada’s Moorish past, embrace the present by hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Just 20 minutes outside the city, this rugged mountain range rising to over 11,000 feet offers families fresh air, snowy fun and breathtaking vistas.
During summer, take the gondola up to Sierra Nevada Picón de Veleta. At the summit, children scamper around Borreguiles Plaza, home to kid-oriented activities. Try out the Giant Slide snaking down the mountainside while parents relax at nearby restaurants with sunny terraces. Follow hiking trails through fields of wildflowers and pine forests. For an extra thrill, mountain bike or ride horses along scenic paths.
In winter, the Sierra Nevada becomes Spain’s premier ski resort. Families flock to the beginner-friendly slopes edged by snow-dusted mountains. Take a ski lesson together or split up for age-specific instruction. Chairlifts whisk skiers of all levels up the mountain to access gentler bunny slopes or steeper advanced runs. Kids can snowboard, inner tube or play in the snow fort. Après ski, unwind over hot cocoa and snacks before heading back to Granada.
Sun, Sand and Siestas: The Best of Family-Friendly Spain - Valencia Thrills: City of Arts and Sciences Attractions
Rising from the old riverbed of the Turia, the City of Arts and Sciences complex is one of Europe's largest cultural destinations, thrilling families with its innovative architecture, interactive museums, and cinematic exhibits. Designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela, the eye-catching buildings themselves are works of art that capture children's imaginations with their futuristic forms.
Inside, the Science Museum teaches through hands-on play in exhibits spanning physics, geography, biology, and more. In the Geometry Room, kids learn spatial principles while clambering through tunnels and geometric structures. The zero-gravity simulator creates a rollercoaster feeling while highlighting Newton's laws of motion. The Tactile Paths invites blindfolded children to identify mystery objects by touch and smell alone. Parents appreciate the impressive marine tank housing beluga whales and sharks that kids watch in awe.
The Hemisfèric planetarium takes families on an immersive audiovisual journey through the universe and deep sea using 3D projections and special effects. Little ones are mesmerized by the underwater fantasy world in the Ocean Dome show, complete with mermaids and a friendly dolphin named Simo. The Astronomic adventure shrinks visitors down to experience the Solar System from a spaceship, provoking giggles and excitement.
At the Kingdoms of Valencia show, dueling knights, falconry displays, and pyrotechnics bring medieval history alive on an expansive set. Kids cheer on the heroic knight during thrilling battles with lances, arrows, and swords. As embers rain down during the climactic battle scene, children leave feeling like they journeyed to the past.
For cinematic entertainment, the L'Umbracle walkway leads to the awe-inspiring L'Hemisfèric. Under its eye-catching parabolic roof, families recline in comfy chairs to watch IMAX and digital 3D films about space, wildlife, and ocean exploration. Surrounded by stunning projection and audio, little ones get fully immersed in adventures and natural wonders.
Connected by an underwater tunnel with windows into the aquarium tank, the Light Pavilion dazzles with interactive exhibits focused on optics and perception. In the Light Forest, kids move through darkness watching beams of light dance and change color. The Magic Rooms play with reflections, shadows, and mirrors for mind-bending optical illusions.
Sun, Sand and Siestas: The Best of Family-Friendly Spain - Mallorca Magic: Caves, Beaches and Watersports
With its breathtaking coves, captivating caves, and abundant watersport activities, Mallorca enthralls families seeking a Mediterranean island escape. From hidden grottoes to world-class beaches, Mallorca offers adventure, natural wonders, and aquatic fun ideal for vacationing with kids.
Dotting Mallorca’s coastline, pristine coves like Cala Deia and Cala Llombards lure families with their emerald waters and postcard-worthy scenery. Wander through the seaside village of Deia to admire its stone buildings clinging to cliffs before descending to Cala Deia. This pebbly inlet edged by hills blends Mallorca’s untamed natural beauty with outdoor cafes and beach amenities. Further up the coast, Cala Llombards’ gentle waves and soft sand make for a relaxing family beach day. Build sandcastles, kayak, or simply relax under a shady pine tree after a swim.
In Mallorca’s interior, astounding caves capture children’s imaginations with underground lakes and elaborate rock formations. At the Coves del Drac, kids board a little train through the massive caverns to see unique stalactites, stalagmites and columns. Illuminated walkways make it easy for families to admire the cave’s ethereal beauty. At Coves dels Hams, guides lead visitors through narrow passages into an expansive grotto with an underground lagoon perfect for paddling. Kids especially love taking the wooden drawbridge over the still turquoise waters.
No Mallorca family vacation is complete without a visit to Western Europe’s largest waterpark, Aqualand El Arenal. With over 20 slides and rides, even the most adventurous kids will find thrills. Families scream down the steep Kamikaze slides and get soaked on the Rapids River. In Minimundi, little ones splash around small slides and wading pools tailored for tots. When not riding slides, families relax on the park’s sandy beach, float down the Lazy River, or eat at the snack bars.
Mallorca’s clear waters offer fantastic snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities to glimpse the island’s vibrant marine life. Dive centers like The Dive Academy cater to families, providing introductory scuba courses for kids eight and up. Together, families can explore shallow reefs and wrecks just offshore. Those new to snorkeling can join a group trip with equipment provided and an expert guide. Paddleboarding is another fun way to take in Mallorca’s beautiful coastline while enjoying some aquatic exercise.
Sun, Sand and Siestas: The Best of Family-Friendly Spain - San Sebastian's Pintxo Crawl and Beachfront Play
For families, San Sebastian combines gourmet grazing with seaside fun to create an idyllic Spanish getaway. While world-renowned for its exceptional cuisine, this Basque city also woos visitors with belle époque architecture, scintillating beaches and outdoor adventures.
San Sebastian’s old town comes alive each evening during pintxo crawls along buzzing streets lined with tapas bars. From sophisticated molecular gastronomy to traditional Basque dishes, the creative bite-sized pintxos will wow foodie kids and parents alike. Graze your way through the old town sampling tempura shrimp, charred octopus skewers, and shrimp croquetas. At Borda Berri, watch the chef torch tuna belly before devouring the melt-in-your-mouth fish. Kids love the whimsy of foie bonbons at Bar Zeruko and will marvel at the edible mini-sculptures at Haizea. Order a glass of txakoli sparkling wine to truly dine like a local.
Just across the Urumea River, San Sebastian's beaches offer tranquil respite from the energetic streets. Playful waves lap the shell-shaped bay, bookended by rocky outcrops perfect for exploring. On lively La Concha Beach, children dig moats and tunnels in the soft sand between dips in the gentle surf. Parasols line the 1.5 mile crescent beach, providing shade for parents, while promenades draw families on bikes, rollerblades and skateboards.
At kid-favorite Ondarreta Beach, a spacious park-like setting allows room for games and picnics when not splashing about. Sandcastle building competitions, paddleball matches and beach tennis games ensue for hours. Surfers take advantage of the excellent waves offshore as kids try their hand at bodyboarding. After working up appetites, enjoy churros dipped in chocolate at a nearby cafe.
Away from the beaches, San Sebastian entices families with interactive museums, verdant parks and rides with panoramic views. At Aquarium Donostia, children press buttons to illuminate fish tanks and touch sea anemones and starfish in the hands-on area. On Monte Igueldo, the old-fashioned amusement park at the summit delights kids with carousels, bumper cars and pony rides. For staggering views over city and sea, hop aboard the funicular railway ascending the headland.
At Monte Urgull, hike winding trails to discover the remains of medieval castles among lush greenery right in the city center. Kids especially love entering the drawbridge and scampering about the ramparts. Museums here bring history alive, like the San Telmo Museum housing an excellent interactive area called The Little Kingdom of Leiza.