Barcelona - with a 17yr old, 14 yr old and 8 yr old - in July

(21 Posts)
Northernlurker Sun 14-Jun-15 18:38:45

We've just booked 4 nights in Barcelona with the dds in July. After years of holidaying in Scotland (which we all love) we promised them a trip on a plane. We want a little bit of beach, a bit of culture so Barcelona seems to fit the bill. We have booked a fairly central apartment which has decent trip advisor reviews. So what I now need is mumsnetter guidance....

Have you been? What to see, what to avoid? Is the zoo good? What do I need to pack - we plan to travel very light so will be exploring 500 things to do with a sarong. Once I've bought a sarong that is. You don't need them in Scotland. They blow away......

mummymeister Sun 14-Jun-15 19:36:29

we went to Barcelona and had a fab time. we did the bus tour, went to all the attractions and eating out was great. the lonely planet book was really useful for this. avoid las ramblas at all costs. its the only time I have felt followed and it was horrible. its where all the tourists go and the pickpockets wait for you. there is a huge cable car up by the castle which was good fun. would suggest you bring something smart for the eating out bits but it is a really easy walkable city. google to see if there are any festivals or music things on as well.

Northernlurker Sun 14-Jun-15 19:37:30

Yes I thought the castle looked good! Pickpocket tips duly noted....

geogteach Sun 14-Jun-15 19:47:05

Food market is fab, my 10 year old is still raving about it 2 years later. Museum of innovation was good, lots of 'weird' inventions that my lot enjoyed. Sagrada Familia is great as is the park with all the Gaudi art.

lottysmum Sun 14-Jun-15 21:21:29

I would pre book Sagrada Familia (now) if you would like to go inside - the queues are massive otherwise... The food market is great to see ...the beach area is wonderful ...very expensive to eat out so bear this in mind ....If you are there for 4nights you could always catch a train to either Portaventura (1hr 20 mins) or go to water parc too....(for the kids)....

Northernlurker Tue 16-Jun-15 17:44:05

Any thoughts on pickpocketing? Is it really worse than anywhere else? I visited several European cites as a teenager (20 years ago!). Of all those place Budapest was the one place we had any trouble and that was on a metro train where some of our party basically got surrounded. Some of the info I've read on line is a little alarming.......hmm

MrsFrankieHeck Tue 16-Jun-15 17:48:33

Pickpockets are a huge problem unfortunately, you'll really need to keep your wits about you. There are loads of different ways they do it so be alert.

DH wouldn't let me book it last year because of it.

Moreisnnogedag Tue 16-Jun-15 17:54:05

Really? We went and didn't have any bother. Just did the usual thing of having bag on front rather than back.

Loved Barcelona, made me tempted to move to Spain smile. Food market a real must. Las ramblas was definitely skippable, it's so tacky and horrible. Beach was great .

We stayed in an air bnb flat and bought food from supermarket and food market. 'Twas great.

TurnOverTheTv Tue 16-Jun-15 17:54:14

I've been to Barcelona and never had trouble with pickpockets, but I'm just aware like I would be in any big city.
Take them to Tibidabo mountain, it has amazing views, and there is a funfair at the top.
Take the metro to Av. Tibidabo, then cross straight over the road and catch the blue tram which will take you halfway up the mountain. Once you leave the tram there is a bar called Mirablau on the right hand side which has wonderful views and great hot chocolate!
Over the road is the funicular railway which will take you to the very top.
Tickets for the park are about €28 but we just buy the tickets we need from the machines at the park as we are never there all day.

Magmatic80 Tue 16-Jun-15 18:08:53

I find football beyond tedious, but the tour of stadium was brilliant, totally fascinating how it's part of the local culture, and amazing to stand by the pitch. Park Guell was ace too, loads of cool bits to run around.

dottygamekeeper Tue 16-Jun-15 18:11:55

I went last October with 16 and 18 year old. For an evening activity The Magic Fountain (Font Majica) was a big hit

www.bcn.cat/fontmagica

- walk up the road from the metro, then sit on the steps above it and watch. Also brilliant view of the fountain and the Museum from the top of the shopping centre in a converted bullring which is on the roundabout where you come out of the metro (some nice restaurants up there too). The Caixa forum there is a great building to explore and has some interesting exhibt

The Gaudi stuff - Parc Guell, La Pedrera, Sagrada Familia (recommend pre booking tickets on line for all of these to avoid queuing). Also Casa Batllo

Wander round the harbour/marina and look at all the amazing luxury yachts, also near the Columbus statue you can sit by the harbour and watch huge fish coming up to be fed.

I thought Las Ramblas hugely overrated and very tacky, but loved exploring the streets in the Eixample and El Born.

we did the bus tour on our first day which was great for orientating ourselves, but after that we walked most places and caught the metro or the bus occasionally (get the books of 10 tickets and just use as necessary)

We didn't have any problems with pickpockets but I told the DC to be wary at all times!

We stayed in an AirBNB apartment, had a great time (and found food and drink to be really reasonably priced esp coffee, and cava!)

Northernlurker Tue 16-Jun-15 19:27:23

I am so excited - it sounds great. But then reviews etc are also a bit like this thread - one person says problem, one person says fine. I suppose that's like any city isn't it? I know I am always aware of that sort of issue in London and never had so much as a second's worry - but equally there must be some people who visit London and have problems.
Has anybody been to the aquarium? Is zoo or aquarium better?

TurnOverTheTv Tue 16-Jun-15 19:45:22

I would say zoo, there is a tram stop right outside.

TurnOverTheTv Tue 16-Jun-15 19:47:45

Oh, and it'll be fairly hot in July, I was there last week and it was getting a bit much already, but I'm a wuss smile

Suttonmum1 Tue 16-Jun-15 20:01:07

Pickpocketing v bad. Be careful of teens with mobiles in pockets. My sceptical husband felt a guy's hand in his pocket. Football Stadium great. CosmoCaixa science museum really good. Loads to do there and only 4 Euro per adult, kids free if I remember correctly. Cabs to/from airport good value too.
Def book tickets in advance for as much as poss, will be too hot for standing in queues.

Blueberrybaby Tue 16-Jun-15 20:09:57

Pickpockets are clever. I've been to Barcelona about 5 times and only once fell victim. He was clever. Big group of us in Parc Guell sitting in the massive marble seated bench area taking it in turns to take pictures of our group. Friend reaches for her bag to pass her camera over, and it was gone. We'd distracted ourselves. He just sat quietly and waited for the perfect moment, then sauntered off with the bag in plain sight. We realised about thirty seconds later and he'd disappeared. Be wary. Strap your bags through seat legs etc. They will distract you or wait until you are distracted.

That said it is a fantastic city! Don't let it put you off.

MyPelvicFloorTrainsItself Tue 16-Jun-15 20:53:08

Watch out if anyone tries to talk to you at all, they are really really clever.

Literally everyone I know , except for DS who was on a school trip, who went there last year was pickpocketed or had their handbag/ phone stolen. The local authorities really need to sort it out.

My neighbour said the police station was jam packed with brits filling in forms.

mummymeister Wed 17-Jun-15 10:54:16

I lived in London for over 20 years and have travelled all over S America and have never felt as unsafe as I did in Las Ramblas and neither has DH or the kids. I would go back to Barcelona again anytime but never again walk around las ramblas.

FallingGoldfinch Wed 17-Jun-15 11:08:00

I didn't find it quite as threatening as Paris - it's getting so bad there that I genuinely think there will be a time soon when I won't go back because of the pickpocketing/harassment - but you do have to be very careful. As others have said, don't get distracted by anything, and watch out for your teens having stuff in their pockets as that will just go.

You can do Las Ramblas quite quickly if you just want to say you have! Don't take photos of the street performers without paying them or they get pretty aggressive (as do the nuns outside the Sagrada Familia!). As with Paris, watch out for people 'dropping' things or making you think you've knocked them over.

If buying things, haggle - football strips and stuff like that. They start off at ridiculous prices and whatever you pay will probably be more than you could have got it for.

Lots of 'all you can eat' buffet style places near major tourist attractions that are actually really good. We found one that was 10 euros for adults and it was great for veggie food.

TurnOverTheTv Wed 17-Jun-15 11:55:29

I must be totally oblivious! I've been to Barcelona half a dozen times and never felt threatened or worried. I did notice a lot more guys in the metro this time with their big bags of fake gear. I took my parents last week and we walked Las Ramblas from top to bottom, stopping at the market and it was fine.
Me and my mum both had across the body bags with buckles and I told my dad to put his wallet in one of our bags and we were fine.

TummyButtonFluff Wed 17-Jun-15 12:06:43

I must be oblivious too as I didn't feel threatened once and rather liked rambling down Las Ramblas, tacky though it is. I did live in London or a long time though, so am use to watching my bag. We left expensive jewellery/watches at home, used rucksacks and didn't dress up - I don't think we looked worth pickpocketing!

Some of the rides at Tibidabo looked a bit dodgy and a quick google threw up an accident some time ago, so we didn't let the kids on one of them, but it was still nice to go up there. Parc Guell was nice. What the children enjoyed most though was just wandering around, looking at Gaudi's work, eating long lunches and suppers in lovely places out of the main tourist traps (they still rave about the food now).

Barceloneta beach is OK at there is a good changing room, if your eight year old wants to go in the sea.

Very hot, so make sure your apartment has air conditioning.

Have fun - very envious.

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