To introduce our new weekend getaway feature, here is our first post from Marta in Barcelona. Barcelona is one of my favourite Mediterranean cities. It has the perfect mixture of culture, beauty, beach life and beautiful weather. It always strikes me as such a relaxed city that is easy to explore and perfect to visit ‘en famille’.
Whilst searching for someone with inside info about visiting Barcelona with kids I remembered Marta. Marta lives with her husband and little son in the wonderful Gracia part of Barcelona. She is a professional translator and also a blogger. Her blog English in Barna, is about life in Barcelona, her blog A Bilingual Bébé gives tips to Spanish speaking parents on how to raise their child bilingually, and finally she also blogs for the international organisation Pocket Cultures. All in all Marta is the perfect person to start off our new feature. I do hope you enjoy discovering Barcelona through her post. And please do leave us any comments or recommendations you have about Barcelona. The more ideas the merrier…
1) El bosc de les fades (Ptge. Banca, 5. Drassanes): I adore this place, although it’s really touristy and sometimes very busy. As the name suggests (translated into ‘The Fairies’ Forest’) you will be surrounded by extraordinary elements usually found in fairy tales. This is really worth the visit!
2) Café Vreneli. (Plaça de la Vila, previously called Plaça de Rius i Taulet, many people still call it like this, in case you have to ask for directions. Diagonal, green line): A lovely café located in the area of Gracia. It’s little, but cosy and child-friendly. Great homemade cakes, milkshakes, juices.
3) La Nena. (Gracia neighbourhood. Carrer Ramón y Cajal, 36): Very, very child-friendly and laid-back. Don’t go there if you’re looking for glamour and sophistication. Homemade cakes, thick hot chocolate with melindros or churros, juices… There are games for children to play with in the back room.
4) Natural Break (Rambla de Catalunya, 66): In Barcelona, most waiters are very friendly with children, but, unfortunately, hardly any restaurants have a special place to change nappies! So, if you are in the heart of Barcelona, you can visit this modern café to enjoy a freshly made orange juice or a fruit salad and change their nappies in a hassle-free spot.
1) Parc del Laberint d’Horta: This park is off the beaten track, located in a neighbourhood called Horta. (Metro Mundet, green line.) Children can try to get out of the maze and you can remember your Greek class! (Theseus killed the minotaur with the invaluable help of Ariadne, who had given him a sword to kill the monster and a thread so he could find his way out of the maze). At the entrance of the labyrinth, there is bas-relief of Ariadne and Theseus. You can also find a beautiful sculpture of Echo, and tell your kids about her story, the nymph who fell in love with Narcissus. She was never loved back as Narcissus was only in love with himself and drowned when trying to kiss his own reflection in the water. Many films and music videos have been shot in this maze including the European film Perfume
2) Park Güell. A must see! UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you have children and want them to get inspired by talented Gaudí and his art based on nature, I recommend going to Park Güell instead of Sagrada Familia. The Park opening hours are great, there are no queues, no entrance fee and children can run and play surrounded by art and nature. Great views over Barcelona.
3) Parc de la Ciutadella. <M> Arc de Triomph (L1), Barceloneta (L4). You can rent a little boat, or just relax, stroll and take pictures of the amazing waterfall. There are tons of sculptures, my favourite one is called El desconsol, by Josep Llimona, but there’s also la dama del paraigües by Joan Roig and many others you can see when you take a walk. Every child in Barcelona has a photo sitting in the trump of the huge sculpture of the mammoth of this park — it’s a classic! If you feel like seeing real animals, the zoo is right there.
4) Beach: Barcelona has different beaches. If you have time, go to Costa Brava (amazing coves and colder water) or Costa Daurada, in Tarragona, with really long golden sand beaches and warmer waters, or Sitges.
1) El rey de la magia (Carrer Princesa, 11) Founded in 1881 by Joaquim Partagàs in carrer Princesa. When you buy a magic product, they teach you how to do the trick, a really special and magicical shop.
2) Imaginarium at Paseo de Gracia 103 (near Palau Robert, <M> Diagonal, green line): A 3-storey shop offering many products for babies and children: toys, bikes, bedroom furniture… And many products for kids and adults alike, such as their little toys to make chocolates or ice-cream! In the -1 floor, your children and you can have your hair cut (no highlights or colour techniques, just a nice haircut). Children love this hairdresser because they can play with the shop toys while they are getting a new hairstyle.
3) Papabubble Caramels artesans (Carrer Ample, 28, Gothic area): Two Aussies make fabulous artisan sweets in this shop where you can also see the whole process. They started making candy in Melbourne and then moved to Barcelona. Now, there are Papa Bubbles in Amsterdam, Tokyo and New York, too. Have a look at Papabubble Barcelona(in Spanish) Video on Papabubble New York (in English).
1) Barcelona Aquarium I still haven’t found a child who doesn’t like sea animals. This aquarium is great and is supposed to be the biggest aquarium in Europe. Please visit their site for details on fees, opening hours, and special activities for children such as sleeping with sharks!
2) Poble Espanyol This is a classic trip when you’re in primary school in Barcelona because you can see samples of architecture from all over Spain in just one spot. You can also see craftspeople working, my favourite craft workshop as a child was glass blowing, now, it might be the jewelry design.
3) Font Màgica de Montjuic (<M> Placa Espanya, green or red line): Amazing show of music, water and coloured lights every 30 minutes in the evening. This fountain, built in 1929 for the World Exhibition, is supposed to be the oldest of this type in the world. The start and end times depend on the time of the year. From October to April, shows are usually Fridays and Saturdays at 7 pm and 8 pm and from May to September, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8 pm to 11.30 pm. Check with the tourist office for the specific times of the show.
4) Tibidabo: The historical amusement park where children from Barcelona have enjoyed themselves for 100 years! Tibidabo is located on a mountain where you have fantastic views over the city. There is also another famous park in Tarragona, Port Aventura , but Tibidabo is more relaxed than Port Aventura and way more lovely, as it has the charm of good old shows.