I asked Tim Hillson, an American father who lived in Barcelona for almost a decade with his Spanish wife, for his thoughts on Barcelona basics. These tips provide a great foundation for must-see attractions and activities. Thanks Tim!
Introduction to Barcelona with Kids
Barcelona is kid-friendly. After living here for the last nine years, I can tell you that children are loved and tolerated well in Spain. This fact alone makes for an exciting trip where new sites, new sounds and cultural differences make for a wonderful family adventure.
One of the major differences that Spain has with the United States is its culinary culture. Spain’s food traditions are rooted in history. Freshness, simplicity and texture are hallmarks of this goldmine.
Most restaurants have children’s menu’s, but may not have high-chairs. (Note, I recommend that you bring or buy a foldable chair that you can stick on a chair so that you too can enjoy your dining experience). Also, Spain is the second fish eating country in the world after Japan. Its fish culture is deep, rich and fresh! If you don’t like fish, you will after your trip to Spain.
Double-Decker Tourist Bus
It sounds silly, but the double-decker tourist bus is not to be missed. We take my wife’s family (who is Spanish) and my family from California on it when they visit. In Spring, you can sit on top and see the wonderful Spanish architecture, trees that line the avenues and hear the heartbeat of Barcelona. Plus, you can get on and off as much as you like, with or without a stroller, for one price. With the dollar/euro exchange rate, this can’t be beat.
On the North Route, stop off at Parc Güell (Gwe-ay). This park, designed by Antoni Gaudí, prodigal son of Barcelona, is an architectural masterpiece. Not only does it boast incredible views of Barcelona, but also pathways, museums, cafés and a kiddie park with swings and teeter totters for that well-deserved parent rest.
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Everyone talks about Las Ramblas in Barcelona. To us, this is the Fisherman’s wharf of Barcelona. If you like that kind of stuff, be careful of your wallet and purse. Pickpockets abound. Though it is not dangerous, just be street smart.
On the Ramblas, the market called La Boquería is one of the oldest of the city. You will see and smell the amazing variety of fish, meat, cheese, vegetables and fruits. All beautifully and naturally displayed.There are several restaurants there where the food is amazing (particularly if you are a foodie). Children abound and run in and out of the stands greeted by friendly faces.
Barcelona is a beach town. Why not pack up the swimsuits and go to the beach? In the Port Olímpic, you can stroll, eat and take in the sun. Our favorite places to eat are: Bestial, Agua and Ca la Nuri. Both Bestial and Agua are from the same avant guard restauranteurs – Rosa Maria Estevay Tomás Tarruella. Ca la Nuri located farther on the boardwalk towards Barcelona and the W Hotel.
Barça Football (Soccer)
On the South Route of the Bus Turistic, stop at Camp Nou, where Barça plays. If you have soccer fans, it is an exciting place where you might even be able to buy tickets and see a game. It rivals professional football and the stadium is huge. Barça is now one of the most famous soccer teams in the world. Note, that if you want an official jersey, this is the place, but if you find the prices out of this world (70 euros), there are many shops in the Barrio Gótico (Barri Gótic) where you can find knock-offs that look real for 15 euros.
We still love the view of Barcelona from Tibidabo, the mountainous region overlooking Barcelona where the city’s amusement park is located. Our son still asks us to go. The church that overlooks the city is illuminated at night and serves as a beacon. Tibidabo has a funicular (tram) that takes you up the hill from Avenida Tibidabo. It is so cool and kids love it! Note, that from Avinguda Tibidado (Tibidabo Avenue) to the tram it is a hike. So if you are with small children, take the Tramvía Blau (Blue Trolley).
Best times to visit Barcelona with kids
Barcelona is best in the Spring and Fall. It’s Mediterranean climate is soft and much like California. Although in summer it is hot and humid. If you like heat, summer is a great choice. Barcelona is one of the most popular European destinations. Remember, Catalán people (people from the Catalonian region of Spain) will be most accepting of you if you try to speak their language. So pick up a dictionary before you come over and give your children and eye-opening experience.
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