Where should we stay and what should our young family do in Barcelona next month?
April 22, 2009 6:05 AM   Subscribe

Advice please for a family-friendly holiday in Barcelona at the end of May. (Where should we stay? What should we visit?)

From what we've heard from friends, Barcelona is a lovely place to visit. We'd really appreciate some advice from The Hive Mind, however, on where to stay (nicest areas would be great, family-friendly hotels etc would be a bonus) and what we should visit while we're there.

The children are 8 and 5 and I guess a family room (or a pair of adjoining rooms) would be best, if such things exist. Even better would be breakfast included in the price, friendly staff and (highly optional but very nice) a swimming pool.

Zoos and parks and places to explore always go down well but I think they'll tolerate a limited number of museums / art galleries / beautiful historic churches (limited to erm maybe 2, I'd say!).

Thank you!

5 days / 4 nights is the plan - is that enough? Does it make much difference which days we're there? (ie are there amazing things that always happen on a particular day of the week that we MUST see?)

And we're flying from the UK, if that makes any difference. And our Spanish is currently limited to what we've learned from Dora the Explorer. (Though I think we can work on that...)
posted by monster max to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Monserrat is spectular and definitely worth the trip, making a nice change from the city. It's kid-friendly, too.
posted by dydecker at 6:10 AM on April 22, 2009

Here's a photo. The fun is in walking around on top of this mountain, and getting a bit of cool air into your lungs. BCN is pretty unbearably hot in summer.
posted by dydecker at 6:14 AM on April 22, 2009

Try picking up a few words of Catalan -- the locals will appreciate it, perhaps more than a few extra words of Spanish.

For kids, a trip up the mountain on the funicular railway to the Tibidabo amusement park will probably work well, though I seem to remember the public transport aspects were a pain.

When you're up there you can check out the TV tower designed by Sir Norman Foster of Stansted Airport and Reichstag fame.
posted by galaksit at 6:29 AM on April 22, 2009

Seconding the funicular to the amusement park!

The Boqueria (main market) on the Ramblas is wonderful fun and has cheap, insanely delicious food -- everything from shacks where you can sit down to a table of crayfish to shops selling fresh starfruit juice and butchers who can send you home with the most glorious jambon you've ever tasted. But even just looking is a fabulous adventure. (Note: shameless link to my own Flickr set).
If you continue walking to the end of the Ramblas, near the university, you'll find the bird market (sold as pets, not as meat), which I think kids might like.

If you and your spouse want to brave the crowds at the Sagrada Familia, don't miss the fairyland Art Noveau Hospital de Sant Pau a short walk away. It's as if the architects wanted to create a magical village instead of a medical campus. I think kids would love it, there's never a line to get in, and it might be something easy and rewarding for the young 'uns after contending with the hordes at the Sagrada Familia.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 6:44 AM on April 22, 2009

There's the Chocolate Museum, and the Zoo (inside a park, so win-win). Nice stretches of beach with playgrounds, and places to rent bikes. So, family fun is entirely possible.
posted by alchemist at 7:06 AM on April 22, 2009

Definitely visit Park Guell and the Sagrada Familia. Both are examples of Gaudi's amazing work and amazing enough to capture the attention of children.
posted by sulaine at 7:07 AM on April 22, 2009

Seconding Montserrat and Parc Guell. Your kids might be a bit too young to appreciate Sagrada Familia, but if you're only hitting one or two famous old churches then definitely include it. There's also a pretty awesome nighttime light show at the Magic Fountain at Montjuic.
posted by xbonesgt at 7:58 AM on April 22, 2009

Have you considered getting an apartment instead of a hotel? Last I checked (admittedly a few years ago) it was about the same price, but saved us money in other ways since we had a kitchen and a washing machine. No breakfast and no cleaning service included, of course, but you can bring your dinner leftovers home for lunch, and you can cook dinner at home too, including salads -- we longed for fresh veggies after a few days. You may have to find a pool elsewhere, or go to the beach.

The place we stayed was in the Gothic quarter, near two subway stations, La Barceloneta (the beach area), the Parc de la Ciutadella, the Picasso museum, and a lovely internet cafe. A bunch of stuff is within a 20-minute walk, including Las Ramblas and La Boqueria, the plaza that has La Seu cathedral in it, and such. I recommend the Gothic quarter regardless of where you stay.

I will mefimail you the exact apartment -- I don't want to give it away to everyone! It had a bathroom and a half, and a kids' room with two twin beds.
posted by librarina at 8:56 AM on April 22, 2009

Tibidabo -they'll love it and the views are fantastic!

The traditional dance in front of the Cathedral at 12 midday on Sunday (was it 12??)
Seeing a mixture of ordinary old and young alike Catalanes do their traditional dance is really special.
posted by Wilder at 9:42 AM on April 22, 2009

Response by poster: Wow, thank you for all of this. (Hmm sounds like we need to go for a month to fit all this in!) What excellent suggestions! You're all stars!
posted by monster max at 12:49 PM on May 13, 2009

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