The road less travelled: experiencing Barcelona differently during our round-the-world trip
When you think Barcelona, you think Güell Palace and its park, Casa Battló, Casa Amatller, the Barcelona aquarium (one of the largest in Europe), the multitude of beaches, the Gothic Quarter, delicious tapas and, of course, the Sagrada Familia (amongst many other things).
When I went to Barcelona for the first time, that’s pretty much what I visited. I saw as much as I could and I promised myself I would go back to continue my visit. Because yes, there’s much more to see and do in Barcelona!
The day finally arrived with my departure for my round-the-world trip with my family. Spain was calling us and we decided to spend one month discovering its east coast. Though nothing was forcing us to do so, we were determined to go see my beloved Barcelona.
In all, we spent 6 days in Barcelona and its surrounding region, during the splendid month of July 2019.
Here are the activities we did in Barcelona to enjoy a different experience, between city and nature!
BETWEEN CITY AND NATURE = ON THE SEA WITH EUROPE’S LARGEST ECO-FRIENDLY CATAMARAN!
A great activity you should definitely try in Barcelona is going on an excursion on the Mediterranean Sea. During about 1h15min (just long enough for an activity with young children), the Eco Sail Panoramic Boat Tour took us into the open sea. Perfectly #SlowEverything, with the sailboats in the distance, the sun shining, the sea breeze and the amazing view of Barcelona we had from the sea. I guarantee this activity is a hit!
The Eco Sail Panoramic Boat Tour sailboat is the largest eco-friendly catamaran in Europe. It is superbly adapted for young families with strollers. We were able to get on the catamaran without folding the stroller #Hallelujah, since the boat is adapted for disabled people. On the catamaran, you will find a small refreshment counter, toilets, and a second-floor from which you can admire the view of Barcelona.
GOODBYE CITY, HELLO NATURE AND THE VAL DE NÚRIA
On our way to the destination, we were already blown away by the view. It’s a bit less than 1h30min by car plus a 30-minute train ride from Barcelona, but the scenery makes the journey worthwhile.
If only you could see just how the nature in the Val de Núria is spectacular. Yes, in bold, underlined and all.
At the top, you’re in the heart of the valley, more than 2 000 metres high, in the Pyrenees, a chain of mountains that separates the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of Europe. With the sun peeking through the surrounding mountaintops, the thousands of birds that seem to have found a home in this paradise on Earth, the huge trout leaping in the crystal clear waters, the horses resting on the hillsides and the cows grazing nonchalantly in the slopes, only one thought comes to mind: this place is so #SlowTravel!
In the Val de Núria, you can hike, fish, go horseback riding, try archery, go canoeing, do pony rides and much more.
As for us, we stayed 1 night and 2 days in the Núria Valley and we made the journey on our own, with a rental car. For those of you who would rather see it all in one day, it can easily be done. Tourism Barcelona offers small one-day excursions (you leave in the morning and come back at night, in an all-inclusive package). For more details, check out their website.
Interesting fact: we did this excursion with our devoted double stroller and we had no problem whatsoever, not with the train, the hotel, or even the little dirt roads on-site in the Val de Núria.
ACCOMMODATION IN THENÚRIA VALLEY
We stayed at the Val de Núria hotel. We booked an apartment-style hotel room (the place really had everything to be #FamilyFriendly). Basically, we had the equivalent of a 6 and a half apartment, with 2 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms (including a glass shower), a kitchen, lounge room and dining room. They had also set up a crib for us. In sum, everything we needed to be comfortable and well-rested to go and explore the Núria Valley as a family.
SAGRADA FAMILIA, GÜELL, GAUDÍ AND MORE
As I mentioned, I had already visited some of Barcelona’s most important attractions during a previous trip.
However, one of the things I hadn’t gotten the chance to see was the interior of the famous Sagrada Familia. I, therefore, took the opportunity during this second stay in Barcelona to check it off my wishlist.
It really lives up to everything that is said about it. The Sagrada Familia, on the inside as much as on the outside, is majestic. It is without a doubt #StrollerFriendly, so you’ll be able to visit the Sagrada Familia with the whole family. Additionally, there’s a separate line-up for young families, so you can access security faster without having to wait too long in the sun.
Noteworthy fact: you must have a ticket to visit the interior of the Sagrada Familia. Depending on the time of year you plan on visiting it (peak season or not), you have to buy your ticket a few days up to a few weeks in advance. If not, you might have to buy your ticket on a secondhand dealer Website, which will charge you extra fees.
We also went to check out the Mirador de Colom, a monument located in front of Barcelona’s Harbour. The Mirador de Colom monument was built for the World Fair of 1888, to pay tribute to the explorer Christopher Columbus, who had chosen the Barcelona Harbour as his arrival point upon returning from America.
The monument is a great spot to enjoy a 360 view of the city of Barcelona from up above. A nice, short and sweet #SlowTravel activity.
Under the monument, there is a wine cellar where you can do tastings and purchase local products. All in all, the visit can be done pretty quickly. As for us, even though we were there in July (peak tourist season), there wasn’t really a line. After only a few minutes spent waiting by the elevator, it was already our turn to get on and discover Barcelona from up high.
The activity isn’t really #StrollerFriendly. We went with ours anyway. We had to carry it down a few steps to get inside the monument at level 0. Then, we were asked to park it in the designated area, because it could not go up to the top with us. Furthermore, the interior viewing platform up above—that allows you to admire Barcelona from a different angle—is pretty tight. So it’s preferable not to bring a large backpack and claustrophobic people should think twice before doing the activity.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment!
** Some activities and overnight stays were offered to us by Tourism Barcelona. However, all opinions expressed remain ours and are always 100% authentic, in order to inspire each and every one of us in our day-to-day lives. The Sparks and Bloom sisters swear by this!
This post was translated from French to English by:
Isabelle, 24 years old. I’m an easy-going girl; quick-witted and a devoted fan of puns. As much as I enjoy staying home binge-watching series and reading novels, I also love traveling and discovering new things.
Léa, 28 years old, loves my life and my 3 mens. I am a go-getter, a sociable and creative person. My heart always wants what’s real and my taste pallet always wants what’s good #foody ;). I adore to travel, to read, to make new discoveries as well as practicing yoga #Namaste.