Catalonia with kids

Traveling in Catalonia with kids


What does Responsible Travel recommend?

The mountains, city and beach are clustered together; fractious children will rarely spend more than an hour in the car, leaving them time to spend their vacation outdoors. The small towns are safe and welcoming, most of the cycling is on trails closed to cars and plenty of self-catering options allow parents to cut down costs, though kids are welcome with open arms in restaurants, even late at night. Many hotels are free for under fives, and the range of activities means that teenagers will be as happy as toddlers – you‘ll only need to expect tantrums when it comes to boarding your return flight.

Health & safety in Catalonia


Travel safely in Catalonia with kids

Health


  • EU residents can apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which gives you free emergency treatment at hospitals.
  • The EHIC doesn’t replace travel insurance, which covers non-essential treatment along with emergency repatriation and other costly procedures. Ensure you have comprehensive insurance which covers all the activities you are planning to do.
  • The cool Catalan breeze can be deceptive; be sure to use sun screen, particularly if traveling in Catalonia with kids, and carry plenty of water if hiking or cycling. Many routes do not have convenience stores or restaurants along the way, so snacks are also advised to keep you going.

Safety


Take note of the universal emergency number: 112. You can also dial 062 for the Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) for mountain rescue services and other accidents.
Most of Catalonia is incredibly safe. Parts of Barcelona, however, are less so; tourists may be targeted by pickpockets or muggers, so don’t walk alone at night, and avoid the backstreets; wide avenues turn to unsavoury alleyways very quickly in this city. Carry only the essentials, and leave your passport in your hotel. Public transport, markets, ATMs and even restaurants may be hotspots – thieves follow tourists.
Most beaches outside of the popular resort areas are unguarded, although flags are often used to indicate safety. Do not enter the water if there is a red flag, undercurrents can be extremely strong. Keep an eye out for jellyfish as well. The good news is that Catalonia has a huge number of blue flag beaches, so those in Catalonia with kids can be confident of clean water.
Tap water is safe to drink in Catalonia, so bring refillable bottles to save money and the environment.

The weather is unpredictable and varies greatly from region to region. Keep an eye on the forecast if planning to trek or climb in more mountainous regions, and remember: the extreme heat can be just as dangerous as the cold, snow or fog. Take particular care if hiking around Montserrat – and never stray from the trails into the woodland.

Call the London-based Spanish National Tourist Office for safety and weather warnings on 020 7486 8077.

Due to the increasing number of climbers and skiers who get into difficulties due to negligence, Catalonia has begun to bill those who do not take adequate precautions and require rescuing.

If heading to the mountains for skiing, consult the European Avalanche Warning Services.

It is illegal to use a mobile phone when driving in Spain, even if you pull over. Completely hands-free units are permitted.

Activities for families in Catalonia


What to do with little ones

Catalonia has a range of self-catering accommodation which is great for families who want to keep costs down, as well as allowing them to avoid the late Spanish mealtimes in local restaurants, which may be a stretch for kids who have been on the go all day. You may have a barbecue to cook on, a pool to cool off in or an olive grove to explore, and many properties are of historical interest.
Ziplining and canopy walks take children high into Catalonia’s forests. Lines are graded by age and height – starting as young as three. There are rope bridges (with harnesses!), tunnels to scramble through and rope swings – as well as archery and abseiling.
Get on the water! This is a coastal region, so make the most of the Mediterranean. Kids can try sea kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, delving around in rock pools and of course a bit of old-fashioned bucket and spading on the glorious beaches. You can also take a boat ride off Cap de Creus; keep an eye out for monk seals – and even the odd whale!

Traveling in Catalonia with kids


responsibletravel.com asks the experts

Fiona Smart, from our supplier, Mas Pelegri:

“It’s brilliant for families as you can take any child of any age to any restaurant. They’re really happy with families – it’s not like the UK! There’s lots to do for children of different ages, for toddlers up to 18 year olds. It’s a family destination in the school vacations as there are so many adventure activities and outside activities – the weather is such that you can be outdoors and enjoying the countryside – walking, cycling, mountain biking, canyoning, kayaking, rock climbing, quad biking, rope courses, ziplines,... there’s so much to do, it’s an adventure playground!”

Vivian Campbell, from our supplier Cycle Catalan, shares her tips for visiting Catalonia with kids:
 
"Cycling in Catalonia is lovely for families. The distances are quite short – 35km a day on average. You can base yourself in the village of Calonge and cycle to the beach or to the sea kayaking.... It’s nice as cycling’s becoming quite popular again, a lot of people are taking it up, so you get families that have just bought bikes and then decide to do a cycling vacation and get really enthusiastic once they’ve been, and it’s like a new thing that they’ll incorporate for life once they go home. It’s healthy but also a nice thing to do as a family. People say it’s the best family vacation they’ve ever been on!"
Photo credits: [Top box: Kevin Krejci ] [Self-catering: Christine McIntosh] [Beach time: Jordi Payà] [Canopy walkway: borshop ] [Family cycling: Ajuntament de Vilanova i la Geltrú ]
Written by Vicki Brown
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