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Barcelona with kids – Day 1
On our first day we had pretty good weather, so we decided to explore the city on the red line of the Bus Turístic. This is the official city hop on hop off bus service and has three lines, taking you to most of the touristic spots worth visiting in Barcelona. The audio guide tour is available in 16 different langues. The bus stop for the Bus Turístic is recognisable by a blue/purple coloured bus stop sign which differs from the normal city bus stops. Not all lines are open out of season (the green line starts up at the end of March until November), but the main routes were open. We thought it would be a good way to get the lie of the land and would help us plan the rest of our visit better, which it turned out to be.
First of all we walked to the Plaça d’Espanya where we caught the first bus to take us to the Poble Espanyol, where we hopped off to explore. We were glad we had taken the bus because this attraction is located up a hill. The Poble Espanyol is an open-air museum which reveals the diversity of Spain through a combination of architecture, contemporary art, traditional crafts, shops and gastronomy. It was created back in 1929 for the Barcelona International Exhibition and it has over 100 replicas of building from different parts of Spain. It was all built in 16 months – it made us wonder why Sagrada Familia is still under construction….
The village is not inhabited but is used to host a variety of events throughout the year. The area is free of traffic so you can stroll with the family and enjoy shopping 365 days a year. There are lots of touristy shops and restaurants to visit and there is a good view of the city from behind the Monastry. You can also watch craftsmen working on unique pieces in their workshops, the glass blowing was especially instructive and fun to see for the kids.
Next we hopped back on the Bus Turístic and followed the red route up the mountain past the Olympic Ring, the Fundació Joan Miró and the Telefèric de Montjuïc. All these are great stops to explore depending on what you prefer seeing. The Telefèric de Montjuïc can take you up to the Montjuïc Castle where you can enjoy stunning views. We didn’t stop at this time and followed on the red route the harbour area and past the Barcelona Zoo and various other stops. The bus does take its time to get from A to B and follows a schedule so when it is ahead of schedule it does wait at the stops sometimes to ensure it leaves on time. Therefore it is important to note that the bus trip does take quite a while to complete a full route, and we advise you to think of it when planning your route.
Our next stop was La Pedrera, an amazing place for Gaudí fans. We grabbed a tapas nearby and headed back to the Chocolate Museum. NOTE: A more logical itinerary would have been stopping first close to the Museu de la Xocolata (Chocolate Museum) and then afterwards following the red route to La Pedrera. Bear in mind the Bus Turístic route doesn’t go two ways, it only follows one direction. So if you miss a destination it would take you another full round to get back to previous stops, which takes really long. Instead, research in advance the stops you would like to hop off and make sure you follow the direct route.
From La Pedrera we then took a normal city bus (you can pay onboard about 2,15€ p.p. per trip) to bring us back the way we had come to the Chocolate Museum (Museu de la Xocolata) which we planned to visit. This was a recommendation from Visit Barcelona and we knew our daughter would love it! The museum illustrates the art of figurine making from chocolate that they are pretty good at around here. Some of the statues were amazing. The nice touch of the chocolate bar as an entry ticket and the videos and presentations were informative. The chocolate tickets did not last very long, two of the tickets were eaten straight after passing the gates. The process of chocolate making was also described in detail which was interesting. The museum also offers guided-tours with the Xocoexperience; a workshop teaching you techniques of master chocolatiers to develop the most original, creative and delicious chocolate pieces! Doesn’t it sound like a great activity to do with friends and family?
The Parc de la Ciutadella is only a block away from the Museu de la Xocolata so we walked there. This is a great place to visit with kids as there is a lot going on – there are bands playing, street artists doing their thing and lots of things to see. A vibrant place and definitely our most favorite park in the city. We visited in February but imagine that it must get quite busy in the summer. We spent a while there taking in the atmosphere and just relaxing from a busy day. The Barcelona Zoo is located in this park and on the other side of the park you can see the Arc de Triomf. By the time the sun began to drop and we decided to get the red line bus back to Plaça d’Espanya and complete this red route.
In hindsight it would have been quicker to have taken the metro, but we thought we had the tickets for a day so we would make use of them. The nice thing about the bus is that it gives you a running commentary in different languages (you get given headphones when you get on). You also get a booklet worth more than 250€ in discounts to various attractions – this is worth knowing as we did not realise until too late and paid more than we should have! Too much paperwork!
Disclaimer: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in return for providing my honest and unbiased review. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.