Barcelona, a fountain of courtesy, shelter of strangers, hospice to the poor, land of the valiant, avenger of the offended, reciprocator of firm friendship, a city unique in its location and beauty.
— Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote, 1605
Half term took us to the wonderful Barcelona for a few days, both “unique in its location and beauty” as Don Quixote exclaimed. Of course this was centuries before four great masters of modern art, Gaudí, Miró, Picasso and Dalí added their creativity to the city. Layers of history and beauty are woven through every corner of the Catalonian capital. We had four days to glimpse some of these treasures and get a taste for this Spanish port.
In order for us to get the most out of our time I “prepped” us all by reading books to the children (aged 10,8,4) about the people and places, which I’ve posted below. I find it helps bring the trip alive. We particularly enjoyed reading aloud Lucy Fitch Perkins’ The Spanish Twins, set in Granada, but it got us in the Spanish mood nonetheless!
Our first afternoon was spent strolling from our Airbnb flat up Las Ramblas starting with the Columbus Monument at one end, and then onto Gaudí’s Palau Guëll, Joan Miró’s Pla de l’Os mosaic on the pavement, Plaça Reial and ended up at La Boquería, the famous food market, where we bought some delicious macaroons and figs for supper.
Our first stop was the Picasso Museum. And wow! I had bought the museum guide before our trip so we could all familiarise ourselves with the works we were going to see. The children then felt they were looking at old friends, which was wonderful. The museum has beautifully displayed his work to show the progression from realism to Cubism.
Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia, still under construction, was our afternoon. We were all amazed by the scale of the church, the architectural symbolism and the ever present biblical stories in the sculpture.
Today was another Gaudí day. We headed straight to Parc Guëll, where the children were excited to meet the famous mosaic dragon guarding the gates. The park was a wonderful place to explore some of his fantastical architecture and appreciate the importance of nature in his story. In Gaudí’s own words, “The great book, always open and which we should make an effort to read, is that of Nature.” We also spent time visiting Gaudí’s house and were impressed by his devout faith underlying his life and work. Although the metro ride was probably a highlight for the kids!
That afternoon we had planned to walk by more of Gaudí’s work – Casa Batlló and Casa Milà but sadly one of the children came down with a stomach bug, so we’ll just have to save that treat for another time.
In the evenings we played games, read and watched films on good old Netflix!
Barcelona was showing off on our last day! The sun shone and the sky was blue. We headed up the cable car to visit Montjuïc Castle, dating back to 1640, for the final morning of adventures.
The views were stunning in every direction over the whole city and coastline – this was definitely worth it! The grand finale!
Top Tips for City Breaks with Kids
- Enough snacks and water with you
- Keep museums short and sweet
- Have some puzzle books or a game in your bag for lunch breaks and pauses
- Before the trip read to the children about the city/country and look at pictures of the city, buildings, artists, historical figures
- Find an ice cream stop to visit regularly!
Barcelona Guide Books
Chapter Books for Independent Reading or Read Alouds
(No, these were not all read for this trip!)
Would love to hear of city breaks you’ve enjoyed or other titles set in Spain.