Do you suffer from FOMO? I do. The dreaded “Fear of Missing Out.” Those who have it tend to stay up late, get up early, over-plan and over-extend. I am bringing this up because this post is about ONE DAY in Barcelona. Those words should never be strung together! But when Barcelona is your port of call during a Mediterranean cruise, you have no choice. The whole premise of a cruise is a recipe for a FOMO crisis, but you can alleviate the symptoms with good planning.
My remedy for a day in Barcelona was the following: (Results may vary. Consult your therapist.)
- Research extensively OCD-style on Trip Advisor things to do in Barcelona and choose a TOP 3
- Find a family-friendly tour company that can help get the most out of each stop and can get from one place to another in the time allotted (in this case 7 hours)
- Change the TOP 3 a few times if you’re fickle like me
- Settle on an actual TOP 3
- Tour like a tornado without stopping or eating or using the bathroom. Kidding. You can use the bathroom. Once.
TOP 3 at a Glance: Camp Nou, Casa Milà, La Sagrada Familia
Morning – Pickup at port in Barcelona; Camp Nou (Barça Stadium) Tip: Prepare a folder with a print-out of every tour confirmation, voucher, phone number, etc. When we arrived in Barcelona, we were waiting in one terminal while the driver was in another. This was easily fixed with a quick phone call.
Lunch – Protein bars, snacks and drinks on-the-go. This is a marathon tour day. If you are not on a cruise and do not have to return to your ship, you may easily get through your TOP 3 in one day and eat 3 square meals.
TOP 3 in Detail:
A tour company that would understand a FOMO predicament in this city is one that specializes in “Barcelona in a Day” shore excursions, like Real Barcelona Tours! They offer custom private itineraries to get the most out of your day and they have great ratings from families with kids! They worked with me over the course of several months, dealing with my changes, questions, more changes. The biggest benefit of going with a tour company like Real Barcelona Tours is that you don’t have to think about how to get from one place to the next or how to purchase tickets for your sights. They will do that for you! They are knowledgeable about the city and its attractions and will share meaningful facts in an interesting way for the kids.
#1 – CAMP NOU
If you have kids who are soccer fans, you probably know who Leo Messi is. Messi is legendary soccer player, recruited at the age of 13, to play for Fútbol Club Barcelona. Say what?!?! I’m just hoping all 4 of mine can tie their shoes by age 13. One of my sons is a soccer addict and Messi fan and his enthusiasm has rubbed off on us. Therefore, Camp Nou, the nickname for the FC Barcelona Stadium, made our TOP 3. The Barça Stadium is the largest fútbol stadium in Europe. Even if you’re not a fan (like me), you cannot help but be impressed with this massive arena and museum dedicated to this soccer club.
Our guide from Real Barcelona Tours led our tour at the stadium. There are varying levels of tours you can take starting at 26 Euro for a basic tour to 150 Euro for a game day tour that allows you to walk on the pitch (field). Our tour was basic but still extensive and fun! There are interactive exhibits, historical club memorabilia, and an area dedicated to Messi and his awards.
We toured the press room, the locker room (it smelled better than any locker room I’ve been in), the sportscaster sky box, and we stopped for many incredible photo ops along the way with great views of the entire stadium.
The only thing we missed out on was seeing an actual game. We all loved this tour. Even without any players or fans in the stands, you can feel the energy of team Barça, and can imagine how electrifying it is to see them play. The basic tour was plenty to make us all feel like VIPs. We highly recommend the Barça Stadium tour for your family’s TOP 3!
Now, back in the minivan, pass some snacks around on your way to the next stop and call it a picnic (your kids will think it’s fun) because today, there is no lunch. Another symptom of FOMO is a dangerously low calorie count, so plan accordingly.
#2 – LA PEDRERA
Antoni Gaudí is my favorite architect. You might not have a favorite architect, but after reading this post, it might be Gaudí. He is also probably your kids’ favorite architect too, even if they don’t know what an architect is yet.
La Pedrera, also called Casa Milà, was a private residence designed by Gaudí in the early 1900’s and constructed on the corner of a prominent intersection in Barcelona. You can admire the entire building and the iconic undulating façade from across the street before you enter.
There are 2 famous Gaudí homes in Barcelona – Casa Milà and Casa Batlló. They are both unique and whimsical masterpieces. The question is often posed, which one should I tour? Both is the correct answer, but on a one-day whirlwind tour of Barcelona, only one is possible. We chose Casa Milà because of the amazing rooftop to explore. You will experience FOMO if you do not enter Casa Batlló, but the good news is you can stop to see the exterior and it is stunning (see photo at the top of this post).
Inside Casa Milà, the kids will enjoy touring the rooms, one of which has a huge dollhouse. They will also love glancing up inside the impressive courtyard with ornate wrought iron railings.
And peering into the courtyard of the model…
Our tour guide pointed out several design elements in the architecture that could be traced to inspiration from nature, such as patterns from turtle shells, trees and leaves, and a nautilus.
The highlight of Casa Milà is the roof with its chimneys and vents that look like they are straight out of an alien planet landscape.
The roof also undulates with stairs leading up and down among the structures so be sure to hold onto the littles here. Our guide told us it is said that George Lucas visited Casa Milà prior to creating Star Wars and was inspired by Gaudí’s chimneys when he created the Storm Troopers. There is a pretty striking resemblance. You might have Gaudí to thank for your kids’ Halloween costumes.
Casa Milà was definitely the right Gaudí house tour for our bunch! And if Gaudi isn’t your favorite yet, wait for it…
The last in our TOP 3 for Barcelona should be on everyone’s TOP 3 for the world. This is perhaps the most famous church ever designed and it is still being constructed according to Gaudi’s plan since 1883. Warning – if you have FOMO, do not design something that will take 150 years to build.
Our guide showed us some interesting elements on the exterior before leading us inside. Here, the inspiration of nature is a little less subtle. Gaudi ditched the shell motif and just put in the whole dang turtle.
One could spend an entire day here marveling at every detail. It is pure genius at every turn and once you enter, the sight will eclipse anything you have seen before.
The soaring columns, the stained glass, the colors – they all have a symbol and a purpose and all the intricate details inspired by natural elements come together as one to transcend the natural world.
Our guide did an excellent job at herding the kids through the crowds to see highlights of the church’s interior and pointing out the religious and artistic significance. The kids enjoyed spotting elements inspired by nature once again, like the columns that branch out toward the top like trees, and exploring all the areas of the church, including the doors.
La Sagrada Familia is one of the most significant artistic, architectural and religious sights in the world; it is a UNESCO World Heritage Sight. A day in Barcelona would not be complete without a visit here. If you have longer to explore than we did, you can purchase tickets to take an elevator to the top of one of the church’s spires for an amazing Barcelona city view. I don’t need to tell you how I feel about missing out on that opportunity. We will just have to come back once La Sagrada Familia is finally complete. Maybe another 20 years.