Barcelona, Spain :
Barcelona, Spain – The Ultimate Guide with Kids
There are a lot of fun things to do in Barcelona with kids. Don't believe me? Check out a video from our last trip:
Getting to Barcelona:
Things to do in Barcelona with Kids:
Antoni Gaudi's modernism architecture separates the Barcelona landscape from any other city in the world. The ones you will like see are the Casa Batllò, the Casa Milà (La Pedrera), Park Güell and finally, the Sagrada Familia, his life's work which till today remains incomplete. Children love looking at the Gaudi works because they are unlike any buildings they've seen before with their curved lines and inspirations from nature. Take a tour of the Casa Milà to get a glimpse of Gaudi's visionary planning from the inside. Let the kids look for the animal shapes that may have inspired Gaudi in the walls, doors, and ceilings.
The Sagrada Familia is difficult to visit with kids (see below) but is worthwhile if you don't see yourself ever coming back to Barcelona.
When done sightseeing and shopping (which could take forever), spend some time on Barcelona's beach, only about a 25 minute walk from La Rambla. You can grab a meal or a coffee, ride the cable car, get around on a funky tricycle or just chill in the water. It's one of the best things to do in Barcelona with kids.
The Barcelona zoo is a fun place for someone who couldn't care less about cathedrals and architecture (read: your toddler). With everything from lions to dolphins to wallabies, it's a good place for dad to take the baby to while mum goes out shopping. Another one of those fun things to do in Barcelona with kids.
Magic Fountain of Montjuic:
If you can keep the baby up till it gets dark (9ish in the summer), checking out the amazing spectacle at the Magic Fountains is a fun thing to do. The show lasts for about 10 minutes and runs every half an hour after dark and is mesmerizing for little children who love fountains and light and music. Note: don't stand too close or you will get sprayed!
Things to do in Barcelona with Kids: The Least and Most Child-Friendly Sights
Barcelona is full of arts and culture. After doing the rounds, here is our vote for the least and most child-friendly things to do in Barcelona with kids:
La Sagrada Familia: Barcelona's Least Child-Friendly Sight
One of Spain's most famous buildings, and a personal favorite, it pains me to designate the Sagrada Familia as the most child-unfriendly site in Barcelona. Gaudi's masterpiece remains unfinished and that's partly why it is so difficult to navigate with children.
You have to leave your pram at the information counter and pay euro 2.5 to take the lifts up to the towers, which are narrow and frankly quite dangerous if you have a child in your arms. We had Karam in his harness and my husband had the strap around his neck to prevent him from slipping. On the way down, you have the option to take the stairs but stick with the lift because the stairs are extremely narrow and windy as you get to the end.
Further, the construction work inside the church may affect sensitive children so it might be best to just visit from the outside.
The Picasso Museum: Barcelona's Most Child-Friendly Sight:
In sharp contrast to La Sagrada Familia, the Picasso Museum is downright easy with children and one of the best organized places in Spain! A separate entrance for babies and seniors so you get to skip the endless summer lines, clean and well-appointed change rooms, free lockers so you can unload some of your burden and a cute little cafe for post-viewing discussion. An attendant will take you up in an elevator to the permanent collection which you can easily navigate with a stroller. The bookshop is packed but there is a great section at the back for children offering books, art kits and souvenirs.
Not to mention of course that it contains some of the best known collections of the artist's works including a superb analysis of his take on Velazquez's La Meninas (but no spoilers here!).
A wonderfully easy cultural experience. When you are done, hang out in El Born for a coffee, drink or some shopping. Definitely one of our favorite things to do in Barcelona with kids!
Where to Stay with Kids in Barcelona:
The main central area of Barcelona is around La Ramblas and Plaça Catalunya, where the old city and the new parts of Barcelona meet. Here you will find all major hotel chains and some boutique ones as well.
Our favorite part to stay in is El Born, about a fifteen minute walk from Plaça Catalunya.
There are not many criteria that Barcelona's El Born district does not meet:
Close to tourist attractions? Check! A short walk from La Rambla, La Catedral and the beach.
Restaurants and cafes? Check! Some of Barcelona's best and chicest.
Shopping? Check! You'll do better than Spanish staples Zara and Desigual here.
El born is home to exclusive boutiques and stores, showcasing both Spanish and international designers for kids and adults.
The unassuming cobblestone locations and understated but confident atmosphere of these stores show that only those in the know go here. Mouth-watering bakeries showing the best of Catalan confectionery such as Brunells and Hofmann and the Picasso Museum are more reasons to stay in El Born, if you weren't already convinced. Finally, check out this chain of tapas restaurants, Lonja de Tapas, with a couple of locations in El Born, great varied tapas menu and the only restaurant I found with a high chair!
Little grocery shops at every corner and one larger supermarket will fulfill all your grocery and convenience needs.
El Born was the best place to experience the real Barcelona, away from but close to the crowds!
Spain - General Travel Tips:
1. Food/groceries: Minimarts all over the country sell basics like cheese, cereals, pastas and supplies like toilet paper. For diapers and other productsits best to hit up Carrefours or other larger supermarkets. Finally, Farmacias which are a dime a dozen sell extensive ranges of baby toiletries by Mustela and other brands.
2. Cobblestone: Expect to find much of your walking done on cobblestone streets, even in the big cities. Therefore expect wear and tear on your pram and for heaven's sake don't wear heals!
3. Transportation: Taxis are reasonable and trains are easy to use. Buses less so.
4. Weather in summer: Check the weather because summer temperatures can go into the 40s c (over 100 f) and there is no bigger downer than sunstruck baby.
5. High chairs/kids menus tough to find: I find tapas a hard cuisine to make baby- friendly. Karam ended up eating Spanish omelets and bread for the length of his trip. Similarly, restaurants are small and not very pram- friendly and very few have high chairs. That being said, children are very welcome in most places, even late into the night as the Spanish don't really dine till after dinner.
6. Taxis are easy to hail on the street and are pretty reasonable. They won't have car seats so carry your own if you really want one.
7. Inter-city train: if you are traveling between cities, consider taking the train. It may not be cheaper but it's a heck of a lot more convenient. We took the train one way from Madrid to Barcelona and it was one of the best travel experiences I have ever had. First off all travel times are not unreasonable if you factor in having to get to the airport early etc. Secondly the train in Spain is clean and well maintained, showing a movie, and equipped with a bar/cafe and the largest change table I have ever seen. Thirdly, there is space to run around and the baby doesn't have to be strapped in, which is a relief with a baby as active as Karam who throws a fit at every take-off and landing. Finally, most train stations are in the city and therefore shave hours off your commute time. Plus trains are not delayed as often as flights. It's one of the best things to do in Barcelona with kids!
8. Shopping: check out the trendy kid sections at Spanish staples Zara and Desigual as well as the boutiques in El Born.
Useful Words in Spanish:
* doctor - el medico
* bathroom - el baño
* taxi - taxi
* emergency - la emergencia
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