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Barcelona’s one of the world’s most visited cities with good reason. From modernist masterpieces to innovative museums, it’s a design icon. Every barrio’s a unique character and drenched in history. There’s as much going on in December as there is in August, and its city centre is beachfront on the Mediterranean.


Why go on holiday in Barcelona

  • Direct flights

    Direct flights from the UK to Barcelona take just over two hours, year round.

  • Warm and sunny climate

    Mediterranean Barcelona is sunny and hot from May to late September with temperatures between 25 and 30˚ in July and August.

  • Expansive landscape

    Barcelona is the first and only complete city ever to have been awarded a RIBA Gold Medal for its collective architecture.

  • Cultural highlights

    There are nine UNESCO World Heritage sites in Barcelona, more than any other city in the world, including Rome.

  • Water adventures

    Barcelona sits on the Mediterranean and has over five kilometres of beaches minutes from Barrio Gòtico.

  • family-friendly

    PortAventura World’s waterparks, theme parks and hotels are one hour’s drive west of Barcelona, and Costa Brava resorts like Lloret de Mar are less than an hour east.

  • Festivals

    Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in the world and has a range of hotels to match. Barceloneta and L’Eixample are best for interesting four or five star hotels, but barrio like Sant Marti have good value international brands.



Where to go and stay in Barcelona

Ciutat Vella

Barcelona city centre technically encompasses Barrio Gòtico too, but it’s best known for Las Ramblas and graceful Plaça Reial. Nowhere else in the city’s as busy or more designed to make you feel like a tourist. Take it on the chin and wander the legendary main street without shame. You really don’t need to buy a Barca T-Shirt but you’ll be offered plenty of opportunity along with everything from postcards to miniatures of the Sagrada Familia.

  • Avoid the overpriced tapas bars and chain restaurants and have lunch, standing up, at the counter in La Boqueria. Europe’s most famous food market is just as wonderful in reality as its reputation.
  • Go for a drink on Plaça Reial, it’s the city’s best loved square and the street lamps were Gaudi’s first Barcelona commission.
  • Don’t miss: Gran Teatre del Liceu; Mirador de Colom; Plaça de Catalunya; the grand reveal of the Mediterranean at the south end of Las Ramblas.

Barrio Gòtico

Barcelona’s medieval quarter is incapable of disappointing and no matter how many historic districts you’ve seen, this is always the one to beat. Its tiny cobbled streets and narrow alleys opening on to beautiful squares and grand buildings are atmospheric enough to fade hordes of visitors into the background and there’s nowhere better for quaint shops, oddity museums, bloodcurdling stories and unrelenting drama.

  • You can see the barrio’s ancient Roman roots in the massive Augustine columns inside the 14th century Canon’s House – one of many local curiosities.
  • Plaça de Rei has the motherlode of Barcelona’s medieval grandeur and early royal history.
  • Take kids into Barcelona Cathedral. Its official title is La Catedral de la Santa Creu I Santa Eulàlia and a flock of 13 very pampered geese live in the cloisters – each one represents a year in the life of Saint Eulalia, the youngest Christian martyr.
  • Don’t miss: Frederic Marès museum of oddities; Museum of Modern European Art (MEAM); Palau Reial Major; Barcelona City History Museum (MUHBA); the Jewish Quarter, El Call; Carrel del Bisbe; Herboristeria del Rei, the city’s oldest shop.

Barceloneta

The beachy bit of Barcelona minutes from Las Ramblas is a fraction of the city’s 5km long Mediterranean shoreline, but it’s best for sights, cute chiringuito, fantastic seafood, manicured sands, impressive waterfront hotels and getting to grips with why the world thinks Barcelona is the epitome of cool.

  • Favourite city hang out for families at weekends and catching a few lunchtime rays during the week.
  • Don’t miss: Barcelona Aquarium; the cable car to Montjuic; Marina Port Vell; Frank Gehry’s ‘Fish’; Museu d’història de Catalunya.

L’Eixample

Cross over Plaça de Catalunya at the north end of Las Ramblas and you land in Barcelona’s 19th century ‘new town’. L’Eixample is the heartland of Catalan Modernism and stuffed with domestic architecture by Gaudi and his contemporaries. It’s also the district for expensive shopping streets and many, many luxurious city centre hotels.

  • Passeig de Gràcia isn’t just the city’s costliest street it’s where you’ll find two of Gaudi’s apartment buildings: La Pedrera and fantastical Casa Batlli.
  • Parc de Joan Mirò is a pretty space to take a break and admire the work of another legendary Spanish artist.
  • Don’t overlook Casa Ametlier next to La Pedrera: another remarkable modernist building, designed by Gaudi’s contemporary, Puig I Cadalfach.

What do and see with kids in Barcelona

  • Montjuic Park

    Barcelona’s best known mountain is a complex of attractions ranging from Olympic swimming pools to heritage villages, national art galleries and dancing fountains. Take the cable car from Barceloneta to the park, it rises to a height of 70m and the views are astounding.

  • Parc Guell

    The city’s second most famous Gaudi is captivating for kids and the most visited park in the city so booking tickets in advance is essential.

  • El Poble Espanyol, Montjuic

    Surprisingly, Sagrada Familia isn’t the most popular attraction in Barcelona, credit for that goes to El Poble Espanyol on Montjuic: an heritage town created from different styles of Spanish architecture throughout history.

  • Tibidabo Funfair

    Opened in 1825, Tibidabo is one of the oldest funfairs in Europe and soars above the city on its own mountain. All vintage cuteness but very 21st century thrills.

  • Camp Nou Experience

    Camp Nou is home ground and training camp for legendary Barcelona FC and the Camp Nou Experience is great fun for young football fans

  • Sagrada Familia

    The world’s most famous unfinished cathedral and Gaudi’s undisputed masterpiece, Sagrada Familia is more astounding than anyone ever imagines. Understandably it’s the sight everyone wants to see in Barcelona, so book tickets in advance and take one of the guided tours.

  • Barcelona Zoo, Ciutadella Park

    Another experience which doesn’t disappoint in Barcelona is the historic city centre zoo. Plan to spend at least two hours and leave time to explore lovely Ciutadella Park too.

  • Cosmocaixa Science Museum

    One of the most expensive recent museum projects in the city, Cosmocaixa is an immersive experience kids engage with instantly.

  • Illa Fantasia Waterpark

    Illa Fantasia is 70,000m² of rides, chutes, slides, amusements and playgrounds open all summer on Barcelona’s sunny east coast about an hour from the city by free shuttle bus.

  • PortAventura World, Costa Dorada

    PortAventura World has Europe’s first Ferrari Land along with the Costa Brava’s biggest waterparks, adventure parks and a range of four-star family hotels.



Educational value for kids

  • Barcelona is almost as famous for food as architecture, kids weekend cooking classes at La Boqueria are worth thinking about.
  • The Picasso Museum on Carrer de Montcada is a rare opportunity to see inside Barcelona’s medieval merchant palaces. The surrounding streets of ancient El Born are packed with other wonders too.
  • Take a barrio by barrio tour of Barcelona before you decide what you want to see in more detail. It’s a huge, complex city and some of the most astonishing sights, museums and buildings are tucked away out of plain sight. The best local guides are outstanding and many tours can be tailored for kids.
  • Walk beneath the iconic Carrer del Bisbe covered bridge in Gòtico. If kids accidentally look up and see the skull carved on its underside, you have to go to nearby Casa l’Ardíaca in Carrer de Santa Llúcia, find the tortoise carved on a letterbox and rub the shell three times – the only way to avoid a lifetime of bad luck, according to local legend.
  • Visit Museu el Calçat, the shoe museum, in Gòtico. This strange collection came about because medieval executioners were allowed to keep a condemned man’s possessions and did a roaring trade selling off shoes: Barcelonans believed placing a dead man’s shoes outside your door would ward off evil.
  • Take a tour of Palau de la Música Catalana in the city centre, it’s the only way to see inside this fabulous building without buying expensive opera tickets.
  • Go in September and catch week long Festes de la Merce. It’s the city’s biggest traditional festival and the only one where kids can see Castellers (human towers), and enormous wooden giants being carried through the streets – the nightly fireworks are sensational too.

 

Getting about with kids in Murcia

Barcelona’s a big city but happily it also has one of Europe’s most comprehensive, modern and inexpensive transport system. Basically buses and trains go everywhere, keep long hours and nothing else compares.