If you’ve already been to Barcelona then you’ll know it’s a thrilling and frenetic city. Packed full of iconic sights, incredible food and more culture than you can throw a guide book at, it definitely warrants multiple visits. On our most recent trip to Barcelona we discovered a different side to this most buzzing of towns as we travelled there with our 2 year old daughter.
With a toddler in tow, your style of travel definitely changes. On previous trips, myself and my partner had enjoyed leisurely lunches in nice restaurants and then spent half the night partying in some edgy cocktail bars. On this trip, we were going to need to accommodate the needs of our little one and find some of the more alternative things to do in Barcelona for kids.
Exploring Las Tres Torres
On previous visits, we had stayed in more central areas like Eixample and Barceloneta. Both of which are great for being in the heart of the action. This time however, we were in the more upscale and residential suburb of Las Tres Torres, a short metro ride from downtown.
This would definitely qualify as one of the best neighbourhoods in Barcelona to bring kids; with leafy streets, small parks with playgrounds, and less of the slightly sketchy vibe found in the rest of the city.
But what else is there to do in Las Tres Torres, other than chasing a hectic toddler?
First up, the Jadrins del Turo are a definite draw. While the tourist hordes flock to Park Guell, which is on a neighbouring hill, Turo has those exact same views but with a fraction of the people. OK, it doesn’t have the Gaudi architecture and the iconic postcard images that accompany it, but if you’re looking for authentic Barcelona, you’ve found it. You’re more likely to meet other parents or dog walkers than you are a group of selfie snapping tourists. And, for this reason alone, it makes a refreshing alternative.
In Las Tres Torres, the main shopping and dining area too is a much more civilised version of the city centre. The area between Carrer de Mandri and Carrer de Sant Gervasi is peppered with boutique shops, local bars and a whole assortment of restaurants, which we barely got to sample.
Our pick of the bunch include Show Plate and Tapas (Carrer de Reus 22) – which was exceptional and reasonably priced, Chico Bar (Carrer de Mandri 29) which was also very good and with friendly staff. Both of these restaurants we found reflected the upscale side of this neighbourhood.
A more authentic and less polished experience was at Bar Bero (Carrer de Mandri 35) which was very cheap and still excellent – albeit in a less gourmet way! In short, we didn’t have a bad meal in Las Tres Torres.
Making ourselves at home: Hotel Primero Primera
We were staying at the four star Hotel Primero Primera, an unassuming boutique hotel in one of those quiet streets. From the outside, the hotel looks like another apartment block, but the interior gives way to a refined vintage feel. Think leather chairs in the lounge, mood lighting in reception and oil paintings on the walls.
The rooms however are all about modern comforts. With king sized beds, a massive TV, a desk for working (if you need) and a separate shower room, it was perfect for our little monster to run around and climb on everything.
Just outside our room was a walled terrace with towering cactus plants, and at the back of the hotel a small pool and garden area. Although I would highly recommend Hotel Primero Primera to families with small children, the clientele appeared to be a mix of businessmen and holidaying couples. It would definitely fit the bill of a romantic getaway, with luxurious yet affordable rooms, and close proximity to all the trappings of the local neighbourhood.
The Hotel Primero Primera was a short walk from the Las Tres Torres metro station, around 5-10 minutes, and another 5 minutes to the shops and restaurants.
Sightseeing at a slower pace
Pre-child, sightseeing was all about getting in as much as possible. Luckily, we have most of the postcard images of Barcelona from our previous visits, so we could skip places like Park Guell, Sagrada Familia and the market on Las Ramblas.
We focused instead on wandering the old town, enjoying a drink and tapas and then finding a museum to explore. As modern art fans, we loved the Picasso Museum, which we managed to see while the little one was snoozing in her buggy. The artwork is obviously spectacular, but the building is worth a visit too.
And, for both big kids and little kids, the Chocolate Museum was excellent. It’s only €6 to enter, and there was enough to keep the little one amused, especially with the promise of being able to sample some of the product at the end.
We also made our way up the Montjuic funicular, but skipped the cable cars. Making our way to the Miramar, we caught the vintage cable car instead, all the way down to the beach. And who doesn’t love the beach? Especially after a hot day sightseeing in the Barcelona sun. And of course, when travelling with a child, the beach is always a good choice.
Other recommendations for Barcelona
Without kids in tow, there is a lot to see in Barcelona. But, if you’re looking to discover your own different side of Barcelona there are some things you can skip.
The central market, Mercat de Boqueria, and Las Ramblas are both tourist traps that you don’t need to experience. We’ve been a few times, and although the architecture is nice, it’s not a pleasant experience being in there. Instead, go to Mercat de Santa Caterina in the old town. You’ll find the exact same produce, half the tourists and most stuff will be slightly cheaper.
The Sagrada Familia? There’s not getting around this one… It’s a must visit if you haven’t been to Barcelona before. Yes, you’ve seen it in pictures but it’s a sight to behold in reality. You’ll need to do this one, even if you’re trying to avoid the tourists.
And, the pick of the Gaudi designed houses, for me, is Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera. This is the one with the stormtrooper helmet looking chimneys on the roof and a funky vintage museum inside. It’s worth the price of entry.
If you haven’t been to Barcelona before, book that ticket. It’s an amazing city with so much to do. And like a good movie, it stands up to repeated viewings!
Want to find out what else to do when in this incredible city? This 48 hour guide to Barcelona has all the info you need…