Barcelona is a great place to take kids, especially tweens and teens. The city’s flamboyant mix of wide boulevards, medieval neighborhoods, contemporary museums, and parks gives families plenty of places to meander.
The Catalan capital pops with great places to eat, too; you’ll find teen-friendly tapas bars all over the city. And if you want some downtime, the coast is lined with a string of golden beaches as a trade-off for some sightseeing.
Enjoy these 13 exciting things to do in Barcelona with kids.
People-Watch on Las Ramblas
Teens love people-watching and shopping. A stroll along Las Ramblas, the city’s famous promenade, is probably the first thing you’ll do as this is home to some of the best shopping in Barcelona.
The mile-long boulevard, divided by a central pedestrian walkway, is a lively blend of cafés, shops, flower stalls, art displays, and street performers. You might see flame throwers, or a mime covered from head to toe in silver paint impersonating a statue.
A statue of Christopher Columbus, perched on a 197-foot-high column, marks the southern end of Las Ramblas. You can take the elevator to the top for views along the boulevard, and over the waterfront below, as a way to get orientated.
Once you’ve reached the top of the boulevard, head for El Corte Ingles, Barcelona’s flagship department store, located on Plaza Catalunya, where teens will enjoy eyeing the fashion.
Read: Three Days in Barcelona
Taste Local Fare at La Boqueria Market
A sensory feast for foodies, La Boqueria Market on Las Ramblas has been serving Barcelona since 1836. Nibbling your way through 200 stands is an essential activity, especially with always-hungry teens.
Traders sell lemons, olives, cheese, meat, nuts, and vegetables at the famous market. Walk past a meat stall ringed by a half-curtain of dried hams and gaze at great mounds of seafood on the fish stalls. Love fresh bread? Buy a loaf from one of the bakeries.
Besides food for locals to cook, certain vendors sell prepared Spanish specialties to take away or taste at their tapas bars. At Bar Clemen’s, snack on shrimp and fried squid. At Paella Molt bo, try the paella, and at El Quim, go for the fried eggs with baby squid.
Stroll the Gothic Quarter
Wandering through the Barri Gòtic (the Gothic Quarter), the ancient heart of Barcelona, is a fun thing to do in Barcelona with kids. In the warren of narrow alleys, many lined with Gothic buildings, you can unpeel layers of Barcelona’s history.
El Call, a Gothic Quarter section along the Carrer de Sant Domene, housed many of Barcelona’s 4,000 Jews. Although little remains to mark Jewish life after Spain expelled Jews in the 15th century, you can learn about the vibrant Jewish community at the Gothic Quarter’s Museu d’Historia de la Ciutat’s (City History Museum) Jewish Heritage Center.
At the main Museum of the History of Barcelona on Placa del Rei, view excavated ruins of the 2,000-year-old Roman settlement from which Barcelona grew. Enjoy a respite from walking and a snack at a café in the broad, palm-tree-lined Placa Reial.
While you’re in the Gothic Quarter, take a stroll along Carrer de Petritxol, a narrow alley devoted almost entirely to chocolate.
This is the place to stop for churros, deep-fried strips of donut dunked in a rich chocolate sauce, a Barcelona institution and something every local kid has grown up with.
Visit the Cathedral
The Catedral de Barcelona, or La Seu, is dedicated to the 13-year-old martyr Santa Eulalia whose tomb lies in the crypt. This famous Spanish landmark, parts of which date back to the 13th century, impresses with its size and splendid Gothic elements.
The pointed arches, tall spires, high ceilings, elongated stained glass windows, and myriad gargoyles interest kids, especially those enthralled by medieval settings.
Point out the elaborately sculpted choir stalls with their painted shields and the 200 gargoyles intricately carved as mythical beasts and terrifying devils. Consider bringing binoculars so that your youngsters get up-close views of the fanciful creations.
From the rooftop, enjoy one of the best views in Barcelona. In the Cloister garden, a flock of 13 white geese commemorates the age, just 13, at which Saint Eulalia died.
Whether you choose to share details of her grisly end with your children, though, is up to you.
Explore the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia
Designed by noted architect Antoni Gaudí, the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is one of the most beautiful places in Spain.
The church delights, inspires, amazes, and even confuses some visitors with its elaborate ornamentation, spires, and nature-inspired shapes.
Every inch of the three façades drips with carvings. The colorful stained glass windows, the tree-like columns, and the curving shapes add a fairytale-like feel to the interior. The Sagrada Familia is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Even though construction began in 1885, the church remains unfinished. Work continues based on modifications to the plans Gaudí left before he died in 1926. Gaudi is buried in the church.
Make time to ride the elevator up one of the skinny spires; the views down over the city are spectacular and besides, kids love going up towers.
Meander Through Parc Guell
A World Heritage Site a short metro ride from the city center, Parc Guell combines an urban oasis of walkways and woods with nature-inspired Gaudí structures and panoramic hilltop views of the city.
Olive, oak, pine trees, and magnolia, rosemary, and lavender plants line the walkways. A forest extends the park’s greenery. Be sure to take in the sweeping city view from the hilltop.
Designed by Gaudí, “El Drac”, a mosaic lizard, guards Parc Guell’s gates. The colorful critter has become one of the symbols of the city. The park, originally intended as a housing development, morphed into an urban oasis made whimsical by Gaudí’s creations.
The architect’s Serpentine Bench, with its brightly colored mosaic tiles, twists in the sun along the terrace’s edge. In the Hypostyle room, 86 pillars support a roof of small domes decorated with mosaics.
You can walk through the Laundry Room Portico, a rock wall encrusted walkway that crests like a crashing wave. In the Gaudí House Museum, the architect’s former home, view sketches and furnishings designed by the great man.
Visit the Camp Nou Stadium
As any self-respecting soccer fan knows, FC Barcelona, or Barça, is one of the world’s most revered teams.
Kids love the behind-the-scenes tours of Barça’s home, Camp Nou; with a capacity of 99,000, this is the largest and most impressive stadium in Europe.
The tour includes a chance to see the team changing rooms, the press boxes, and the tunnel through which the players emerge onto the hallowed turf.
After the tour, you’ll probably find your teens pestering you to buy them Barça shirts and other items on sale in the extensive official shop that’s part of the stadium complex.
Head for the Beach
Seaside Barcelona is graced by more than three miles of city beaches plus nearly 60 miles of sands that stretch along the Catalan coast. Enjoying the city’s beaches is one of the best things to do in Barcelona with kids on a hot day.
Three popular and easy-to-reach Barcelona beaches are Barceloneta, situated in an old waterfront neighborhood, Sant Sebastia Beach near the Gothic Quarter, and Somorrostro Beach, near the Olympic Marina.
The waterfront at any of these is buzzing with life and you can take up residence in a chiringuita (a beach restaurant) and let your kids run free on the sand while you enjoy a chilled glass of rosé.
See Montjuic’s Museums & City Panoramas
It’s fun to ride the aerial tramway to Montjuic, Barcelona’s large, hilltop, urban park that’s a mix of greenery, museums, former Olympic sites, and an iconic fountain. You’ll have impressive views down over the city and its port as you glide up the hill.
Exploring the park and its museums is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon. The Fundació Joan Miró is filled with the witty and colorful paintings, graphics, and sculptures of this Spanish master.
In addition, the facility mounts temporary exhibitions of 20th and 21st century artists. Alexander Calder’s Mercury Fountain, a permanent fixture, is absolutely mesmerizing.
The Foundation has a superb museum shop, too, packed with cool, arty gifts which teens will enjoy browsing.
Nearby, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya’s highlights include Roman frescoes, icons, and other religious art from the 13th to 15th centuries.
Learn About the Olympic Games
Don’t leave Montjuic, the expansive urban park, without exploring its Olympic sites. You can check out the renovated Olympic Stadium, the telecommunications tower, an otherworldly looking spiral, and see the Palau Sant Jordi, an impressive sporting arena.
At the Museu Olimpic i de L’Esport Joan A. Samaranch (Olympic and Sports Museum), kids learn about the history of the Olympics, view video highlights of former Games, and use interactive exhibits to test reaction times, and to sprint against Carl Lewis.
Admire Gaudí’s Wavy Buildings
You always know when you come upon a Gaudí building. Casa Mila, on Passeig de Gracia in the hip Eixample district, was constructed between 1906 and 1912.
The building was the last private residence designed by Antoni Gaudí. Locals nicknamed the structure “La Pedrera”, or “stone quarry” for the prodigious amount of stone it uses.
Instead of a flat façade, a curved wall fronts Gaudi’s iconic structure. The undulating balcony railings formed from scrap metal feature birds, flowers, and other designs from nature.
Instead of load-bearing walls that close off rooms, Gaudi employed pillars to create open space within the apartments. Ceilings featured relief sculptures, poems, and inscriptions.
You can walk through an apartment to experience the flow of space, and visit the rooftop with its chimneys disguised as swirling towers. In 1984 UNESCO named Casa Mila a World Heritage Site.
Along the road, at no. 43, you’ll come across Casa Battló, another extraordinary structure featuring organic curves and scenes from mythology.
See if your kids can spot the dragon on the roof—the curved shape, in shimmering tiles, resembles the monster’s back, while the balconies are like the jaws of some mystical beast.
Shop for Treasures
As one of the best shopping cities in Europe, Barcelona offers unlimited retail opportunities. Buying local items from clothing to ceramics is a fun thing to do in Barcelona with kids.
Teens can check for jeans, tops, and sweaters along Avinguda Portal de l’Angel at Bershka and Zara.
Custo Barcelona, on Las Ramblas, features colorful Spanish-designed clothes that appeal to teenagers. Find trendy, comfortable espadrilles handmade in Spain at La Manual Alpargatera and also at Toni Pons.
You’ve seen the brightly colored Gaudí mosaics adorning benches at Parc Guell and the interior of buildings. In the Gothic Quarter, browse craft shops for platters, bowls, and dishes painted with colorful lizards and other Gaudi-inspired designs.
At La Boqueria, the Las Ramblas market, and in the gourmet section of El Corte Ingles, shop for Catalonia’s popular Romesco sauce, a blend of roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, almonds and garlic, and specialty olive oils.
Looking for a special treat? Then go upmarket with Bagués jewelry. The designer’s bracelets, brooches, earrings, and rings incorporate precious stones with colorful hand-crafted enamels.
Look for the pieces at the art museum Casa Amatller and at Bagues-Masriera Joiers, both on Passeig de Gracia.
Comaposada Joiers, on Carrer Gran de Gracia, features necklaces, bracelets, rings, and cufflinks inspired by Gaudi, Art Nouveau, Gothic, and Cubist dictums.
Have Close Encounters with Sea Creatures
L’Aquarium, located at the Port Vell waterfront, features 11,000 marine animals from 450 species. For youngsters smitten with underwater wildlife, a visit to the aquarium is an interesting activity in Barcelona.
In the shark tunnel, the toothy critters zig-zag above and around you as you make your way through. At other exhibits, watch undulating jellyfish, colorful tropical beauties, coral, and Mediterranean fish dart through the water.
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