Shops may close on Sundays, but that doesn’t mean Barcelona stops on the weekends: concerts, exhibitions, hikes, workshops, and more continue. It’s easy though to go into hermit mode every weekend, especially for children who may be tired after a week full of school and extracurricular activities. The siren call of a lazy day or two on the couch in front of a screen beckons parents and their kids alike. Making the effort to leave has its advantages though, especially for these undiscovered family activities in Barcelona. This list leans heavily on the experiential – getting hands dirty, going out in the woods or underground, bearing axes and blow torches to name a few – that are guaranteed to make kids (and adults) forget all about videogames, Netflix, and cellphones.
Express your inner Gaudi and learn his hallmark Trencadís style of broken mosaic tiles at this tiny workshop tucked away in El Born’s labyrinth of streets. This hands-on activity will appeal to grumpy teens and jet-lagged visitors (or both), as they quickly settle into the meditative rhythm of breaking and gluing tiny pieces of glass onto their one-of-a kind Barcelona souvenir. Pair the workshop with a visit to the nearby Picasso Museum to satisfy the art lovers in your group. Mosaiccos also offers guided tours in a variety of languages, including English, of various Gaudi sites, such as Colonia Güell and La Torre Bellesguard.
Address: Calle dels Assonadors, 10 El Born
Barcelona Street Style Tours
The graffiti on Barcelona’s streets and persianas (store shutters) will never look the same to you after spending just 2.5 hours with Mike Joachim on his daily, free walking tours of the El Born, Gothic and Raval neighborhoods. Search for Space Invaders, the latest tags, and throw-ups wherever you go. (Also, learn what tags and throw-ups are!) Despite Mike’s love of curse words and irreverent outlook on life, even the local independent schools take their students to him for a dose of Barcelona street art. Complete your tour with a stop at the public graffiti art space and skate park at Tres Xemeneies. Barcelona Street Style Tours also offers bike tours for 23 euros per person, minimum two people.
Address: Meet up point differs. Bike tour in Poblenou.
Does the image of a child wielding a blow torch make you nervous? Fortunately, the talented chefs at Barcelona Cooking have a higher tolerance for risk. There are as many paella cooking classes offered in Barcelona as there are tourists, but Barcelona Cooking’s class combines an informative ingredients shopping trip to La Boqueria with an interactive and hands-on cooking experience. This is a great way to spend a morning or an evening with the whole family, together in the kitchen. They even serve a few glasses of wine to get the adults relaxed for when the blow torch fires up for crema catalana.
Address: La Rambla 58, Principal 2, Las Ramblas
A Collserola Hike to a Masia Lunch
Hiking can be a tough sell at times, especially to children, and even with euphemisms like “we’re just exploring” or “we’re just going on a walk.” This Collserola hike on GR-6 begins at the Mundet Metro Station, by the Parc de Labrint (itself worth checking out), and carries you over winding dirt trails and up to elevations providing panoramic views of Barcelona. Maybe you can sell this gorgeous 12km walk by emphasizing the delicious meat-fest waiting for them at the end. Can Borell serves up traditional wood-grilled Catalan foods and calçots in a masia dating from the 13th century (reservations recommended). Perhaps the best selling point of this hike though is that you don’t have to hike back home. Roll yourself 3km down the hill to Sant Cugat in your food coma and hop on a train back to Barcelona from the FGC Sant Cugat station. While you’re in the historic town of Sant Cugat, check out the historic El Pi d’en Xandri, a 240-year-old pine tree that has come to symbolize successful conservation efforts by the locals.
If you are feeling a little less violent, Barcelona’s first paint bar is a great creative option for older children and their parents. American couple Bruce and Alisa welcome you to their artsy Eixample studio to paint your own unique canvas. Attendees at Arte Bar paint the same design with instructions. Despite all students painting the same picture and having the same color palate and painting instructions, each person ends up with a different personal interpretation. For only 32 euros/person you can buy three hours of peaceful expression and even come home with something to decorate your piso walls.
Address: Carrer de Roger de Flor 135, Eixample
Barcelona Axe Throwing (BAT)
If you all feel like killing each other after a weekend cooped up in a city apartment, take out some of your aggression at Barcelona’s latest family-friendly attractions. Priced between 16-25 euros/hour, depending on the number of people and the day of the week, axe throwing offers a much more affordable alternative to family therapy sessions and criminal defense attorneys. Kids of all ages are welcome, as long as they are strong enough to throw a hatchet, capable of carefully following safety instructions, and have supervision from parents/guardians who aren’t faint of heart.
Address: Trafalgar 8, Barcelona
Historical Air-Raid Shelter Tour
Barcelona was one of the first cities to be systematically bombed by Italian and German air forces during the Spanish Civil War. In order to protect themselves, city residents built almost 1,400 underground shelters or refugios. One of the best-preserved of these shelters was discovered in 1992 in Gracía during construction of a power station. Local history guides offer tours of the underground maze of tunnels big enough to hold 200 residents. English-speaking guides do a great job of bringing to life this desperate and terrifying time in Spain’s history.
Guide Company Options
- Taller Historia de Gracia offers 1 hour tours in English for 3 euros/person. Email them at [email protected] to arrange the tour.
- MyInsiders Events offers a comprehensive 2-hour Spanish Civil War tour, which includes a visit to two Gracia air-raid shelters.
Clean Beach Initiative
Given a pair of industrial work gloves and a fun extendable arm grabber to play with, even the most reluctant child will become a trash-seeking, eco-advocate on a mission. Volunteers from the Clean Beach Initiative organize weekly clean-ups of plastic trash every Saturday morning and welcome any and everyone of any age. German yoga aficionados Hans and Liz started the initiative because they felt that selling yoga mats made from recycled plastic was not doing enough to save the environment. Help your visitors be sustainable tourists by putting them to work on Barceloneta beach.
Sign up here to be notified of the next beach clean up details. Children of all ages are welcome.
Meet-Up Location: Espigo de Gas on Barceloneta Beach
Hang on to this list for those times when you’re swamped by an endless deluge of visitors. You’ll buy yourself a couple of hours of freedom from playing tour guide and your visitors will love hands-on experiences that are much more memorable than a flamenco show or ride on the tourist bus.
Check out these activities for babies, toddlers, and younger children.