Summer is the perfect time to visit sunny Spain and take advantage of the country's kid-friendly outdoor activities. This 10-day adventure is all about family time outside, with visits to Barcelona's colorful and quirky Park Güell, food adventures in Madrid with kid-approved grub, beach days on the Costa Brava, and catamaran cruises, and more.

Highlights

  • Explore Madrid through your tastebuds with a kid-friendly food adventure
  • Learn how to make marzipan in Toledo
  • Make memories at the colorful and fun Park Güell in Barcelona
  • Discover caves with a catamaran trip on the Costa Brava
  • Enjoy a beach day and coastal hikes with the family

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Madrid, Family Food Adventure Madrid
Day 2 Madrid for Kids Walking Tour, Boats in Retiro Park Madrid
Day 3 Family Day Trip to Toledo Madrid
Day 4 Travel to Barcelona, Kids & Family Gothic Quarter Tour Barcelona
Day 5 Visit Park Güell & Sagrada Família, Free Afternoon Barcelona
Day 6 Self-Guided Visit to Barcelona's Markets Barcelona
Day 7 Barcelona to Costa Brava, Beaches & Hiking Day Costa Brava
Day 8 Boat Excursion to Gispert Cave, Beaches of Costa Brava Costa Brava
Day 9 Costa Brava Free Day Costa Brava
Day 10 Depart Spain  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Madrid, Family Food Adventure

Traditional Tapas in Madrid

Welcome to Spain! Upon arrival in Madrid, a private driver will take you to your hotel, where you can settle in before exploring the city through your tastebuds.

Madrid is a city made for families; from playground-filled plazas to kid-friendly markets, discover the magic of Madrid through its food, people, and history! Your local guide can tailor this private food adventure to you and your family's ages, interests, and favorite types of food. Some popular highlights that many families love to include are meeting the friendly fishmongers at the local market, peeking into the kitchen of a century-old churro bakery, and enjoying a proper tapear (tapas walk through a specific neighborhood).

Along the way, you'll try plenty of kid-friendly bites (and some food adventures), enjoy a few playground breaks, and partake in interactive activities to keep everyone engaged and having fun.

Day 2: Madrid for Kids Walking Tour, Boats in Retiro Park

Enjoy rowing boats with your family at Retiro Park 

Today is all about enjoying Madrid from a kids' perspective, so get ready for games, wonder-filled stories, and even a little practice with the Spanish language. While exploring, you'll make stops for two kid-approved snacks: Spanish-style ham sandwiches and churros dipped in chocolate. Along the way, you'll pass Madrid's main sights: the Royal Palace, Plaza de la Villa, San Miguel Market, Plaza Mayor, and the Puerta del Sol. Your entertaining and energetic guide will keep the kids engaged throughout the walk with intriguing stories of Spanish history—think explorers, kings and queens, princes and princesses, artists, and more.

You'll make your first stop at a family-owned jamón shop to taste Spain's prized Iberian ham and other cured meats, plus learn how to make bocadillos (traditional Spanish sandwiches). Toward the end of the route, you'll make your second food stop at one of the city's most famous spots for piping hot churros and chocolate. When it's time to say goodbye, your children will leave with a new understanding of Madrid—a memory they'll remember for years to come!

After this adventure, you'll have a free afternoon to explore Madrid on your own. One idea is to explore Retiro Park, initially created as a retreat for the Royal Family and opened to the public in the late 1700s. Since 2021, the park and the Paseo del Prado have been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. While there, you can hire a rowboat and paddle around the park's lake, enjoy a family bike ride, visit the tiny house known as Casita del Pescador, and check out the Crystal Palace, a structure made almost entirely of glass with free art exhibitions.

Day 3: Family Day Trip to Toledo

Toledo, Spain
Ride the zipline over the medieval town of Toledo

A half-hour train ride south of Madrid lies Toledo, a historic city once Spain's capital in the 16th century. It enjoys a scenic location atop a gorge overlooking the Río Tajo, an impressive sight for even the youngest travelers.

In the Middle Ages, Toledo was the "city of the three cultures," a place where—legend has it—Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities peacefully coexisted. You can see remnants of this in the old Arab, Muslim, and Christian monuments that still stand. These include the 15th-century Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, the former Roman palace known as the Alcázar de Toledo, and the Moorish Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca, which dates to the 12th century.

Enjoy visiting these historic landmarks and more in this incredible city that many describe as an open-air museum—perfect for curious kids—and listening to exciting stories and tales of Toledo's history. Then, take your pick of kid-friendly activities. You could become a wordsmith for the day and visit a foundry where ancient blacksmiths forged unique weapons. For a bit of adventure, opt for a zipline excursion over the Tagus River. And if you have a sweet tooth, visit a cigarral, a manor estate, to learn how to make the city's famed (and perfectly sweet) marzipan.

Day 4: Travel to Barcelona, Kids & Family Gothic Quarter Tour

The incredible fountains of Barcelona

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast with your family, then make your way to the train station in Madrid with your prebooked tickets for Barcelona. Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel and settle in a bit before heading out on your first adventure in the city!

With the help of an expert guide, you'll explore Barcelona's famed and beloved Gothic Quarter, stopping into traditional shops and tasting local treats—a perfect excursion for kids. This walking tour includes Barcelona's oldest shop, but you'll have to guess what they sell! Have fun with other activities, such as a word search to find the Roman name of the city, marveling at the old fortified wall standing since the 3rd century, and using an activity book to solve the mystery of an ancient temple.

This kid-centric tour reveals legends of patron saints, tales of past presidents, and the stories behind the flags of the city. You'll visit a hidden cultural gem where giants and beasts come alive, discovering the roles they play during Barcelona's festivals. Lastly, it's time to put on your crowns and use your imagination to become royals and reenact the stories that helped shape the city. End the tour with a tasty snack of churros con chocolate.

Day 5: Visit Park Güell & Sagrada Família, Free Afternoon

Barcelona's Sagrada Família Basilica

After breakfast at the hotel, you'll meet a local guide who'll whisk you and your crew away in a chauffeured vehicle for a fun half-day tour of two of the most impressive works by the legendary Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí. First, visit the colorful and whimsical Park Güell. Located atop Carmel Hill, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a fine example of Gaudí's boundary-pushing modernist style. The park covers 42 acres, and your kids will love to marvel at every unique building as you stroll the walkways and gardens, including the colorful bench and gingerbread houses at the pavilions and the dragon staircase. 

Next is Sagrada Família, the iconic Roman Catholic basilica that's an impressive mix of Gothic, Catalan-modernism, and Art Nouveau architectural styles. Your guide will reveal insight into Sagrada Família's fascinating history, and you'll glean even more info as you explore the interior. Watch your kids' eyes light up as they witness the sky-high ceiling meant to look like a forest as colorful light streams in from the stained glass windows.

After your tour, enjoy the afternoon exploring the city at your own pace. You can visit Ciutadella Park. Open since 1881, this green lung of Barcelona includes 70 acres and features sculptures, lakes, gardens, playgrounds, and the Barcelona Zoo. You could easily spend the remainder of the afternoon here and not run out of things to do!

Day 6: Self-Guided Visit to Barcelona's Markets

Fresh produce at the Boqueria Market

No visit to any city or region in Spain is complete without sampling the local culinary customs. A stop at a market is the perfect way to accomplish this—and an exciting experience for kids!

Food lovers of all ages can participate in the local culinary culture with a visit to an authentic Barcelona food market, the most famous being La Boqueria. Enjoy sampling gastronomic tapas at five stops, including a wonderful dessert that promises to leave you with a lasting memory. Filled with life and color, these Catalan markets supply homes and restaurants with seasonal and fresh produce that forms the foundation of their cuisine. The same families often manage the different food stands over generations and generations, and these people are genuine experts and a source of knowledge for shoppers.

Those who sell their beloved goods at the market love introducing young travelers to unique bites and will happily share stories about their creations. Enjoy tasty treats like fresh fruit, smoothies and juices, bocadilla sandwiches, empanadas, cured meats and cheeses, pastries, and more.

Day 7: Travel to the Costa Brava, Beaches & Hiking Day

Help the kids collect precious treasures from along the Costa Brava

Today starts your family adventure along the stunning Costa Brava! After picking up your rental car, make your way from Barcelona to your accommodation. No road trip is complete without some fun stopping points, so plan on exploring the area's famed beaches and coastal walks.

The Costa Brava is home to many stretches of fluffy sand, historic villages, and medieval inland towns. Depending on where you're staying and how long you wish to drive, we recommend stopping in Pals, Begur, Peratellada, or Calella de Palafrugell. These charming hamlets offer hilltop castles, quaint historical centers, white-sand beaches, walking routes along the coast, and delicious food—all things kids love.

Another popular stopping point is Girona, a city offering a fusion of ancient cultures, including Roman, Greek, Moorish, Medieval, and Gothic. Wander the walled Old Quarter and visit sites like the Gothic Cathedral and the Roman remains of the Força Vella Fortress. If you prefer a more active detour, enjoy a coastal hike to get a natural feel for the area and its scenery, especially along the rugged GR 92 route, which hugs the shoreline and is best for older kids. Then cool off by visiting one of the many beaches, with everything from extensive stretches of golden sand to hidden rocky coves and isolated beaches you can only reach on foot.

Day 8: Boat Excursion to Gispert Cave, Beach Afternoon in Costa Brava

One of many beaches near Begur

Though you might picture the south of Spain when thinking about the country's beach scene, Costa Brava is one of the most beautiful regions, with endless stretches of sand—perfect for a beach day with the family. With about 100 miles (160 km) of shoreline along Catalonia's coast—stretching from Tossa del Mar north of Barcelona to Port Bou on the French border—you have plenty of choices regarding beaches and beach towns.

Perhaps you already visited a few hotspots yesterday, but if not, head to Calella de Palafrugell, Begur, or l'Estartit, though there really is no shortage of sandy options. You'll find plenty of other famous beaches and hidden coves along the coast, including in national parks and those requiring a little hike. You can also try paddleboarding, kayaking, or snorkeling, with popular areas being Cadaqués, Port Lligat, and Illes Medes.

All the beaches we recommend work for any traveler, though some are better suited for families or those who prefer services like equipment rentals, activities, eateries, and restrooms. Upon booking, we'll provide you with all the practical information you need, plus personalized insider tips on enjoying your time.

Day 9: Costa Brava Free Day

Visit the Dalí Theatre Museum in Figueres

Today you'll have a full day to explore the Costa Brava any way you'd like! Even if you've already spent time on the coast, there's plenty more to see. You can create your itinerary or sign up for various guided excursions and/or activities. Kids love exploring the medieval town of Besalú, the beautiful hilltop town of Begur with its castle, and the artsy white-washed town of Cadaqués. Also worth considering are the coastal villages of Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc, where you can swim at the beach, stop for lunch in a beachside bar, and take in the views of the quaint ports and quintessentially Spanish squares. 

If you need a break from the beach (is that possible for kids?!), visit the town of Figueres to learn about the city's history and get an intimate look at Dali's Theatre Museum. This is an easy and entertaining way to understand his art through small details and anecdotes that bring to life one of the world's most fascinating and eclectic museums, perfect for energetic kids.

Day 10: Depart Spain

Farewell, Spain!

When ready, check out of your hotel in Costa Brava and head to Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN). It's time to say farewell to Spain! Safe travels!

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Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Spain? Check out these other Spain itineraries, explore different ways to spend a family-friendly trip in Spain, or discover the best time to visit Spain.

Map

Map of Family Summer Vacation in Spain: Madrid, Barcelona & the Costa Brava - 10 Days
Map of Family Summer Vacation in Spain: Madrid, Barcelona & the Costa Brava - 10 Days