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Updated by Colleen Lanin on Dec 03, 2016
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The Best & Worst of Barcelona with Kids

Barcelona, just may be the friendliest city I have ever visited. Would I recommend a visit? Definitely! Would I go again? Probably not. Find out why as we explore the best and the worst of Barcelona with kids.
Barcelona basics
Barcelona is pretty widespread so be prepared to do a lot of walking and take a cab or two! Barcelona is the capital of the Catalonia region of Spain. Catalan is one of its official languages, which sounds to me like a mixture of French, Spanish, and Portuguese. I always like to make a

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Barcelona basics

Barcelona basics

Barcelona is pretty widespread so be prepared to do a lot of walking and take a cab or two! Barcelona is the capital of the Catalonia region of Spain. Catalan is one of its official languages, which sounds to me like a mixture of French, Spanish, and Portuguese. I always like to make an effort to speak at least a few words of the native language wherever I visit. Since everyone speaks Spanish too, I didn’t bother tackling Catalan and instead got by with un poquito d’Espanol.

La Rambla

Barcelona is perhaps most famous for La Rambla, the city’s main street which is filled with vendors and street entertainers as well as a live bird fair. My favorite part is La Boqueria, the food market along La Rambla. You can pull up a stool at one of the grills or grab a cornucopia of fruits, veggies, nuts, breads, meats, and cheeses for your own little picnic at Citadel Park.I love a good open air market, and this is one of the best I have ever visited. It is like the world’s best candy store for grown-ups. The burst of colors, scents, flavors, and upbeat energy – it’s overwhelming in its beauty. To me, this is THE best part of Barcelona.My daughter posing beside a “Finding Nemo” chocolate sculpture at the Museu de la Xocolata

Any trip to Barcelona with children should include a trip to the Museu de la Xocolata! The museum presents some descriptions of how chocolate came to be eaten and how it is made, but mostly my family browsed through various sculptures made of chocolate in forms like a bull fighting scene, Mickey Mouse, and then 2.5-year-old Karissa’s favorite, Finding Nemo. Afterwards, you can (and should!) purchase a chocolate treat or two at the café!

Citadel Park

Barcelona felt a bit stifling due to its lack of greenery. To get your nature fix, take the kiddos to Citadel Park. Rent a rowboat and take a spin around a tiny green lake. Be warned that there were no life jackets available when we visited, which made me a wee nervous while paddling about with a wriggling toddler.After our boat tour, Karissa swung on the swings and dug in the sand at a crowded playground. Visiting a park is one of my favorite things to do when traveling anywhere; kids make friends easily no matter the language barrier and it gives a nice glimpse into the everyday lives of locals.

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Barcelona beaches

If visiting during the summer, you’ll probably want to hit one of Barcelona’s beaches. Bring along some water shoes or pop into one of the shops to get an inflatable ring for kids spoiled by sand beaches who, like my daughter, might whine about their uncomfy tootsies on a pebble beach. Karissa liked digging with her bucket and shovel best; I liked soaking up some Mediterranean sunshine. And the hubs? Well, as an American dude, he was thrilled to get his first peek at a few topless sunbathers. (Sheesh…men!)

Picasso Museum

My husband and I took turns trying to keep our toddler from destroying precious works of art at the impressive Museu Picasso. Pablo Picasso grew up in Barcelona and this museum contains the most extensive collection of his early works. This isn’t necessarily the most kid-friendly destination but it is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are a big fan of Picasso.

Construction of La Sagrada Familia Cathedral began in 1882 and is still underway today. This unique cathedral was designed by Antonio Gaudi, one of Barcelona’s most famous residents, for whom the wordy gaudy was coined to describe things that are overly ornate. The cathedral should reach completion within the first third of the 21st century. Promise the kids you’ll stop for ice cream at the park across the street in exchange for good behavior at this one-of-a-kind architectural feat.

Gaudi designed Park Guell as a high-end residential area for the Barcelona elite. Today it is a tourist attraction filled with lovely paths, some breathtaking architecture, and a great view of the city. There isn’t a whole lot to “do” besides walk around and it is a bit of trek to get here so if you are on a tight schedule, this one can be skipped.

Barcelona’s famed food

I have friends who traveled to Barcelona (without children) who rave about the array of tapas bars. The Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain has called Spanish cuisine, “the best food in the western world” and here’s a video of Samantha Brown enamored with a garlic-slathered piece of fish along Barcelona’s harbor (I think I ate at this very restaurant!). Our experience, however, was quite different from theirs.Our toddler hated all Spanish food. She refused to eat anything in Barcelona—even items she loves at home like pasta with red sauce, a fried egg served with French fries, and bread with a mild cheese from La Boqueria. While in Spain, she lived off of healthy snacks brought from home, fruit, ice cream and chicken nuggets purchased on a daily trek to McDonald’s in an attempt to get some protein into her belly.I have to admit, I wasn’t a big fan of the food in Barcelona either. I found tapas to be confusing—tacos were white bread served with cheese and a crepe was a plain egg omelet. Or they were too dang greasy since many tapas came deep-fried. The paella was decent but filled with too many odd creatures from both land and sea for my comfort. My favorite meal in Barcelona actually took place at an Italian restaurant! Now, the Crema Catalana was a different story. It was like a cross between flan and crème brulee. Muy delicioso!The rooftop pool at the Grand Marina Hotel

Eurostars Grand Marina Hotel was recommended to passengers by the Disney Cruise Line and it certainly did not disappoint! We were given a free upgrade to a one-bedroom suite both on our pre- and post-cruise stays, just for asking. (And this was before I was a travel writer so it’s not like we got special treatment!)The staff was beyond courteous, the décor at once modern and elegant, and the location convenient. Every time the staff saw Karissa they cooed at her and handed her a candy; we finally had to ask them to stop offering lollipops to our little one! Plus, our room was HUGE, especially considering European standards. One of my favorite memories of our stay in Barcelona was splashing about in the hotel’s rooftop pool with its stunning view of the harbor spread out before us.

Barcelona was the departure city for our 10-night Disney Mediterranean Cruise. To make the most of our costly air tickets to Europe we decided to extend our stay by a few days before and after our sailing. This really gave us a chance to explore this welcoming Spanish city. The best thing about Barcelona is its people. Barcelonans are sweet and genuine, and they go out of their way to make sure you have a good time in their town.As you can see, there is plenty to experience in this vibrant city. Would I recommend a visit? Definitely! Would I go again? Probably not. I’ve been to Barcelona twice and that’s enough for me. The food was not my family’s favorite and I felt a little nature-starved here. Plus, I feel like I’ve already seen what I wanted to explore and the world is filled with places I have yet to see.Having said that, Disney Cruise Line is setting sail from Barcelona to tour the Mediterranean again this summer. I would happily return to Barcelona for a dip in the Grand Marina’s rooftop pool and several servings of Crema Catalana before sailing the Med with Mickey again!What are your thoughts about visiting Barcelona with kids? I know some of you must think I’m nuts for poo-pooing Barcelona’s food. Go ahead…add a comment!