We only managed one day out in Barcelona during our stay in Spain. That was just enough for us to see a few main attractions and have a little fun.
As we were using a hire car we decided to drive into Barcelona rather than a catch a train from one of the towns near where we were staying. Mainly because we hoped the kids would have a nap on the way back from the city! So our first task when we arrived in Barcelona was finding a car park.
I used the Barcelona Tourist Guide website which has a map of all the car parks throughout Barcelona. We drove down the Avenue Diagonal and turned off to the North to find a car park. After a little confusion we managed to find a car park near the beginning of the tram line, which was perfect for a short tram ride to the Metro.
Trams And Metro
As we were parked near a tram station and not the underground itself, we caught a tram from Francesc Macia to Maria Christina to then catch the underground train further into the city itself. The boys thought it was hilarious that the trams travelled along the grass rather than a road for part of its route!
There are several tram routes throughout the city and they are also included within the tickets for the metro. So if you buy a 10 trip ticket then you’ll have plenty to get around the city on various modes of train (thank you to the kind lady who helped us at the ticket machine!). Young children are free of charge.
The Metro in Barcelona is brilliant, we had no problems working out where we needed to go, although we mainly stuck to the Zona Universitaria line. From this line we could easily get to the funicular train up Montjuic and also to the stations nearest Parc Guell.
Montjuic is a rather prominent hill near the harbour of Barcelona. At the top of Montjuic is Castell de Montjuic, which has played an important part in the defense of the city.
Our main reason for heading up Montjuic was for the funicular and cable car fun. The boys have been on a funicular train once in the Cairngorms, but have never rode a cable car. I knew they would love it!
To get to the funicular, travel to Paral-lel Metro station and follow the signs to the funicular, which arrives every few minutes. The funicular is included in the Metro system, so our 10 trip tickets covered us.
At the top funicular station follow the signs out of the building and up the path to your right, which takes you straight into the cable car building. Everyone had a family picture taken as they enter the cable car building and you have the opportunity to buy it once you come out at the top of Montjuic. Maybe if you had a more photogenic family it would be worth buying, but we all looked a bit dazed and confused in ours, so we declined!
The cable car was a highlight for us all, you can see right across the city, picking out major attractions. I’m pretty sure it would be a hit for most children!
Castell De Montjuic
At the top of Montjuic is Castell De Montjuic and you can pay to enter the castle to look around. We unfortunately didn’t have enough time as I had already booked tickets for Parc Guell. So we needed to get back down the hill and catch the Metro again. With better planning we would have loved to look inside the castle, from the outside it looks pretty magnificent.
The boys enjoyed playing around a rather large cannon whilst we had a nose around the outside of the castle and took in the views across the city.
Parc Guell and Gaudi’s artwork has been on my ‘to see’ list for a long time, so I was rather excited to visit. To enter the area with Gaudi’s sculptures it’s best to buy a ticket online in advance, as only a certain amount of people are allowed in each day. You can check availability and buy tickets here.
We arrived via Metro at Vallcarca station and took the short but steep route using the escalators up to Parc Guell. The escalators are very welcome to get up the steep hill and they are essential for little legs!
If you come in one of the side entrances to Parc Guell you need to head toward the lower part of the park where you will see the beautiful artwork. You will need to wait in the queue before the time on your tickets, when you will then be allowed to enter the sculpture area.
We were told that no picnics are allowed in the sculpture area, but there is a cafe near the main entrance by Casa Guell. We had lunch and ice cream there before exploring a little more.
Gaudi’s work really is stunning and I think we’re going to have to try our own mosaic pieces at home. Then the kids can get an idea of how much work was put in to the sculptures.
When leaving the park it’s apparently an equal distance to both Lessops and Vallcarca stations (both downhill), but we found it took longer to go downhill to Lessops than it did to get uphill from Vallcarca.
Yes, there are plenty of other sights and experiences in Barcelona. But for half a day (plus 3 hours driving into the city and back out) with two young kids this was plenty for us! If you have more time then you could also check out Sagrada Familia, Tibidabo Amusement Park and Museu Picasso.
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