20 Free Things to Do in Barcelona
Barcelona is blessed with incredible architecture, cultural sights, museums, tours, beaches, parks and much more, but it can become expensive, like any other European capital. Here are 20 free things to do in Barcelona for those that are watching carefully the travel budget, that will help you to save money while experiencing the best that Barcelona has to offer.
1. Ambling down Las Ramblas
It's by far the most touristic street in Barcelona. Las Ramblas is lined with historical buildings, restaurants, shops, theaters, markets, a number of street performance artist and is packed of tourist all day long. It's a great place to stroll and soak up the special atmosphere of one of the quintessential Barcelona experiences. An attraction in its own right.
2. Bask and dip on the Beach
Take a rest and spend an afternoon in the Beach relaxing after a sightseeing day. Barcelona has over four kilometers of beautiful beaches only few minutes from the city center. Barceloneta is my favorite beach and the closest to the center, with its golden sand and promenade with beach bars and restaurants.
3. Discover the Gems of the Modernist Architecture
While most of the modernist sights have admission fees, they all can be admire and appreciated from the exterior without cost. The mind-blowing works of Gaudi, Casa Milà, Casa Batllò, Palau Güell, Casa Vicens or his masterpiece La Sagrada Familia, all can be admire from outside. But there are other sights like Casa Amatller or the Palau de la Música Catalana within the shortlist.
4. Celebrate a popular Festival
Barcelona host a number of festivals throughout the year, and most of them are popular. The most popular ones happen between August and September where most of the neighbourhoods celebrate their festivals. I like the "Festa Major de Gràcia" during August and the "Festes de la Mercè", which brings all citizens to the streets with life concerts, "correfocs" fire run, fireworks, human towers, giants parade, etc. Another special festival is the 23rd of April, Sant Jordi "Saint George". One of the best times to enjoy the city, where most of activities are for free.
5. Admire La Sagrada Familia, the icon of Barcelona
La Sagrada Familia is the most visited sight in Spain, is definitely worth seeing. This is the Gaudi's masterpiece, a mind-blowing experience for everyone. While I may recommend to pay the small fee to visit inside, the outside is already a regal for most of the people and is free. The construction of the sight began in 1882 and the work is still in progress, expected to be finish in 2026. Get ready to be amaze with this sight!
6. Let the Magic wrap you at the Magic Fountain
Is there a spectacle that drives thousands of people everyday in the evening in Barcelona for free?, the answer is yes! , the Magic Fountain of Montjuic. This water, music and light show has always been drawing tourist, they sit on the steps of the beautiful Palau Nacional which host the MNAC Museum. The Magic Fountain, built for Barcelona's 1929 World Exposition, sits on the base of Montjuic mountain, next to Plaça Espanya. The show is free, but check carefully the show times.
7. Head outdoors and Relax at Parc de la Ciutadella
Escape from the crowds and relax at the Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona's most central park is huge, this green oasis is perfect for families, couples or anyone who wants to enjoy a relaxing break for few hours. Discover the lake, the zoo, museums, fountains, sculptures, the walkways, or just enjoy sitting on the grass reading a book.
8. Delight your senses in a local market
The "Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria", known simply as "La Boqueria" is the most famed market in Barcelona, is just off Las Ramblas. Getting there is a present for your senses with a colourful explosion of fresh produce, gourmet delicatessens, tapas bars, and products from all over the world. But in Barcelona, there are other known markets, like the "Mercat de Santa Caterina", with its modernisme-inspired roof is less busy of tourist than la Boqueria.
9. Watch skaters at MACBA
The square in front of the MACBA Museum is worth seeing it, not only for the architecture of the Museum but because is one of the most popular spots for skaters in Barcelona. The plaza is in the hearth of Raval district, a cosmopolitan neighborhood that has transformed over years and now is hosting cool bars, vintage clothing stores, and nice small restaurants. A place to spend some time during the afternoon when skaters gather together.
10. Take a walk in the seaside promenade
Enjoy the "Passeig Maritim", a walk through the seaside from the Barceloneta to the Port Olimpic, with excellent views to the Mediterranean and to the city. You will cross a lot of people, bikers, skaters, and tourists while you walk and take the sun. The target is the Port Olimpic, that is easily recognizable with the two skyscrapers that mark the area.
11. Visit MNAC, the best Museum of Barcelona for Free
The "Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya", known as MNAC is located on the slope of the Montjuic mountain with great views over Barcelona, the museum has unique art collections spanning from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. The museum has free admission every Saturday from 3 p.m and every first Sunday of the Month.
12. Enjoy some of the Best Museums in Barcelona
Most of Barcelona's museums have a free admission day. I like the Picasso Museum with one of the best collections of the artist with over 3,800 works. Has free entrance every Sunday from 3 p.m. and every first day of the month. Other museums like Caixa Forum, Museu d'Història de Barcelona or the Centre de Cultura Contemporànea de Barcelona known as CCCB have similar policies for admission. Check the list of all museums with free entrance every first Sunday of the month.
13. discover the city public Art
Around the city you will encounter sculptures and street-art from some of the best artist of Barcelona. I highlight some works of Joan Miró, like the enormous Woman and Bird sculpture in a park next to Plaça Espanya or the famous Mosaic of Las Ramblas, Or the dragon-headed lamp post of Gaudi's at the Plaça Reial landmark. Recently new international artists like Frank Gehry have left its mark on the city with a giant fish sculpture in the Olympic Port.
14. Travel back to the Gothic period at the Catedral de Barcelona
In the heart of Gothic quarter, and few blocks from Las Ramblas you will find the stunning Barcelona Cathedral, this medieval sanctuary origins back to the 13th century and it deserve a visit inside and outside. Free entry in the morning and late afternoon.
15. Sightsee historic Monuments
All around the city you can find outstanding free sightseeing, some of the historical monuments include the Arc de Triomf, almost next to Parc de la Ciutadella, the Columbus monument at the end of Las Ramblas or the Castell de Montjuic, the castle on the top of the Montjuic mountain.
16. The history of Barcelona at the Born Cultural Center
The Born district is part of the history of the city, is one of my favorite districts of the city, walking there is like going back in the history. The Born Cultural Center has been recently open in the old marks of the Born Market. The entrance to the place is free, and shows the history of Barcelona back in the 18th century inside an historic building, the old market.
17. Stumble upon Santa Maria del Mar
The Santa Maria del Mar church is in the heart of the Born district, build between 1329 and 1383 at the height of Catalonia's maritime and mercantile preeminence. It is an outstanding example of Catalan Gothic, with a purity and unity of style that are very unusual in large medieval buildings. The admission is free.
18. Visit the Hospital de la Santa Creu i de Sant Pau
Ups, a hospital? Yes, visit a hospital, but a special one, the Hospital de la Santa Creu i de Sant Pau is one of the best examples of the modernist style in Barcelona, design in 1902 by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, today is competing with some of the best modernist sights of the city that includes a garden that is a green oasis in the city. Admission is free, unless you want a guided tour.
19. Uncover the Block of discord
The Block of discord ("Illa de la Discòrdia") is a block on Passeig de Gràcia street famous for having Modernist buildings of four of Barcelona's best architects of that time. Casa LLeó-Morera, 35th, by Lluís Domènech i Montaner; Casa Múlleras, 37th, by Enric Sagnier; Casa Amatller, 41st, by Josep Puig i Cadafalch; and finally the Casa Batlló, 43rd, by Antoni Gaudí. A place to delight your eyes with those four different styles of buildings in such a small area.
20. Get some outdoor excercise
Barcelona has a perfect size and climate to discover the city on foot, spending a day away from the metro or the tourist bus and saving some money, but I you still have some energy to do exercise, then let's get outdoors. The boardwalks along the Barcelona beaches are ideal for joggers, cycling or rollerskating. There you will find public outdoor gym equipment, or even beach volley nets and skate parks.
Enjoy all the ideas during your visit to Barcelona!
The + Readed