One of Antoni Gaudi’s most well-known masterpieces in Barcelona, Casa Batlló is must-see architectural work in the centre of Barcelona.
Casa Batlló is the former residence of the Batlló family, built in 1877. Gaudi was commissioned to redesign the building between 1904 and 1906. He replaced the original facade with a completely new front of stone and glass, and had the external walls redesigned to give them a wavy shape, plastering them afterwards with lime mortar and a mosaic of fragments of coloured glass and ceramic discs.
This Gaudi masterpiece is a work of fantastical imagination. It really looks like a setting of a surrealist dream. Every room is full of magic and fantasy – a blend of colours, shapes and light. Of Gaudi’s four most popular works, Casa Batlló is the smallest, and is easily do-able with children. There is very little to break, and a lot to see.
While the house is famous for its steep staircases, it is also wheelchair and stroller accessible. The most important parts of the house can be accessed by the elevator. The rooms are tight, however, so I would advise leaving a stroller downstairs if possible.
A special feature of the Casa Batlló is the video guide that is included in the price of general admission. While the audio is certainly interesting, the most exciting part about this guide is the iPod it is connected to, which gives a virtual reality tour of the house while you are walking around. Holding up the iPod to various features in the room gives an alternative view to showcase the architect’s boundless imagination.
We had thought Cheese would be too young for this video guide, but of course it is a screen and hence she loved it. Casa Batlló is extremely welcoming to children, and has a section of their site dedicated to how kids can enjoy their visit.
When visiting Casa Batlló, tickets may be purchased in advance to save queuing up. We did this but then found there was no queue, but on busy days this could be helpful.
Casa Batlló Passeig de Gràcia, 43, 08007 Barcelona, Spain Adults 21.5 Euro, juniors (7-18) 18.5 Euro, kids 6 and under free.
The highlight of our Barcelona visit was, without a doubt, Sagrada Familia. The pinnacle of Antoni Gaudi’s architectural achievements, Sagrada Familia, is the number one thing you absolutely must see on your trip to Barcelona.
Gaudi worked on Sagrada Familia for 43 years, from 1883 until his accidental death in 1926. Gaudí was buried in the chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the crypt of the Sagrada Familia.
The Sagrada Familia is temple, built to be a symbolic expression in stone of the Christian faith. It is also a place for people of all faiths to share love, harmony and peace together.
Most notable for me about Sagrada Familia was the stunning coloured glass windows that crated rainbows of light across the room. Gaudi designed Sagrada Familia to be a celebration of light and colour. He was quoted as saying that colour was the expression of life, which is why colour is such an important part of the temple.
When visiting Sagrada Familia, book your tickets online in advance. Queues form early, with admittance limited to timed intervals. We didn’t book ours online and regretted it when we lined up for over half an hour to get our ticket, and then had to wait another hour to get in.
Lucky for us there is a park across the road from Sagrad Familia with a decent little playground in it that kept Cheese entertained while we waited to get in.
Once inside the temple, remind kids to keep voices low and to stay close by. The temple requests visitors keep from raising voices (eg shouting) and also from running.
Sagrada Familia has towers that can also be visited, but only by children aged six and over. People in wheelchairs are also not permitted up in the towers.
La Sagrada Familia Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
Adult: €15, Children under 11 are free.
Allow at least 1 hour for your visit.
Visit the towers is an extra €4,50 extra per person
A big drawcard for many (including me) with Barcelona is the amazing works of Antoni Gaudi. One of his famous works, Park Güell, makes for a fabulous short day trip out of the city.
Park Güell is a large park split into two 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.
To get to the park, catch the underground line L3 to the station Lesseps. From there it’s about 10-15 minutes by foot (follow the signs from the station). It’s all very accessible until you get to the last stretch up the hill, where an escalator or stairs are required to enter the park.
While you don’t need to get a ticket in advance to enter the monumental zone, it’s recommended that you do as visitors are limited to 400 each half hour.
Antoni Gaudí built the Park Güell as a tribute to nature. Gaudi was tasked with the project in 1890, with the park opening to the public in 1922. Along with the Sagrada Familia, this is the largest of Gaudi’s projects. In 1984, the park was included in the UNESCO list of cultural heritage.
There are several levels and areas to the park, the most famous being the blue lizard in the middle of the staircase that runs directly through the centre of Park Güell. The staircase leads to a room consisting of 86 Romanesque columns, designed to be a marketplace for the residential area. Interestingly, this was the originally purpose of the Parc Güell.
The park is a challenge for wheelchairs and strollers. I suggest taking a carrier or light umbrella stroller if you must have one. You are not permitted to leave the stroller at the entrance and several areas are only accessible by long flights of stairs.
After walking through the park you can take a short stroll (200 metres) from the main entrance easterly to the Gaudí Museum. The museum is inside Gaudi’s former resistance and was opened in 1963 as a museum.
Park Güell Tickets: 7 Euro adult, kids 6 and under free but must have a ticket.
Montjuic Castle, on top of Montjuïc hill in Barcelona, Catalonia, is an old military fortress dating back to 1640. It makes for a great day trip out of the city, offering stunning panoramic views of Barcelona, a walk through Barcelona’s historic past, and a fun cable car ride to boot.
While you can walk up and down Montjuic hill it’s much more fun to take the Teleferic de Montjuic cable car in at least one direction (I suggest up!). The trail that leads up and down the hill is smooth and wheelchair/stroller-friendly, but who really wants to push someone up a hill when you can have a scenic ride instead?
We caught the cable car straight to the top and visited Montjuic Castle (also called Castelle de Montjuic) first. I’ve learned when travelling with a small child to always go straight to the main event and then downwards in priorities as you never get to see everything you want when a small person is dictating your schedule.
A visit to the castle takes around an hour – a bit longer if you are able to check out their exhibitions. We preferred to enjoy exploring the castle grounds. The entry level is stroller/wheelchair-friendly, but if you want to see the top level of the castle access is stairs only.
The ground level has lots for kids to explore, with nooks and crannies and rocks to climb, all set against the spectacular view of Barcelona on one side, and the ocean on the other. There is a very small stall selling drinks, ice creams and snacks. Kids can freely run around in the wide spaces, but you will need to keep a close eye on little ones who might run too close to wall edges. We have thankfully passed this stage and had a wonderful time climbing over walls and scampering over rocks.
The top level of the castle has four really fun turrets at each end that were excellent for playing hide and seek in as well as admiring the view and architecture from.
After the castle visit, make your way back down the hill. The quickest way is the cable car, but we chose to walk to the next cable car stop, and discovered a children’s playground featuring two steep slides that were too dangerous for our preschooler, but no doubt would thrill older kids.
We jumped back on the cable car for the last part of the journey, but you can also continue walking down through the gardens of Parc De Montjuic.
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.
Trains leave every hour from Placa Espanya and go directly to the mountain, where you change to either the cable car (Aeri ticket version) or rack train mountain ride (Cremallera ticket version). When you buy your tickets from Placa Espanya, choose between the cable car and rack train – they are not changeable. You will need to get off the train a station earlier for the cable car. The train is easy and fast – just use this guide to make sure you board the right train on the right platform.
We chose the cable car because it looked like the most fun and it’s also a bit shorter. There is no seating on the cable car and strollers need to be folded. For larger strollers or if you will need to sit down, take the rack train instead.
Up the top, there are mountain walks for the more adventurous. Take one of two short funicular rides to see even more spectacular mountain views (a funicular is a mountain train that goes up or down steep slopes). We took the funicular down to Santa Cova cave and chapel, an important pilgrim site where an image of the Virgin Mary is believed to have been seen (an additional €3.70 return unless you buy the combined ticket).
The winding path to Santa Cova runs along the cliff face. It’s not very suitable for strollers or wheelchairs so I’d advise staying up at the monastery if you rely on either of these – or if you have a child who is likely to bolt over the edge of the cliff face, as there are no barriers around the walk.
We are thankfully past the age of bolting toddlers and managed to complete the walk without any near death experiences. The walk from the end of the funicular to the chapel is speckled with massive religious carvings that have been placed along the way, embedded into the rock face. The chapel at the end was built to blend into the rock face, and appears like a secret opening into the cliff. Please note that the chapel is considered holy and visitors are asked to be quiet.
The other funicular options is up the mountain (an additional €10.00 return unless you buy the combined ticket), which promises magnificent mountain views of Catalonia and the Montserrat mountains.
There’s plenty to see and do around the main area of the monastery too, such as a museum (better suited to older kids) featuring works by Caravaggio and Picasso, and the 1000 year old basilica.
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.
When planning your visit, pack plenty of water, particular in summer. You can take your own food or dine in the reasonably-priced cafeteria with basic food on the mountain.
Montserrat was a highlight of our Barcelona trip. It’s a spectacular site to behold, and is an easy day trip out of Barcelona, even with young children.
Montserrat Day Trip:
Train fare plus cable car/rack train: Adult Return €20.20, Child Return €15.65 (children under four are free)
Trans Montserrat Ticket €29.30
This combined ticket includes return train fare from Barcelona to Montserrat and either cable car or train track mountain train ride to the monastery, 2 return journeys on 2 different funicular rides once you are at the monastery, and 2 free metro rides with this ticket (value of €2.15 each).
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.
Montserrat 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.
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.