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Oh my goodness! I didn’t realize it until I started editing them down, but I took approximately 1 billion photos in Barcelona. Holy moly! Above are 27 of my favorites. Sorry if that’s too many! : )

I have to say we LOVED Barcelona. Such a cool city. And such a fun place for a family to visit. Lots of great outdoor spaces and walking districts, which made it super easy to explore!

Some of the highlights:

– Rich man’s Paella at Café de les 7 Portes. So yummy! I wish I had a plate full right this minute.

– Watching Oscar watching sharks at the aquarium. The perfect place to go when the rain set in.

– Finding lemon and strawberry slushies every where we went.

– Seeing Columbus pointing off in the distance. Loved that!

– Eating churros and super-thick hot cocoa in the Ramblas district. Seriously the thickest hot cocoa I’ve ever had. It was basically chocolate sauce. Hah!

– Watching my kids play in the Mediterranean Sea. It was too cold for swimming, so we didn’t even pack swimsuits, but the kids couldn’t resist. They shed their pants and jumped in!

– Late night tapas. I think we ordered 15 different plates.

– Studying the architecture — an amazing mix of classic European, super experimental modern, and some crazy Gaudi thrown in. Very cool! I loved seeing cream, then pink, then yellow, then green facades next to each other.

– Seeing palm trees mixed in with classical statues and buildings. For some reason, I didn’t expect that, and it made me so happy!

– Our apartment. This was a our first attempt at an Airbnb property. And it was great! Super charming and liveable. I think half the photos I took were of the apartment we rented.

It was big and had plenty of space to hang out — which definitely affected how we spent our time. We would have one big adventure each day and then hang out in the apartment and watch movies or make food. It was so nice to have a fully-stocked kitchen to work in — and a grocery store around the corner.

Mostly, I was in love with all the tile work. Can you believe how pretty? Made me want to be barefoot every time I was in the apartment. I also loved the windows and doors with bits of stained glass. Basically I couldn’t stop taking pictures. : )

I definitely think staying in the apartment instead of a hotel helped us feel like we were getting a more authentic Barcelona experience. How about you, have you ever tried renting an apartment or house for a vacation instead of a hotel?

43 thoughts on “Barcelona”

  1. My boyfriend and I travelled from Ottawa, Ontario to San Francisco earlier this year and rented a studio apartment through airbnb instead of getting a hotel room. I was so glad we did! It was nice to come back to somewhere that felt more like “Home” every night and we were walking distance to almost everything we wanted to do. The best part? It cost half of what hotels in the same neighbourhood did!

    After we had such a good experience, I told my parents about it and in October when we decided to take a mini family vacation to Boston, we rented from airbnb again. Only this time we stayed on a houseboat! It was so cool!

  2. Love Barcelona!!! churros and thick chocolate, yum, I remember the place we went, its called La Pallaresa, it was a pastrie heaven. We stayed in the Barrio Gotico, it was surreal. Love your photos, glad the kids had a great time!!

  3. Barcelona looks amazing, can’t wait to get there someday. Airbnb is a fantastic idea, isn’t it? I found a neat off-the-grid log cabin in Iowa that we rented this fall. It adds another layer to the experience for sure.

  4. um, hello. how adorable is June in #3.
    LOVE your glasses.
    those floors are TO DIE!

    having traveled with a small army many times, what’s your #1 travel tip for families?

    best – d.

  5. OMG, I LOVE the kids picture. They all look adorable (look how big June is!), but I especially love Betty’s picture. The serious look and the way her hand is, I feel like she’s posing for a Vogue cover. :P Hahahaha

  6. Your photos are gorgeous! They bring back so many memories for me as my husband and I met in Barcelona. Neither of us used our return tickets back home to our respective countries, and we lived very happily in the Raval district before continuing our adventure elsewhere.

  7. All your kids are so sweet but I have to say Maude looks Gorgeous!! And Barcelona is such a wonderful place, I love it and am glad you guys did too :D

  8. Churros con chocolate! Delicious. Did you check out the Olympic stadium while you were there? It’s fun to just walk around in. Though I must say that my favorite part of Barcelona was when I arrived (we flew in) and there were Palm trees everywhere. It was refreshing. Glad you all had fun!

  9. I love your pictures…. I’m french and I’ve been to Barcelona but many years ago… I definitively have to go back ;)
    I to stay in an apartment instead of an hotel especially with kids. We tried last year when we went to Copenhagen with ours daughters (3 and 6 years) and it was really great! The apartment was just perfect for us, with a great and beautiful bedroom for kids.
    A bientôt

  10. Have not made it to Barcelona yet but it is on the list before we leave Europe. I will for sure be re-visiting this post before we go.

    Before moving to England, we always stayed in hotels. But it is so much better to stay at a “self-catering” rental, especially when you have kids!!

  11. I was lucky enough to live in Barcelona for a summer a couple of years ago. My husband (then boyfriend) and I decided that one day we shall return with our kids. I think our favourite part (although it is very hard to pick just one) was living next to the sea and going for a swim every morning before work. I am happy you enjoyed it so much!

  12. thanks so much for the tip! We will finally be relocated in December to Brussels with our family, and this looks like a fantastic way to book unique apartments that will be close to the cutlure/action. Thanks for sharing!!

  13. My husband and I are planning a trip to Spain this spring and we can’t wait! These images were so inspiring… one question, did you have trouble finding public bathrooms? I assume with 6 kids they all had to go at some point… :)

  14. The fact that you just let your kids shed their pants and hit the ocean just raised you a notch or two (you were already pretty high). And that picture of your husband and June? you can tell you really love him! These pictures were inspiring!

  15. wow. I am sort of, you know, JEAL! (as the kids say). Actually, come to think of it, i am jealous of a few things- want to live abroad for a bit (trying to figure out what husband and I can do), trips to other countries AND you have 6 kids while i am clinging on to sanity with one. Gabrielle, I changed my mind- you are my hero. Jealous is too yucky. love coming to “see” you everyday (just about), for all things inspiring.

  16. Barcelona = my city love
    So glad you got to visit it! But beware:
    I kept coming back (five times? six?) until I finally gave in and moved there (and then I had to move back, because my husband didn´t want to move there with me, and I love my husband even more ; )

  17. oh the memories! my little family lived in Barcelona for almost 8 years (we moved away 5 years ago, sniff) and my three sons were born there (in the Hospital del Mar… right on the Mediterranean sea :)
    your pictures brought me back to my life there (i knew they would), i miss it so much! our house was right near the Arc de Triomf and we practically lived in the Parc de la Ciutadella (season tickets to the aquarium and zoo, of course!)… so your pictures really made me smile.
    glad you guys had fun in BCN. if you ever come to ireland, let me know!

  18. We planned a trip to Barcelona next April so it’s just great to read about your experience over there, I can’t wait! We’re renting an appartment as well…

    We did that last time we went on vacation and frankly with kids, I think it’s the best solution, especially if you’re on a budget. As some of your readers pointed out, it’s also so very nice to come back to a place that feels like “home away from home”…

    Can’t wait for Spring to enjoy the hot chocolate (sauce!) and tapas!!

  19. I just discovered your blog (through the House Hunters, we love to see Americans looking for houses in Europe, so fun!), and right in my face, a post about Barcelona! I’m from Barcelona, but living in California, for 4 years now.
    It made me feel sooooo home sick! I crossed that pedestrian crossing ,the one with the Arc de Triomf, thousands of times, I used to work at the El Born neighborehood. I’m so glad you like BCN, so proud of my city!!!!!

    1. I forgot, about the tiles you loved: they are called “hydraulic tiles”. Love their patterns and colors, my grandma had them at her house.

  20. oh the hot chocolate!! i visited Barcelona with my best friend in 1999. one evening we sat outside a cafe and i ordered coffee and she got hot chocolate. she’s not a coffee drinker so we’ve repeated this scene countless times over the past 15 years. that evening, she kept saying ‘this is so good. oh my god, this is so good’. i think she drank 3 cups. a few days later i finally ordered one – oh my god, so good!!

  21. gabrielle, i’m so glad you and your family enjoyed barcelona! i loved reading your list of favourites – it will remind me to notice the details in my day-to-day life here. i sometimes forget that i live in such an amazing city! the next time you come here we should meet for a cortado :-).

  22. I loved your post! Barcelona looks amazing! Next week my wife and I are going to Spain for the summer and we will be in Barcelona for three days. We can’t wait! I’m going to blog about our trip so check out my site.

  23. Hi,
    Love your website, really adore it. : )
    How do you find the apartment that you’re going to rent? Do you find it via a special website? Can you please share with us? :)

  24. I am visiting Barcelona for the first time this coming week with my little family (3 yr old and 20 mo old). My oldest is OBSESSED with elephants. Where did you find that giant elephant statue in your pictures here? I’d love to see her face if we can encounter him in our explorations. Thanks for sharing your wonderful family, writing & adventures here. My husband & I are also planning to relocate to Europe later this year for a couple of years from the US. Your journey has been a great inspiration! Thanks!!

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