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What to do in Madrid, Barcelona and Paris with a 12 year old?

My parents are taking my 12 year old nephew to Madrid, Barcelona and Paris. I want to suggest things for them to do that would interest him outside of the normal museums and such. Any suggestions?

Posted by
1230 posts

This will be the perfect age for your nephew to meet Europe. This could be a wonderful thing to broaden his horizons (and he may actually appreciate art classes that he has to take at university!) In Paris, I'd suggest the Pompidou centre just for a break from the norm. What kinds of things is he into?

Posted by
11462 posts

Well, having been to Paris as a child, and having taken two of my kids( on seperate one on one trip) one of my sons at 14 and my daughter at 11,, I think I have a few good ideas( for Paris, never been to Madrid or Barcelona) The Catacombs, both my boths loved this( I have two sons,, my hubby took other son on another visit) .... they also enjoyed the Invalids military Museum. All my kids loved the Eiffel Tower ( my son and I took the stairs up!) One son loved the Louvre, ( take them to see more then the paintings, which can bore kids!) there is Napoleons Apartments, and the underground excavations of the Medieval Louvre, as well as the Crown Jewels and the Egyptian section. The Mona will underwhelm most kids,, frankly it underwhelms me. A bike tour is a great way to see Paris, Paris is flat so you don't have to be fit or athletic,, I did it easily,, and its fun,, the night bike tour includes a boat cruise on the Seine, the day one stops for lunch in a park,, all fun. I used Fat Tire Bike Tours, they are run by americans so there is no language issue at all,, look their website up. We had kids on our tours ( I have taken them all over many years) as young as 9 or 10 on our tours) Stop often for ice cream,, its kind of important to not rush kids around,, that will make them hate a place.

Posted by
4535 posts

In Barcelona I would think any 12 year old would think Gaudi's architecture is pretty cool. So take him of course to Sagrada Familia but also to Parc Guell and to Casa Batllo (it has the more funky interior). There is a funicular that would be fun. If he likes sports then the Olympic stadium would be cool. The Ramblas will entertain him too. He might like Frank Gehry's fish along the beach too. In Paris, of course a Seine River cruise. There is also Park La Villette with a science museum. There is a sewers tour too.

Posted by
204 posts

My 9 year old loved the Royal Palace in Madrid. The Palace a beautiful place to walk through, really ornate,with notes in English as you enter each room.It has a huge palace forecourt great for running around in and sweeping views from behind, and a beautiful flower garden in the front.We went there first thing in the morning and there was hardly a line(10 minutes), but by the time we left it was really long. Also if they go, check ahead to make sure it's open. It's sometimes closes for official functions and public holidays, including election day.
The day trip to Toledo,30 min. by train, was also a big hit. It was fun to stroll down all the old narrow lanes.

Posted by
80 posts

Are they going this summer? Madrid:
It's hot and 12-year olds can sometimes get lazy/tired quickly in the heat. It's understandable. You've got the Parque de Atracciones in the Casa de Campo park just beside the city. Web: ParqueDeAtracciones.es . They could also take him to the rooftop deck/terrace of the Círculo de Bellas Artes for some great views. web: circulobellasartes.com . I understand one can go up the City Hall building (called the Palacio de Comunicaciones) on the Plaza de la Cibeles for some more great views. He might be interested in seeing the tropical "rain forest" in the Atocha train station. The Madrid Zoo & Aquarium is pretty well-known, too. Web: zoomadrid.com . A self-guided tour of the Real Madrid Stadium might be enjoyable if he likes "football"/soccer. Web: RealMadrid.com Saludos, MadridMan @ you-know-where!!

Posted by
1167 posts

It would be smart to involve the boy as heavily as possible in the planning. Have him read about the places he will be going and pick the things he is interested in. If he is not willing to do this you should think seriously about leaving him home. Nothing spoils a trip faster than having to deal with an unhappy and uncooperative child.

Posted by
3 posts

thanks all. If I was taking him, then yes we would have planned everything out together and things would have been different. But it's my parents trip and they are not up for everything. So I can only suggest things here and see if they will go. The suggestions here were great and I will pass them on. Thanks!

Posted by
80 posts

As for Barcelona:
It's hot - AND humid! - in Barcelona in the summer. Sticky! Best thing for 12-year olds is to spend time on the beach - and there are LOTS of them along Barcelona's coastline. No problem there. You also have the Sagrada Familia Temple (web: sagradafamilia.cat ) where you can go up and down the spires. This is super cool for anyone. Also, go up Mount Tibidabo for some GREAT down-below Barcelona Views- where they also have a beautiful hilltop church and an amusement park. Web: tibidabo.cat . And, like Madrid, if he likes soccer/football, take a look at a a stadium tour of F.C. Barcelona's team. Web: FCBarcelona.com . May your son have a wonderful time in Spain and France! Saludos, BarcelonaMan @ you-know-where!!!