Barcelona has enough to keep the most voracious of culture vultures and self-indulgent of gourmands happy for weeks, but all those entry fees and tapas bills can mount up. Fortunately, help is at hand with a variety of ways to make your holiday budget stretch a little further.
1. Free museums on Sundays
Some city-run museums (including the Museu Picasso, MUHBA) are free on Sunday afternoons, from 3pm to 8pm. Others are also free on one given day of the month, often the first Wednesday or Sunday – check individual websites for details.
2. Saunter up La Rambla
It’s unashamedly touristy, but ambling along this 1km-long walkway is arguably the quintessential Barcelona experience. Lined with regal historical buildings, La Rambla is a great place to stroll, particularly if you time it right – early morning is best.
3. Browse the Mercat de la Boqueria
This famous indoor market hall is a colourful explosion of fruit, vegetables, seafood, rows and rows of cured jamón and some mind-boggling butchers’ displays. There are tapas bars, pizza stalls and all manner of produce you can try before you buy.
5. Admire Modernisme architecture
While many of Barcelona’s architectural gems have admission fees to see the interiors, the arguably more impressive facades can be seen for free. The mind-blowing workmanship of Gaudí’s magnum opus, the cathedral-like La Sagrada Família, for example, or the three stunning examples of Modernisme that sit side-by-side on the Passeig de Gràcia – the Casa Lleó Morera, the Casa Amatller and Gaudí’s Casa Batlló.
6. Bask on a beach
Barcelona has some wonderful beaches perfect for resting aching feet after days of sightseeing. Barceloneta is the most popular, with its lovely sweep of golden sand and promenade backed with restaurants. For something less crowded, walk further north towards the Fòrum area.
Beach in Barcelona.
7. Gaze at Joan Miró’s public art
The definitive collection of Barcelona’s favourite homegrown artist at Fundació Joan Miró is worth forking out for, but there are fantastic Miró sculptures around the city for free viewing. Parc de Joan Miró is home to his epic 22m-tall Woman and Bird sculpture covered in primary coloured glazed tiles and rising dramatically from a sparkling pool. There’s also a Miró mosaic in the central walkway of La Rambla and another displayed unexpectedly on the outside wall of Terminal 2 at the airport.
8. Visit the cradle of independentisme
One of Barcelona’s newer attractions is the Born Centre Cultural, a dazzlingly converted former market building that has as its centrepiece remains of some of the hundreds of buildings razed to the ground by the forces of Philip V after the siege of 1714. For most Catalans the event marks the starting point of the desire for separation. It’s an emotionally charged place.
9. Be awed by La Catedral
In the heart of Barri Gòtic, the colossal neo-Gothic La Catedral is as impressive outside as it is within. Free entry in the morning and late afternoon makes it worth venturing inside to take in its soaring domed ceilings, pillars and cloister with courtyard of palms, orange trees and resident gaggle of white geese.
10. Sniff out free music, dancing and art
There’s always some sort of free cultural event going on around town, whether it’s jazz in the park, a poetry reading or a kids’ workshop. Visit For Free (forfree.cat) for information on upcoming events.
11. Lose your way in Barri Gòtic
Get lost in a warren of cobblestone alleyways lined with bars and quirky shops and dotted with quiet little plaças, in the atmospheric medieval quarter of Barri Gòtic. Eventually you’ll almost certainly surface on La Rambla, or the Via Laietana, which flanks the area on the other side.
12. Relax at Parc de la ciutadella
Parc de la Ciutadella is situated next to the old town El Born district. It is the green area of the inner city. Many locals spend their free time in Park de la Ciutadella, and there are numerous events during the year.
Just get some food and head over to Parc.
There is also a small lake and you can rent a small boat here.
13. Rambla del Raval
Another Boulevard to stroll along with real Character is placed in Raval. Rambla del Raval is an avenue where people with different cultural and social backgrounds meet.
As you can see, there are plenty of free things to do in Barcelona. Having fun and enjoying your time in the Catalan capital, does not have to expensive. A beer on Rambla, and a Paella next to the Rambla, however, can be a budget-killer! We will keep this list updated, as always!
So, pack a blanket and towel and hit the beach, visit the free museums, enjoy the best views over Barna – this is like the locals do it!