If you've spent too much time already in the showpiece museums and churches, any of the suggestions we've given should head off a children 's revolt. A couple require your own transport to reach. Most of the city's festivals also have free children's activities such as puppet shows and parades; we've listed sporting suggestions. To find out about current children's events, phone Audiotex, a recorded information service in Spanish and Catalan, on 934 811 001. The English-language listings magazine Metropolitan also carries information on activities for children, some of them in English.
Travelling with children
Taking babies and young children to Barcelona doesn't pose great travel problems, and hostals, pensions and restaurants generally welcome them and offer reductions.
The train company RENFE allows children under three to travel free on trains, with half-price for those under seven. Metro stations can be a problem as there tend to be a lot of stairs to deal with and few platforms have lifts (useful exceptions being Montaner, Provence, line 2 of Sagrada Família, and Avda Tibidabo). If travelling by bus, try to stick to disabled-accessible routes, on which the buses will have ample room to handle a stroller.
If you're travelling out of season, bear in mind that most hostals (as opposed to more expensive hotels) don't have any heating systems - and it can get cold.
Disposable nappies and other standard needs are widely available. Although most establishments are very baby-friendly (most museum cloakrooms, for example, will be happy to look after your pushchair as you carry your child around the building), you will find that there are less public changing facilities than you're probably accustomed to at home. Those which do exist can be found in L'Illa shopping centre (in men's and women's toilets), Poble Espanyol, Maremàgnum, and at some McDonald 's restaurants.
City parks and gardens
If you want to get the kids out and about, take them to the Parc de la Ciutadella (gardens, museums, zoo, cycling and rowing); Parc Güell (bizarre gardens and buildings); El Laberint d'Horta (house, gardens and maze); or Parc de la Creuta del Coll (parkland, boating/swimming lake, small beach) for virtually guaranteed fun. At Parc del Castell de l'Oreneta there are miniature train rides and pony rides from 10.30am to 1.30pm on Sun; it's at the end of c/Montevideo (take the #22 or #64 bus to the end of the line and walk up Avda d'Espasa). The recently restored Font Màgic in front of the Palau Nacional on Montjuïc is displayed to full effect in an entertaining sound and light show.
Cinema . Children's sessions at the Filmoteca, on Sundays at 5pm.
Festivals . Many of Barcelona's festivals include children's events in the programme, particularly the Grec and Mercè . If you're around during the New Year, note the Festa de la Infància i de la Joventut , held in the Fira exhibition hall, Plaça d'Espanya, between December 26 and January 4. On January 5, in the evening, there is the Cavalcade of the Kings, when the three wise men arrive at the port and parade on camels up the Ramblas. Two other festivals which are great for kids are Carnaval in February and Sant Medir in Gràcia at the beginning of March, in which literally tons of sweets are thrown onto the streets.
Theatre . See "Theatre" for details of where to find children's theatre, mime, clown and puppet shows.
Museums and sights
L'Aquàrium , Moll d'Espanya del Port tel 932 217 474; Metro Barceloneta or Drassanes. Part of the new Port Vell complex, reputedly the biggest aquarium in Europe. Sea life from the Mediterranean; the sharks are the major attraction. Open daily 9.30am-8pm, closes 9.30pm July & Aug; ?8, children ?6.
Camp Nou Stadium , Metro Collblanc. Home of FC Barcelona, natural magnet to any right-thinking soccer-mad child. The museum here is terrific.
Imax Port Vell , Moll d'Espanya tel 902 332 211; Metro Barceloneta or Drassanes. Three different screens showing documentaries on nature and animals in 3D, circular or giant format. Showings all day from noon until 1am; admission ?6-18.
Museums . Some with a special interest for children include the Museu d'Història de Catalunya; Museu de Cera (Wax Museum); Museu de la Ciència (Science Museum); Museu de Zoología (Zoology Museum); Museu Textil i Indumentaria (Textile and Industry Museum); and Museu Marítim (Maritime Museum). For information on special activities for children in the city's museums during summertime, phone 933 017 775.
Planetarium , Museu de la Ciència tel 932 126 050, . Shows Tues-Fri at 1pm & 6pm, Sat & Sun every hour 10.30am-6.30pm; ?1.50 plus ?3 entry into the museum.
Poble Espanyol . Open-air "museum" of Spanish buildings, craft and gift shops, bars and restaurants.
Zoo de Barcelona . All the usual suspects, plus children's zoo and dolphin shows; free for under-3s.
Cable car . The best ride in the city is to the castle at the top of Montjuïc, several minutes of shrieking and gasping as you ride above the defunct fairground; not for the faint-hearted.
Les Golondrines : sightseeing boat rides across the harbour and to the Olympic Village.
Mirador Torre Collserola (information tel 934 069 354). The telecommunications tower at Tibidabo has more dizzying views from its 288-metre height, accessed by an external glass lift. Open Wed-Fri 11am-2.30pm & 3.30-8pm, Sat, Sun and hols 11am-8pm; ?3. Take the funicular to Tibidabo; there's free transport to the tower from Plaça Tibidabo.
Aqualeon , between Vendrell and Tarragona, off A-7 (exit 31) tel 977 687 656. A water and safari park. Open June-Sept 10am-5pm; adults 12.60, 3-12 years 7.20, under-3s free.
Catalunya en Miniatura , Torrelles de Llobregat tel 936 890 960 . A theme park, 17km from the city, with 170 Catalan monuments in miniature. Children's entertainment on Sunday at 12.30pm. Open daily all year 10am-7pm, open till midnight Fri & Sat in July & Aug. Adults 7.20, 3-14 years 4.20, under-3s free.
Illa Fantasia , Vilassar de Dalt tel 937 514 553. Supposedly the largest water park in Europe. It's up the coast from Barcelona, just short of Mataró (exit 9 on the main highway); there are regular buses from Sants-Estació (tel 937 981 100 for details). Park open Easter-June & mid-Sept to Oct, daily 10am-6pm; July to mid-Sept, Mon-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat & Sun 10am-8pm (the waterpark runs from mid-May to mid-Sept); Easter to mid-May & mid-Sept to Oct adults 10 children 3-11 5.60; mid-May to mid-Sept adults 13.20, children 3-11 7.20.
Port Aventura , near Salou/La Pineda, off A7 (exit 35 onto N340 towards Salou) tel 977 779 090; buses to Port Aventura leave from Passeig de Sant Joan at c/Diputació (info on 935 790 205). Universal Studios' answer to Disneyland Paris: a massive theme park based on five different cultures - Mexico, the Wild West, Polynesia, China and the Mediterranean. Shops, restaurants and shows, as well as fairground rides (including the biggest roller-coaster in Europe). Open daily March-Oct 10am-8pm (until midnight July & Aug); adults 24.60, children 18.60.
Tibidabo . Dubbed "La Muntanya Magica", the rides and shows in the amusement park here are unbeatable as far as location. The fairground food and drink are pricey; you may want to take sandwiches if you're making a day of it.
Some hostals will be prepared to babysit, or at least to listen out for trouble. This is obviously more likely if you're staying in an old-fashioned family-run place than in the fancier hotels. Otherwise, you could try one of the babysitting services listed below:
Agencia Rita c/Casanova 27 tel 934 537 034.
Servi-nens Via Augusta 120 tel 932 182 387.
The agencies charge between ?4.20 and ?7.20 an hour; English is spoken at both
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