Barcelona is a truly spectacular city because it can be seen very frugally because so many things around the city are free! Yes, you read that right, completely free! I’m a sucker for free things so I’ve rounded up the top free things to do in the city. In order to take advantage of Barcelona’s free things, you may have to be there at certain times of the day or year, but there is still a lot to do that won’t cost visitors very much. The city does have a metro that is helpful for traveling far distances but most of Barcelona should be seen by foot. Barcelona has some of the most amazing architecture in Europe and even strolling from attraction to attraction can reward its visitors with amazing sights.
The Pablo Picasso Museum is one of Barcelona’s most well known museums. It has an extensive collection of Picasso’s works and is located in a breathtaking part of the city. He was an apprentice in Barcelona and maintained strong links to the city for the rest of his life. In fact, he specifically asked that they create a museum of his works in this spot. Clearly not self-absorbed at all. But decades later, the museum is still there and is a hot spot for tourists. If you’re planning on visiting, a ticket will cost anywhere from €7 – €11. However, the museum has lots of free entrance days. Every Thursday from 18:00 – 21:30 visitors to the museum get in for free. Additionally, the first Sunday of every month is free from 09:00 – 19:00, as well as February 12th, May 18th, and September 24th. Even though you can’t beat the price, you’ll need to arrive early to beat the lines. Everyone else wants to get in for free and you will likely be waiting in line for a while during any free entrances. Nevertheless, the Picasso Museum’s free entrances are an incredible opportunity to save money while experiencing an important part of Barcelona.
Lots of Barcelona’s other museums also have free entrance fees if you just know where to look and when to go! Virtually all Barcelonan museums have free entrance on the first Sundays of every month to encourage more people to visit museums that they otherwise may not visit. The Museu Nacionál d’Art d’Catalunya has free admissions every Saturday after 15:00, the first Sunday of every month, May 18th, and on September 11th and 24th. This museum was built in 1929 for the World’s Fair and now houses a collection of works from the Catalonian Romanesque era to the mid-20th century. Even if you don’t make it to the museum on a free day, it still is beautiful to walk around the grounds and admire the outside, which is all free!
The Museu Nacionál d’Art d’Catalunya is located on Montjuïc, which is someplace that every visitor to Barcelona should see. There are so many free things to do around the area! At the bottom of Montjuïc is a massive water fountain. At night, the fountains light up and erupt into a beautiful water show. There is no cost to see the fountains at night and they are even pretty to see during the day!
All of Montjuïc is like a beautiful park and is filled with lush trees and things to see. If you are really trying to cut costs, you can walk all around and up the mountain. It’s a great opportunity to get some exercise in and save money. However, it can be extremely exhausting to walk all of that way. Like, extremely exhausting to the point you’ll never want to walk again. An alternative to the extensive walking is to take the bus, which leaves from the bottom of the hill and will take passengers all the way to the top of the mountain. It’s always easier to walk downhill!
Montjuïc is home to the Olympic park. It is free to walk around the park and admire the sights and views over Barcelona. The stadium is still standing and visitors can walk inside and look at it for free. The Caltrava telecommunications tower is at the Olympic Stadium and can be seen from almost everywhere in Barcelona. It stands as a reminder of the 1992 Olympic games and is an iconic part of Barcelona’s skyline.
The Montjuïc Castle sits at the very top of Montjuïc. It is a fortress that was built in 1640. The castle is 174 meters above the Barcelona port and offers uninhibited 360 views over all of Barcelona. Once you make it up to the castle it doesn’t cost to walk around its grounds. In fact, there is a dirt path that takes you all the way around the castle with view of the port, Barcelona, and the castle. The walk itself takes around 30 minutes to complete. Unfortunately, the castle itself costs €5 and there isn’t a lot to see inside because it is unfurnished and mostly just a fortress. But the castle is free on the first Sunday of every month and on all Sundays after 15:00. When Christian and I were in Barcelona, we accidentally just happened to go up to Montjuïc right before the free entrance. Since I had been there three times before and still never gone inside the castle, we hung around until 15:00 to get the free ticket. After we went inside I was pleased that we hadn’t spent €5 because it was very underwhelming. So go walk around the outside of the castle but don’t go inside unless it’s free, trust me.
Park Güell holds its spot as one of the most popular tourist attractions in Barcelona. Contrary to popular belief, the park aspect of Park Güell is completely free! The monumental zone is where most pictures of Park Güell (and the Cheetah Girls) were taken. Sadly, that is the part that costs. Lots of the monumental zone can be seen from the park surrounding it! Gaudì designed a few houses that are still standing that can be viewed from the free park. Many people don’t know that Park Güell gets its name because a majority of its space is a free park! So if you want to still be able to visit Park Güell without paying an entrance fee, explore all of the grounds around it!
Barcelona abdicated from the Olympic games in 1936 to fight the Spanish Civil War. They shouldn’t have, because then the 1936 games went to Nazi Germany. Major party foul. But instead of celebrating the Olympics, Spaniards built bunkers into the top of Mount Tibidabo. Decades later, the Bunkers del Carmel are one of Barcelona’s hidden treasures and are slowly becoming a popular hangout spot. One of the appeals of the bunkers is that they are a bit out of the typical tourist’s path. Directions to the bunkers can be found at the link above. The best time to go is either extremely early in the morning to watch the sunrise or in the evening to watch the sunset. There isn’t a lot of shade up there so plan accordingly if you go during the warmer months.
Parks are a very important part of life in Barcelona. One of the main parks in the city is Parça Cuitadella and it’s a very popular place for locals to go and hang out. It’s a massive park and there are lots of green spaces and fountains inside. The entrance is marked by a huge Arc d’Triomphe. If you’re searching for somewhere to just hang out with friends or enjoy a picnic, Park Cuitadella is the place for you!
Once again, no trip to Barcelona is complete without a trip to the beach! Barceloneta is the beach that’s closest to the city center. It’s a great place to visit because there is just so much to see! Endless amounts of people mean endless amounts of people watching and there are all types of people at the beach. Spain isn’t strict on drinking in public so grab a bottle of wine and enjoy it on the beach! The waters of the Mediterranean are warm year-round and the perfect weather really makes Barcelona the ideal location for beachgoers.
Las Ramblas is the vein of Barcelona. It is also one of the biggest tourist attractions. Over the years it has become more and more popular. It’s no longer a peaceful place but is an incredible way to soak up some of the sights and sounds of the city. The walk from the top of Las Ramblas to the end of it at the Christopher Columbus statue takes about 30 minutes. The Ramblas are lined with a lot of small kiosks, as well as salesmen pawning their wares. Dozens of restaurants also have outdoor seating on Las Ramblas. Even though it may be prime restaurant real estate, the prices along Las Ramblas are a bit inflated. On the bright side, it doesn’t cost anything to wander along the Ramblas and soak up all the sights!
Paying a visit to Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is like taking a step back in time. The Gothic Quarter is a section of Barcelona directly off of Las Ramblas and is the oldest part of the city. All of the gothic quarter is extremely picturesque and is full of twists and turns – unlike the grid pattern of the rest of Barcelona. The best way to experience the Gothic Quarter is to simply get lost inside of it. There are so many different passages and narrow streets and the more lost you become, the better it is! Plus, if you’re searching for the Barcelona Cathedral, it can be found in the heart of the Barri Gòtic. There’s no guarantee that your walk around the Gothic Quarter will be completely free, however, because it’s a guarantee that you will find some cute coffee shops and restaurants at which you’ll want to stop.
Spanish cities are built around central squares and Barcelona is no exception to the rule. Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça d’Catalunya are some of the city’s biggest squares and definitely worth paying a visit to. Although those big plazas are really exciting to wander around and explore, they sometimes overshadow other squares. One of those is Plaça Reial. This plaza is situated directly off of Las Ramblas in the Gothic Quarter. It’s a fun little square surrounded by cute cafes and restaurants. Barcelona locals frequently come here to enjoy churros con chocolate and watch the throngs of people walk through the square. Virtually every square in Barcelona has its own fun vibe and the best part of all… it’s free!
La Boqueria is the best-known market in Barcelona and is incredibly appealing to the senses. It has rows and rows of fresh fruit, fruit smoothies, and perfectly cracked coconuts. If the fruits aren’t tantalizing enough, La Boqueria has virtually every type of food available. Iberian Ham, some of the most expensive ham in the world, is even sold here at La Boqueria! There are lots of food stands where locals go to enjoy some tapas and a cerveza. Some tourists don’t enjoy strolling through La Boqueria because it can get packed during the day! Nevertheless, there are so many sights and experiences within the market. You can do it as cheaply as possible by just wandering around through the stalls, or you can snack your way through! Either option will definitely be a wonderful choice and you can’t go wrong.
The best way to experience Barcelona truly is to just walk around and enjoy the sights. People say that the best way to experience something is to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Barcelona is no exception. Stroll through the streets and admire Gaudí’s architecture. Walk along some of Barcelona’s busiest thoroughfares and watch the locals on their way to work. Be sure you see at least some of Barcelona by foot because it’s the best way to see the city.