In just one week, you can enjoy the perfect family holiday in Spain by visiting the two most iconic cities in the nation: Madrid and Barcelona. You and your family will enjoy the highlights of each and have plenty of opportunities to try Spain's world-famous (and inherently kid-friendly) cuisine and even take a day trip to the always entertaining medieval fortress city of Toledo.

Highlights

  • Discover the highlights of Barcelona on a family-focused tour
  • Enjoy amazing views and play at a hilltop amusement park
  • Be royalty for a day in Madrid and enjoy delicious kid-friendly Spanish grub
  • Learn how to make sweet marzipan in the medieval city of Toledo

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Barcelona, Self-Guided Barcelona Tour Barcelona
Day 2 Visit Park Güell & Sagrada Família Barcelona
Day 3 Family Tour of the Gothic Quarter, Ascend Mt. Tibidabo Barcelona
Day 4 Train from Barcelona to Madrid, Explore the City Madrid
Day 5 Family Tour of Madrid's Royal Legacy Madrid
Day 6 Family Day Trip to Toledo Madrid
Day 7 Depart Spain  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Barcelona, Self-Guided Barcelona Walking Tour

Welcome to Barcelona
Barcelona is a fun and energetic outdoor playground perfect for families

Welcome to Spain! Upon arrival at Barcelona's El Prat Airport, a private driver will take you and your family into the city, where you can check into your hotel and unwind. You'll then have a free afternoon to explore all the exciting sites on a self-guided tour, choosing what you and your family want to see and do the most.

For families, consider first visiting Mt. Montjuic and the surrounding area. Montjuic is a famous hill that stands 1,988 feet (606 meters) high and overlooks the Port of Barcelona. Kids love taking the Montjuic Cable Car from the metro station near Olympic Park, which takes you up to the 17th-century Castle Montjuic and offers panoramic views of the city. You can also access Montjuic via another cable car from Barcelona Beach and by a funicular elevator adjacent to the cable car. 

The Poble Espanyol is also fun to visit, especially for families. Constructed in 1929, this open-air museum features over 100 buildings in the style of traditional Spanish villages. When the sun goes down over the city, make sure you're near the Magic Fountain of Montjuic, named for the dazzling display of water and colored lights that occur after dark. It's the best free show in the city, so grab an ice cream and settle in to watch the performance!

Day 2: Visit Park Güell & Sagrada Família

The gothic-modernist marvel that is the Sagrada Familia
The gothic-modernist marvel that is the Sagrada Família

After breakfast at the hotel, you'll meet your guide, who will whisk you and your crew away in a chauffeured vehicle for a fun and entertaining half-day tour of works by the legendary Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí. First, visit the colorful and whimsical Park Güell. The park covers 42 acres, and your kids will love to marvel at every unique building as you stroll the walkways and gardens. Kid favorites tend to be the stone palm trees, the covered Laundry Room Portico, the colorful bench and gingerbread houses at the pavilions, and the dragon staircase. 

Next up is Sagrada Família, the iconic Roman Catholic basilica that's an impressive mix of Gothic, Catalan-modernism, and Art Nouveau architectural styles. Despite work on the church beginning in 1882, it's still technically under construction and was only consecrated in 2010. Upon arrival, 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.

Around lunchtime, it's time to part ways with your guide. On your own, 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 3: Family Tour of the Gothic Quarter, Ascend Mt. Tibidabo

Mt. Tibidabo, it cathedral, and theme park
Mt. Tibidabo, its cathedral, and theme park

Today you'll visit the most famous area in all of Barcelona: the medieval Gothic Quarter and its trendy El Born neighborhood. Enjoy strolling its narrow cobbled streets and discovering its highlights, but you'll do so on a two-hour tour geared toward families—that means a little extra fun "discovering" some of the most important monuments.

After meeting your guide, walk down the streets and enjoy the rich history as you pass Roman ruins, the grand Plaça Reial, and the gothic Barcelona Cathedral, which dates to the 13th century. Kids between will have a blast as they take part in a "dragon hunt," learn about Spanish legends, visit candy stores, and stop at the Casa dels Entremesos, a "museum of giants" home to costumed, paper mache figures that locals parade around the city during Corpus Christi celebrations. 

After the tour, you'll head to the mountains in the city's north. Here you'll board a funicular elevator and ascend to the peak of Mt. Tibidabo, which sits at an elevation of 1,680 feet (512 meters). Besides the great views, the whole family will love visiting the grand Temple of the Sacred Heart basilica and the adjacent theme park, which was inaugurated in 1905 and features carnival attractions, rides, and a Ferris wheel. 

Day 4: Train from Barcelona to Madrid, Explore the City

Welcome to Madrid
Welcome to Madrid! Enjoy a kid-friendly museum tour or play at a park.

After breakfast at the hotel, you'll transfer to the train station to embark on a 3.5-hour journey to the nation's capital. Upon arrival in Madrid, check into your downtown hotel and enjoy the rest of the day free to explore the city at your own pace. Tomorrow will be the grand tour of this historic metropolis, so you check out some more leisurely or personalized activities this afternoon and evening.

Perhaps you could take in a show! Gran Vía is Madrid's answer to Broadway, and on it, you'll find plenty of theaters showcasing plays and musical productions, many of which suit family outings. Past kid-friendly options have been "El Rey León" (The Lion King) and "Aladdin: The Musical." Needless to say, the options for culture in this city are vast, and you could also visit museums, art galleries, and live music venues if the mood strikes. For example, Madrid's most important museum, El Prado, provides an excellent kids' tour with a scavenger hunt.

When night falls, indulge in Madrid's world-class culinary scene. If you want to dine amid history, head to the city center and Botín, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest restaurant in the world—it first opened its doors in 1725. Kids are always excited to eat here, and adults will love it, too. 

Day 5: Family Tour of Madrid's Royal Legacy

Plaza Mayor, Madrid
The beautiful and massive Plaza Mayor in Madrid

Today you and the family will be honorary royalty and enjoy a tour of Madrid's royal legacy led by an expert local guide. One area you'll visit that's awash in regal splendor is Madrid de los Austrias, built in the 16th century during the reign of the Hapsburg Dynasty's first ruler, Charles I. It's home to one of the grandest plazas in Spain, the Plaza Mayor, which was once the heart of Old Madrid. Today, this is a kid-friendly square with street performers, street food, and lots of room to run around.

Of course, your little royals will explore the Royal Palace, which was the official home of the Spanish monarchs until 1931. You'll tour the exterior and interior of this 3,418-room monument of luxury, entering the parade grounds, the chambers of Charles III, several salons, the Royal Chapel, and the Hall of the Crown, which displays Charles I's crown, scepter, and throne.

After the tour ends, consider a visit to El Retiro Park. This 308-acre expanse of foliage is the green lung of Madrid, abounding with sculptures, fountains, and an artificial lake perfect for a family boat trip. There are also must-visit gardens here, including the Jardín de Vivaces ("Garden of Vivacious Plants"), Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez (inspired by the Andalusia region), and a garden home to over 4,000 roses (best to see these blooms from May through June). Kids love visiting the tiny house known as Casita del Pescador and exploring the Crystal Palace, a structure made almost entirely of glass with free art exhibitions.

Day 6: Family Day Trip to Toledo

Toledo's waterfront
View of the Alcázar 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 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 part in two kid-friendly activities. You'll first explore the world of Toledo steel and visit a foundry where ancient blacksmiths forged unique swords. Lastly, visit a cigarral, a manor estate, to learn how to make the city's famed (and perfectly sweet) marzipan.

Day 7: Depart Spain

Retiro Park, Spain
Goodbye, Spain!

It's time to say farewell. After a leisurely breakfast, a car will pick you up and transfer you to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. This concludes your great family Spanish adventure. Adiós!

More Great Spain Itineraries

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 Trip to Spain: Barcelona & Madrid - 7 Days
Map of Family Trip to Spain: Barcelona & Madrid - 7 Days