6 historic Barcelona attractions families will love
I’m always drawn to the historic side of the places we visit. I love walking streets that have been trodden for centuries, standing on spots where history was made and visiting buildings that were home to legends. My mind boggles at all of those moments from the past that still echo in these places. Historic attractions also appeal to young travellers. What child doesn’t love a good story? One of our favourite family city breaks was to Barcelona – a location steeped in history. So here are our top historic Barcelona attractions for families to help mark the launch of a new city guide by car rental experts Avis.
Barcelona is a place that offers plenty of historic attractions families will love. We visited with our two pre-school girls in 2016. It really is a great place for a city break with babies and toddlers. Prior to that we had enjoyed a visit there before becoming parents. So we knew a bit of what to expect and where to go. However, we still have so much of Barcelona to explore in the city and beyond in the Costa Barcelona region which I have also visited solo.
Here’s seven historic Barcelona attractions we think families will love based on places we’ve been and have on our own travel bucket list:
Historic Barcelona attraction 1: Basilica of the Sagrada Familia
You can’t visit Barcelona without seeing the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia…except I have. And a shocking three times! The closest Mr Tin Box and I have gotten is standing on the steps outside having not been organised enough to buy tickets in advance. Top tip: the queues for tours on the day are enormous, so always buy ahead online*.
The Sagrada Familia – infamous for being designed by Antoni Gaudi and, so far, taking 135 years to build – is a piece of history in the making. When completed, its central tower will measure 566ft, making it the tallest cathedral in Europe. Being there during its construction is a memory to share for a lifetime. One of the best parts for families to see is the Nativity facade, which was the first part of the cathedral to be built. It depicts the birth of Jesus and incorporates symbolic creatures such as turtles and chameleons – perfect for spotting with young children.
Historic Barcelona attraction 2: Casa Batllo
Continuing on a Gaudi theme, we can recommend a visit to Casa Batllo. This fantastical building is a legend in itself. From the facade that is reminiscent of a sea monster to the free flowing interior of curves and light.
Mr Tin Box and I took a self-guided audio tour about ten years ago. I’d now love to return with our girls for one of their family friendly theatrical visits. You can choose to be guided by actors playing either Antoni Gaudi himself or the loose lipped housekeeper, Lady Ramona. It looks like a really fun way to bring the story of the building and its design to life for kids.
Historic Barcelona attraction 3: Castell de Montjuïc
This fortress overlooking the city has a chequered history of suppression and imprisonment. It was a key defence point in the War of the Spanish Succession (1705 to 1714) – the first world war of modern times. The castle bombarded the Catalan city of Barcelona on a number of occasions and was the setting for the torture of political prisoners during the Spanish civil war (1936 to 1939).
Montjuïc’s stories are sure to appeal to fans of Horrible Histories. Young visitors will also enjoy travelling on the 2,754ft Teleferic de Montjuïc cable car to reach the top of Montjuïc Hill. Top tip: avoid visiting at peak times to get the best views of the city and marina from the cable car.
Historic Barcelona attraction 4: Tibidabo Amusement Park
Tibidabo Amusement Park is Spain’s oldest amusement park and one of the oldest of its kind in the world. It sits on top of Mount Tibidabo – part of the world’s largest metropolitan parks and on the edge of the city.
Barcelona’s amusement park was founded in 1889 and has more than 25 family-friendly, vintage rides – many with bird’s-eye view of Barcelona. As well as white-knuckle rides that will attract teenage visitors there are puppet shows, play areas and a ferris wheel to entertain younger children.
Historic Barcelona attraction 5: Park Güell
Apart from being another of Antoni Gaudi’s lasting masterpieces, Park Güell is a wonderful place to take children to burn off steam. There’s fascinating architectural structures in Gaudi’s naturalist style, winding walkways and plenty of street sellers offering colourful wares.
We took the Tin Box girls here last summer after visiting ourselves a decade before. I love the artistic surprises around every corner, from mosaics to architecture inspired by nature. You can also enjoy beautiful views across the city towards the Mediterranean Sea. Top tip: the majority of the park is free to roam around but if you’d like to enter the memorial gardens where you’ll see a hive of Gaudi’s best designs then it’s a good idea to book a tour of Parc Guell* in advance.
Historic Barcelona attraction 6: Montjuïc Magic Fountain
This is one of my overriding memories of our first trip to Barcelona as a couple. I’d love to return to see it with our girls. The Montjuïc Magic Fountain was built in 1929 for the International Exhibition. The fountain in front of the National Museum of Art is now one of Barcelona’s most popular attractions.
Four evenings a week during the peak holiday season it puts on a light, music and water show for hundreds, if not thousands, of spectators. The dancing water jets are bound to pique children’s interest.
What’s your favourite historic Barcelona attraction?
Disclosure: this post has been written in partnership with Avis which can help with car hire in Barcelona. Images courtesy of Pixabay. This post also contains some affiliate links. This means if you click on a link marked with * and buy something I may get some commission. It does not affect the price you pay. Thank you!
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