Barcelona is on the travel bucket list for anyone with an ounce of wanderlust. And that’s mainly down to the fact that this enchanting seaside city is bursting with culture, fabled architecture and a world-class drinking and dining scene. Sounds idyllic, right? However, this bustling city is vast, and attractions are spread out, so if you’re planning on jetting with the kids you need to be organised to avoid meltdowns from your mini-me. Follow our top tips for making the most of this vibrant metropolis, especially if you have kids in tow.
Free Day Out – Barceloneta Beach: To unwind, head to this golden sandy beach. There are plenty of things to do on the beach besides swim. Windsurfing and kite surfing are popular and you can also enjoy a refreshing drink from one of the many beach huts and restaurants. Or, if you’re in need of a rest, just lie down and soak up the warmth of the Spanish sun. In Barcelona you are never far away from interesting architecture, not even on the beach. So be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the iconic leaning monument known as Homenatge a la Barceloneta. There are also many artists who have constructed epic sandcastle along the beach, which adds to the unique atmosphere. Top Tip – Be sure to check the weather, and especially the wind levels, before heading to the beach. We experienced sunshine and high winds on the day we visited, which meant we endured the odd sand storm despite temperatures soaring to 26C.
A Must See – La Sagrada Família: A trip to Barcelona is incomplete without visiting this cathedral, so if you have time for only one sightseeing outing, this should be it. The awe-inspiring La Sagrada Família is still under construction after more than 130 years. It was designed by Barcelona’s famous architect Antonio Gaudí, who devised an impressive temple that would be 95m long and 60m wide, and able to seat 13,000 people. The gothic exterior is incredibly detailed. You can spend hours looking at it and still see something new each time. However, the cathedral comes to life from the moment you step foot inside. The cool-toned stone used to construct the landmark is flooded with an explosion of light and colours from the stain-glass windows. The design modernises classic elements found in most cathedrals and is a sight to behold. Your children will adore running around between the vibrant colours that create a dazzling display on the floor. A basic ticket costs €15, but children are free. Top Tip – This is one of Barcelona’s most popular attractions, which means massive queues. And anyone knows queuing with children, in the boiling heat, is a recipe for disaster. Be sure to avoid this hassle and buy your tickets online.
For A Fun History Lesson – Poble Espanyol: A trip to this man made Spanish village was my son’s favourite day in this city. Poble Espanyol is an open air museum, which showcases the architecture, traditions, art and the soul of the whole country. Visitors can walk around at their own pace, wandering through 117 buildings from various regions of Spain. Its creators visited 1,600 towns and villages before choosing the buildings to be represented at Poble Espanyol. Be sure to check out the Andalusian neighbourhood, and Catalan Romanesque monastic architecture, which provide a stunning background to snap a selfie or two or even three. Inside you will find shops, restaurants, workshops and shows. There is also a lovely ice-cream parlour, which also serves chocolates, jams and spreads. And that’s not all, guest can also see a glass blowing workshop and a flamenco dancing by dining at certain restaurants. This makes a great day out as it allows you to see the beauty of Spanish culture without the hordes of crowds that you would expect on the main tourist hot spots. Barcelona is known as the pick pocketing capital of Europe, so it is nice to wander inside a safe space, taking in the sights and sounds of Barcelona without fear of being robbed. According to Michael Eisner, president of Walt Disney from 1984 to 2005, Poble Espanyol inspired the Disney theme parks – which is high praise indeed. Visit Poble Espanyol by buying tickets, which range from €6.30 to €36. Top Tip – Families can become detectives and decipher puzzles to discover the secret spots of Poble Espanyol. Its costs €5.70 and the price includes the hire of a rucksack with investigating tools. My son adored using the telescope that comes in the pack to explore every nooks and cranny of the site.
How to get around – Isango Hop On Hop Off Bus : Sightseeing in this amazing city is an enjoyable experience and the best way to explore is to sit back, relax and let Isango show you the sights on their hop-on and hop-off buses. Simply jump on any of its distinctive red buses, which have 30 stops, to get your bearings around the city. It allows you to visit many of the major sights in a relatively short time, so it is great if you are only visiting for a few days. See the famous Catedral-Barri Gòtic, Barceloneta Beach, Port Olimpic, La Sagrada Familia, and Park Guell. You will be given a map and guide outlining all of the stops on each of the routes. Best of all, your tickets also give you discounts for different establishments in the city. The luxury buses are adapted for people with limited mobility and have an electric roof to use in case it rains, as well as heating on both decks. There are two routes that run from 9am to 8pm. Buses operate every 5 to 25 minutes depending on the season and each loop takes 2 hours to complete. Tickets start from £22.59 Top Tip- Free wi-fi is available on board the buses, which is great if you want to instantly post your adventures on social media. It is also a handy if you want to check the locations of where you need to go next, without incurring hefty data roaming charges.
For Culture Vultures: If your kids are seasoned museum goers then it is worth making a pit-stop at La Pedrera. If you had not figured it out yet, Barcelona is full of architectural gems designed by Antonio Gaudi, and this building is another one of his masterpieces. Discover how this was built in 1905–10 as a combined apartment and office block. Although it was formerly known as Casa Milà, after the businessman who commissioned it, it is now better known as La Pedrera, which means ‘the Quarry, because of its uneven grey stone facade, which ripples around the corner of Carrer de Provença. Inside, the Fundació Caixa Catalunya has opened the top-floor apartment, attic and roof to visitors. As soon as you walk in, you will be dazzled by an explosion of colour and shapes that dominate the entrance. It is very impressive in this day and age, so it must have been considered both shocking and dazzling during the time it was built. The tour starts with a lift taking visitors up to the roof, which is the most awe-inspiring element. You will be wowed by its giant chimney pots that look like multi-coloured medieval knights. If you’re into snapping holiday selfies, then the roof is the ideal spot to take a photo or two. Visitors then walk down a spiral staircase that takes you to the floor below the roof, where you can appreciate Gaudí’s taste for parabolic arches, and see miniatures of his buildings as well as displays on the shapes that inspired him. The next floor down is the apartment known as El Pis de la Pedrera. I really enjoyed wandering around this furnished home, which gives a unique glimpse into how a posh Spanish family may have lived in the early 20th century. My favourite room was the child’s bedroom, which featured a grand doll’s house that even boasted a chapel and chandleries. Tickets start from €15 to €59. Top Tip – For a few extra euros, you can buy a premium ticket, which means you don’t have to queue. This is worth doing if you are travelling in the height of summer.