- Experience Gaudí monuments, mountaintop theme parks, and tapas in Barcelona
- Discover the dazzling City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia
- Explore Madrid's history and royal legacy on a family walking tour
- Admire Zorro-worthy steelwork in Toledo
|Day 1||Arrive in Barcelona||Barcelona|
|Day 2||Visit Park Güell & Sagrada Família||Barcelona|
|Day 3||Family Tour of the Gothic Quarter, Mount Tibidabo & Theme Park||Barcelona|
|Day 4||Train to Valencia, Family Walking Tour||Valencia|
|Day 5||Explore Valencia with the Kids||Valencia|
|Day 6||Train to Madrid, Free Afternoon||Madrid|
|Day 7||Family Tour of Madrid's Royal Legacy||Madrid|
|Day 8||Family Day Trip to Toledo||Madrid|
|Day 9||Depart Madrid|
Day 1: Arrive in Barcelona
Welcome to Spain! Upon arrival at Barcelona's El Prat Airport, a private driver will transfer you and your family into the city. Settle in, and when you're ready, head out with the kids to explore. For a fabulous view of the area, take the Montjuïc Cable Car from the metro station near Olympic Park to the summit of Montjuïc—a 1,988-foot (606 m) high hill with a 17th-century castle at the top. It's a fun ride for the little ones, and the castle is a great place for a post-flight stretch of the legs, with plenty of features and history to capture the kids' imaginations.
Grab a bite to eat and immerse yourselves in Spanish heritage with a visit to Poble Espanyol, an open-air museum featuring over 100 recreated buildings in the style of traditional Spanish villages. Wander the craft stalls, and if you and the kids are art enthusiasts, don't miss the Picasso drawings and ceramics at the site's modern-art museum. In the evening, dine at one of the city's many family-friendly restaurants and cap your first night with a trip to the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc, named for the dazzling display of water and colored lights that occur after dark.
Day 2: Visit Park Güell & Sagrada Família
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before meeting your guide for a captivating half-day tour of works by the famous architect and master of Catalan Modernism, Antonio Gaudí. First up is the whimsical UNESCO-listed Park Güell, perched atop Carmel Hill in north Barcelona. The little ones can run freely in the lush surroundings while you stroll the walkways and gardens and marvel at the famous mosaic dragon staircase. Stop to admire the park's incredible views over the city, and don't miss the fairy-tale gingerbread-style houses, sure to be a hit with the kids.
Next up is the city's famous Sagrada Família. Explore the interior while your guide reveals insights into the cathedral's fascinating history and impressive mix of Gothic, Catalan Modernism, and Art Nouveau architectural styles. Even the weariest kids will be captivated by the sky-high ceiling and towering columns resembling an enchanted forest as the sunlight streams through the colorful stained-glass windows.
Part ways with your guide and the rest of the afternoon is yours to explore as you wish. Enjoy a long leisurely lunch at one of the neighborhood restaurants, or take a picnic at Ciutadella Park—the city's green lung that features sculptures, lakes, playgrounds, and the Barcelona Zoo. If the sun is out, head to Barceloneta Beach for a family swim and make memories playing with the kids on the sand and enjoying a sundowner at one of the beachfront cafés.
Day 3: Family Tour of the Gothic Quarter, Mount Tibidabo & Theme Park
After breakfast, meet your guide and head out to explore the city's famous Gothic Quarter and trendy El Born neighborhood with a fun, family-friendly tour designed to captivate the little ones. Stroll the narrow cobbled streets and soak up the rich history as you pass the ancient Roman Temple of Augustus, wander the grand palm-tree-lined Plaça Reial (Royal Plaza), the vibrant Plaça del Rei, and sample delicious churros con chocolate.
Kids will have a blast as they take part in a "dragon hunt," learn about Spanish legends and see the enormous papier-mâché figures and animals at the Casa dels Entremesos (Museum of Giants) used in local festivals throughout the year. Part ways with your guide and enjoy lunch and a cool drink at a nearby restaurant while the youngsters practice a few of their freshly-acquired Spanish phrases.
In the afternoon, you and the kids will head to the mountains in the city's north. The journey up to the 1,680-foot (512 m) peak of Mount Tibidabo is half the fun as you and the kids board a funicular elevator and ascend to the best vantage point in Barcelona. It's a great opportunity for a family selfie as you admire the views and stroll to the grand Temple of the Sacred Heart Basilica before making the kids' day with a trip to the adjacent theme park and Ferris wheel. As the sun sets, head to the famous Carrer De Blai street, also known as the "tapas route," for a traditional Spanish evening meal.
Day 4: Train to Valencia, Family Walking Tour
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Bid farewell to Barcelona this morning as you pack snacks, rally the kids and hop on a train bound for Valencia. Relax on the three-hour journey down the coast and check in at your hotel before meeting your guide for a family tour of the city. Stretch your legs after the trip and stroll the town's historic center, where you'll visit the major highlights, including the Plaza Del Ayuntamiento (the Baroque City Hall), the historic Mercado Central, and the 15th-century Gothic fortress of Llotja de la Seda.
Break for refreshments and enjoy an agua de Valencia, a fruity citrus cocktail, while the kids try the local horchata (a sweet and creamy refreshing drink made with tiger nuts). End your tour with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Valencia Cathedral, a remarkable 13th-century Gothic basilica in the heart of the Old Town. If the kids are hungry, you'll be spoilt for choice with options. Valencia is the undisputed home of paella, and your guide will be happy to recommend some of the best local spots.
Day 5: Explore Valencia with the Kids
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast with the family and spend your last day in Valencia discovering the city's many attractions. Top of your list should be the City of Arts and Sciences, a unique leisure complex home to the interactive Prince Philip Science Museum and the world-famous L'Oceanogràfic aquarium. Stroll through the longest underwater tunnel in Europe and marvel with the kids at its various denizens of the deep, including mantas, sharks, and even beluga whales.
After lunch, stroll through the vast Turia Gardens, one of Spain's largest urban parks. It's a delightful place for kids of all ages, and the impressive Gulliver Park play area features massive structures inspired by the characters of Jonathan Swift. Little ones will love channeling their inner Lilliputian as they climb onto the park's giant reclining figure's fingers, legs, and hair! In the evening, savor the city's sights with one last stroll around the Old Town before dining out in style at one of the local restaurants.
Day 6: Train to Madrid, Free Afternoon
Get ready for the next leg of your family adventure as you and the kids catch a two-hour high-speed train to Madrid. Check in at your downtown hotel before heading out to explore. Spain's family-friendly capital is awash with playground-filled plazas and quaint streets steeped in art, culture, and history. You'll get to see the main sights on tomorrow's tour, so if you're after a gentle afternoon, visit El Parque Retiro—a relaxing oasis created as a retreat for the royal family and opened as a park to the public in the late 1700s.
For families with older kids keen to explore, the options for culture in this city are vast. Take in a show on Gran Vía, Madrid's answer to Broadway, where you'll find plenty of plays and musicals geared toward the whole family and numerous museums and art galleries. As dusk falls, sample Madrid's world-class culinary scene. From local family-friendly restaurants to the famous Botín (dating back to 1725 and listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest restaurant in the world), you'll be spoilt for choice.
Day 7: Family Tour of Madrid's Royal Legacy
Meet your knowledgeable local guide this morning and embark on a half-day tour of the city that reveals the city's regal history and iconic landmarks. Stroll to one of Spain's grandest squares, Plaza Mayor, once the central marketplace of Old Madrid and a buzzy hub for locals and tourists alike. Little ones will be enthralled with tales of the city's exciting history as stories of artists, explorers, and royalty capture their curiosity. See the statue of King Philip III and stop for a cold drink before continuing on to the San Miguel Food Market and the bustling Puerta del Sol.
Finish your tour with a visit to Madrid's Royal Palace, the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. Here little ones can discover the crowns, swords, and jewels on display as they channel their inner prince and princess while exploring the Throne Room, Royal Armoury, and Hall of the Crown. Visit the stunning Painting Gallery with works by some of Spain's most notable artists and pop next door to the nearby Sabatini Gardens, where the kids can say hello to the palace peacocks and watch the changing of the guards.
Afterward, grab some downtime back at your hotel or spend a few more hours at El Parque Retiro. If you didn't get the chance yesterday, hire a rowboat, enjoy a gentle paddle on the park's serene mirror-like lake, or visit the park's Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez, a beautiful rose garden home to over 4,000 blooms. In the evening, head to the Old Town and dine out in style as you recount the highlights of your trip.
Day 8: Family Day Trip to Toledo
This morning, you and the kids will take a half-hour train ride south of Madrid to Toledo, a historic city that served as Spain's capital in the 16th century. Described in the Middle Ages as the "city of the three cultures," legend has it that Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities peacefully coexisted, with remnants of monuments of the three faiths, found throughout the city. 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.
Explore the historic sights with your knowledgeable guide and let the cobbled streets and Toledo's towering location above the Río Tajo fire up the kids' imaginations as you make your way to a nearby foundry. Here you'll see where ancient blacksmiths forged Zorro-worthy swords, learn about the forging process, and admire the famous Toledo steelwork of the blades on display. End your day with a fun-filled marzipan workshop and tasting where you and the kids will learn how to confect this traditional Spanish treat—invented in Toledo and first made by the city's nuns.
Day 9: Depart Madrid
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 or continue your European adventure. Adios!
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