It’s hard not to love Barcelona. Cultural, beautiful, arty and fun. We spent two weeks in Barcelona years ago and in that time I had more ideas for art and writing projects than I’d had in the five years prior to that … or quite frankly in the ten years since then. It’s just that kind of city – you just can’t help but feel inspired, whatever your passion is. The whole Catalan region is stunning, with gorgeous coastlines, fascinating and beautiful architecture and amazing food. Don’t just limit your visit to the region to Barcelona – get out and explore further afield. A walking holiday is a great way to appreciate this naturally stunning area and work up a large enough appetite to truly appreciate all that amazing food. There are a number of companies like www.headwater.com that run walking tours through the surrounding countryside.
Barcelona isn’t just for adults. Actually most of it’s most famous attractions are equally fun for the whole family.
Picnic at Parc Guell
Whether you think Gaudi was one of the most inspired artists ever or just a few sandwiches short of a picnic (like many great artists the truth is probably somewhere between the two), there’s no denying his contributions to the architecture and public spaces of Barcelona are part of what makes the city amazing. One of his most famous contributions, Parc Guell is one of the most unusual man-made landscapes on the planet, offering fun places to explore and amazing views of the city.
The bright mosaic gingerbread houses inspired by Hansel and Gretel, the tiled lizards adorning the stairs, the sinuous park benches with their city views and wide spaces to explore, the eclectic gardens, and the stone walkways that look like they’ve stepped off the set of a Flintstones movie .. a visit to Parc Guell with children is like spending a day at an art gallery, fairytale land and botanical gardens all in one. Not to mention the chance to learn about architecture, have a picnic and expend some energy walking around the kilometer upon kilometer of boardwalks.
Gaze at La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s famous church that has never been finished (and while they predict it will be finished by 2026 I personally hope they never really finish it as that’s half the attraction). You might want to skip the climb to the top of Sagrada Familia with young children but it’s still worth seeing it from the ground floor.
La Sagrada Familia follows the basic design of a traditional Gothic Church but it’s unlike any other building anywhere in the world. Every inch is covered in intricate designs and carvings, every shape is subtly changed. Gaudi has taken a classic design that has been done again and again all over the world, and then completely transformed it into something unique so it’s a good chance to inspire your children to think outside the square and break the mold for anything they want to do with their lives.
Relax in a Piazza
Piazza’s are a fixture of Barcelona – wide paved spaces within city blocks filled with benches, coffee shops, funky hole-in-the-wall bars and restaurants. If there’s one thing Barcelona does well it’s piazza’s.
What’s not to love about a wide open car-free space that children can run around in while parents relax in coffee shop with cool music playing. It’s a win-win.
Explore museums and fountains at Parc de la Ciutadella
Located near the heart of the city, Ciutadella Park is one of the best places to hang out with children, particularly on the weekends when young people and families flock there to relax and play. The 70 acre parkland includes amazing gardens, a zoo, museums, a large lake with paddle boats.
The Cascade, the parks huge monumental fountain is worth seeking out. It’s ornate, fanciful and beautiful.
The Museum of Zoology is fairly typical of most zoology museums – skeletons, dinosaurs, stuffed animals, evolutionary exhibits and earth history. What makes it worth visiting is the fact that it’s a very old museum so it has a wonderfully comprehensive collection of artifacts that they try to seek innovative ways of displaying. Currently the museum is showcasing the co-evolution of life and nature on earth. It also offers a wide range of exhibits designed for small children. It’s worth visiting the museum to see the main building – the beautiful Three Dragons Castle.
Science play at it’s best: CosmoCaixa
It’s hard to go wrong with a visit to a Science Museum when you have children. CosmoCaixa is huge – you could spend an entire day there. The Science centre has a great mix of old school science activities that children can see, touch, manipulate and experiment with, as well as a great range of modern technology displays. It’s popular and many of the exhibits are so busy they will be sold out so go during the week, preferably early in the morning.
Spend the day at the beach
They’re developed and busy, even on a sunny winter’s day but you can never go wrong with a day at the beach when you have kids. Many of Barcelona’s beaches are just a short walk from the centre of town and are well connected to the metro, so they’re easy to visit.
Tour a Chocolate Museum
See, I had you at the word chocolate didn’t I?
The Museu de la Xocolata isn’t just your typical chocolate factory tour. Not that there’s anything wrong with a tour of a chocolate factory – yum! ‘No, this Chocolate Museum also features a wide range of art works, sculptures and scenes made entirely from chocolate. They also do a wonderful job of showcasing the history of chocolate, and the important role that chocolate played in Barcelona’s trading history.