*If want to get straight to the list, scroll down to the list of Indoor Activities for Barcelona Babies to survive this summer! And let’s keep making it grow 🙂
You feel that first bead of sweat trickle down your forehead and glance at your watch. 9.30 am. It is going to be a long day. Your baby is whimpering. Grizzly and unsettled, squirming around to escape the suffocating soupy air. She lets out a particularly piercing wail of complaint that successfully drills into that sensitive spot right behind your eyeballs. The cerebral funny bone.
Your toddler has a fighting glint in otherwise heat bleared eyes. He looks at you accusingly, hair plastered to his head in the free summer hair oil. Blaming you for the unbearable stuffy day. Maintaining eye contact, he lifts the brown ice-lolly (painstakingly homemade from healthy dark chocolate and soy milk) above his head as though brandishing a sword in preparation for battle and drops it onto the white rug beneath.
Normally this would be a successful signal to initiate battle. A daily war cry that has peppered the once white rug into more of a psychedelic tie-die. Today, defeated by the Barcelona heatwave, you wave the proverbial white flag. Leaving the lolly to melt into the rug, you turn to your laptop.
“What to do with toddlers and babies on a hot day in Barcelona”. Enter. You scan the results frantically…Tibidabo and Park Güell (scorching)…Aquarium (as a regular retreat that would bankrupt you) …Walking tours of Barcelona…oh come on.
Change the game. “What to do with toddlers and babies in a heatwave”. Enter. A Pinterest board of activities! Perfect. Click.
Water fights in the garden…watercolour painting in the garden…water balloon fights in the garden…arg screw you Pinterest! And a giant Sod Off to all those fortunate families with enormous lush backyards flooded in the generous shade of blooming apple trees. And sprinklers galore for all those hot summers. My heart bleeds for you.
Back to Barcelona. As a fellow parent in a pickle, trying to entertain our now 17-month-old daughter (who has inherited her Father’s Irish-British skin and tolerance to the heat), I feel your pain! We’ve done it all, paddling pool on the terrace (which we are lucky to have in the city, although it is sizzling hot and inaccessible for a large portion of the day), homemade lollies, wet t-shirts in front of the fan. Working my way through the list, next up building an obstacle course, a fort with pillows and trying to fashion an indoor tepee.
Never have we had so much use out of her toys. The dusty baby rattles have been resurrected, in a desperate attempt to entertain for yet another sticky hour in the same four walls. Is July 2019 going to be the Summer of Claustrophobia?
Barcelona is an INCREDIBLE city. Cosmopolitan culture, it’s got the biggest names in pop music, giants of jazz and underground DJs – you name it. Gourmet cuisine to cheap and cheerful bites. Singalong sessions in Irish pubs to jazz concerts on rooftop bars. Cutting edge artistic expositions to major sporting events.
When it comes to entertaining a toddler in a heatwave however, Barcelona is pretty stumped. There are escapes and indoor retreats, but they are thin on the ground. This is what I have found so far, if you have any discoveries to add please do. Let’s get this Summer Saviour List going and get out of our home prisons!
Ps These aren’t affiliate links. I wish! This is a totally unmoney making blog 🙂
Soft Play Centres
The best thing about Soft Play Centres is that they are indoor. The perfect activity to escape the scorching Barcelona summer sun. Safe, monitored fun. Toddlers can charge around at full speed, happily head butting padded corners and merrily diving into ballpits. They can launch themselves off climbing frames, onto the bouncy floor beneath. You can order a cafe con leche, or whatever is your mum/dad poison, and sit and relax.
The problem in Barcelona, is that they all seem to open at 17.30, even on Saturdays! Not ideal for us (we do summer around 1830/19). Nevertheless worth it for an entertaining late afternoon. The one we go to is Aventura Park, on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 754. They charge 4 euros for the first hour, 2 for the second, and then one euro for every 15 minutos.
Mamma’s Café – Eixample
Carrer de Torrijos, 26, 08012 Barcelona
Definitely better for babies than hyperactive toddlers. As the name suggests however, it is all geared towards Little ones. A play corner full of toys, colouring-in sheets and crayons, and delicious nosh for the bigs.
Ideal Café – Poblenou
Carrer de Marià Aguiló, 103-77,
I’m sitting in this very café as I write! On my own this time around, but I spend a lot of time here with my toddler. It is the only café in Poblenou where I can actually finish my coffee, while she merrily tears toys off the shelves in the corner and babbles to the other babies inevitably there that day.
Cocoa’s Café – Sagrada Familia
Carrer de Lepant, 241
My #1 Favourite Barcelona Baby Café!! I WISH this was nearer my house. It is a testament to Cocoa’s Café that I regularly make the trek, a 40-45-minute schlep uphill along Diagonal. It is worth it though, this may look like an ordinary café downstairs, but on the first floor there is a baby/toddler Paradise. Chest after chest full of toys, books, balls. They have a mini kitchenette (we all know toddlers love spending time in the kitchen!) and a whole Dress Up section with boxes of fancy dress clothes and hats. There’s also a corner specially for small babies with all the age appropriate toys. Pricey food and drinks but worth it, you get to eat and drink in peace!
Indoor Pool – Nova Icaria Villa Olimpica
We found out to our dismay, that to my knowledge anyway (please do correct me if I’m wrong!) there are no cheap or free “public” swimming pools in Barcelona. There is the enormous Can Drago (indoor and outdoor) in San Andreu, and the popular Barceloneta pools, both charge for entry. (According to my research, most pools otherwise cost about 5 euros for small children and around 10 for adults). The rest of the indoor pools that I have found around the city, are all located in gyms. I am no expert, of the ones I have been to Can Drago was overpriced, the CEM Cuitadella (Centre Esportiu Municipal) pool is idyllic and great for adults wanting to do laps, but expensive for regular visits. We bit the bullet and got membership to our nearest pool, in the Nova Icaria Gimnasio in Villa Olimpica. A month’s membership is around 60 euros (children under 6 go free. To the pool that is, not the weight lifting classes!).
The pool is fairly small, but it’s a pretty comprehensive sports centre with tennis courts, paddle, a golf driving range (although it’s tiny, so maybe I have mistaken it!) and great classes if you ever get a chance to go solo.
Lots of noodles for entertaining toddlers, and the pool has been a really glorious escape from the heat.
Not the most exhilarating way to spend your Tuesday afternoon, mooching around a shopping mall (trying not to shop). For a cucumber cool environment thanks to the industrial air-conditioning, it is worth just having a wander around! Also think of those long corridors (quiet during the week) and car, bicycle and electric scooter free space where you can power walk the buggy or let your toddler run around and burn off energy!
Again, our local mall (literally opposite the Nova Icaria pool listed above) is the (name may give it away) Nova Icaria Centro Commercial. A very odd shopping mall. If like me, you loathe shopping malls and dread wasting the hours away in enormous shiny chain stores like Zara and Bershka, you may actually like this place! An oddball collection of quirky shops selling knick knacks, clothes and there’s an English language Cinema downstairs!
If you haven’t yet visited this legendary Science museum, believe me it is well worth the trek up to Tibidado area! It´s enormous, tons of interactive exhibitions, really cool experiments explaining basic physics (basic to most but mind blowing to me!) and this amazing indoor rainforest. It isn’t free, but at only 5 euros for adults (free for under 16s) it really is a bargain. Don’t make the same mistake we did however, if you want to visit the Planetarium shows sell out, so you need to book ahead (and pay extra).
Peekaboo – Gracia
Full disclosure, I have never been here! But it sounds awesome, an indoor (finally!) playcentre, or Parque Infantil, for kids of all ages (very toddler friendly judging from the photos on their website). It’s up in Gracia (where nearly all the kiddy fun seems to be!).
I Just checked the site, and this summer it is open from Wednesday to Friday 4.30 pm to 8 pm, and Saturdays from 11 am to 2 pm and then 4.30 pm to 8 pm.
Price? Six euros for weekdays, 8 euros on Saturdays. (Kids only, I don’t think they’ll charge adults to use the jungle gym).
El Cau – Gracia (Hospital Clinic)
Again, I haven’t actually been here, but stumbled upon this while searching for indoor kiddie escapes for this summer. It looks INCREDIBLE, it seems to be a government scheme for children from 0 – 9 years, and there are workshops, courses, theatre and spaces for free play. The website is in Catalan and mine is appalling, but it appears to be free? I can’t wait to take our daughter there!
Natural History Museum – Poblenou
Plaza Leonardo da Vinci, 4, 6
I have been to Natural Histories in cities around the world, New York, London, Vienna and Harare, Zimbabwe. I’ll be honest with you, even our quaint local museum in my home city of Harare trumps this one! The Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona may not be the best in the world, but it is wonderfully dark, cool and a fun (and educational) trip to spend a day out of the scorching summer heat. Last time I went it showed some really amazing underwater videos projected onto big screens. There are also interactive exhibitions and a huge Geology section. And it located just by the Maresme-Forum metro (right by Diagonal Mar shopping centre). So, if you time it right, you can leave the museum in time to visit the lovely beaches of Forum, Llevant or Marbella just when the sun is going down!