Buenos Días Barcelona!

By Ifrah Rafique 2019-12-11 12:33:22

Upon entering The Old City (“Ciutat Vella” in Catalan), you quickly realise why there is such a buzz about visiting Barcelona. Learn about the fascinating history and enrich yourself with stories of the early settlement of the Romans, the Spanish Civil War and the Moors. Admire the iconic art work of Antoni Gaudí and Pablo Picasso and the charming architecture, which can be seen on practically every street corner. The four districts, Raval, Barri Gòtic, Sant Pere (El Born) and Barceloneta together form the region Ciutat Vella.

Raval is the most western and multicultural district of the Old Town. Raval originates from the Arabic word Rabad, which translates to neighbourhood. The town’s character is strongly influenced by immigrants and here you can choose from a variety of cuisines from French, Chinese or even Moroccan food; there’s something that will suit everyone’s taste buds. Let your jaw drop in awe of a live Flamenco dance, a traditional Spanish performance which the whole family can enjoy.

Barri Gòtic, also recognised as the Gothic district, is filled with narrow alleys and quaint boutiques. You can easily go around by foot, making it the perfect spot to do a bit of shopping – whether it be taking your family to a homemade chocolate store for a cheeky midday treat (located at Carrer de Petritxol, the sweetest street of Barcelona) or something more luxurious for yourself. Nearby, La Rambla has an open-air theatre stage for children’s shows, outdoor markets, countless restaurants and cheap eats to choose from. A short walk away is El Call and, if you’re a history buff like me, you’ll find Barcelona’s Jewish District so interesting, where you can take a visit to the museum and find the oldest synagogue in Spain.

Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera is more commonly known as El Born due to its long name. Here, you can find Palau de la Musica Catalana which is an important UNESCO World Heritage site. The grand concert hall is nothing short of spectacular and you can easily book an English speaking guided tour. Here you can take a bus to visit Park Güell, which was designed by Gaudí and offers stunning views of Barcelona below.

Barceloneta is well known as the seaside neighbourhood. In the 18th century, fishermen settled within the area because of its easy access to the old port. Now, tourists can take their families on a lovely stroll across the sandy beach (it may be too cold during the winter months to swim), dine al fresco at a local seafood restaurant and make sure to check out the tapas bars. The Port Cable Car has panoramic city views which can takes you the enchanting Montjuïc Castle.

Merry Christmas! Or, as they say in Catalonia, Bon Nadal! One of the biggest Christmas fairs is Fira de Santa Llúcia, which is located next to the Gothic Cathedral. The market has an abundance of festive stalls, where you can purchase handmade crafts and traditional zambombas (friction drums) for the family. The Santa Llúcia market opens at the end of November, 10:30am to 8:30pm.

Another iconic Christmas market is Fira de Nadal de la Sagrada Família , located in front of Gaudí's must-see majestic Sagrada Família Cathedral. Your kids can meet Father Christmas and experience his elves collecting letters from children and offering free sweets and balloons. If you come across local children singing and hitting a log that has been painted with a smiley face with sticks, this is totally normal! (FYI, don’t take my word for it, look this up on the internet for what some tourists may find amusing). Open from November until 24th December, 10am to 10pm.



Teresa Carles: is one of the first vegetarian restaurants to open in Barcelona. Lots of vegetarian and vegan tapas. Not far from Plaça Catalunya.

Veggie Garden: there are two chains, one in Raval and one in Eixample. They have a super tasty and affordable lunch menu. Perfect for families as children have a playing space whilst you relax (€8.50-€8.90).


Carrer de Blai: a little street in the Poble Sec neighbourhood, all offering pinchos (a little tapa served on a slice of bread) for €1-€1.50.

Alcoba Azul: a romantic and gothic restaurant in the heart of Barcelona in Carrer Sant. Great for date night or a fancy night out with family.

Fish and Seafood

Can Maño: a little restaurant hidden inside la Barceloneta, the fishermen Barrio. The main food you can eat is fried fish, fried seafood and fried sides. Everything is fried and delicious.

Pescadito Frito: a family run restaurant on the left side of the Eixample. Here you can get the best pulpitos, little tasty fried octopus!


Can Ros: located in la Barceloneta is Can Ros which is walking distance to the beach. Here the authentic Paella costs €16 and the seafood and calamari is muy rico!

Litoral: right in front of the Barceloneta beach, you can find delicious Paella for just €14. Perfect for children and families to chill out in the sun.

Where to stay

Aparthotel Arai (luxury) – near La Rambla

This hotel is set in a restored 18th century palace in the heart of the Gothic Quarter. It has family rooms with scenic balcony views. You can request to stay in the exclusive suite which you can take full advantage of the jacuzzi, sofa beds, swimming pool and a Peruvian restaurant located downstairs.

Catalonia Ramblas – El Raval

A four star hotel located close to Catalunya square and has room for family of five. The metro and Gothic neighbourhood is a short walk away and the hotel offers a swimming pool, sofa beds and mini-bars.

Grand Hotel Central – Sant Pere

An exquisite five star hotel offers breakfast, high ceilings, kitchenettes and ancient city wall views. The hotel boasts a rooftop infinity pool with gorgeous skyline views as well as being super close to museums, restaurants and tapas bars.


Although the official language used in Barcelona is Catalan, Spanish is still widely spoken. Here are some key essential words and phrases to help you get by:


Hola – Hello

Adios - Goodbye

Buenos Días - Good morning

Por favor – Please

Gracias – Thank you


¿ Cuánto cuesta? – How much is it?

La cuenta, por favor – The bill, please

Un taxi, por favor – A taxi, please.

Dónde está...… - Where is…?

La Farmacia – The pharmacy

El Hospital – The hospital

Un restaurante bueno – A good restaurant

Un bar bueno – A good bar

Getting Around

• Leaving the airport - Getting around Barcelona couldn’t be more stress-free. Once you land, there are shuttle buses every 30 minutes that take you from the airport straight into the city centre.

• Trains & Bus - The metro and buses are also signalled with English translations, so getting from point A to point B is easy to navigate. You can also download offline maps for free to help you make the most out of your stay (I recommend the app Maps.me).

• Bikes & Segways - Are cheap to rent and are a convenient, eco-friendly and fun way for families to travel.


I was thrilled to find out that there were FREE fun and informative walking tours to choose from to take in the historical sights. All guides are friendly locals and provide you with knowledge and tips that can’t be found on the internet. Walking tours are free of charge, but donations are highly recommended. I paid €5 for 2 hours, however you can pay as much or as little as you want. All tours take different routes so check out the spots you will be walking through beforehand. Although I did many on my own, for families I would recommend:

• Free Walking Tours Barcelona – Meet up at Plaça Catalunya, tours run at 10am, 11am & 3pm for 2.5 hours.

• Bareclona Street Style Tour – Meet up at El Raval, tours run between 10am – 4pm for 2 hours.