9 Teen-approved European destinations

Tibidabo Amusement Park in Barcelona | Photo by suetot
Tibidabo Amusement Park in Barcelona | Photo by suetot

9 Teen-approved European destinations

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

Traveling with teenagers poses its own set of challenges. After living in Europe for four years, there are only so many old towns, cathedrals and squares my teens can visit before it all begins to run together. I recently sat down and asked them (and a bunch of their friends) where some of their favorite places are and why. Here are nine teen-approved places to check out.

This vibrant and wonderfully eclectic city tops the list for my European football-loving 16-year-old.

  • Stroll through the colorful quirkiness of Parc Guell.
  • Take in sweeping panoramas from thrilling rides at Tibidabo Amusement Park — the oldest in Spain.
  • Follow the footsteps of the legendary FC Barcelona football club at Camp Nou.
  • Sagrada Familia. This cathedral (which been under construction for 137 years) will leave even the moodiest teen in awe.

Berlin's East Side Gallery | Photo by lauradibiase

The city is full of reminders of its storied history but has blazed a path forward to become a fantastic spot to visit with teens.

  • Check out the vibrant graffiti-tagged remnants of the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery
  • See first-hand what life was like in a divided Berlin at the Berlin Wall Memorial and the DDR Museum. There are plenty of hands-on activities (such as digitally tagging the Berlin Wall) to keep your kids engaged.
  • See how many pop rocks, marshmallows and other tasty bits you can squeeze into a chocolate bar while making your own at Ritter Sport Bunte Schokowelt.
  • Stop by the only museum dedicated to punk-rock legends, The Ramones.

My daughter’s friend chose Ireland as one of her favorite spots because it offers a plethora of rural and urban activities.

  • Take a Viking Splash tour of Dublin. See city sights from both land and water. Don your Viking helmet and yell with the rest of the crew.
  • Literature lovers won’t want to miss the library at Trinity College.
  • Venture out of town to Tayto Park — Ireland’s only theme park — for a day of adrenaline-induced fun.
  • Stay at a working farm and witness the miracle of life during lambing season.

Prague's Charles Bridge | Photo by Brian Kinney

According to one of my son’s friends, the City of a Hundred Spires has an inexplicably “cool vibe” to it and lands high at the top of her list.

  • Crisscross the city using the 18 different bridges that span the Vltava River, including the famous Charles Bridge.
  • Slowly eat a sinfully delicious Trdelnik while strolling through Old Town Square
  • Check out one of the many emerging Black Light Theater shows, but be sure to check reviews ahead of time, as some may not be quite teen-friendly.
  • Take a leisurely cruise along the river, or rent a paddleboat and work up an appetite for more Trdelnik.

Full of incredible history, fashion, and unforgettable food, Rome is a great place for teens to combine hands-on learning and fun.

  • If exploring the Colosseum isn’t enough, learn the ways of Roman warriors with a session of gladiator training.
  • Go underground in the catacombs. There are more than 60 catacombs spanning hundreds of kilometers below the city.
  • Toss dough in the air at an authentic pizza making class, enjoy a cappuccino and cornetto in a café, or sample tasty gelato while gazing at intricate fountains and statues.

With rugged coastlines, bustling metropolitan cities, Scotland is another spot offering the best of urban life and quieter countryside.

  • Hop on the original Hogwart’s Express Jacobite steam train and traverse through the Scottish Highlands in style.
  • Explore the quirky (and free) Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow.
  • Dare each other to sample Scottish staples such as the Scotch egg and haggis.
  • Discover the secrets of the Edinburgh underground as you make your way through Real Mary King’s Close.

Postcard-perfect scenery, plenty of adventure opportunities and food gave Switzerland plenty of high marks from several kids.

  • Take a hike! With jagged crags, tumbling waterfalls and rolling hills, there are plenty of hiking trails to choose from.
  • Go on an outdoor adventure. Zipline above the spectacular landscape, or get a little wet while white water rafting.
  • Take a relaxing and delicious ride on a cheese and chocolate train. 

Anaga Mountains in Tenerife | Photo by travelnerd

For a more laid-back, beach bum spot, head to Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

  • Head to one of the warm, golden sandy beaches surrounding the island.
  • Explore the imposing fortress of Castillo San Miguel and then cool off in the nearby Garachico rock and tide pools.
  • Get a beautiful vantage point of the island by hiking the Anaga Mountains.

This Italian city earns a spot on the list for its canals, shops, architecture and, of course, food.

  • Grab a gelato and explore the narrow alleyways of the city. Wear good shoes, as most walkways are cobblestone.
  • Go island hopping. Head to one of the nearby islands to escape crowds and discover the uniqueness of each island.
  • Not sure which Venetian mask to pick up? Sign up for a mask-making class and create your own masterpiece.
  • Get lost. Venice is its own city island. Ditch the maps and get lost along the waterways, shops and cafes.

Where are your teens’ favorite European destinations?


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