Barcelona is such a great city to visit with its richness of culture and abundance of things to see and do.This was my second time in this diverse city and I still came away wanting more.
Last time (sans children) we stayed at the beautiful Hotel Neri in the Gothic Quarter, which we visited again and I’m pleased to report it hasn’t changed a bit. It’s such a stunning boutique hotel and in a great location:
Unfortunately however it’s not particularly child-friendly so we ended up opting for a not-so-glamorous but very well-equipped Airbnb:
This was quite simple but perfectly nice and with two bedrooms and a balcony it provided so much more space than we would get in a hotel. The location was pretty good – being just the other side of the Ramblas to the Gothic Quarter and a short walk to Soho House (which I’ll share with you in my next travel post). It is on more of a ‘gritty’ Street but then a lot of Barcelona is this way (I wouldn’t feel comfortable having a designer handbag on display for example). It was also on the same street as Gaudi’s Palau Guell ….
….and within walking distance of the majority of sites, restaurants and shopping areas:
We avoided La Rambla as much as possible as it was just so hideously busy (this was before the attack) and as we had been before we were keen to explore the less touristy bits. We liked the area around the Museum of Contemporary Art (the Raval) which is interesting for its mix of independent shops, boutiques and cafes with the odd piece of art thrown in, such as this mural ‘The Kiss of Freedom’ by Joan Fontcuberta:
….it’s made up of 4000 images of Barcelona residents celebrating moments of freedom. (I love running into things like this!)
Of course Barcelona cannot be mentioned without talking about the food. We ate like Kings here as we love tapas and I really don’t think you can go wrong with ordering a mountain of small plates! The kids love it and being gluten-free is pretty easy here:
We tend to stalk places by day, doing walk-bys and staring at people’s plates as well as going on friends’ recommendations and using Trip Advisor. (It’s definitely worth booking in advance if you can, to avoid disappointment.)
We also popped in to the crazily busy Mercado de la Boqueria:
Maybe it was just because it was high-season but I wish I hadn’t returned here: I had such fond memories of it from 12 years ago as being a fun, vibrant place to while away an hour or so and it was quite the opposite this time around. The prices were ridiculous for some things (€21.95 per kilo for all tropical fruit!) and unsurprisingly there were no locals to be seen, it was actually not pleasant at all.
Gaudi, on the other hand never fails to impress (even the kids were blown away):
These two buildings (Casa Batllo and Casa Mila La Pedrera) are close together but we had to get a taxi to the Sagrada Familia. (It’s worth noting that if you want to go inside any of the Gaudi buildings it is not cheap and you need to book in advance.)
I’m not going to lie – I was moved to tears (I’m so soppy, I know) to have the opportunity to see inside the Sagrada Familia. It is such an awe-inspiring project and the level of detail and workmanship is like no other being done today:
The kaleidoscope of colours and changing light is just incredible. It is such a special place and a sure must-see for all architecture lovers (as is the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe). Just be sure to not miss the little museum that is below the church (it’s included in the ticket cost) and the sweet school Gaudi built for the workers’ children:
Barcelona is a great city to visit with family (it has a beach too) or without. We will definitely be returning as we loved Soho House Barcelona and still haven’t been to Park Guell.