Family activities in Barcelona
January 23, 2017 9:55 AM   Subscribe

We're off to Barcelona for 5 days in August. What are some family-friendly (2 adults, a 5y/o, and a 1y/o) activities to do or places to visit?

Are these worth visiting?
Barcelona Aquarium
The beach (any areas particularly good or bad?)
Sagrada Familia

Anything else that the kids would enjoy/be welcome at? Museums? Parks with cool playgrounds? Fountains they can splash in?

We won't have a car but will go outside the city if there's a convenient train station near the destination. Otherwise we'll be getting around by metro, bus, or possibly cargo bike (a nice route/destination for a day out cycling would be sweet).

Recommendations for family-friendly places to eat (as in they won't mind the kids/a pushchair, not that they need to serve chicken nuggets and chips) also gratefully received! I am ready to eat All The Tapas.
posted by EndsOfInvention to Travel & Transportation around Barcelona, Spain (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Forgot to say, we'll be staying just inland from the Gothic Quarter, if that's relevant.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:56 AM on January 23, 2017


The Parc Güell is great fun. (And if you haven't looked at the guidebooks, some more ideas here and here.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:26 AM on January 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


Barcelona's permanent open-air markets are amazing. Lots of things to look at and taste.

You could try Boqueria or Sant Antoni, which is about a half-hour walk past Las Ramblas (where you'll probably be exploring anyway).
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:31 AM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


I've never seen a city with so many playgrounds as Barcelona so you should be in good shape!

The Sagrada Familia is cool and a five-year-old might get a kick out of it. But try to go at a time when it's likely to be less busy, or you may be in line for quite some time.

Parc de la Ciutadella is a really nice park--nothing so spectacular as Parc Guell but it's free and you'll be able to walk from your location. There's a zoo there but we didn't go.

If you do head over to Sant Antoni, I'd recommend eating at the bar/restaurant at the old Moritz brewery; we went there with a pushchair and there's loads of space.
posted by EtTuHealy at 12:04 PM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


The zoo seems expensive and kind of depressing to me. The playgrounds are wonderful and line the streets. Granja Petitbo (not too far from you) is fabulously hip and the food is delicious, esp. for brunch -- not exactly pro-kid, but not anti-kid either. Your kids will love the markets too! It is just a fabulous city, and one of the most child-friendly places I've ever visited.

Just saw you are going in August. Wowie, it will be hot! So add the beach to your list. Note that a lot of kids will be covered up; our kids were in shorts and t-shirts and all the Spanish kids were wearing leggings and long sleeved shirts to protect from the heat, and we had to scramble to do the same.
posted by caoimhe at 12:36 PM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Of all the Gaudi stuff in Barcelona, I enjoyed Casa Batllo the most, and I could imagine some 5 year olds getting a kick out of it, too (at least if the visit is kept short and sweet). It's a real life fairy-tale house.

If it's unbearably hot, the higher altitudes up the mountain of Montserrat (1h by train + cable car) may offer relief. It's supposed to be quite tranquil and beautiful. I haven't been there (our plans got cancelled), but it's on my list for the next time.
posted by sively at 2:32 PM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Buy tickets ahead of time if you want to do Sagrada Familia. It'll save you a LOT of time.

August is going to be crowded. The main beach off Las Ramblas is going to be ridiculous. I would take the train a couple stops north for a slightly more manageable experience.

If you want to visit a smaller quaint town outside of the city, you can take the intercity train(FGC) to Sant Cugat. It's about 30 min on the train and takes you right to the town (make sure to get tickets for 2 zones). It's the "suburb" of Barcelona, full of families and children, but the town is old and beautiful. There's a well known monastery at the town square where families hang out after work. There's also a nice trail into the woods if you're into that kind of thing.
posted by monologish at 3:44 PM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


August is packed, but this is a worthy day trip:

- Go early to the port, have breakfast by the sea.
- Take the Cable Car (Teleférico) to Tibidabo.
- In Tibidabo, you can visit the amusement park. It used to be more State Fair than Seven Flags, but now there's a modern roller coaster there too. For small kids, there are old-style carousels and choo-choo trains, and a small water roller coaster with a cascade that I think is great for the 5yo. The ferris wheel has a fantastic view of Barcelona.
- While at the park, make sure you also visit the Museu dels Autòmats!
- The Camí del Cel (Heavens' Walk) is a sub-park that doesn't have the big-ticket rides, but is mostly for families. I'd ask a local whether it's worth it to get full tickets or just the tickets for that. I've never been there with kids myself, so I don't remember what rides are where, but the Automaton Museum is also in Camí del Cel, so you'd be covered.
- There's a picnic zone, so you can bring your own food and drinks if you want.
- For coming back, there is a bus that goes to Plaça Catalunya if you don't want to do the Cable Car ride twice.
posted by kandinski at 4:59 PM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Head down to the beach on your cargo bike, then turn left. The further you go, the quieter and nicer the beaches get.
August is going to be packed with tourists. Paradoxically, many shops will be closed as many locals head out of the city for August.
There's a small playground in Parque Ciutadella that is open every day (during the week), they have all kinds of kids toys that they bring out, plus water for the kids to jump about in, all kinds of stuff, it's a lot of fun for the kids. My 3 year old goes almost every day and loves it. Ask for "la ludoteca."
The aquarium is not huge but it's nicely kept. Avoid the zoo. It's expensive, old and depressing. Seems like every couple of months there's a new scandal about the treatment of the animals. They STILL have dolphin shows, if you can believe it.
There are little mini kids playgrounds scattered all over the city, you'll find one every couple of blocks. Always good for a half hour on the bench for you while the kids run around.
Most restaurants, except for the super high end ones, are completely fine with kids and make room for prams etc.
Kids like churros con chocolate.
posted by conifer at 12:01 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


I bet the Labrynth Park would be fun for a 5 year-old - it's not right in the centre, but is easy to get to by metro.

The cable-car goes up to Montjuic, not Tibidabo. Montjuic is a lovely place for a walk around, but no amusement park :) To get to tibidabo, you need to get 'normal' transport (bus/train/metro) to the bottom, then there's a quaint old tram to take you up the first part, and then a funicular railway the rest of the way.
posted by gregjones at 11:52 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


Final update from the OP:
Due to my other half breaking a bone last year we had to cancel the planned August trip as described above, however we just returned from a 3-day trip to Barcelona.

- Being February it was cold and wet! Not as cold and wet as the UK though, so not all bad. But we didn't get to the beach at all.

- We stayed at SB Hotel Plaza Europa. Nice hotel, good value, very good breakfast buffet (lots of pastries, cheese, and cold meats), friendly staff. Would definitely recommend it for families (staff loved the kids, clever folding beds in family rooms, gave us free drinks when we arrived too early to check in), it's a bit out of the town centre but only a 10 minute walk from a metro station. Has a rooftop pool (closed in the winter though, natch). There's a huge shopping centre opposite, although beware the Carrefour is not one that sells food like we assumed it would be.

- We got Barcelona Cards - you buy these online and collect at the airport's tourism office. The unlimited public transport was great (and included the metro to/from the airport), although we didn't really take advantage of all the free/discounted museum/etc entries. If we went again I'd get the version with just unlimited travel. The metro was very efficient and easy to navigate, with lifts at a lot of the stations, although we sometimes had to carry the pushchair up/down stairs and occasionally had trouble with the wide ticket barriers (the ones for pushchairs/wheelchairs) not working properly.

- We had dinner at Fabrica Moritz (thanks EtTuHealy) - nice combination of German and Spanish cuisines. Patatas Bravas, crispy chicken wings, ham croquettes, Fleischwurst (frankfurter sandwich) were all good. Tons of space for pushchairs, and we were there early (about 5pm) so it wasn't busy, which helped. Friendly staff. You get a tiny cute copy of the menu with the bill.

- Lunch at Bobo Pulpin (recommended on a "places to go with kids" list somewhere) was OK. A bit overpriced for how good the food was. The octopus was underwhelming for a restaurant that specialises in it. Kid friendly though.

- Dinner on the day we arrived was at Restaurante Maxi since it was a 3 minute walk from the hotel - ambience of a local pub, with friendly staff and tasty food. The "half" portions were said to be "big", and they were. Really enjoyed the mussels and prawns. Patatas Bravas here were like fries with spicy mayo, not sure if that's a local style or what, but they were still good.

- We walked halfway up Montjuic to get to the cable car (Teleférico) because we thought the funicular was closed. Turned out to be the other way round - the cable car was closed and the funicular was operating. Shit. Cue disappointment all round. Could have got a bus to the top but we walked around the very nice Jardins de Joan Brossa park instead (5 min walk from the lower cable car station). Great park for kids, very nicely kept, almost deserted (presumably due to the time of year). Look out for the musical stepping stones. Then got the funicular back down the hill - the funicular* is highly recommended over walking up the badly-maintained and dog poo-covered path up the hill btw. (*part of the metro network so included in the Barcelona Card).

- There are indeed tons of little playgrounds scattered about the city - almost too many because you're constantly having to deny kids a go on them!

- We walked around Parque Ciutadella (thanks EtTuHealy and conifer), nice but not as nice as Jardins de Joan Brossa. Seems like somewhere that would be rammed in the summer. Found the playground with "la ludoteca" and had almost exclusive use of the toys to dig in the muddy sand since the weather was chilly and not many families were out.

- Spent most of a day at CosmoCaxia (science museum) while it rained outside. Some great stuff, mostly about evolution/biology with descriptions in Spanish and English (and Catalan), kids loved it - lots of stuff for them to press/touch. There's an enclosed rainforest area with tons of fish. Had lunch in the "restaurant" on site, we accidentally got there right as the restaurant opened (1pm) and got a seat - 30 minutes later there was a queue, so get there early! Food (buffet) was fine for what it was and included desert. There's also a cafe with sandwiches. There're exhibits like a planetarium which required pre-booking which we missed, but if you booked that stuff you could easily spend a whole day there.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 4:57 AM on February 15, 2018


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