There are many reasons why Barcelona is considered one of the most family-friendly cities in Europe. There is the beach, the parks, kid-friendly attractions, trams, gelato. But there is also Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona’s most famous and beloved architect. Gaudi’s whimsical and playful designs can be enjoyed by kids the city over, from the Sagrada Familia to Park Guell to Gaudi-designed houses.
Antoni Gaudi was an architect from Catalonia, Spain who spent most of his life in Barcelona, and had a unique and distinctive style to his designs. He took inspiration from the 3 passions in his life – architecture, nature and religion – and incorporated them into his work, creating imaginative and overly-ornate designs. In fact, the word gaudy stemmed from him! His organic, playful style, often times with elements like colorful mosaics and stained-glass, is enjoyed by both adults and kids alike. Honestly, everyone loves Gaudi!
About Sagrada Familia
If there’s one piece of work Gaudi is most famous for, and if there’s one image people associate with Barcelona the most, it’s the Sagrada Familia. You can’t go to Barcelona without visiting this iconic Roman catholic church and basilica! Gaudi took over as chief architect in 1883 (it was first started a year earlier by a different architect), and it became his life-long passion. The Sagrada Familia is still under construction today! When Gaudi died in 1926, only a quarter of the building had been built.
The construction of the Sagrada Familia is funded solely by private donations and ticket sales, and it is slated to be completed – or, rather hoping to be completed – by 2026, the centenary of Gaudi’s death. Only 10 of the spires currently exist, with 8 more being built for a total of 18 to complete Gaudi’s vision of having spires dedicated to the Twelve Apostles, the Four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ. The Sagrada Familia is truly a work of magical art, with intricate details everywhere you look. Gothic and Art Nouveau styles comprise the underlying design, but Gaudi of course puts his own spin on things by creating a quirky and totally unique piece of work.
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Visiting Sagrada Familia
As for visiting the Sagrada Familia with kids, it’s best to purchase tickets online on the Sagrada Familia website ahead of time to avoid notoriously long lines in the blazing sun. Kids under 10 are free which is a great bonus. There are different options and packages you can choose from – regular tickets, tower tickets, tickets with audio guide, etc. We chose regular tickets with access to the towers, however, unfortunately for us, we were in Barcelona for the August 2017 terrorist attack, and the towers were closed. We hear they are great fun to do with the kids so long as they’re not afraid of heights. And it’s true- I remember going up to one of the towers in my 20’s and feeling a little vertigo!
We did a very basic tour of the church on our own – it was the morning after the attack and everyone was a little dazed – but the kids enjoyed it, particularly seeing a church like none other they’ve ever seen before. We have friends who have done private tours with their families, but we didn’t think it was for us. If you’d like to do a private tour you can organize one through a tour company that specializes in family travel, or the website also books private tours (how kid-friend they are, I’m not sure). There are audio-guides for children, but for 12 years and older, so that didn’t work for us. In general, we loved walking around both inside and outside the church and admiring all of Gaudi’s intricate works. It’s without a doubt a must-do!
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Park Guell is the brainchild of entrepreneur Eusebi Guell and Antoni Gaudi. Located in the hillside of El Carmel outside of the city center, it was originally built as a residential complex for the wealthy. It did not succeed, and was abandoned in 1914. In 1922 the city bought the estate to be used as a public park, and since then people have flocked to spend time in the park and admire Gaudi’s creations.
Many parts of the park are recognizable, including the two Hansel and Gretel style gatehouses by the entrance; the steps up from the entrance which have a mosaic lizard; a long, curvaceous mosaic bench; the Doric Temple, comprised of 88 stone coulums, and more. It is said Gaudi’s inspiration for the park’s designs came from his love of nature, and that he incorporated organic shapes into all the different aspects of the park. Most importantly, he did not conform to any particular style, and let his imagination take over. It may not be more evident than in Park Guell.
Gingerbread houses, mosaic animals, stone columns to weave in and out of, all make Park Guell the ideal place to take the kids. Most of the main sites to see are in what is called the Monumental Zone, and tickets are required to enter. It is best to purchase tickets ahead of time on the Park Guell’s website. In addition to the sites, there are magnificent gardens to explore, pathways throughout the park, and a hill to climb to the top where you get fabulous views of Barcelona and the Mediterranean. Park Guell is adventurous, fun and unique, and kids love it.
Gaudi’s work can be seen throughout the city, including La Pedrera, Casa Battlo, and Casa Vicens, as well as in Ciutedella Park. Even if the kids don’t want to go inside, they’ll get a kick out of seeing these buildings on the outside.
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Linking up with FARAWAY FILES and FEARLESS FAMILY TRAVEL and CITY TRIPPING and FAMILY TRAVEL TIPS
I’d seen loads of pictures of the Sagrada Familia and knew just what it looked like but I remember being totally blown away when I stepped inside on our visit. Must have been quite frightening to be there during those attacks but I suppose keeping going and getting on with exploring is the only option!!
Exactly, Joy. We didn’t let it spoil our trip in the least.
Ah I need to go back! Barcelona is a photographer’s paradise and my pictures don’t do it justice as that was when I still had a dinky camera and wasn’t serious about photography! Can you imagine HOW MUCH MORE busy the church will be when it’s completed! I can hardly imagine! #FarawayFiles
I really want to go back for it! It will be an incredible moment in time!
I am a huge Gaudi fan and really enjoyed the engineering exhibits in the basement of the cathedral. I can imagine Parc Guell was fun for kids as well since it’s so brightly coloured and fun to wander! #FarawayFiles
So much about Gaudi is perfect for kids – the colors in Park Guell were definitely a highlight!
Gaudi’s works are so playful and fun. I just love how the city of Barcelona has embraced the art and architecture and made it so accessible with Parc Guell. So looking forward to taking my kids there. Thanks for joining #FarawayFiles
You will have a blast with your kids when you eventually take them – it really is such a family-friendly city, Gaudi and all.
I just love Gaudi and you’re so right, his playful, magical and colourful creations are perfect for kids and adults alike. I felt quite emotional seeing the inside of the Sagrada Familia a few years ago. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of it. It’s a real privilege to see a cathedral being built. The park is brilliant too and my kids both adored Casa Batllo. The sleeping dragon was a real hit with them! Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles
You’re right – it’s a real privilege to see Sagrada Familia being built. I also can’t wait to see when it’s finished! It will be a real moment in time.
Love love love this! Also, love Barcelona! The first time I visited with Simon he was three years old and the sanctuary of La Sagrada Familia wasn’t complete… no stained glass or lights, it was grey and dark… When I returned 8 years later and saw the sanctuary completed it literally took my breath away! We just love visiting all the different buildings throughout the city. #farawayfiles
It’s so amazing to see a cathedral being built and see its evolution isn’t it? I can’t wait to go back to see it when it’s finished!
Gaudi’s works of art are so remarkable and definitely worth seeing, Corey! When’s the best time of the year to visit Barcelona and how long would you recommend staying there?
I would say definitely not when we went – in August – but with our work schedule that was when we could go. Off season when it’s still warm enough is preferred – September, October, April, May. Summertime is obviously a zoo anywhere in Europe. Thanks for stopping by!
I really want to visit Spain so bad. I was going to last year but we took too long to decide and tickets went up considerably so we went to Italy instead. Barcelona has such unique architecture and artwork around the city, just makes me want to visit it even more!
I’m sure you’ll get there some day! We love Italy too!
Loved Barcelona when we visited a few years ago. Can’t wait to take my boys there sometime soon. Gaudi is such fun #fearlessfamtrav
Your boys will love Barcelona and Gaudi – what’s not to love ;).
I’ve seen pictures of some of Gaudi’s work and he definitely seems to have had a very creative imagination. I didn’t know that he was the inspiration behind the word. #citytripping
I had no idea about the word either until my first trip to Spain. Makes sense!
I didn’t know the Sagrada Familia wasn’t complete yet. We are debating between a road trip through Germany and Austria or one through Spain and Portugal next year, and Barcelona will be a definite must-do if we do the latter! #fearlessfamtrav
Aaahh good choices to have! Sounds incredible!
I just love Barcelona, really one of the most beautiful cities in Spain! The Gaudi architecture is so interesting and fun!
It definitely adds to the experience of an already amazing city!
Barcelona is definitely on my wish list! What great photos!
Oh I wished I’d seen Park Guell! We just ran out of time. But we did see the Sagrada Familia and paid a little extra to go up the Passion Tower for amazing and fear inducing views over the city! (Maybe just for those with a little issue with heights, like me!) Beautiful post Corey and I’m so happy that you got to enjoy the city after being there during such scary drama. #FarawayFiles
We had tickets to the Passion Tower! Bummer. But maybe for the best – my younger daughter’s vertigo really kicked in on this trip and I don’t think she would have been able to handle it!
It was pretty rough for me up there – I may have been on hands and knees at one point! But beautiful!
Trust me I know! As someone who suffers from vertigo..I could hardly handle some of the drives in Mallorca..
My favorite spot in Barcelona! Absolutely beautiful! #CityTripping
I’ve been to Barcelona once pre kids and loved it. Park Guell and the Sagrada Familia are amazing. Definitely time for a new visit with our son! #Fearlessfamtrav
A good excuse to go back!
I do love Gaudi’s work – so magical but so much detail. I got to go back to Barcelona earlier this year and while I didn’t have chance to revisit Parc Guell, I did see the Sagrada Familia which had changed so much since my previous visit less than a decade before. It would be amazing to see once again when it’s finally complete. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping
That’s the amazing thing about Sagrada Familia – being able to see its progress. It will be very exciting when it’s finished, but in a weird way a little strange too because that’s how we’ve always known it – as a work in progress.
I love this! We visited when our son was just a baby but I think the kids would love seeing his work now that they’re older. And now that Segrada Familia is finally done 😛
It’s still under construction! They say it should be ready by 2026 – will be a very exciting time in Barcelona’s history!
I’ve visited Barcelona once, but without the kids. Would love to go back with them and show them all the Gaudi architecture. #citytripping
Taking the kids is a great excuse to return to Barcelona!
I went to Barcelona many, many years ago and didn’t go to Sagrada Familia. I know! We’ve been to Spain with our kids and I think they’d love Gaudi’s work. I didn’t know there was so much of it in Barcelona. #fearlessfamtrav
The Sagrada Familia is still under construction so maybe you will see it when it’s finished! So much to see with kids in Barcelona, we just loved it. Thanks for the comment!
love your photos… this made me want to go back! me and my OH went to Barcelona about 4 years ago, actually more like 5/6 years ago… and it was way before we had kids. I really, really loved all the gaudi stuff especially the houses, case batlo I think it was- was one of my favourites but I loved park guell too. #familytraveltips
I wish we had visited Casa Batlo..can’t do it all I suppose. Thanks for the comment!
Wow, your photos are stunning. I was aware that you could visit Gaudi works in Barcelona but didn’t realise how spectacular they were. That gingerbread house is amazing! Thanks for linking up to #familytraveltips
Thanks so much! Gaudi really is quite spectacular – looking forward to the cathedral being finished in a few years!
Beautiful photos! I love Barcelona, although I must admit I feel a bit daunted about exploring it with two young children, as in my head it always feels like a ‘grown-up’ destination. Now I look again at all the colour and magical architecture though, I expect that my two would love it too. #culturedkids
Love your photos, Barcelona is at the top of our list to visit with the children , there are so many places to explore there that I think they would love. (The planning is one of my favourite parts). The Sagrada Familia looks amazing. #culturekids
Your kids will love Barcelona! Honestly, what’s not to love. The vibe there is so mellow and inviting for kids..hope you make it there some day soon!
I visited Barcelona loads of times before having children (my Dad had a house close to the Spanish border). I haven’t taken them yet, though, and it feels as though they’re a good age now to appreciate the city. Gaudi’s such a child-friendly artist, and from what I remember, the city’s pretty easy to get around. Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful post with #CulturedKids!
You’re right – the city is so easy to get around. We walked everywhere and just gave the girls a ton of gelato to keep them going :).
Not sure how I have managed not to visit Barcelona, my husband has been for lots of stag do’s and every time he promises to take me one day. Time to remind him again! Thank you for linking up to #CulturedKids
Oh, you would love it! Makes for a great couples weekend, or with the kids. You really can’t go wrong.
I’ve visited Park Guell and Sagrada Familia. I can totally see how the former would work exceptionally well for children. I’m interested that the latter is free for kids under 10 – that’s a huge age range. Everything little helps. #citytripping
Yep – every little bit helps. Traveling gets expensive so we all like those freebies!