I’ve become quite well acquainted with the play areas in our barrio over these past few months so I thought I’d compile a little map and details of each play area. If you are sight-seeing with children in el Born and wish to incorporate some into your itinerary the illustration below will give you an idea of the locations in relation to main sights and attractions. For exact locations and distances you can click here to view the same in Google Maps.
You are guaranteed to meet a very international bunch of children and parents in the play areas, there is a large expat community in the area and lots of tourist accommodation. Expect to hear lots of different languages and meet children who are often trilingual at the least, amazing!
The Play Areas
1. PARC DE LA CIUTADELLA
Of the three play areas in the park this one is the largest. Equipment-wise it may seem sparse but when the attached building is open and all of the “extras” come out it is infant playground heaven!
The permanent equipment comprises of several spring rockers (mini see-saw, rocking horses, quad rocker) and a sandpit. There are lots of benches, a drinking-water fountain, trees for shade and a small allotment.
The “extras” are part of the Espai Lúdic Ambiental per a Famílies, a free service aimed at families with 0-5 year olds, promoting free play and environmental education. A vast selection of items are brought into the play area each day and children are welcomed to play with them. With a focus on recycling, expect to see old pots and pans for making mud pies, upturned plastic crates to climb on, cots made into shady reading nooks, huge plastic tubs filled with water for cooling down in the summer months and wooden crates repurposed into pull-along carts. More details about the activities offered can be found through the Facebook page (in Catalan) by clicking here.
The play area is open all day. At the time of writing the service operates every morning from 11:00 to 13:30 and afternoons Monday to Friday 16:00 to 18:00.
2. PARC DE LA CIUTADELLA
Surrounded by picnic benches, this is the smallest play area on the list, play frame may be a better description. It is a sandy area with an all-in-one slide and swing. The steps up to the slide are shallow and easy for a toddler, the drop at the end of the slide is not so shallow 😉 The recommended age is advertised at 6-12 years, yet the swing seat is a toddler one.
The area is nicely shaded by the trees and if you visit over the weekend you will often see balloons and bunting strung up between them as this is where lots of families celebrate with birthday picnics.
Over the summer this will be the perfect place for picnic breakfasts!
3. PARC DE LA CIUTADELLA
Tucked away at the edge of the park I often forget about this play area. We visited yesterday as research for this post. It was quiet in comparison to the two other spots in the park but has some interesting features, the main being that it was designed as a sensory play area. It has a jungly feel to it with lots of tall trees to the side. Not understanding Catalan the signage about the area was a bit lost on me but to give you an idea there is a large wooden xylophone, a sandpit, an educational braille board and a suggested circuit to follow around the area – over a bridge, up and down slopes and across a multi surface walkway.
Equipment-wise there is a wide slide with various points of ascent (climbing wall holds, wooden planks, sloped walkway), three spring rockers, a large basin swing and a zig-zag rail to move hoops along. There are a couple of benches and a drinking water fountain.
The playground felt slightly neglected but I’ll go back there if only for the swing!
4. PLACITA DEL PALAU
Just off from main road this little square has two small, sandy play areas. There is also a public toilet and a newsstand on the square. The first play area has a seesaw, rocket spinner and a couple of animal shaped rockers. The second area has a raised play frame with a ladder, tunnel and slide.
The play areas are quite nice and fenced off from the road. However the traffic noise and proximity mean that we only stop here to play if we are passing by.
5. CARRER DE L’ALLADA-VERMELL
Our most regular haunt, this small play area is great for toddlers. There is a large sand pit at one end and the rest of the area is rubber floor (albeit covered in sand). There is a small climb-up tower with a slide, a seesaw and three individual spring rockers. There are four seats for parents and dappled shade from trees. The surrounding area is mostly pedestrianised and there are numerous cafes and restaurants. I often buy a slice of pizza from Les Dues Sicílies around the corner, at Carders 22, and eat in peace whilst my little one plays in the sand pit.
6. CARRER DELS METGES
This large recreational space accommodates a small football pitch, table tennis table and two play areas – one for older children and one for toddlers.
The older play area has a wooden fortress style play frame with an attached swing, as well as a balance beam on springs and raised wooden trunk “stepping-stones” with a support rope. The younger play area has two toddler swings, a slide with a vertical ladder up to it and a spring rocking horse. The floor in the play areas is sand, currently deep enough to take a bucket and spade along to.
7. CARRER DELS MERCADERS
This play area has a colourful climbing frame and a small spring rocking horse. The climbing frame has a ramp with climbing holds, a cargo-style rope wall, wooden climbing ladders and a slide. Children need to be confident climbers for this one although they will bounce a little as there is a rubber floor 😉 The area seems a bit lifeless and tucked away, on most of our visits we were the only ones playing here.
8. AVINGUDA DE FRANCESC CAMBÓ
Rubber floor play area with a small, wide, easy-to-climb slide, a mini bridge for climbing over and a spinning pole/platform. Probably suited best to toddlers, older children may find the play area around the corner at Mercaders (see above) more entertaining. It feels very urban and has no shade or benches but is good for flying visits on the way back from the Gothic quarter.
9. PASSEIG DE SANT JOAN / RONDA DE SANT PERE
This is the first of many great play areas along Passeig Sant Joan, which stretches all the way up to the edge of the Gracia district. With a rubber floor, great equipment, lots of space, seating and shade it is a winner in my book.
The equipment consists of a treehouse-style cabin with platform, slide, cargo rope and ladder, in addition there are two rubber tyre spinning spring rockers and three large stone animals for climbing on.
And on the corner of the block with Carrer d’Alí Bei you will find La Glace, what better way to observe play time than with some gelato?!
10. PLAÇA D’ANDRÉ MALRAUX
There are two play areas here, one for older children and one for infants. The area is quite open and there is no shade from trees, however the proximity to the Arc de Triomf train/metro station and Estacio del Nord is excellent. Next door you will find the Parc de l’Estació del Nord, an undulating green space popular with dog walkers.
The younger play area has a roundabout, two swings (one of them has a baby seat), a couple of spring rockers and a mini climbing wall which is gently angled. There is lots of space for running about and having a dig in the sand and there are benches at either end of the space. Flood lights make this a great option for evening play time.
The older play area has a modern climbing frame with a cargo style rope ladder, monkey bars and a slide and swing constructed from the play frame bars. There is also a separate spring mounted, rocking platform with support handles.
So that’s my play area list! There are lots of other spaces for kids to let off steam in the area though; the parks, the courtyard in Convent de Sant Agustí, Barcelona Zoo and lots of little semi-pedestrianised areas like Plaça de Sant Pere, Plaça Comercial and Plaça del Fossar de les Moreres to name a but a few.
Let me know what you think in the Comments section below – what have I missed? Which are your favourites?