Barcelona…where do I begin? It was the dream trip for a family with toddlers. An easy, breezy, long weekend. It has been on my to do list and when I saw tickets come up for $35 a person I jumped on that deal. Perfect place to celebrate reaching 20 countries of travel.
The airport is about 25 minutes outside of the city and it was really easy catching the Aerobus to the city center. I love trips where we don’t have to take car seats. Sometimes we like to go crazy; exploring, renting a car, the whole shebang. Other times I just want simple. Simple is good with toddlers.
From there we took a taxi to our Airbnb. It was a really amazing place in a quiet area of the city. In retrospect, I would have stayed a bit closer to La Rambla-the main strip. Being the low season I probably should have disregarded all the reviews about no AC, open windows, and street noise in the touristy areas of the city. We ended up having to do a lot more walking and public transportation due to our location.
Barcelona is huge and very spread out. This is not a place you can walk to all the sights. The hop on hop off bus alone takes 2 hours to complete a loop. And that is just one itinerary. The HOHO has two different lines for different areas of the city. That’s how much there is to explore here! You can spend over 4 hours on a bus and not ever get off on a stop. I highly recommend the HOHO with kids. We purchased the two day pass in advance.
Why I loved Barcelona
Kid friendly, kid friendly, kid friendly. Seriously. Public transportation is easy, the streets are stroller friendly, there are playgrounds all over the place, and most importantly…kid friendly restaurants. So many times we travel and eat fast food because the places we really want to eat are not suited for the littlest honey badger. He is not a great eater. He does not want to go to a restaurant and sit quietly while everyone else eats a meal. He wants to grab a banana from that fruit stand and go about his way.
Barcelona is filled with outdoor dining. Even in January it was around 50 and sunny so eating outside was enjoyable. My kids could people watch, bird watch, get up and stretch their legs if they wanted to. All without us having to sacrifice the quality of our meal. And we ate goooood. I had some of the best food I’ve had in Europe. The seafood was amazing. The tapas! We didn’t have to worry about what Carter was going to eat since practically every other store there had a fresh fruit stand we could grab something and take with us.
Geography-wise…Barcelona checks all the boxes for me. I am from Virginia where the ocean is not far from the mountains. I like having the best of both worlds. Barcelona is a beautiful city right on the ocean, rolling hills on its backside and in the distance we could see snow capped mountains. Palm trees in one direction and mountains in the other? Yes, I could live there.
You can’t come to Barcelona without seeing this beautiful church. It was designed by Gaudi, as many buildings in Barcelona were. Work on this church began 130 years ago and it will finally be completed in about 10 years. The area outside the church has street performers, a playground and food so you can spend a good bit of time here. We didn’t get to tour the towers as my children were too small but what we did get to see was breathtaking. I have never seen anything like it.
At the base of the mountain range there is a really great park with great views. Its a good 15 minute walk uphill from the HOHO bus stop so wear your walking shoes. Lots of great cafes and art stores in the area. The park itself has a playground and there is also a Gaudi museum there which you must pay to enter. There is a beautiful terrace with tiled mosaic and salamander statues. Even in the off season this park was busy. Get tickets ahead of time! This was where my boys felt the need to run wild and free so my pictures are lacking.
Expensive but well worth it. This is a going to make the kiddos happy. My boys love sea life and there are plenty of interactive displays and areas for them to run around and play. There is also a cafe and excellent gift shop where your kids will beg for toys. It’s located at the Port Vell bus stop and there is a large mall and outdoor dining on the water right next door.
Placa de Catalunya and La Rambla
This plaza and street are the hub of the city. You can walk around, shop, and eat all day. Make sure you go down the little side streets! My kids spent a good amount of time chasing pigeons in the plaza. Plenty of photographers focused on Carter because there is nothing more joyful than watching him chase pigeons. The kid has great facial expressions.
Parc de la Ciutadella
This is another great park to walk around. There are playgrounds, ponds with wildlife and a zoo inside the park. The zoo was pretty pricey so we skipped that having already done the aquarium. The highlight of this park is the Casacada Monumental. It has a beautiful waterfall fountain and golden statues. The stairs of this monument is where one of my children decided to have an epic 10 minute meltdown. It was so bad that I said “Bye, Felicia” and walked away leaving him there. Thankfully my method worked and he came screaming after me scared that I was really leaving him. It’s not a real family vacation until at least one toddler gets overtired.
We went on a weekday in the winter so I cannot imagine how crowded this market can really get. But it’s a must while in Barcelona. It’s right off La Rambla and has amazing fresh food. We had already eaten dinner when we visited so we bought some macaroons, unique chocolates and people watched.
More pictures from around the city