Hi every one. This is Ann-Marie and I am the guide that leads all of you on the Runner Bean Kids and Family Walking Tours. One thing that strikes me about this city is the huge amount of activities available for families. Of course, all the guide books list the main museums and attractions, but on this post I thought I would offer an insider’s view on alternative itineraries that would offer a more local perspective. So follow me for some beach, tapas and ice cream.
One big bonus about visiting Barcelona with the little ones is the sand and the sea. Barceloneta is the nearest beach to the centre but it can get quite crowded with sight-seers and, as a result, not as pleasant. A more local beach is Bogatell that belongs to the neighbourhood of Poble Nou (metro stop Poble Nou – Line 4, the yellow one). To get there, you can use public transport, hire bikes (15 minute cycle from the centre) or take a pleasant 25 minute stroll from Barceloneta Beach. It is a lot cleaner than the central beaches and has fewer people, making it more pleasant to while away an hour or two with the kids. Please remember never to leave your valuables unattended.
Once the hunger sets in, it is time to head for the very pleasant Rambla of Poble Nou. If visiting during a sunny weekend, you will quickly notice that this is where a lot of Barcelonian families come on a Sunday rather than the overpriced La Rambla. Sometimes for a stroll or perhaps for a bite to eat. It is a pedestrian avenue that boasts a mix of modern as well as beautiful old sgraffito houses. Treat the kids to simple home made tapas on the outside terrace of La Tertulia. Being a local, I know this is one of the best spots for big portions of great tapas at reasonable prices. It never fails to impress families that I bring here! “Calamares a la Andaluza” (in the photo) is one of my favourite dishes.
However, don’t forget to leave room for the next course, which is the next block up away from the sea. On the corner of La Rambla of Poble Nou and Joncar Street you will find the classic El Tio Che. This is the best place for an ice cream or a refreshing orxata. It is an traditional parlour, still run by the same family, that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012 and is an institution in Barcelona. Aside from its beautiful decorative facade, they still continue to make their own mouth watering ice cream. I have friends from neighbourhoods 12 kms away that come all the way here just to buy their cartons of this creamy delicacy. Although flavours are displayed in Catalan, friendly staff give a good stab at translating them into English for the occasional tourist. You should also try one of their famous orxatas which is a milky non alcholic drink made from tigernuts. Nutty and sweet at the same time, tiger nuts are a healthy food with lots of positive benefits but I’m sure the kids will just love the flavour anyway!
Once the deliciously cooling dessert has been gobbled up, round off with a fun cultural activity. Turn right at Joncar Street and follow the same block. After 3 minutes you will arrive to the chimney square with the local library on the left. Here you can view the Giants of Poble Nou. If the doors are open, go inside and have a look. If they are closed, you can still spy kings, queens, dragons and other beasts. During the big festivals, a strong person slips inside and carries the whole structure around on their shoulders. Sometimes these large figures can weigh up to 60 kilos. They swirl and dance among the crowds and are pretty impressive to see in action.
I hope you enjoyed your time in my local barrio. You can finish off the tour by taking in more of the Rambla. If you see me on the street, give me a wave and maybe we can all sit down for that wonderful orxata :-).
If you are thinking of visiting Barcelona with your children, don’t miss our special post Gaudí for kids: a family guide for Barcelona, the best way of making the most of Gaudí while having fun all the way.
All photographs by Gorka Regidor