Barcelona is a city with something for everyone, including families with young children, teenagers and adults. Because what might excite a seven-year-old will very likely also intrigue the parents. Several prime examples are the majority of Gaudi's innovative and creative architectural designs; in particular, the Sagrada Familia.
Start the day by taking the metro (purple or blue line) to one of, if not the most popular Gaudi monuments in the city. This church was the architect’s last project before he died and it’s still under construction, set to be completed in 2026. The Sagrada Familia is a great way to inspire the young ones with its Star Wars-meets-Disney World flare, while also being of great intrigue to the adults.
The history, intricate detail, symbolism and unique design, is a huge draw for the older crowd and the perfect kick-off to the city's Moderniste attractions. You can either go inside the Church and pay for a private guide or just take it in from the outside (if patience amongst the younger family members is wearing thin).
After the Sagrada, if it's a nice day out, head to another Gaudi site, Park Guell. This is an ideal place for kids to run around, relax and have a picnic while gawking at the incredible sculptures and architecture. It's somewhat of a 'Gaudi wonderland' and an enjoyable place to spend a few hours, basking in the sun and enjoying the beautiful city views from on high while sitting on the longest bench in the world.
Once you're finished with Gaudi, take a quick taxi or metro (green or yellow line) to the Old City a.k.a. Ciutat Vella. This is the best way to really get a feel for the culture, history and local vibe in Barcelona and there is also plenty to do for children.
For starters, if anyone in the family has a sweet tooth, the Museu de la Xocolata (Chocolate Museum) is the perfect place to spend time touring, eating and even making your own chocolate. If you're looking for a more authentic chocolate experience, hop into any of the local bars in the Gotico or Born neighborhoods and ask for 'chocolate con churros.' Just make sure it's not close to nap time, as the large cup of overflowing hot chocolate is sure to keep everyone awake for a few hours.
'Toilet Man' on La Rambla — Photo courtesy of böhringer friedrich
After the snack, take a stroll around the Old City and check out the Cathedral, the Jewish Quarter and Plaza Sant Felip Neri where you can see remnants from the civil war embedded into the stonewalls. From there, it's easy to walk to the famous strip, La Rambla, and spend some time watching the street performers. This is quite a sight, for children and adults alike, as some of the costumes are truly remarkable. A few notable people include a man sitting on a toilet, the soldier who NEVER moves or even twitches and the jack-in-the-box.
If the chocolate rush hasn't worn off and you’re still up for more, walk down La Rambla to the port and stroll along the boardwalk by the Mediterranean Sea while enjoying the sunset.