Barcelona is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and luckily it provides you with many good opportunities to have a nice city break with kids. I visited Barcelona with my little 1-year old, who was just able to walk and very interested in exploring Barcelona with this new skill. Traveling with kids can get some getting used to, but if you plan accordingly you can have the best time. In this blogpost you will find all my recommendations for traveling with a toddler in Barcelona, but you can apply it to big cities in general.
Count your blessings: When traveling with a 1 year old, you should have the right mindset and you should count your blessings. Hugo doesn’t really have his own opinions yet and if you just let him roam and play, he is usually happy. We can tire him by letting him walk and play, so he will be fine sitting in the stroller afterwards, giving us all the time to do the sightseeing that we want to do. A 1 year old does not have to go to a zoo yet, so you don’t have to do all the obligatory kids activities yet. You still have plenty of time to do those at a later age 😉 Don’t forget that you are traveling for yourself and that your kid doesn’t really care as long as he is with you.
Book the right hotel: You need to think about your needs during the holiday and book the right sort of accomodation. My preferred way of travel is by booking a hotel with a restaurant, where I would feel safe to let Hugo sleep in his room, while we are having dinner. This gives you some adult time in the evening, which you will need when traveling with a toddler. We stayed in the Barcelo Raval hotel in Barcelona, which I found perfect for our stay. We had a room large enough to comfortably fit a baby cot, it featured a bath and it had a good restaurant and rooftop bar that we could enjoy when Hugo was asleep. I always make sure I book a more upscale hotel when we let Hugo sleep independently. Location is very important too, if you want to let your kid sleep in his stroller it helps if you can visit most sights on foot. Taking a kid into the public transport usually does not help letting him sleep.
Think about food: It helps if you think about how you want to feed your toddler when on holiday. A breakfast buffet is the perfect way to start your day stress free, and I always let Hugo taste lots of things and get milk at the buffet. Hugo sometimes likes to have our food while we are having dinner, but at times he just wants his own food. I wasn’t prepared for his fickleness and didn’t bring any baby food. One day he loved having patatas pravas and the next day he spit them out. In Spain I could not find prepped baby meals for his age, so that was a bit of a miss. I always bring lots of snacks or order a bread basket to keep him entertained during the day.
Do cool activities: Don’t let yourself be fooled, it is much easier to find a good activity with a toddler than you think. Even taking the public transport and climbing stairs can be a cool activity for a kid. Placa Catalunya features many doves and Hugo was so happy to be chase them all over the square. If you open your eyes you will spot many kid friendly activities everywhere. Hugo loved playing in Casa Vicens by Gaudi, loved listening to the organs in Palau de la Musica Catalana and is fine with visiting art musea as well. Usually, you are welcomed so nicely at all the sights and you can even get some extra service while traveling with a kid. Southern European people love kids and even the most stiff cultures soften when they see a kid.
Find a playground: Barcelona features many little playgrounds, which were perfect to tire Hugo before sightseeing. I actually found the playgrounds such a nice activity as Hugo was meeting kids from all over the world and was interacting so nicely with them. I found this a very nice way to get to know more about other cultures and enrichen my travel experience.
Plan your day accordingly: Hugo still sleeps two times a day, so I usually plan a moment of rest so he can get enough sleep. For Hugo it is fine if he gets one sleep in his baby cot and he can take his second nap in his stroller (which happens automatically when we are walking/sightseeing and he is tired). Of course we are lucky that Hugo is fine with napping in the stroller, so we can be more flexible when traveling. I personally find planning naps in a city with sightseeing more easy, than we want to do a nature hike and cannot bring the stroller. Do not let big cities keep you from traveling with kids.
Bring a good travel buddy: I personally find traveling with Hugo much easier with an adult travel buddy. Hugo loves having his grandma around, so I was very happy she went to Barcelona with us. I think most travel activities are doable with a toddler, but flying can be very daunting. I was very happy that my mother kept Hugo entertained while I had to fold the stroller when we were waiting in line for the airplane. I do want to travel with Hugo by myself, but I am waiting till he’s a little older.