Tips for a family day in Barcelona

Travelling into Barcelona wasn’t as straight forward as we imagined when we made a spur of the moment decision for a family day trip. It’s such a large city and there are many options available for travel and lots to do. However, being on a budget we need to be strict on where we go. I mean, we could visit every aquarium or zoo in the world but we just can’t afford to!

So today we made an impromptu visit to Barcelona. No planning, no organising – just got up and went! We were staying on the northern outskirts with friends and decided to take the train.


Train into Barcelona

Upon arrival at Matero station we found very little there as it’s a local stop. The train line from the north runs along the Mediterranean. Just a beautiful coastline!

However, it appears to be a popular form of travel and as such is unlikely you will be able to get a seat.

Matero to Barcelona takes approximately 50 minutes and very efficient from what we saw.

Train Tickets

However, after 20 minutes of looking at the ticket machines (no staff or ticket desk) and not being able to understand the children’s tickets we opted to buy them adult tickets! After checking afterwards there is supposed to be an option for (Tarifa Niño) but we couldn’t find it without it requesting an ID number?! We reluctantly gave up!

Cost €33.60 total


What’s there to do in Barcelona on a budget


There are lots of green spaces. The largest we found was Parc de la Ciutadella. We wandered through here as it was en route to the marina. At the end was Barcelona zoo. We appeased the boys requests by saying we’d see the animals in Africa, ha ha!.

The Parc had lots of grass and trees for a shady stop and picnic if required. Some parcs are just a walkway with a small playground like the one near Sagrada Familia.

Cost €0



Always a winner as the boys love the water, boats and spotting fish. The marina in Barcelona was HUGE with some boats that we bigger than our house! A little Google and the owner was a Russian billionaire!

It was clearly tourist heaven with lots of shopping, McDonald’s & Costa signs dotted around. But for entertainment there is the aquarium (which I’ve heard is very good) and the iMax theatre.

In the distance we could see 2 cable cars. First the one travelling over the port area. Further in the distance was another cable car which leads up to Montjuic with great views over Barcelona!

Cost €0


Barcelona is a city with a beach; and a nice one too! It had a good atmosphere with lots of people cycling and running. Plus there were lots of eateries in the area, both on and around the beach.

It’s a great place to go as cool off when the heat gets unbearable or web you just need to cool your feet down!

It is what’s useful to pack a micro towel and/or sarong for stops.

Cost €0


As part of the boys homeschooling we have been looking at the difference in houses and living. It was great walking around the city. The boys were happy enjoying walking around the narrow streets and absorbing the sights and sounds.

Barcelona is all about the architecture though. It really is a beautiful city with character. It helps that it has open spaces for the boys to roam as that’s what they enjoy most. They don’t enjoy walking around a museum or looking at an old house (like bletchley) but when it’s a city with noise and they are free to go where they want we don’t get as many whines. That’s not to say they don’t complain, but it’s definitely less!

We walked up the touristy la ramblas with all the hustle and bustle and they loved it. But tired legs were starting to kick in.

We also visited the Sagrada Familia, but I know that my boys (nor I) have the patience to look around so we didn’t go in. Instead we viewed from the outside from a nearby park. You could actually see alot!

Cost €0


Getting around

First and foremost you need to have comfy shoes on as the easiest and cheapest way to get around Barcelona is by your own steam. But when that runs out, which it will, then there are options of either a hop-on, hop-on bus. This costs around €30 for adults and €16 for kids. If you are planning to do some activities I would check out package deals as these can be cheaper to book beforehand.

The other options is the metro (underground). Very easy and simple to use. We bought a single ticket to the UNESCO world heritage site, Sagrada familia. We were only going for a visit and didn’t buy tickets as you can see the external development from all around the outside.

However, keep your bags close. Someone got a little close to me on the train and I became suspicious. He had a coat draped over his shoulder/bag. He just nudged forward a little too cost, so I gave an elbow back and pulled my bag in tighter. It may have been nothing, but it’s good to be aware of these pickpockets!

Total cost €8.80

Food and drink

Obviously the cheapest option would be a picnic but we weren’t that organised. So instead as we wandered the streets we noticed a little pasty shop near the beach. We later found these were called empanadas and very tasty!!

We managed to purchase 6 and 2 drinks for €13

We also noticed that while walking around people were stopping at the water fountains. So we had a water bottles with us and kept filling that up to keep us hydrated!

Total cost €13


For a city Barcelona is beautiful and you could spend a whole day walking it’s streets, if you had the energy.

I’d highly recommend it for a day stop. If you have a motorhome I wouldn’t recommend parking in the city centre. We didn’t drive but many parking places had a height restriction. You learn to notice these things without realising.


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