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Family holiday (resized)
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Barcelona ZooA classic zoo with spacious holdings and all the favourites—tigers, elephants, hippos, chimps and monkeys, tropical birds and reptiles. Picnic areas offer some welcome shade, and there are two impressive playgrounds to work off some of the excitement. A petting zoo offers up close and personal views of farmyard animals, and the dolphins are always up to something.
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L'AquariumTwo floors of marine life and entertainment. The first floor is an expansive traditional aquarium, with the great exception of the Oceanari, where visitors feel submerged underwater as they travel on the conveyor belt, surrounded by various species of sharks and moray eels that swim overhead and around in the glass tube-like tank. The second floor offers a penguin exhibit as well as a hands-on activities wing for children.
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The Magic FountainFor older children, the Museu Nacional de Catalunya (MNAC) has a good range of exhibitions and it takes a fun climb to get there via escalators and steep staircases. Cascading down from the MNAC are various waterfalls and fountains ending with the main 'Magic Fountain', which is the location for vibrant entertainment suitable for all ages, and sees music and water in coordination
Travelling en famille can be a bittersweet experience. In order for the laughs and fun times to outweigh the trantrums here is our Top Ten guide to keeping the little ones (and not so little ones) happy. They can visit the animals at the zoo, go boating in the park, parade with the penguins at the Aquarium or pretend they're the next Thierry Henry at Barcelona football team's Camp Nou.
1. Barcelona Zoo - see slide one
Parc de la Ciutadella, Tel. 93 225 6780, www.zoobarcelona.com
Open: April-Sept 10am-7pm daily; Nov-Feb 10am-5pm daily; March, Oct 10am-6pm daily
Admission: €15.40, €9.30 3-12 years, free under 3 years
Metro: Barceloneta: L4; Ciutadella-Vila Olímpica L4
2. Parc del Laberint
Gardens created in 1791 continue to flourish with picnic areas, and a waterfall flows into a stream that runs among ancient shade-giving trees. But the best draw is the cypress tree maze, which is surprisingly challenging, children may want accompaniment if young.
Germans Desvalls, Passeig Vall d’Hebron, www.bcn.cat/parcsijardins
Open: 10am-sunset daily
Admission: €2.05, free under 5 years and over 65 years
Metro: Mundet: L3
3. Parc de la Ciutadella
A true old-fashioned park with a bandstand, the Barcelona Zoo, the National History Museum, and a lake for boating. A popular spot for tourists and locals alike, picnics on the grass are a relaxing break from the tapas bars and cafes. Surprisingly spacious, street musicians and dog-walkers add a little life.
Passeig Picasso, Tel. 93 413 2400
Open: 9am-sunset daily
Metro: Arc de Triomf: L1; Barceloneta: L4
4. Parque Güell
A veritable fairy-tale, Antoni Gaudí’s park is a blend of curving paths and Alice in Wonderland-like sculptures tucked amongst the gardens. Views of Barcelona from the park terrace are breathtaking, as are the mosaic tiles that cover the benches there. Gaudí lived in a house on the property that has been turned into a museum, which is open to visitors for €4. Street musicians and various performers provide frequent entertainment.
Olot, Tel. 93 219 3811
Open: 10am-sunset daily
5. L’Aquarium - see slide two
Moll d’Espanya, Tel. 93 221 7474, www.aquariumbcn.com
Open: Oct-May Mon-Fri 9.30am-9pm, Sat-Sun 9.30am-9.30pm; Open daily June and Sept.; 9.30am-11pm July and Aug.
Admission: €16.50, free under 4 years
Metro: Barceloneta: L4; Drassanes: L3
A science museum isn’t complete without an extensive children’s programme, and this one is no exception. Hands-on activities are everywhere, including a supervised section where kids can learn about and touch live starfish, snakes, turtles, and even tarantulas. The Bubble Planetarium is an attraction in its own right; the 3-D simulated views of the universe are impressive.
Teodor Roviralta 47-51, Tel. 93 212 6050, www.cosmocaixa.com
Open: July-mid Sept 10am-8pm daily; mid Sept-June 10am-8pm Tues-Sun.
Admission: €3, free for 3 years and under, Planetarium E2
Bus: 17, 22, 58
7. MNAC and the Magic Fountain - see slide three
Parc de Montjuïc
Opening hours: MNAC - Tuesday to Saturday: 10am-7pm; Sundays and holidays: 10am-2.30pm; Closed Mondays (except public holidays); Magic Fountain - Thurs-Sun, every half hour from 9pm to 11pm (May to September); Friday and Saturday, every half hour from 7pm to 8.30pm (October to April)
Admission: MNAC - €8.50 (additional cost for most temporary shows); Magic Fountain - free
Metro: Paral·lel, L2 and L3, then take the bus
8. Museu Maritím
Museum housed in the medieval shipyards celebrates Barcelona’s maritime culture and history. A full-scale model of a galleon as well as exhibits on shipbuilding techniques through the ages are interesting even for those without any knowledge of the subjects. Admission also includes access to a docked schooner built in 1917. Free tours on Sundays with general admission.
Plaça Portal de la Pau, Tel. 93 302 5224, www.museumaritimbarcelona.com
Open: 10am-7pm daily
Admission: €6.50, free under 7 years
Metro: Drassanes: L3
9. La Rambla y La Boqueria
The famous street (and side streets) that cannot be missed. Winding down to the port from Plaza Catalunya, kids and adults alike will be in awe over its bird sellers, street performers, flower stalls and of course its open markets. A good note is if you take a photo with a performer, it’s advised to toss a Euro or two in their collections. La Boqueria is a literal feast for the eyes and mouth, where colourful stacks of fruits and vegetables are piled next to herbs, meats, cheese and fish stands. Gelato and fruit juice as well as unique candies are also sold. Keep wallets somewhere safe as pickpockets are known to join the throngs.
Metro: Catalunya: L1 and L3; Liceu: L3
10. Camp Nou
A must see for young football fans. 98,000 spectators need a grand stadium, and Camp Nou rises to the call. The passionately followed FC Barcelona has played in the stadium for 52 years, and lots of tears of joy and despair have been shed within the cavernous walls of the grounds. Hop on the guided tour to get an inside glance of the President’s Box, the players’ tunnel, and the dugouts. A club museum is also open to visitors where 100 years of FC Barcelona history is housed and hailed.
Avinguda Aristides Maillol, access 9, Les Corts, Tel. 93 496 3600/08, www.fcbarcelona.com
Open: April-mid Oct 10am-8pm Mon-Sat; 10am-2.30pm Sun; Mid Oct-March 10am-6.30pm Mon-Sat; Sun 10am-2.30pm
Admission: €8.50; guided tour is €13
Metro: Collblanc: L5; Maria Cristina L3
INSIDER'S TIP: For up-to-date information about forthcoming activities and events suitable for children, check the English-language website kidsinbarcelona.com.