Spain isn’t just for grownups and whether you live here or you visit, there is no shortage of things for kids to do. From an amusement park on top of a mountain to the biggest aquarium in Europe to a magical fountain; exploring Spain is fun for all ages. Here are the seven Spanish attractions that every kid, and frankly every adult should experience at least once in their lifetime.
7. Tibidabo Amusement Park, Barcelona
The mountain of Tibidabo overlooks the city of Barcelona and offers spectacular views of both the city and the coastline. It also happens to be the site of one of the best kids attractions in the country. Tibidabo Amusement Park opened in 1899 and is one of the oldest still operating parks in the world. Most of the original rides are actually still in operation here. Attractions here include a pirate area, castle and many rides both modern and original.
The journey to this park is half the fun, as you first need to take a train from the center of Barcelona to the Tramvia Blau, which takes you halfway up the mountain. The rest of the way up is by funicular train and expect breathtaking views. There are no “thrill” rides here but expect a friendly atmosphere, plenty of experiences for the little ones and one heck of a Ferris Wheel that overlooks the entire city.
6. Parque del Buen Retiro (Retiro Park), Madrid
It translates into Park of the Pleasant Retreat in English and as the biggest park in Madrid City, it is certainly worth a trip with the kids. This magnificent park is filled with beautiful sculptures and monuments, galleries, a peaceful lake and home to a variety of events. The best part about spending time here is that both kids and parents love to explore the gardens, the lake, and the towering trees.
A favorite activity here is to rent a rowboat from the lake’s northern shore, an iconic Madrid experience that shouldn’t be missed. Throughout the summer visitors will find plenty of open-air cafes to have lunch at, live music to dance too and numerous children’s events that happen. Mingle with tourists and locals as everyone heads here on the weekends to enjoy the beautiful outdoors.
5. Madrid Zoo and Aquarium, Madrid
Home to approximately 3,000 animals the zoo and aquarium in Madrid is a favorite amongst visitors with kids. It opened in 1770 and is one of the largest zoos in Spain, along with one of the only zoos in the world to house giant pandas. The exhibits at this zoo include a petting zoo, aquarium, dolphin exhibit and an aviary. There are several restaurants on-site along with a boat and train tour. Favorite animals here include the small group of koalas, gorillas, and sea lions and of course the dolphins. Talks are offered throughout the day but note that these are in Spanish.
Give yourself a full day to visit as there is plenty to see and do and make sure to pick up a map as this place is full of hidden twists and turns, and you won’t want to miss a thing! It is best to avoid coming on weekends as it does get busy and we recommended buying your tickets ahead of time online to avoid any lineups.
4. Barcelona Aquarium
Located in the city’s old harbor, the Port Vell, the Barcelona Aquarium declares itself as the world’s most important marine leisure and education center dedicated to Mediterranean undersea life. Kids will love traveling through the aquarium visiting 35 Mediterranean and tropical tanks that are home to more than 11,000 animals from over 450 different species. The highlight of this aquarium happens to be the immense Oceanarium, the only one of its kind in Europe. The transparent 80-meter long tunnel runs through the Oceanarium where you walk among sharks, morays, giltheads, ocean sunfish and more.
There are a total of three sections to the aquarium for kids to explore, the aquarium itself which houses all the different marine life, the Planeta Aqua Section where kids can learn more about water, it is here where the lethal fish are kept as well as the penguins. Lastly, there is the Explora! Zone, a fun area where children have access to interactive learning tools, as well as a play area complete with slides. Count on this being an entire day trip.
3. Poble Espanyol, Barcelona
Built at the beginning of the 20th century, Poble Espanyol is a mock village with over 40 workshops showing 21 different types of craftsmanship at work. If you are looking to do something on the weekend with the kids, this is the place to be. Sundays are the best day to visit with the little ones, as there are organized activities and shows to take part in. Bonus tip: Reserve a meal at one of the restaurants inside and gain free entry to the village.
One of the best ways to explore the village with kids is to take part in a Gymkhana activity with the family. It is a treasure hunt throughout the village that gives clues to families as they search for the hidden secrets. Children ages 3-9 must be accompanied by an adult and it is one of the best ways to get the kids involved while here. A specially designed space for education and family fun, family-friendly restaurants on site and a day full of new experiences is something not to miss!
2. Font Magica, Barcelona
It is one of Barcelona’s most popular attractions and promises to wow both kids and parents. The Magic Fountain was designed by engineer Carles Buigas and was one of the greatest successes of the 1929 International Exhibition, later restored for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. It is Barcelona’s biggest ornamental fountain that offers a spectacular display of music, water acrobatics and lights, which generate over 50 kinds of shades and hues.
During the display the moving jets are illuminated and synchronized to the music and lights, creating a magic dance that will enthrall kids. Make sure you head here from Thursday to Sundays as the fountains do not operate the rest of the week during the summer. Wintertime the fountain only operates on Friday and Saturdays with extended hours over the holidays.
1. L’oceanografic at City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia
It is the largest aquarium in Europe and certainly deserves a visit from families of all ages. Visitors will find over 45,000 examples of 500 different marine species including sharks, Beluga whales, sea lions, penguins and manta rays. This oceanographic park is structured into ten areas for visitors to explore and includes a popular dolphinarium. You will need to spend all day here to explore the entire aquarium with sections dedicated to the Red Sea, Arctic, Mediterranean, mangrove forests, and more.
Most of the aquarium is found below ground wherein a series of massive tanks you can watch the animals. The shark tunnel is one of the favorite things about this aquarium and throughout the year they offer the chance for kids to spend the night sleeping under it. Check out the two-level restaurant, which offers superb views into the aquarium.