Contrary to what your 14-year-old self may have believed, one day your mom will become your best friend and you’ll actually want to take vacations and spend all the time you can with her.
Moms make great travel buddies because they’re eager to plan out every moment in order to maximize the time together, and they’re always ready to take advantage of the opportunity to explore with you. After all, where else did you get your compulsive organizational habits and keen planning skills?
Plus, if you’re lucky, they’ll walk down to the corner bakery to fetch hot cappuccinos and croissants to get you up and moving in the mornings. (What a far cry from the routine in middle school, huh?) The memories you make while traveling with your mom–whether it’s a road trip to the next state over or a journey halfway around the world–are irreplaceable, and sharing out-of-the-ordinary experiences strengthens your bond like nothing at home can.
Will you bicker about taking too many photos? Maybe.
Will you disagree on prioritizing a museum over the beach? Sure. But you’ll also giggle over gelato and wine, come across views that blow your mind, get lost among winding alleys, stop for a particularly good street performer, savor (and spit out) the same tapas, and struggle together to translate your order at a restaurant. You can’t beat the memories made amidst the enchantment of a foreign land.
My own mom and I spent a week in Barcelona together and we couldn’t have had more fun. From the food to the wine to the views, we soaked up every last minute we had together under the Mediterranean sun. There’s so much to do and see in Barcelona, but some activities are especially suited to a mother-daughter itinerary.
These are my top suggestions for the perfect mother-daughter activities in the beautiful city of Barcelona!
Take a cooking class.
If your relationship with your mom is anything like mine, cooking together is a treasured activity with roots tracing far back into your childhood. We took a half-day class with Cook&Taste which began with a tour of La Boqueria to hunt for ingredients, and we learned to make a full 4-course Spanish meal that included several tapas, two different paellas, and even crema catalana for dessert! Our cooking class, led by a master chef who guided us every step of the way, was one of our favorite activities during our trip–it was the perfect way to immerse ourselves in local culture while also doing a hands-on activity that was both fun and meaningful (and making a delicious meal to eat!). We made friends from around the world, drank copious amounts of local wine, and learned a heap of new recipes we’ll cherish for years to come.
See a flamenco show.
There are a lot of flamenco shows around Barcelona, but they’re not all made equally. Since we weren’t super interested in flamenco, we opted for the cheapest (and shortest) show we could find. Other flamenco shows offer the full dinner-and-a-show experience, so it depends on your interests. All of these shows are at night, which makes it easy to incorporate them into your itinerary! Even if you don’t think flamenco is your thing, make sure to catch a show–the dress worn by the main dancer is beautiful, and the music and dance are both incredibly loud and passionate. You’ll get swept up in the heat of the moment and leave breathless, guaranteed!
Shop the Gothic Quarter.
What would a mother-daughter trip be without a little retail therapy? The Gothic Quarter is an enchanting neighborhood of tiny, twisting alleys lined with boutiques and specialty shops you’ll want to browse for hours. This historic and utterly charming part of town is a “must-see” in its own right, but it’s also great for buying clothes, jewelry, ceramics, and even typical “touristy” souvenirs like magnets and postcards (FYI: they’re cheaper here than in many other touristy spots). Don’t miss a chance to buy some special items together that will remind you of your trip.
Not only is it one of the most authentic experiences you can have in Barcelona (I’ve already established that I’m obsessed with it here) , you’ll also find lots of fresh goods you won’t be able to resist purchasing! My mom was captivated by it just like I was, and we went back several times for homemade bread and cheese to snack on (which would also be perfect for a picnic), ingredients for cooking dinner together, and various salts and chocolates for my mom to bring home as souvenirs.
Visit Montserrat and tour a cava winery.
She’s the one who turned you into a wineaux, so what better way to enjoy your shared love of those magical grapes than to visit an estate where they are grown and transformed into your favorite beverage? The striking mountain range of Montserrat and the cava vineyards are both located outside of Barcelona, so they’re often paired into full-day tours. We spent an incredible day with Barcelona Day Tours we were picked up in the morning in a sleek van and whisked off to the beautiful Montserrat, hearing tales of Spanish history and culture along the way. At Montserrat, we rode the funicular to the top, drank in some spectacular views, and even got to hear the world-famous boys’ choir sing inside the breathtaking cathedral. Montserrat is a must-see on any trip to Barcelona–the tiny cliffside town is exquisite and utterly charming.
Following that, we set off for ArtCava , where we roamed around a thousand-year-old estate to learn about the process of making this most bubbly Spanish version of France’s Champagne. At the end of our tour, we got to taste four different cavas, which led for a very merry ride home! This remarkable experience was another of our favorite activities in Barcelona, and I’d highly recommend taking a tour with Barcelona Day Tours.
Share tapas and a pitcher of sangria.
You can’t leave Spain without eating your fair share of tapas and drinking (more than) your fair share of sangria! Stop into any of the hundreds of Spanish restaurants around the city for a round of these traditional foods. Your mom will want to try tapas you normally wouldn’t order, and vice versa, but you’re bound to find dishes you both love. Try one, try them all, try tapas neither of you think you’d like–these bite-sized foods are meant for sharing, but you can easily make a meal out of ordering a variety of them. Plus, pitchers of sangria are dirt cheap, so it’s smarter to share this fruity drink between the two of you than to order separately!
Tour the Gaudí sights.
Admire the amazing mosaic work at Park Güell, set aside a few minutes for prayer at La Sagrada Família…but remember, there’s also Casa Batlló, Casa Milà (AKA La Pedrera), and several more, so set aside a day to see as many of them as you can. Gaudí’s work is an icon of Barcelona, and you truly cannot replicate these sights and experiences at home. Plus, these are the places that will be most recognizable in your pictures, so make sure to leave time for photo ops! You’ll treasure the snaps of the two of you beaming in front of these colorful Spanish masterpieces. Tip: Opt for a guided tour (or at least an audio tour) at one or two of these spots. Learning the history of a place and understanding its overall significance really enriches your experience, and it’s fun to learn and discuss things neither of you knew before.
Visit the beach.
Barcelona’s beaches are sprawling and sun-drenched, and the water is strikingly clear and refreshing, so plan to end one of your days with a relaxing session on the sand. It stays warm and bright well into the late afternoon, and these beaches are full of surprises (http://www.skyesherman.com/2016/08/22/barcelona-beaches/) (think hand-delivered mojitos and towel-side massages). If you want to really make the experience interesting, don’t mention anything to your mom about it being a clothing-optional beach and see how long it takes her to notice. Talk about a good laugh!
Stop for a coffee and a chat.
Your days will be long if you’re doing it right, but craving that midday pick-me-up is the perfect excuse to slow down and connect amidst the bustle of your adventures. Despite how busy you’ll be trying to fit it all in, it’s important to truly savor the time with your mom and catch up in a meaningful way. Pick a place with outdoor seating so you can people-watch and take in the sights at the same time.
Tip: Our favorite spot was the terrace of El Cafe de la Casa de les Lletres; it’s set in the middle of gorgeous Plaza Antonio Lopez with a view of the Cap de Barcelona sculpture and the old post office building–quiet, yet right in the heart of the action.
No one understands you like your mom does, which means that along with the usual thrill of travel, there’s a nice dash of homey comfort mixed into a mother-daughter trip. Warm hugs, deep chats, long laughs, and the juxtaposition of the familiar and the unfamiliar all come together to form one unforgettable trip. You’ll never regret setting off on an adventure with one of the most important people in your life, so whether your destination is Barcelona or a few miles from your own backyard–plan it, book it, and go.
Skye Sherman is a private pilot, scuba diver, and world traveler whose curiosity and eagerness to explore are sending her all over the globe. In June 2016, she and her husband packed up everything they own and moved it into storage, setting off for a journey into the unknown. Follow along with her adventures on Instagram @skyessn and Facebook (Skye Sherman – Travel Writer).