Following on from her first post for the Smith Travel Blog on what to do in Rome with your kids, we’ve asked the lovely Debbie Dubrow of DeliciousBaby.com back to impart her motherly pearls of wisdom on family-friendly breaks in Barcelona. We know you’re all romantic-weekend fans at heart, but there’s no reason you can’t combine the two, which is why Mr & Mrs Smith help you find stylish and child-friendly hotels with the Smith & Kids collection. Barcelona doesn’t exactly come loaded with all-singing, all-dancing crèche-enabled family resorts, but there are a couple of suitable family digs, which we’ve highlighted below.
Anyway, without any further ado, here’s Debbie’s guide to family fun in Barcelona…
Barcelona is known for its modern architecture, fashionable boutiques and nightlife, but beaches, child-friendly food, and a relaxed atmosphere also make it a great destination for families. This is a city that hasn’t pushed its resident families out into the suburbs, making it easy to find things for kids to do near all the major attractions. Here are some of my favorite things to do in Barcelona with kids:
A walk down Las Ramblas is one of those typical tourist activities that is actually more fun with kids in tow. Even if you aren’t impressed by the street performers, your child likely will be, and what child wouldn’t enjoy seeing shop after shop selling birds, turtles and other small pets. For lunch, stop in the colorful La Boqueria market and pick up the makings of a picnic. Not in a picnic mood? Grab a sandwich at Cafe Viena, where your child can devour a grilled-cheese sandwich while you feast on one of the best Jamon Serrano sandwiches in the city.
Just getting to Montjuïc Mountain is a transportation-loving toddler’s delight. They’ll be so thrilled after a ride on the subway and funicular that they might not dig in their heels at your real destination, the Miró Museum (Fundació Joan Miró). When they do, the fanciful sculptures and paintings are sure to keep them engaged until you finally take them for a ride on the spectacular (and newly renovated) Montjuïc Gondola up to the Castle of Montjuïc for a sweeping view of the city. Don’t be tempted to walk back down though, the distance is much longer than it appears.
It doesn’t take a big stretch of the imagination to realize that Antonio Gaudí’s fanciful Parc Güell would be a great destination for kids. Pack a picnic and take a local bus to the park (most buses have a special area where you can strap in a stroller). There are playgrounds near the entrance and inside the park, but kids will enjoy exploring just about every part of Gaudí’s imaginative park grounds.
No trip to Barcelona is complete without a taste of churros and chocolate, and this is one gourmet delicacy you won’t have to cajole your child into trying. Granja-Xocolateria La Pallaresa in the heart of the old city serves the best churros and chocolate in town (along with some excellent crema Catalana) in a casual environment and makes a perfect afternoon break.
WHERE TO STAY
While you’re not going to find the kind of kiddie heavens here you might in other holiday resorts, Catalan people love children and most hotels will try to help you as much as they can. Try city luxury stay Grand Hotel Barcelona, just a short stroll from Las Ramblas, where under 12s stay free (baby cots can be provided), and babysitting can be arranged (from €18 an hour). Another good option to consider if you’re travelling as a family is a self-catering apartment, such as Destination BCN (below) – Apartment Principal is the best choice for families, as it can sleep up to six (two on fold-out beds). Alternatively, head over to the Smith & Family site for more child-friendly hotels in Barcelona.
Check out the Delicious Baby guide to Barcelona with Kids, a comprehensive compendium of kid-friendly information; and browse Mr & Mrs Smith’s collection of stylish hotels in Barcelona, with tips on Barcelona’s best activities. For a more grown-up take on the Catalonian capital (in case you left your little bundles of joy behind, or have a babysitter booked for a few hours), browse Mr & Mrs Smith’s city guide to Barcelona. Fashion hounds – we’ll also be posting Toni Jones’ insider Barcelona shopping tips in the next day or so.
Debbie Dubrow is a mother of two (ages: three and a half, and two – bit of a handful there!) living in Seattle, WA. Her hugely successful US-based blog DeliciousBaby.com is about travelling with babies, toddlers and kids, and is full of personal travel stories, family-friendly city guides, and lots of tips and advice for travelling with children. Not tasty cannibalistic baby recipes (just in case you were confused).