Barcelona with Teens: A Perfect Family Day

Barcelona with Teens: A Family Vacation


Barcelona, Spain, is a vibrant European city filled with enough culture, crazy architecture and ancient history to keep even the most disaffected teen fascinated - for one day, at least. Here's a list of must-do activities in Barcelona with teens.


The likelihood of a pleasant day in Barcelona with teens, increases dramatically when it begins with chocolate. You might be surprised to learn that Barcelona, Spain easily rivals Belgium or Switzerland in the quality and quantity of chocolate on offer. Dulcinea, in the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter), is the ideal place to fuel an adrenaline-driven day with your teenager. Traditional Spanish churros are perfect for dipping into the many varieties of hot, gooey chocolate conjoined with coconut, mint, banana, Nutella, strawberry, caramel or orange. Hot chocolate drinkers have the option of dark, milk, semi-sweet or bitter-sweet. My favorite concoction is a blend of dark chocolate, chili, nutmeg and cinnamon, topped with whipped cream. Your teenager will soon recognize that a city that typically starts its day with hot chocolate and pastry has it going on.

A totally cool way to get around and get an overview of the city can be found by taking a two-hour-plus tour with Barcelona Segway Glides. Even the most disengaged teenager will love the ride, while at the same time gaining an appreciation for the history lesson offered up, highlighting the origins of Roman Barcelona, the small streets of the Gothic quarter, the old harbor, the Columbus statue, the royal shipyards, the Ramblas, the Barceloneta, the beach and the Olympic harbor. You will share your guide's passion for the history behind the imposing Roman walls, smell freshly made candy, hear gruesome stories about the Medieval period, and learn about the history and life of the modern city.

Pay attention to the section of the tour that will give your teenager an appreciation for architecture by introducing him to Antoni Gaudi, whose way-out designs are sure to excite his imagination, and maybe even spark a new career plan. Barcelona offers the most impressive eye candy that the architect created, with La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, and Casa Calvet, to name but a few. His crazy architectural style has been described as "a total integration of materials, processes and poetics." It is all around you, and the city itself is a shrine to this master.

At the conclusion of the Segway tour, some of the labyrinthian streets in the Barri Gotic can be revisited on foot. If your visit is on a Sunday, the Sardana dance in front of Barcelona's La Seu cathedral should not be missed. La Sardana is a traditional folk dance of Catalonia most often performed in the streets and town squares. It is an expression of great civic pride, taken quite seriously by the older generation, who meticulously count and execute small, precise steps, welcoming others to join raised hands as the circles expand to include anyone willing to participate. It affords anyone opportunity to become part of a community .Experience it now at here.


Near Barri Gotic is one of the most famous pedestrian streets in the world: La Rambla. A stroll along La Rambla is not designed to get you from one point to another. The beauty of Barcelona is that no matter where you turn, no matter where you are, exciting life is happening around you. The theater is onLa Rambla with street performers, cafes, florists and the obligatory (and overpriced) tourist souvenirs as well as, strangely enough, vendors selling birds, cats, rabbits and dogs. Slip into La Boqueria, one of the world's oldest food halls, dating back to 1217, when a few tables were put up near the old door to the city. Here you will find an outrageous display of obscenely colored fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood, as well as characters seemingly frozen in time. You'll find all the best Catalonia has to offer, behind an appropriately stained-glass facade.

A short stroll along La Rambla to the water's edge takes you to Diagonal Mar, with nearly 1 million square feet of retail and entertainment space. This urban mall has more than 250 boutiques, stores, cinemas and game spaces, all with views to the sea. Your teenage fashionista would be well served here. There is also an IMAX Cinema and the Barcelona Aquarium. If the guys bore quickly, a ten-minute walk along the esplanade brings you to the nearby beach at Barceloneta. After a few hours of separation, you could all reconvene at one of the many outdoor cafes specializing in Paella Negra, a break from the traditional Spanish saffron-infused seafood and rice dish, as this variation is made with black squid ink. The adventurous teenagers will be rewarded as their friends back home listen to stories of what they ate with wide-eyed disbelief. Our favorite cafe there that won't break the bank is Can Manel la Puda.

From the waterfront, point far off into the distance to the mountain range just above the city. If the sunlight is just right you might be able to catch the glimmer of activity from Tibidabo, your next stop on a perfect family day in Barcelona with your teenager. Tibidabo was the Latin phrase used in the Bible's Book of Matthew, where the Devil took the Christ to an "unusually high mountain" and offered him all the kingdoms of the earth for a single act of worship. Ancient history lesson aside, Tibidabo Park in recent history opened in October 1901 and has played an important part in the fabric of Barcelona families for generations. Tibidabo is not simply a historic theme park. It has kept pace with modern tastes and technology, offering lifts with breathtaking views, the first free fall ride in Catalonia and a 4D cinema called Dididabo. An amazing feature about Tibidabo is its vantage point high above the city. Rides take on an ethereal quality bordering on heart-stopping as the city sprawls 1600 feet below. Getting there by subway and then by funicular is part of the "total" experience. Make sure you stay past sunset to see the city lights and urban sprawl beneath you. Tibidabo closes at 9PM, 10PM or 11PM, depending upon the day of the week, just in time to head back into the city for dinner.


Don't plan on arriving for dinner in Barcelona anytime before 10PM. With a very high local-to-tourist ratio, Cerveceria Catalana on Carrer de Mallorca is a top choice for tapas, small plates heaped with tasty tidbits. The energy and enthusiasm here for great food is enough to rejuvenate even the most tired and depleted parent in their efforts to stay up late and be "cool." See and smell what everyone else is ordering. Take your time and allow the frenetic pace to propel you towards its 1:30AM close. Then if you all still have some energy, try hitting a dance club; they don't even get going until 2AM in Spain, even on weekdays!

Another beautiful feature of Barcelona, Spain is that no one gets up before 10AM, anyway. Your teens should feel quite at home.

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