We had already been to Amsterdam in the past, but it was the first time with the children. This new trip to Amsterdam was a multi-generational holiday since the grand-parents joined us there. It was the perfect city trip to have 3 generations interested! As I often say, what I miss the most in our part of England, it’s culture so I really wanted to stay in a city where culture would be highlighted. So we chose Amsterdam for a 3-day week-end. Moreover, we were very lucky because the weather was gorgeous, which is quite rare in February!
Our family strolls Amsterdam
Since we already knew the city and we wanted to adapt our stay to the children, we emphasised on Jordaan neighbourhood and we only spent a few amount of time in the hyper centre. Thus, as a family, we didn’t go to the Red Light District 😉. Another point: even if we avoided the touristic central part, from time to time, we smelled a few fragrances that were coming out of the coffee shops. That being said, the children didn’t even notice.
The canals in Jordaan neighbourhood:
It’s the perfect neighbourhood to wander along the beautiful canals bordered by buildings full of character. It’s strange because there is much less people than in the centre although it’s aesthetically and architecturally richer. Basically, I advise you to follow the Prinsengracht canal all the way, while making shorts in the perpendicular streets and the nearby canals. For example, don’t miss the Eglantiersgracht, Bloemgracht and Brouwersgracht canals. All along the Prinsengracht, you will find an endless choice of little cafés where you will be able to sit on the terrace, and from where you will quietly observe the life on the canal. We opted for this walking + coffee breaks version rather than a cruise on the canals because we wanted to take our time and avoid group visits. Anne Franck House is situated on the edge of the Prinsengracht canal (see below in the list of our visits).
During Winter break, we spent five days in Barcelona with the children and their grand-parents. I wanted to share with you our program and our visit advices for a family trip. We chose quite a quiet rhythm: every early afternoon the children rested, with their grand-parents in the apartment that we booked. Thus, we were together strolling around until around 2pm, and we went out again in the end of the afternoon just to go to the square. During the rest time at the apartment (between 2 pm and 4 pm) and sometimes in the evening as well, my husband and I could enjoy the occasional couple getaway: the advantage to travel on three generations!
Age of the children: Ticoeur 7 years old, Titpuce 5 years old.
I will begin with the visits we made with the children…
The Sagrada Familia: don’t miss it, even with young children!
As I already told you, during my five previous stays in Barcelona, I had never visited the Sagrada Familia, which is a pure madness created by Gaudi, who dedicated most of his life to this masterpiece. This cathedral with original architecture is really appropriate with children. The outside has changed a lot since the first time I saw the Sagrada 15 years ago. I think the work is progressing pretty quickly, even if it will take many years before all the towers and the entrance are finished. The inside is rather complete and you can only be struck by the volumes, the lights, the forms. Overall, counting the museum located underneath the church, we spent 1h30 in the Sagrada; the children loved the church; on the other hand, we shortened the museum part, very rich (all in all, without children, I think you can spend at least 2h in the Sagrada).
We had booked our tickets online for the first time slot of the day and we got in after a wait of only 5 minutes – it was perfect. We took the simple entrance tickets (without a guided visit, without audio guide, without an access to the tower) and I think that it was enough because we were already busy as it was and we were amazed of what we saw.
Adult fare: 15€ / Children (- 10 years): free. To be noted: there is a little playground very practical facing the Sagrada (on the side of the Passion door).
Montjuic and Miró Foundation:
A visit that was really successful with the children: the Foundation Joan Miró. Titpuce declared “All the same, his drawings are quite weird!” This museum is situated on the Montjuic Hill, very nice, with all its vegetation and its views on Barcelona. It is normally possible to climb there with the cable car but it was closed for maintenance. Since the cable car is quite expensive, it was a good option to take the bus. For the museum, we bought the tickets on the spot (12€ for adults and free for children).
The Park de la Ciutadella to let the children run…
I had often walked by this park but this time, with the children, we really spent a long time there, to see the fountain, the fake mammoth and to simply let the children run around. On the other hand, we thought the playgrounds were not so great.
Barceloneta Beach :
Even when it is too cold to bathe, the beach is a safe option with children. To get there, we crossed the neighbourhood of Barceloneta, which was quite nice (we had lunch there – see addresses below).
Strolls in the Gothic Quarter:
Since we were staying near the Sagrada, for all of our visits and strolls of the day, we walked by the center and so by the Gothic Quarter that we visited again and again, little piece at a time. We particularly went back to places that we liked a lot like: the Cathedral cloister (free access in the morning), Plaça Reial, the place in front of Santa Maria del Pi, the Plaça Sant Felip and Santa Anna church. We also had a quick walk in La Boqueria Market and in Santa Catarina Market (less touristic).
If you have never been to Barcelona, you have to remember to put the following places on your list:
Park Güell (adapted for all the family but it’s not in the center), the two famous houses: Casa Batlo, Casa Mila (by the underground Passeig de Gracia), the Palau de la Musica (at least see it from the outside – for the inside it’s only on guided tour and it may be better without children). This time, we didn’t go back to those places but they are staples in Barcelona, to see on a first stay here.
During our next stay in Barcelona, we will take the children to:
Tibidabo: it’s a vintage attraction park with a view on Barcelona. We couldn’t go there this time because it’s closed in the Winter.
Cosmo Caixa: a sort of “City of Science” (the one in Paris) with, among other things, a big greenhouse that makes you believe you’re in the Amazonian forest (it’s pretty far from the center so you should put it on the program if the weather is bad, or simply to please the children).
The children loved to eat tapas!
The children loved the small portions. Ours particularly loved the ham croquetas and the squids. Also playful for the kids: the pintxos, those tapas presented on long sticks. To be noted: as a family, we ate in restaurants for lunch but for dinner, we ate at the apartment with takeaway tapas we bought in little canteens of the neighbourhood: it’s cheaper, it avoided us to cook for six persons, and most importantly, it allowed us to eat on French time and not on Spanish time!
Move around Barcelona with the children:
We simply used the underground tickets (also valid in the buses) loaded for 10 journeys. The fee is the same for adults and children over 5 years old (free for children under 5 years old). It’s possible to only use one card for the whole family so it’s practical. With this same card, we travelled to the airport (you have to take the train in Sants station). To visit the city, we mixed bus/underground and our own little feet. I have to say that my Titpuce amazed me because she walked so much, whereas she usually isn’t a fan of citytrips (she prefers walking in nature.)
And without the children, then?
While the grand-parents, Ticoeur and Titpuce rested in the apartment, we had a little childfree program. We visited the Modern Art Museum (MACBA), we spent an afternoon in a Spa for my birthday, we wandered in El Born neighbourhood that I like very much and we had dinner at a head chef’s house, who received us in his own house (see good addresses below).
Off-road: La Colonia Guëll
Since we already knew Barcelona, to change a little, we went to the suburbs, direction la Colonia Güell. I only advise it to people who already know Barcelona very well and who are fans of Gaudi. Otherwise, for a first stay as a family I wouldn’t put it on the to-do list. I will write a blog post on this topic on occasion.
Our good addresses in Barcelona:
Can Mano: restaurant in Barceloneta, a kind of little canteen, very simple, very local, very fresh and cheap fish Calle del Baluard, 12 Barcelona.
Santa Rita: it’s original because it’s not really a restaurant. The chef cooks at his own place and a few tables are settled in his dining room. Great degustation menu (it was for my birthday). Unique menu that changes every season. This option is better without children because it’s a gastronomic experience that takes time (from 9 pm to midnight). To book a table it’s on their website (and you have to book in advance!): Santa Rita.
The Spa Aire which was my birthday present (close to the Park de la Ciutadella).
Accommodation: we had booked an apartment on Airbnb, right in front of the Sagrada (great for the view!). It was perfect (the landlady was really nice, the apartment very pretty) but I only advise it if, like us, you share it between two families, otherwise it’s too big and you could find cheaper options. To be noted: the Sagrada neighbourhood is residential, it’s not the city centre but it’s really well connected via the underground and the buses. If you’re looking for an accommodation closer to the center, I advise you to look in El Born neighbourhood, very animated, and very practical to visit. If you wish to book with Airbnb and you want me to sponsor you, you can use this link to have a discount. And if you know any family friendly hotels, don’t hesitate to give me your good addresses in the comment section because we will probably go back to Barcelona, again and again!
Admiring la Sagrada from our appartment…
What about you? Have you already visited Barcelona as a family?