We book ended our two-week Spain vacation with stays in the highly-anticipated city of Barcelona! We crossed off many must sees in Barcelona, but this city offers endless fun for families with teenagers. Marveling at Gaudí’s whimsical architecture sprinkled throughout the city and exploring Mount Montserrat on a day trip were jut the beginning of our adventures in Barcelona. The following is a comprehensive list of the best things to do in Barcelona in June (or really any time of year) that the whole family will enjoy:
Things to Do In Barcelona with Teens
Disembarking onto the Airstrip – OK, maybe this isn’t specific to teenagers, but I was so thrilled when we disembarked from the plane right onto the airstrip (can you tell this was my first international flight? 😉 ). It’s silly, but I felt like I was realizing a lifelong dream as I climbed the stairs down onto the asphalt like I had watched all the characters in my favorite movies (i.e The Parent Trap) do so many times. Plus, it’s so much more exciting (and a little old school feeling?) to walk into the fresh air and get a quick lift in one of those shuttle buses than to just walk into a stuffy, old airport.
Now onto the real list . . .
Mount Montserrat “Serrated Mountain” – We actually didn’t book this tour until the day of because I was worried about how jet lag might affect us, but visiting Montserrat turned out to be my favorite thing that we did in Barcelona (even though it’s technically an hour bus ride outside of the city). This ancient monastery, as well as the mountain it’s nestled in, was impressive! The chapel itself looked like something straight out of medieval times with plenty of gold leafing, stained glass windows, and dark metal chandeliers. However, we spent the majority of our time hiking to Saint Michael’s Cross and admiring the sweeping views of the valleys and mountains beyond. The delicious sweet bread we bought from the Montserrat bakery gave us just enough energy to survive the hike 😉 . There’s even a cable car that will take you up and down the mountain, as well as railways. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Barcelona with teens this was a total win! The teens loved the adventure of leaving the city and stretching their legs on this gorgeous hike.
If your family loves to hike, don’t miss out on Los Cahorros Trail near Granada, Spain. It’s quite the adventure! Read about important trail details here.
Park Guell – This architectural gem is beautiful at any time of day but visiting the park at sunset is truly extraordinary. The pastels swirling in the sky, along with the Park’s whimsical curves and pops of color, make it feel like you’re in a world all its own. Splashes of mosaic tiles, pillared tunnels, gingerbread looking houses, and lush gardens- there’s no shortage of things to see here. And the famous curved balcony overlooking the city? It actually lives up to the Instagram photos! No doubt, this place makes my list of top 10 things to do Barcelona.
Sagrada Familia – We saw A LOT of cathedrals in Spain, but this one is unlike any other. Walking inside or outside the Sagrada Familia, your eyes never run out of details to marvel at. Like Park Guell, this cathedral was the product of Antoni Gaudí, which means color is a big part of its design. Gigantic stained glass windows wash the whole cathedral in shadows of red, green, orange, and blue. The grandiose of the space is topped off with thick columns that lead your eyes up dozens of feet to the clustered domed ceiling. What’s even crazier? Cranes peak through the already imposing outer facade where the structure is continuing to expand.
For Teens/Adventure Seekers: If the ground floor isn’t captivating enough for your group of teens, I would highly recommend upping the adrenaline factor by taking a bell tower tour. Ascend hundreds of feet of winding staircases to the top of either tower and enjoy an unspoiled view of the city.
*For both or either of these well-known Gaudí masterpieces I would recommend taking a guided tour. We didn’t, but what I learned from a fellow traveler who did, made me instantly regret that decision. His life and work are very interesting!
Las Ramblas – If you’re looking for free things to do in Barcelona, taking a stroll down Las Ramblas is a great option! This large avenue stretches for miles through the city’s center with countless shops and restaurants lining it. There are also booths of souvenirs and sweet treats located on the pedestrian path and constantly-moving street vendors with lots of curious products for sale. With so many people and so much activity, Las Ramblas feels like the pulse of the city. Strolling this avenue may be one of the most exciting things to do at night in Barcelona. Plus, Las Ramblas will lead you to several Barcelona must-see attractions like the next item on our list!
La Boqueria – You’ll find this popular market on almost every list of top 10 things to do in Barcelona, and for good reason. La Boqueria is the perfect spot to try great bites and experience local flavors. The offerings seem endless with stands of fresh fruit, seafood, specialty items, flowers, and so much more! With teens, or not, markets are always a fun item to include on your itinerary because who doesn’t love local food and goodies?
Mercado de La Boqueria Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Looking for more Spanish markets? Valencia, Spain is home to some of the best! Read about them here.
Port Cable Car and Montjuic Cable Car – Sadly, I discovered these cable cars just hours before leaving Barcelona so I didn’t actually get to experience them myself, but they looked like they could have easily topped my list of cool things to do in Barcelona. The Port Cable Car transports you above the harbor to capture a gorgeous view of Barcelona’s skyline before delivering you onto Montjuic Mountain. The Montjuic Cable Car is even smaller than the Port Cable Car and it only travels up and and down the mountain. However, if you want to explore more of the mountain and the castle that sits on it, the Montjuic cable car ride might be worth it. Keep in mind that both cable cars are relatively small and travel at high altitudes; therefore, they are not ideal for people with claustrophobia or a crippling fear of heights. But if you’re itching to try something new, braving a cable car ride would definitely be one of the unique things to do in Barcelona.
Where to Go in Barcelona for AMAZING Food
Of course, any list of top ten things to do in Barcelona must include where to eat in Barcelona! In Barcelona, where to go for a great bite can feel a bit overwhelming with so many options, so hopefully this list of tried and true eateries will make your vacation mealtimes a breeze.
Can Dendê – This hip, little breakfast spot was near our airbnb, on the outskirts of the city, but it still managed to attract a crowd. After sitting down to eat, we realized why. Each bite of food was like a punch of flavor, and every dish was its own piece of art. My only complaint is that the serving sizes weren’t larger!
Portal de la Pau – This restaurant is much more centrally located, situated right on La Rambla, and you have a clear view of the Port Cable Car gliding above the harbor right from your table. Something else that was unique about this restaurant is that it offers both a Spanish-style breakfast and an American-style breakfast (such as the adorable tiny pancakes pictured below). However, beware that the restaurant stops serving their American menu and switches to the Spanish-style breakfast around noon.
Casa Angela – This quaint, little restaurant served up some excellent cuisine, including some of the best patatas bravas and paella I ate in Spain. The patatas bravas are crisp potatoes served hot with thick crema and a meaty red sauce piled on top. Not many places serve it with the crema, but it makes all the difference! And the paella was perfectly cooked and seasoned. If I had the stomach capacity, I would have gladly finished the whole thing! I also loved the romantic view we got of the Sagrada Familia in the moonlight right from our table. If you’re looking for romantic stuff to do in Barcelona, this restaurant had the perfect atmosphere and delicious food to match!
Know Before You Go
Even though Barcelona provided us some extraordinary views and amazing experiences, there were two things I didn’t love so much about this city. . .
- Unfortunately, there was a pervading smell of sewer in many parts of this city. I am not sure if this is a common occurrence, but it made the whole city feel dirty, despite its charm and beauty.
- Many of the best things to do and see in Barcelona are pretty far apart geographically. I mean technically you might be able to walk it, but most of the time, taking a taxi is just more convenient.
So that’s it for my list of Barcelona things to do and our family trip to Barcelona. If you’re wondering where to go from Barcelona, check out my posts on Madrid and the four other Spanish cities we visited next here. . . it was quite an adventure! And hopefully not the last one 😉 .
Photos edited by Caitlyn Cuello.