Barcelona off the beaten track

Some people think it’s even greater than Paris. Decorated with out of this world Gaudi’s buildings it’s an exceptional place on the map of Europe. Pearl of Catalonia, couple of decades ago while sipping coffee in a local cafe you could rub shoulders with Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali or Joan Miro. Sun, beach, mosaics, paella and scooters are attributes of this colourful and lively city, which Zafón made centre of action of his famous book “Shadow of the wind” and Woody Allen of his romantic comedy “Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona”. Have a look at my personalised and thorough guide, where apart from official tourist must see you will also find little known places, liked and recommended by Barcelonians themselves.

We were in Barcelona a couple of times, first by ourselves, then with Lily, when she was 3 years old, and last time when she was 6. When we were alone we practically walked the city from end to end, ticking off all must see things and Gaudi’s buildings marked on our map. Later on, with Lily I’ve implemented something called selective sightseeing, so I’ve marked our own attractions on the map, of which some were adult and some child oriented, just so it’s fair 🙂 During our second time, taking advantage of child being in a pushchair we visited again Parc Güell, Sagrada Familia and La Rambla. Last time  we visited couple of new places as we wanted Lily to have best time possible, and that’s what I want to share with you as it’s great option for kids, far more interesting for them than the typical sightseeing route.

Best places for kids in Barcelona

1. Aquarium

We are walking (or more like riding on the moving floor) through a big tunnel, surrounded by water, sharks and stingrays are floating over our heads –  it feels amazing, let me tell you. There is an abundance of other fish and sea creatures in other tanks, and about a million of Nemo and Dory 🙂

Tickets: Adults: 18€, Children: 5-10 years old: 13€, Children 3-4 years old: 6.5€. We were told that there are school trips coming here and children stay overnight, in their sleeping bags, watching all the giant fish gliding above them – just awesome, I’d like to stay overnight myself to experience that.

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2. Barceloneta

The beach is a perfect direction both for grown ups and for kids, that’s why we spent long hours at Barceloneta. Even though it was mid November the weather wasn’t too bad, probably around 16°C and we were warm enough in our jumpers. From April/May it’s impossible to find m2 of free space. Bear in mind it’s a public city beach and pickpocketing is very common here. When someone wants to go to the sea they walk backwards just to keep an eye on their things, which as you can imagine looks really funny especially when many people do it at the same time:) There are nudists and people trying to sell stuff, and believe me they are not easily discouraged, so if you find these things particularly annoying it’s better to find beach outside the city. Generally the further from the city, the nicer the beaches are.

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on the beach in November
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Arroz Negro y Paella in Cala Nuri restaurant – Passeig Maritim de la Barceloneta

3. Cabrera del Mar

One of the prettiest beaches outside the city,  you can get there by train from Plaza Catalunya, going in Mataro direction. Tossa del Mar is also a beach worth recommending, but it’s over an hour journey from Barcelona.

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3. La Gava

It’s a beach close to El Prat airport, with gentle descend to the water,  it’s best to get there by car.

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5. Cosmo Caixa Science Museum

The modernistic building on top of the hill alone is very impressive and it gets even better inside. The best thing is the flooded forest –  ecosystem of Amazonia rainforest recreated on 1000 m2 space. In a massive tanks there are crocodiles, piranhas, and many more animals and jungle plants which you can watch up close. There is also geological wall with spectacular collections of real rocks representing different periods and geological structures. In another room we have big slides depicting history of evolution and  life scenes from prehistoric period. There is a planetarium and many more interactive activities, where children can experiment with physics. I highly recommend Cosmo Caixa, really cool place, and it’s only 3-4€, children under 6 free (free for everyone on the first Sunday of the month).

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elderly staff at the reception 🙂
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tanks are just jaw dropping

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6. Port Aventura

The biggest theme park in Catalonia, lots of roller coasters and a water park. It’s situated in city of Salou, south from Barcelona, you can get there by train from Passeig de Gracia, Sants Estacio or Estacio de Franca stations, and final stop will be just at the entrance to the park. It’s a 1h journey, either by train or car.

Port Aventura website: https://www.portaventuraworld.com/en

7. Illa Fantasia – aquapark

22 slides, 3 big swimming pools and large picnic area and only 15 minutes by train from Barcelona city centre (or half an hour by free shuttle bus running regularly between park and city centre). More details on the park website https://www.illafantasia.com/

If you are in Barcelona for the first time you can’t miss its most popular attractions:

Park Güell

Quintessence of Gaudi style: colours, curved lines, arches, mosaics, it’s an extraordinary place, as if you walked straight into a fairytale.

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Sagrada Familia

Started in 1882, still not finished, it took longer to build than the pyramids of Egypt, full of hidden symbols and references to nature, expected to be finished in 2026. Gaudi made sure it wasn’t taller than Parc Montjuic, he was convinced no work of human hands should be above God’s creation.

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 Gaudi lovers can see more of his works in Barcelona:

Casa Battló

Casa Vicens

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Casa Mila

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La Rambla

Paradise for tourists who loves shopping and little girls who love bunnies and sparkly things. Very lively, full of souvenir shops and food stalls, you can’t stroke bunnies anymore here though, as animal trade in La Rambla has been banned.

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While at La Rambla you can pop in to La Boqueria and buy seafood for dinner (some of which is still waving its tentacles and other things at you). If you aren’t brave enough at least you can take a photo with them – looks quite cool.

Parc Montjuic

It’s worth climbing this high for such view, don’t you think?

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And to finish off – a couple of really cool places you won’t find in your guides, as it’s a secret knowledge of indigenous inhabitants (that is my sister’s and her friends’).

If it turns out that high temperature and traveling with child is a mixture that causes madness and a loss of senses, it’s a sign you need an alcoholic drink pronto, and why not in the best gin & tonic bar – Barrio Gracia, Bobby Gin.

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El Carmelo – bunkers from the civil war, located above Parc Guell, place to learn about this period of Catalonia’s history, and eat big and delicious portion of tapas in nearby restaurant Delicias.

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El Modelo – former prison, it was open to public as a museum for a couple of months, now it’s mainly space for photo shoots and making movies.

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Eat Street event in former Nau Bostik factory – takes place once a month (all year round), there are vans with food and each month it’s a different theme, i.e. breakfasts of the world, pasta, barbecue dishes, and you can enjoy all the goodies with a pint of Moritz – sponsor of this event.

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Barcelona is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable cities in Europe, don’t you think? Or maybe you can think of some other, more fascinating cities? Or maybe there are some things in Barcelona that you find particularly annoying? Being constantly approached by sellers on the beach was a hard test for my patience, also I was under impression that some nudists were walking there and back near us just to draw our attention, bear in mind it was middle of November and everyone on the beach had jumper or jacket on. Let me know if you found some other cool places in Barcelona 🙂

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