Spain is one of the most diverse European countries, both culturally and geographically. Each region has its own identity and language, and throughout the country you’ll find whitewashed villages, bustling cities, beach and mountain towns, and everything in between. And Spanish people love children, so it is natural to feel that Spain for kids is a dream combination for your next family vacation.
We recommend trying these amazing kid-friendly experiences to add something special to your trip. Our Ciao Bambino Family Vacation Advisor team can arrange private tours, classes, interactive experiences and more described in all of the destinations below — contact us for help!
Many people don’t realize northern Spain has amazing beaches. From Bilbao all the way west to the Atlantic Ocean, there are some prime surfing spots along the Bay of Biscay. Grab the kids and head to the Asturias region, where you’ll find some of the top beaches along the coast. Playa Espasa in Caravia has a wide, flat shore that’s perfect for play and a surfing school where kids can learn all about riding the waves.
Consider pre-booking a tour to Gibraltar, located on the southern tip of Spain, to explore the famous rock and meet its mischievous Barbary monkeys up close. Otherwise, it is possible to find a taxi at the border and arrange a tour of the city and the rock. Gibraltar also has a Moorish castle, St. Michael’s cave for exploring, Great Siege tunnels from the 18th century and a cable car that offers spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea. If you’ve got more time, you can even cross the Strait of Gibraltar and get an introduction to the culture of North Africa in Tangier.
Madrid is known for its landmark museums (the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza, Reina Sofia), but if your kids tend to get antsy amid the art, engage them with a hands-on cooking class instead. Spaniards take their kids everywhere, so you’ll have no trouble finding a kid-friendly class, as most allow children. Or sporty kids might enjoy visiting the Real Madrid stadium.
Exploring local markets is another proven kid-pleaser. Head to Mercado de San Miguel for fresh, Spain-produced fruit and vegetables plus plenty of stalls serving small plates of food (tapas). Be sure to sample jamón, olives, cheese and paella. Other markets to explore include Mercado de Antón Martín and Mercado de Maravillas. The markets can be crowded, so agree on a meeting place in case you get separated.
Visitors come from around the world to see Granada’s stunning Moorish palace, the Alhambra, and its Generalife gardens. This massive complex was built by Arab kings in the 13th century and remains a testament to their architectural ability. Kids will love discovering the palace’s nooks and crannies and hiding in the garden maze. Book a private tour to explore the Alhambra’s impressive buildings, ornate courtyards and more.
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Seville — or Sevilla, as it is known locally — is a quintessential Spanish town that charms visitors of all ages. Kids will love visiting the Royal Palace of Sevilla, the Alcazar (parents might recognize it from Game of Thrones), with its koi ponds, garden mazes and historic collections. Sevilla also is the home of flamenco, so this is the perfect spot to attend a show with your kids and introduce them to traditional Spanish music and dance.
While kids and art museums aren’t always a natural mix, the visually spectacular Guggenheim Museum Bilbao will have kids begging to go inside. The museum offers workshops and baby art times for kids if they don’t want to explore the exhibits with mom and dad. Outside, take little ones through the Art District with its giant sculptures: Mama (a huge spider), Tulips and Puppy, to name a few. Afterward, head to a restaurant to sample some of the local pintxos (pronounced peen-chos). Similar to tapas, these are Basque specialties everyone will want to try.
The city of Segovia is an easy day trip from Madrid, and Disney fans won’t want to miss one of Walt Disney’s inspirations for Cinderella’s castle: El Alcázar de Segovia. The castle dates to the 12th century and over the years it has served as a royal palace, the royal artillery and even a prison. Take a tour of the main castle, then climb the tower steps for spectacular views of the city.
It’s hard to miss Segovia’s other main attraction, the Roman aqueduct. Built in the 1st century A.D., this structure still dominates the town’s skyline. It spans 10 miles (100 feet high at its highest point) from the Frío River to Segovia, and not an ounce of mortar or cement was used in its construction. How’s that for an architectural marvel?
Ronda sits dramatically perched above the El Tajo gorge. Three bridges span the gorge, and the tallest one, Puente Nuevo, rises 390 feet above the bottom of the canyon. One of the best ways to enjoy the view is to take a hot-air balloon ride and look at everything from above.
In town is the oldest bull ring in Spain, where kids can pretend they are bullfighters and tour the adjacent Bull Fighting Museum afterward. It’s more artistic and historic than graphic, so families with young children don’t need to be alarmed.
Barcelona is a treasure trove of experiences for families, but kids will particularly love the Gaudi sights. Park Güell is a public park with creative, fantastic play spaces and enchanting decor. Admission is limited, so you’ll need to reserve ahead. At Casa Milà (La Pedrera), children can explore the Storm Trooper-esque statues on the roof and learn about Gaudi’s work space. La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s uncompleted masterpiece, is the largest Roman Catholic Church in the world, and a visit will blow kids’ minds and encourage them to get in touch with their creative side.
There aren’t many places where you can zipline in the middle of an ancient city, but in Toledo visitors can zip along the city walls and over the Tagus River. After the rush, climb the hill into this medieval town and explore the various shops and workshops, including the sword shop of Mariano Zamarano, who forges swords in the tradition of his ancestors before him.
Stop in the Museo del Greco to view the artwork of the famous artist El Greco and tour the Cathedral, Alcázar and Cristo de la Luz (stunning Moorish architecture). Toledo is a walled city, so make time for a walk along the walls for beautiful views of the city and surrounding countryside.
Spain occupies the bulk of the Iberian Peninsula, and this land offers plenty of things to fill your time when organizing a trip to Spain for kids to enjoy. But if you want to venture even further out, you can tack on time relaxing in Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, or head west toward the Balearic Islands, home of Mallorca.
Editor’s Note: Photo by Kirsten Maxwell.
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