Our brief stop on the Mediterranean would not have been complete without a visit to the place where all things fishy collide and convene. From previous experiences with both boys we knew Evan loved aquariums since we were in Bangkok and on our visit to Sea World, Indonesia we were proven right. Joshua’s first fish encounter took place at the Batu Secret Zoo and as he stared mesmerized at the marine creatures I felt like I had finally found an activity that both the kids and I would love. After all, being indoors in a temperature-controlled area with little room for the toddler to escape and two little boys actually paying attention sounds like the perfect outing for me.
L’Aquarium in Barcelona boasts over 450 marine species and is the home to over 11,000 creatures. Although I didn’t consider it to be huge, it was perfect for visiting with a toddler and baby. The ticket will set you back 19€ per adult and kids under 3 get in for free. Considering the facilities I think this is a great price and it is well worth it.
As your start the tour of the Aquarium there’s an area where you get your picture taken. At the end of the tour the pictures are for sale for 12€ and they come with a little souvenir book of the Aquarium. We decided to purchase is since I am rarely on any pictures and besides who wouldn’t want a picture of their baby boy “riding” a shark?
The first hall includes small tanks with all kinds of species from all over the world. The information is very explicit and is available in Catalan, English and Spanish. Although we didn’t really stop to take a look at every tank the boys loved the colors and movement. Evan immediately started making friends and kept me on edge, as he got a bit too close to the tanks. Joshua was in awe of the fish and kept smiling at everything and everyone.
The tour de force of this magnificent aquarium is the Oceanarium which holds 4,500 m3 of water and hosts over a dozen species including two types of sharks. The Oceanarium can be parcoursed thru a tunnel with a moving belt. If you need to stop and take a closer look you are able to hop off the belt and walk by it on solid ground. We were able to use our stroller without a problem and the boys were happy to be surrounded by the deep blue sea (or its representation). Although Joshua wasn’t really aware of the shark encounter he was going thru, Evan screamed every time he saw a Shark “approach” him.
After the tunnel came to an end, we were led upstairs where mayhem and chaos became the norm. The reason for this is that Evan had just arrived in the Explora! playground section of the aquarium. This area is an interactive and educational space with over 50 interactive activities. As I tried to chase him around pushing the stroller trying to avoid the children running around, I simply gave up and for the first time let him do his thing while checking on him every 5 minutes. He knew where I was sited and kept a close eye on daddy and me. I was so proud of my growing boy. As I sat down, sipped a cappuccino and tried to feed Joshua some lunch, Evan kept becoming more independent.
Our last stop was the “water world” exhibition where awareness is raised on taking care of our natural resources. We particularly enjoyed looking at a replica of a humongous whale and observing the stingrays.
Outside the water world there is a terrace where we took some pictures of the beautiful Marina views and enjoyed sitting down with a cold drink. Although there were many smokers there, the views are beautiful and worth at least browsing.
-Buy your ticket in advance online. If you are visiting during the summer you will be happy to avoid the long lines in the heat with little ones just a bit too eager to go in.
-Plan your visit considering there is a large play area at the end of the tour. We probably spent more time on the play area than the whole aquarium.
-If your little ones are eager to spend a lot of time in the playground, don’t worry. Mommy and cranky little ones will find a vast variety of snacks, drinks and even lunch menus at the cafeteria. Granted, it’s not as exquisite as the tapas bar across from your hotel but it will refuel everyone and help avoid hunger meltdowns.
-If you are taking a stroll by the Ramblas or the Marina after your visit, you are able to do all your necessary pits stops at the aquarium. Great bathroom and diaper changing facilities are available.
-Be warned that you need to exit thru the souvenir shop. If you are willing to buy an overpriced plush shark, stop and take a look. If you aren’t in the mood my best advice is to hold a baby on each arm and make a run for it before a small key-chain gets lodged in your little one’s pocket.
Moll d’Espanya del Port Vell