Barcelona On A Budget, With Kids! | We decided that for this year’s annual vacation we wanted to go to Barcelona for 10 days (almost 12 if you include the flying time) because the exchange rate isn’t too bad, it’s affordable and Barcelona is a child friendly city! When planning any trip, there are three things I take into consideration and these are travel, accommodation, and entertainment.
And while I’m busy doing my vacation research I create my ‘Before Departure’ and ‘After Arrival’ shopping and packing lists. If there’s anything on the Before Departure list that I need to buy, then I head to my favorite discount shopping site – Discountrue, and check for coupons for those items before I do any shopping. Vacationing can be expensive so I always try to keep as many costs down as I can!
Barcelona has an amazing public transport system and between the trains, busses and walking, you can get pretty much anywhere so car hire is unnecessary! Many travelers advise getting a 10 Trip Pass, which gives you 10 trips within 1 zone for around €10. But as we didn’t want to have to worry about what counted as a single trip, how many trips we’d have in total and how long our stay was, we opted for the Barcelona Card. With the Barcelona Card ALL public transport is free and most importantly the AeroBus, plus you get free entrance or discounts for over 70 attractions, which came in pretty handy!
As we’re a family we prefer ‘self catering’ vacations because cooking and cleaning for ourselves always works out much cheaper than a hotel and even a BnB. And thanks to our Barcelona Cards it didn’t really matter where we stayed because we could easily get anywhere we needed to. So I browsed AllTheRooms.com because they pull listings from all the main vacation rental sites and I like the fact that there are plenty of filters to tailor your search, as well as a nice selection of ‘Sort By’ options.
For entertainment we had to choose options that suited both us and the kids, but by going through the list of ‘What’s Included’ in the Barcelona Card and doing a little research of our own that wasn’t too hard. Many of the attractions and museums with free entry included a ‘Skip the Line’ benefit which was fantastic, especially with two kids in tow! For our first day we wanted to take it easy, so we went to buy some supplies for the holiday and then spent the rest of it on the beach or sleeping off the jet lag.
Our Barcelona Card gave us free entry to the Cosmocaixa, which is an interactive science museum filled with experiments, objects, animals and plants. I love things that do stuff so I enjoyed it as much as the kids and we had three hours of twiddling knobs, pressing buttons and just having fun.
To get to the Cosmocaixa, we booked a day pass on the ‘Hop On, Hop Off’ bus tour. For one whole day you can get on any of the busses on three different routes, get off whenever you want to and climb back on when you’re done exploring. Although the Barcelona Bus Turistic also happened to be the easiest way to get to the science museum, our main reason for choosing this travel method was the booklet of discount vouchers you get as part of the package.
Between the discounts that we got from our Barcelona Cards and those vouchers, we ended up saving a whole lot of money on our entertainment expenses. And although you’re not supposed to be able to combine benefits from the Barcelona Card with any others, if I had a voucher for it I asked if I was possible anyway and some places graciously allowed it, although others just grumpily denied it.
Another thing that we absolutely had to do was visit Parc de Montjuïc. We used one of our discount vouchers for the cable car ride up to the top of the steep hill, where the kids spent the whole afternoon exploring the Montjuïc Castle, then had a late picnic lunch that we’d packed ourselves. That evening we watched the truly spectacular Magic Fountains of Montjuïc show and I seriously can’t explain how beautiful the water and the lights were while they danced to the accompanying music!
And of course we visited L’Aquarium de Barcelona. Again we spent the whole morning exploring the different aquariums and the interactive children’s areas. But the main attraction was the 80m ‘underwater’ tunnel. Walking through this transparent tunnel was like scuba diving but without getting wet! You can watch everything going on under the ocean around you, even wave to some scuba divers as they swim past.
On our list there was also a visit to Tibidabo Amusement Park with its SkyWalk and Cuitedella Park which houses the Barcelona Zoo. What’s more, we visited La Boqueria, which is a huge fresh food market just off La Rambla where we did a lot of shopping for our meal time supplies, although we made sure to only buy from the vendors deeper within the market to avoid the ‘tourist trap’ stalls!