I’ve always dreamed of travelling to Spain, and recently spent a wonderful week in Barcelona with Alec and the Cheese. Spain is crazy cheap right now, making it an affordable holiday option.
Bring a stroller
Cheese used her stroller so infrequently in Sydney that we gave it away. We bought a cheap stroller on our 2nd day after we’d walked between 10 and 15 kms and carried our jet lagged, exhausted kid for much of it.
Barcelona is really spread out. We stayed at Hotel Barcelona Catedral and were very happy with the location (right near the gothic cathedral, restaurants and Gaudi sites) as well as the quality of the actual hotel. It also had a pool on the roof which we used a few times when we were taking a break from site seeing in the afternoons.
Barcelona and kids
Kids are tolerated in Barcelona. Not welcomed, exactly, and certainly very little to cater for them, but you’ll be able to to take kids basically everywhere with you. Lots of metro stations have elevators, making stroller-access easy. If you’re checking out some of the Gaudi houses or Park Guell, you’ll find that there is nowhere to park your stroller. There are very few playgrounds for kids, and the ones we found were for toddlers. There are very little in the way of attractions for kids, too, unless you want to go to the beach, aquarium or zoo. All of the “adult” attractions are do-abe with kids (and usually free for little kids as well), which was our focus for the trip.
What to eat and drink
While the water is drinkable, it tastes a bit off. We bought bottled water at nearby supermarkets. We enjoyed trying local food like tapas, paella and sangria. Pretty much every single restaurant and cafe we stopped by was delicious and offered a wide variety of food, so even the picky child could find something to eat. We particularly enjoyed a bakery called Escriba that had delicious tarts, macarons and chocolate as well as savoury food like quiche. Food in Barcelona is very cheap – you can get coffee and a croissant for €2.
The Metro system is very fast and easy to use. The cheapest way is to buy a T10 ticket, which gives you 10 single fares at a discounted price. Be prepared for few elevators by bringing an umbrella stroller or baby carrier.
Where to go:
This was our favourite place in Barcelona – a Roman Catholic church designed by Antoni Gaudi. It was magical beyond belief.
Tip: Familia is on everyone’s Barcelona bucket list, so buy your tickets online to avoid the queue. If you’re waiting around with kids, there is a playground in the park across the road. Read more about our experience here.
Parc de la Ciutadella
A 16 hectare park on the northeastern edge of Ciutat Vella, it features a giant mammoth, boating lake with a waterfall, band stand, a massive fountain, playgrounds, and the Barcelona Zoo.
Literally hours of entertainment (particularly running up and down those stairs), but nowhere to eat – so BYO picnic lunch.
This breathtaking monastery perched on a mountain top is a day trip from Barcelona. An hour by train followed by a cable car (or rack railway) up the mountain, the whole experience is very accessible for families and strollers. Up the top, there are mountain walks for the more adventurous, two short funicular rides up and down areas of the mountain to various lookouts, a museum (better suited to older kids) featuring works by Caravaggio and Picasso, and the 1000 year old basilica, which is suitable for everyone.
The Montserrat Boys’ Choir sings daily in the basilica at 1pm – while the choral voices are magnificent it gets very crowded and the organ is extremely loud and a bit jarring. It’s a bit much for little kids with sensitive ears. Pack your own lunch and snacks, or dine in the cafeteria and restaurant on the mountain. The cafeteria is reasonably priced and has basic food. Getting there by train is easy and fast – just use this guide to make sure you board the right train on the right platform. Read more about our experience here.
A masterpiece by Antoni Gaudi, it’s a short train ride and steep uphill walk that is worth the effort. Park Güell has 2 different areas: the Monumental Zone, which requires the purchase of a ticket, and the free access area which is open to all visitors at no charge.
The monument zone is spectacular, full of stairs, twisting buildings and tiled masterpieces, surrounded by floral gardens. Plenty to entertain kids even if all they enjoy doing is running in and out of columns. Read more about our experience here.
A gothic cathedral with a soaring ceiling, the cathedral is best visited early in the morning to avoid queues (also, it’s free to visit in the morning).
Walk through to the cloisters to meet the cathedral’s pet ducks.
A famous Gaudi masterpiece in the centre of Barcelona. Cheese enjoyed climbing the many stairs and looking for the dragon whose tail pokes over the top of the roof. She also stole my virtual reality video guide and entertained herself with it while we marveled at the modernist masterpiece.
Casa Batllo caters best to older kids, but is suitable for all ages. Read more about our experience here.
Take the Montjuic Cable Car up the top of the hill to Montjuïc Castle, an old military fortress, with roots dating back from 1640. The view is spectacular and kids can freely run around in the wide spaces.
Walk back down the hill through the gardens of Parc De Montjuic. Just down the hill from the castle entrance is a children’s playground featuring two steep slides that were too dangerous for our preschooler, but no doubt would thrill older kids. Read more about our experience here.
Magic Fountain of Montjuic
The “magic fountain” lights up and plays music at night. It was on too late for us with a preschooler, so we visited during the day instead.