Family breaks in Barcelona are great adventures for your kids. But don’t just reserve them for summer. They work any time of year, as we discovered this January.
With direct UK flights taking from just over two hours, Barcelona is easy to do with kids. We’d also arranged to stay at Casagrand in the city centre so we were met at Barcelona El-Prat by a courtesy car. And believe me, a leisurely drive from the airport is the best start to any family break.
To our delight, we discovered Casagrand sat on Avenue Diagonal which runs between Gracia and L’Eixample. So not only were we practically in the heart of Barcelona, we were also surrounded by several Gaudi greats.
In fact, we could practically see Casa Milà from our living room and both the Sagrada Familia and Parc Güell were within walking distance. With only three days to explore this vast city, we couldn’t have asked for a better location.
Casagrand is perfect for family breaks in Barcelona
Kids and city hotels don’t always mix, so Casagrand is a perfect alternative for family breaks in Barcelona as it offers the services of a five-star hotel but with the independence of your own, private apartment. And you can look forward to particularly grand apartments, right up to the plunge pool and sun terrace on the rooftop – yes, the views are also spectacular.
The 19th century building which now houses Casagrand is beautifully restored, but with a sense of heritage. The old fashioned lift still has traditional metal gates. And each apartment is a mix of original features and smart contemporary design.
We stayed in the five-bedroom Summum Apartment which is ideal for larger families. The four double bedrooms are ensuite and there’s also an additional child’s bedroom. And if you’re travelling with babies or toddlers, Casagrand can supply you with any equipment you need. This is always a plus on a city break.
A family-friendly mix of five star hotel services and independence
Our living room looked out over Diagonal and as all the apartment bedrooms were set around an elegant central corridor, they had city views too.
A well-designed kitchen is ideal for families and we couldn’t fault the lovely, modern one in our apartment. Although we did still order the Casagrand breakfast during our stay and, of course, we ate out in the evening – it’s Barcelona after all! But had we’d been staying longer, the kitchen would definitely have come into play.
Unfortunately we didn’t have the weather to take full advantage of the roof terrace, but could well imagine how wonderful it would be to escape the city heat here in spring or summer.
Having an English-speaking concierge at Casagrand was another bonus, especially as she was so friendly, helpful and knowledgeable about Barcelona. In fact, it’s probably thanks to her local advice that we managed to fit so much into just a few days.
The Sagrada Familia is a must on family breaks in Barcelona
Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia is undoubtedly the world’s most famous unfinished building and a must-see on any visit to Barcelona.
Almost 150 years have passed since the legendary Modernist began work on this iconic basilica, and it might be incomplete as yet, but the architecture is still remarkable, as is the stained glass in the interior.
Take a moment to look closely at the stonework and admire the finished façades which depict various Biblical scenes..
And be sure to book your visit in advance. The Sagrada is one of the Wonders of Spain, it’s almost always busy and waiting in line is never a plan on a short break.
Don’t miss Casa Milà – near neighbour to Casagrand
Not far from the Sagrada and closer still to Casagrand, there’s another grand Gaudi worth a look.
Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera (stone quarry), is the famous apartment block with the rippling façade which seems to defy all architectural rules. Yet still it stands, and has done since 1910 when Gaudi completed it for the Milà family. We didn’t have time, this time, but the after-dark tour of La Pedrera’s interior and rooftop is on the wish list for our next visit.
Family breaks in Barcelona need Parc Güell in the mix
Parc Güell is Gaudi at his most whimsical and one Barcelona’s most popular attractions. It’s just north of Casagrand, but don’t be tempted to turn up on spec. If you want to explore this fairy tale place, you need to book tickets in advance.
The park is built on Carmel Hill, so once you’ve seen the gingerbread houses, mosaics and gorgeous gardens, stop for the view which looks straight over the city to the sea.
See Picasso then explore the ancient Gothic Quarter
On our second day we decided to see the Picasso Museum as well as the Gothic Quarter and Barcelona Cathedral.
Picasso spent most of his youth in Barcelona so it’s fitting that one of the world’s largest collections of his work is here. The Picasso Museum is designed across five adjoining medieval palaces in La Ribera in the old town, and it’s curated to allow visitors to trace Picasso’s development from early promise to mature artist.
Make sure to take a stroll through the Gothic Quarter with its narrow streets and tall buildings. It’s the ancient heart of the city and leads you to 12th century Barcelona Cathedral. Typically gothic, very ornate and highly-decorated, this one might be a little overwhelming for younger kids. But we can highly recommend taking the lift up to the rooftop and strolling round its walkways for more panoramic views.
Try tapas bars at La Boqueria
Lunch at La Boqueria is almost compulsory in Barcelona, so who were we to argue? The world famous food market sits just off La Rambla and it’s a feast for every sense.
Colourful stalls are laden with fruit and vegetables. The seafood section includes live lobsters, crabs, enormous prawns and fish of all kinds. And of course there are many tapas bars. Pick any one at random – which is what we did – take a seat and order a selection of plates for the table. Whatever you choose will be delicious, that’s a matter of pride at La Boqueria.
No family breaks in Barcelona should miss out Montjuic
We left Montjuic until our last day, but in summer you might want to make it an early addition to your city break.
The mighty hill rises over Barcelona, you can see for miles from up there and wandering its gardens, museums and historic attractions you could easily forget you were in a city at all.
The Palau Nacional houses some magnificent historic collections. Don’t miss the excellent Fundacio Joan Miró, as well as the open-air Poble Espanyol museum – one of the most visited sites in the city.
Barcelona’s Mediterranean beaches and waterfront districts are another reason to head back here in late spring and summer. So, sorry as we were to leave the luxury of Casagrand and head back home, having discovered how easy family breaks in Barcelona can be, we’re already planning our next one.