Last updatet: November 2017
Does the thought of overpriced tourist traps and sky high urban prices make you shudder? Do you fancy a city break but worried about the costs involved? No problem; just head to Barcelona. This Mediterranean metropolis has so much to see and do and more often than not there is no need to break the bank. The Catalan capital is filled with cheap and exciting activities and there are even lots of things to do for free in Barcelona! So, pack your cases and take a look at our favourite free activities in this wonderful city.
1. Sun, Sand and City
There is no doubt that Barcelona’s coastal location makes it the envy of many other European cities. During the summer months hitting one of the trendy Barcelona beaches and taking in the urban-surf vibes is no doubt one of the best free things to do in Barcelona!
2. Delve into the Past
The winding streets and ancient buildings of the historical Gothic Quarter are perfect for losing yourself and provide hours of fascination for wanderers. Take a free stroll around the neighborhood, checking out the old Roman walls and medieval buildings and discover the Barcelona of times gone by!
3. Hit the Road
One of the most famous sights in Barcelona, the iconic Ramblas is bustling, vibrant and non-stop. Edge your way through the masses down from Plaça Catalunya all the way to the sea and tick off one of Europe’s most well known streets from your bucket list – a classic free activity in Barcelona!
4. A Foodie’s Paradise
Surely one of the most colorful and exciting markets in the world, visiting La Boqueria is a must when in Barcelona and of course, there is no entrance fee – unless you get tempted into buying some of the delicious products on offer that is!
5. Sunday Afternoon Treats
Barcelona is home to fascinating museums in Barcelona, and many offer free entry on the first Sunday of each month. These include the Picasso Museum, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC), the Museu d’Història de Catalunya and the Music Museum. Others are free every Sunday afternoon from 3pm, such as the Centre for Contemporary Culture (CCCB), the Museu Marítim, and the Botanical Gardens.
6. Dramatic Architecture
Barcelona Cathedral is one of the most important buildings in the city and one of many architectural feats boasted by the Catalan capital. What’s more, since entry to the cathedral in the mornings and early evenings won’t cost you a penny, this is a top free thing to do in Barcelona!
Santa María del Mar Basilica, located in the beautiful neighborhood of El Born, is one of Barcelona’s principal historical icons. As wonderfully told by Ildefonso Falconés in his novel ‘The Cathedral of the Sea’, the story behind this awe-inspiring building is incredible. It’s well worth the visit and entry is free.
8. Go Green
Another of our favorite free things to do in Barcelona is to wander around the wonderful Parc de la Ciutadella. This beautiful green space is a great place to relax or even stop for a picnic and the impressive fountain is just lovely. Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf is just a hop and a skip away too and is great for photo ops!
Known as one of Barcelona’s swankiest boulevards, Passeig de Gràcia is one of the best places in the city to take in the buzz of urban life as well as marvel at the truly beautiful architecture. Check out some of the best modernist buildings in the city with the likes of La Pedrera and Casa Batlló and window shop in the uber-cool designer stores!
10. Go Bohemian
Continuing to the top end of the boulevard and you’ll find your self arriving in the quirky neighborhood of Gràcia. Known for its café culture and arty vibes this lovely enclave is full of life and has lots of pretty squares to stumble upon. A visit to this neighborhood is certainly one of our most recommended things to do for free in Barcelona!
Park Güell is one of the top tourist attractions in Barcelona but unfortunately, comes with a price tag. However what many people don’t know, is that the upper half of the park is actually free! Take bus 24 or 92 in the direction of El Carmel which curves around the outside of Park Güell and get off at the back entrance (ask the driver if you’re unfamiliar with the area). Glimpse amazing views of the city, without burning a hole in your wallet.
12. Shh! It’s a Secret
Continuing up on the same route with bus 24 you’ll arrive at one of Barcelona’s best kept secrets. Sat high above the city is the little known echo of the Spanish Civil War, the Carmel Bunker. Offering perhaps the best views of Barcelona, this beautiful hilltop ruin offers 360o vistas stretching for miles around, and none of the snap happy crowds typical of such beautiful locations. Definitely one of the best free things to do in Barcelona! Don’t forget you can also catch some amazing vistas of the city from Tibidabo, too – without paying the entrance fee to the park!
The Sagrada Familia is, of course, a must when visiting Barcelona. However it certainly isn’t cheap to enter and the queues can be lengthy. Although the interior is wonderful, Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece is just as spectacular from the outside. So save yourself some pennies, relax in one of the adjoining little parks and admire the views of this architectural feat!
14. Take 5
Chill out on the promenade of Port Vell and watch the yachts sail by in this beautiful corner of Barcelona. Take in the wonderful Mediterranean atmosphere as you dangle your feet over the harbor edge or walk over the moving bridge to Maremagnum shopping centre – an impressive structure in itself.
One of the most famous hilltops in Barcelona, Montjuïc has played an important role in the history of the city. Today it is well loved by visitors for its views over the Catalan capital as well as its cultural offerings such as the MNAC and Botanical Gardens. Take the curious escalators up from Plaça d’Espanya and get exploring!
16. Dances and Splashes
Just below Montjuïc at Plaça Espanya lies one of Barcelona’s most special attractions, the Magic Fountain. Offering wonderful evening performances, this spectacular light, music and water show is a must for visitors. And the best part is, this top Barcelona attraction is free.
Across from Plaça Espanya you’ll find the converted bull ring: the Arenas shopping center. Walk straight past the shops (if you can!) and take the escalators to the circular rooftop. Here you can enjoy fantastic 360o views of the city and look down on the hustle and bustle below!
18. Hot Footing Around the City
For first-timers in the Catalan capital, it can be difficult to get your bearings. Joining a walking tour is a great way to get to know the city and there are many free tours of Barcelona available. With a range of different itineraries from the Old Town to ‘Modernisme’ routes, you’re sure to find the one that’s right for you!
Tapas is of course one of the staples of Spanish cuisine and is ideal for filling a gap when feeling a bit peckish. The downside is that as you give in to temptation and order more and more, bills can often creep up. It is actually possible, however, to find free tapas in Barcelona as some bars offer a free nibble with every drink purchased!
20. Time to Party Like the Locals
Spain is famous world over for its fiestas, and Barcelona naturally offers some exciting festivals. From Los Reyes to Sant Jordi, and La Mercè to the Festa Major de Gràcia, Barcelona’s calendar is chock-a-block. Attending one of these vibrant celebrations is certainly on of the best free things to do in Barcelona! So as you’ll see, there’s no need to worry about spending a fortune on your trip to the Catalan capital. There are plenty of things to do for free in Barcelona including some of the city’s top sights, allowing you to discover its history and culture without worrying about the price tag!